Survivor

Eliminated Australian Survivor Champion Sam reveals where it all went wrong

'It definitely gets inside your head. You start second guessing yourself'

By Tina Burke

Everyone's favourite sassy Champion, Samuel Hinton, became the 15th person voted out of Australian Survivor overnight.

The astrophysicist became the target of alliance leader Mat Rogers, after he leaked a small bit of info to Lydia Lassila before her elimination. Though he tried desperately to cling to his place in the competition by working to eliminate Benji or Steve, Sam was unable to save himself.

We caught up with Sam, 26, after his elimination, where he spilled on his regret over his conversation with Lydia, his relationship with Mat and his arrival at jury villa.

TV WEEK: When Mat scored immunity you were talking to a few people about voting for Steve, Benji in particular seemed on board. With the editing it's hard to tell, but were you feeling like you might have the numbers heading in to tribal council?

Sam: Going in I knew that the Steve vote had fallen apart, and you could kind of see that when I was trying to rustle the votes back at camp, the girls weren't really into it, I could tell Benji wasn't because he kept saying 'what do you think Sam' and it was just like, Benji told me 30 seconds ago you should vote for Steve so why are you trying to make me say it? So you're obviously not invested in this and you're not going to go with it.

So I knew that had fallen apart, and I knew it was between Benji and myself, and essentially Benji got the last word in with Mat. I figured that out in tribal, when Steve said you know 'a little birdie came and told me' well, guess who the birdie is. It was a great move on Benji's behalf and, good on him, I hope he goes far!

Sam and Mat have one of their final chats on *Australian Survivor.*
Sam and Mat have one of their final chats on Australian Survivor.

The position you were put in largely came down to the fact that Lydia revealed you had spoken to her about Mat's plan to break up the alliance. Were you mad at her when you found out?

Yeah I was a bit frustrated. Lydia had told Sharn, and Sharn had told Mat. I didn't expect her to throw my name out at all. If someone gives you a heads up, you don't normally say 'oh Sam said this.' That was bad for me because that's when I essentially got kicked out of this alliance, but I didn't know about it until the night I went home. Mat's known since day one that I told Lydia and if only I'd had that information a bit sooner, I might have had time to repair that relationship right before tribal.

Mat definitely waited until the last minute to talk to you about it! As a viewer it kind of seems like he might have been overreacting a bit. After all, Mat had approached other people in the game to warn them if they were being eliminated, and he was the one breaking up the alliance… not you…

It was definitely put on extra. You know, everyone gives each other warnings. Like I said at tribal, three separate people had told me my name was out there tonight… so how personally can you take this? I think I was serving as an example that if you break Mat's trust you're dead to him, so it was his way of extending his control on the tribe even if what I had done wasn't too insane. He betrayed the alliance, I tried to preserve it, but because he has the social power in the group I'm the 'betrayer' and I'm the example.

And yeah I obviously did make a mistake in telling Lydia because she didn't manage to patch things up or flip the vote, and that's my mistake to make and I definitely paid for it.

Your speech at tribal council was fun to watch! You made a lot of good points - like that you weren't the one who broke the alliance in the first place - did you just think 'what the hell, I'm going home anyway, might as well try'?

At the start of tribal I wasn't sure if it was myself or Benji, but before I went to tribal I told Mat I'll give a speech anyway. I'll put on a good show, so that if it was Benji he wouldn't see it coming. But as soon as Steve made those comments you could sort of see in my face that it was definitely me. I was not eloquent enough to flip it back. When you have that sort of majority vote – everyone but Fenella put my name down – you can't flip those. No one wants to be the only person who's like 'oh yes Sam had a good point I'll write Benji's name down' so I knew when Steve came out that I was an absolute goner.

Sam pleads his case at the final tribal council.
Sam pleads his case at the final tribal council.

When Steve did call you out, you said that you weren't the person who first said his name. Was that true? Did you mean Benji was the first one to say it?

Yes, but because I knew I wasn't going to sway the vote I didn't want to just throw Benji under the bus. I respect those big moves, and Benji, I think, is definitely the best player out there. So I was just like 'well Benji, you've done me over, congratulations, I'm going home and I won't rat you out cos I'm keen to see what you do next.'

At that moment in time, walking out of the tribe, who did you want to see win?

There were two people I was rooting for to win. One of them was obviously Mat, he's a really great guy and I got along really well with him apart from those last few days where I lost his trust. The other person was obviously Benji, he has the best game play and I respected his game play the most. I was really rooting for one of those two to make it as far as they could and take out the crown.

I think a lot of the other contestants have said similar things, because those two are getting in there and playing the game. Is there anyone still in the tribe who is just coasting along?

Oh yeah, there are a bunch of people coasting. Shonee and Fenella, that was their game play. Monika was essentially just a 'yes man' to try and coast through. You can see that Shane is just doing as Mat says for now, she came out of her shell to sort of orchestrate the Lydia blindside but really cleverly had everyone blame Mat for that, because he was the one in charge of telling people how to vote. And then there's Brian who has been on the bottom with Jackie before merge, but has just gone along as a number for Steve and Mat so he can coast through. It will be interesting to see when people stop coasting and start trying to have some fun.

Definitely, the whole point of Survivor is to make moves and maybe be a little bit sneaky. Do you think your downfall was due to being sneaky too soon?

Yeah, I guess if I could go back and have a word with myself post-merge it would be you know 'don't tell Lydia anything just go along with mat, you'll stay in this strong alliance and make a move later.' I just never expected Lydia to give my name, I thought I was safe giving her the heads up. Obviously hindsight is 20/20 and I perhaps shouldn't have tried to rock the boat so early on but what can you do.

After all it is a game, and it's a lot tougher than it looks when it's edited down to be an hour on our TV screens.

Oh yeah! Everyone's been telling me like oh 'why did you put your foot in your mouth?' 'Why did you do this?' Firstly, you are seeing an edited version. Secondly, we're tired and hungry. You are completely exhausted and you are not at 100% and you don't have all the information that the viewers have. You don't have all those conversations you weren't a part of, you don't really know what's going on, and I felt that keenly that information blackout when Mat removed me from the alliance.

It must be difficult when you're only hearing snippets of conversations, or you see other people talking and wonder what it's about…

Yeah it definitely gets inside your head. You start second guessing yourself, and third guessing, and fourth guessing, and you start to go down the rabbit hole real deep.

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One good thing to come out of being eliminated at this stage is that you get to go to the jury villa! Were you excited?

Definitely. I never expected to win the game, the goal that I had going in was just to make it to the jury. It's really nice, I can now go feast every night, turn myself into a slug, and actually talk to people like Robbie, which was really hard to do before because people are like 'oh are they strategising' or when you do talk to them it IS about strategy because you are strategising, so now I can actually get to know the guy and I'm looking forward to that.

When you got in to the villa and saw your reflection for the first time in 35 days, what did you think?

The first thing I saw was obviously my dirty beard, but it wasn't actually too bad. I still got rid of it. But yeah the weight loss was the main thing that shocked me, the first time I saw myself shirtless in the mirror I was like 'woah you are a skeleton'. I went from around 75 kilos down to 60 when I was out there, so yeah I had no body fat left and I don't really have much muscle under that body fat… so it was not a good look.

But at least you got to sit back in the villa and drink some choccy milk to hopefully put the weight back on?

I put on so much.

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Australian Survivor airs Monday and Tuesday, 7:30pm, on Network Ten.

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