After Cumbie, 22, chose to quit the CBS reality competition for the second time earlier this season, Bankston, 26, was left to fend for himself on Survivor: Blood vs. Water until he was eliminated last Wednesday.
But while most contestants are interrogated by host Jeff Probst about their gameplay after being eliminated, Probst was more interested in how Bankston could be in a relationship with a Cumbie, who received death threats because of his actions during his first season on the show.
Having processed his recent elimination, the post office manager/farmer tells PEOPLE about how Survivor was easier than he expected, what he wishes he had done differently, and why he and Cumbie work as a couple.
Jeff Probst called you and Colton’s relationship a “mystery” to him. Why do you think people have such a hard time seeing the two of you together?
People on social media only know the Colton from Survivor. Colton kind of takes it more personal and I tell him, “You have to realize that these people, they don’t know us.” They don’t know the real Colton that I live with everyday, the Colton who I wake up and go to sleep beside every day. It is a totally different person and he’s a really big sweetheart. I don’t care what anybody says about him. I love him unconditionally and that is never going to change.
How does Colton feel about the fact that you lasted in the game much longer than him even though he was playing for the second time?
He is a really good sport. We support each other. I supported his decision [to quit]. He has a joke that “Caleb made it further in one season than I did in two.” But he put his stamp on the game in a certain way and I did in a different way. Jeff had asked me at one point, “Would you ever say to Colton, ‘This is how you play Survivor?’ ” But I said, “No.” I’d never disrespect him that way because he loves this game. Everyone wants to do it a different way, so who am I to say, “This is the way you do it.” It may work out. It may not.
Any regrets about your own game?
I don’t really have regrets ever, but I think things would have worked out differently if Hayden and I had tried to stick with Laura Morette instead of voting her out. That would have been our time to take out Tyson, because it was so early and he wasn’t expecting anything because he had not gotten paranoid yet.
Colton had prepared you for what the game was like but was it what you expected?
Colton told me he wanted me to keep a bunch of girls for him to be able to work with when we made it to the merge. I couldn’t guarantee that because I didn’t know how things were going to go down. But as far as surviving, it was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. I go camping and hunting so the elements didn’t bother me. I slept all night long.