Did I win or lose? It depends upon your perspective.
Yes, I lost to Coral in Ball Brawl. If I had to lose to someone, I'm glad it was to Coral because she is a veteran's veteran. The truth is that I lost on purpose because I wanted to leave. I knew the veterans were being greedy and didn't want to play like a team. They were not motivated by winning the game through any concept of sportsmanship or fair play; they were simply motivated by greed and the power of money. I didn't want to be a part of that kind of challenge. When I left, I really wanted the rookies to win. The money wasn't important enough to put up the nonsense and these guys will do ANYTHING for a few dollars. I knew my team wanted Coral gone, so I thought the best thing I could do was leave her to hang with them, to give them Hell. I wouldn't be paid anything more to stay longer, and I knew when it was all said and done, the veterans would lose. These are things I said in my interviews with production at the time, which, of course, were not shown during any of the episodes.
How did things get to this point? Well, you only saw the very slightest hints of it during the episodes. The "drunken" CT wasn't just something that happened early in the season, it was a constant, recurring theme. He appeared intoxicated almost the entire time, and I wasn't interested in being around someone who is a loaded gun and who could possibly assault someone – again – at any time, without provocation. NOT COOL.
When it became clear, following the loss of a couple of key players for the rookies, that the veterans would dominate the entire challenge, those key veterans began their scheming. I overheard one of their conversations. Their clear focus was not on winning as a team. Their interest was in maximizing their personal greed. How much more money would they take home for each person they eliminated people from the team. In their view, they would have to manage these "executions" themselves, since the rookies appeared incapable of doing it for them. Their greed was toxic and I wanted no part of it.
I shared this info selectively with some of the women. Evelyn didn't believe it, or perhaps more appropriately, didn't want to believe that the guys, particularly Kenny who she had saved on a previous challenge, would lie to her about something so significant in the game. Robin and Katie were aware, and in one episode, the editors used a clip where it was discussed. Evan and Kenny tried so hard to be cool and funny, but I wonder if without their "MTV" fame, they could get a chick to save their lives. I've been asked if Evan made fun of me to deflect the fact that he is losing his hair and doesn't want anyone to notice. Perhaps he does. Evan, everyone notices you look already look forty and that is scary. You are not fooling anyone by wearing all of your hair forward. What will you look like when you are my age? Seen any recent pics of Jeff Conaway? Pathetic. I hear Hair Club for Men is calling. You even threw your friend Coral under the bus to look cool on camera. Some friend you are. That is behavior only a horrible person would resort to.
While I've not talked to the rookies about it, I think some of them were aware that if they picked Coral, then the Vets would likely send me against her. Why? Some rookies were aligned with the vets (Frank/Jillian with CT, and Derek with Paula – stuff gets around). I think Brad and Tori were an exception. Tori has lots of integrity, perhaps too much for a challenge. Those rookies knew they would benefit from having the veteran's two strongest/most experienced women go against each other, not matter what the outcome; but, I suspect the other rookies thought the vets would send in a weaker player against Coral.
It is logical that, in the end, the other veteran women were happy that they didn't have to go against me. My performance on the Gauntlet 2 and The Duel was something people were well aware of. If you were someone generally considered a weaker player and you had the opportunity to send home one of the three strongest women (including Evelyn in this), wouldn't you agree? With one of us leaving for certain, then it only decreased your own odds of later going against someone who almost certainly would defeat you.
The veteran's dynamic is actually a little more complex that this, though. Because, if the goal was really to get rid of five or six girls, then why did the guys care so much which girl went first?? Coral gave them three names...Robin, Katie and Diem. Evelyn volunteered...and they STILL vote for me. For the guys, it wasn't just "game," it was personal. It was very personal, but you didn't see me objecting to the vote. I welcomed it. The guys needed me gone because they knew I would not let rest their throwing of the women's gauntlet mission. I would have done everything I could to return the favor. If the guy's strategy really were honest, then Eric would have gone home by now. Johnny, even with his bad ankle, was a far better competitor than Eric, and the kind of player who would be a plus to the team in any final mission.
Our gauntlet did last longer than was shown; they almost always do. After I tackled Coral, I would help her get up and wipe the sand from her face so she could see. Just because I didn't want to stay, didn't mean that either of us were going to make less of an effort. I came away with lots of bruises and I know Coral did as well. I've been asked for my reaction to some of Coral's comments during our gauntlet episode. Did I expect Coral's "grandma" comment? No. It was silly, but also offensive at the same time. Do I outweigh her by 50 lbs? Hardly. Our weight difference comes from the fact that I'm taller and the girl has no butt, seriously, no butt! I weight 140 lbs. and there is no way she weighs in at only 90 lbs! Come on! Still, I understand the pressure of arguing with the rest of the team for a different competitor; hyperbole is also good TV sometimes. From a team perspective, however, with the final mission in sight, Coral knew any other player with the exception of Evelyn made a far better team choice. She knew that we both were being thrown under the bus.
If I had heard her call me stupid names before the gauntlet, I would have beaten her. I know Coral didn't mean anything personal and she is trying to live up to her character. Still, I would probably have thrown some missions, but I would have never stayed to the end. Winning against Coral would have changed my game play. I would probably have though of myself as a rookie. That would have been a little like losing. In retrospect, losing to Coral and getting away from the challenge was a little more like winning.
At the end of the day, I really don't care what anyone thinks. I don't need to prove myself to anyone. I know, and Coral knows, the real truth of our gauntlet, and it's all on tape. Frankly, I would rather look ahead than to the past. I've not done my last challenge. This one experience doesn't define the challenges for me. I'm torn between two views as I look to the next one. The Duel, where the goal is to be the last person standing, is a great format. So is Battle of the Sexes. If the veteran women have anything to prove; there is no better place to do it.