There’s a saying that “father knows best,” but in the case of Dale Wentworth on “Survivor: San Juan del Sur,” it’s best to listen to his daughter. Kelley told us right from the start that her dad was a very likeable guy, but he may have some struggles when it comes to his social game. That assessment proved to be true for Dale, and on Wednesday night’s episode of “Survivor,” Dale’s time on the show finally came to an end. In case you missed the episode, here is the full recap.
Dale wasn’t helped by the fact that he started off – and stayed – on the losing Coyopa tribe throughout his 15 days in the game. Going to Tribal after Tribal, Dale was an early target as he simply wasn’t fitting in, but time and time again, the powers-that-were at Coyopa chose to spare him. Dale got a little bit of good fortune when he was united with his daughter Kelley following the tribe swap, but his good luck was short-lived when Kelley was the first person targeted when Coyopa lost yet another challenge.
Early in the game, Dale had discovered…something…a logo or a design of some kind attached to the top of the tribe’s water source. With Kelley gone from the game, Dale made a last-ditch effort to convince the others that this thing that he had was, in fact, an Immunity Idol. It seemed to work on Jon, but ultimately his tribe mates called his bluff. Splitting their votes to ensure they would come out on top, the power alliance at Coyopa voted Dale out of the game, right on the heels of Kelley.
I spoke with Dale today, less than 24 hours from the airing of the episode that saw his torch snuffed. Here is what we discussed:
Tom Santilli, Survivor Examiner: Hello Dale!
Dale Wentworth: Hi Tom! Nice to talk to you!
Tom Santilli: Likewise! So last night, we saw you try to convince Jon that you had an Idol. Did you believe going into Tribal Council that you had successfully convinced him it was real? How much of a surprise was it that they voted you out?
Dale: Going into Tribal last night I maybe had a one-percent chance that they were going to buy it. I expected the votes to go three for me, three for Keith. That would have added some drama to the show, then Keith and I wouldn’t have voted, and then in the re-vote all four votes would have been for me. At one point I had my bag in my lap even before they read the votes. I pretty much knew what was going to happen. The numbers were just too strong against me.
Tom Santilli: Was it a surprise to you watching it back on TV, that Keith was in possession of a real Idol?
Dale: I did not know that Keith had an Idol, no. So it wouldn’t have surprised me, because he had been to Exile Island twice. But at the time I didn’t know he had an Idol.
Tom Santilli: Were you a fan of Survivor before and how did you come to be on Survivor?
Dale: My daughter had watched the first season and she got me hooked on the second season. We since ordered the first season, so I can since say that I’ve watched every single season. We had applied for The Amazing Race in 2009 and there was a father/daughter team that was sort of close to us, so we didn’t get on. We had never applied for Survivor. On my birthday this year, I got an email from CBS saying, Dale Wentworth, what do you think your chances would be on Survivor? Two weeks later we were down in California being interviewed. So it just literally fell into our laps. It was phenomenal.
Tom Santilli: In the pre-game interviews, your daughter Kelley had made some statements about you, to the effect that you weren’t going to have a good social game. Do you feel like those comments were unfair to say, before ever seeing you play the game?
Dale: No, because we both talked about it coming into the game. Just because of my job occupation (farmer), that sort of stuff. I don’t have exposure to a lot of different personalities, especially the hand-picked guys they have on the show, who sort of like to dynamite you (laughs). They put guys in who put you out of your element. I mean like me and Josh, me and John Rocker, they’re just people that I would never run into in my normal life. But I’m good with people, I get along with most people, most everybody. I do have a tendency that if I see someone being an ass I tend to treat them like an ass. Going into the game, I knew it was going to be a challenge, but up until the tribe swap, I had felt pretty good about the alliances I had formed. They didn’t really explore it on the show, but I had good alliances going into the tribe swap, that swap just killed us.
Tom Santilli: Speaking of people you view as acting liking an ass, describe your time in the game with Missy and that whole conversation that you had involving the rice.
Dale: You know, the rice situation between me and Missy was not nearly as bad as what it was shown. It was kind of funny. All we heard when these guy got to our beach is how hungry they were, how they had no food. And then they saw our rice jug and they acted like a bunch of damn vultures. When Missy and I had our conversation, I was just trying to make the point that, look, not only did you just come from a tribe where you all ate 25 pounds of rice, then 10 pounds of beans in just 12 days, we’ve only eaten eight pounds of rice. That rice that we have, has got to last through the merge, and then remain for the last 26 or 27 days. I was trying to make that point to her. I didn’t know Jeff would be doing the “Let’s Make A Deal” routine. I lost 35 pounds in 15 days in order to save rice. Those guys just didn’t have a clue. In previous seasons, if you run out of rice, you starve. But apparently it’s different this year (laughs).
Tom Santilli: In your CBS.com day-after interview (above), you mentioned that you left the game with a smile on your face, knowing that you had done everything in your power those last few days to try to save yourself. But when you look back on your earlier days in the game, do you have any regrets? Any people you might have tried to approach or handle differently?
Dale: It was tough for me to connect with people. Everybody lived in huge cities on the East Coast, I’m a small farmer from the West Coast, they’re all 30 years younger than me for the most part, so it was just difficult for them to connect with me, not for me to connect with them. It was hard to just be on the same level. The only thing I could have done different, is when we voted out Val and it was 4-4, I could have flopped my vote and voted Baylor out. But, at the same time, I would have made all the twenty-somethings on my tribe very mad and I probably would have gone home next. Hindsight is 20-20. I don’t think I could have done anything differently to change what happened.
Tom Santilli: You sort of mentioned this but I wanted to talk more about the age gap. I know this season two women dropped out right before the show, but usually Survivor really tries to have things in proportion: An equal number of men and women, equal number of players on each tribe, etc. But pretty much every season, there is a huge disproportionate number of young people to older people. At 55, you were the oldest player out there this season. Do you think that it is simply more difficult for older players to compete on Survivor and win?
Dale: I think it is because Survivor is turning into a dynamic social game. It’s like Big Brother, but out on a beach. Now I’m not a Big Brother fan, but anyhow. Survivor is just more of a social game. I look forward to the challenge to take my mind off the mental aspect and the social game. The younger guys and gals, they’re more adept…they grew up in a more social world than what I grew up in. The media, the fast-changing technology. So they’re more adept to changing rapidly than the way I grew up. So I think it might be more tailored to them, to some degree. Now that’s not to say that older people can’t do it, I’d recommend anybody to do it. I don’t consider myself to be anything special, I’d do it again myself in a couple years. I think I can compete with them on the physical side as well. I mean, I know I can. How’s that? (Laughs)
Tom Santilli: I know that Kelley mentioned that you and her had some rough years in the past and that this experience was really important to her to get closer with you. What did this experience mean for you and your daughter’s relationship?
Dale: So I’ll expand just a little bit for you. My wife and I raised her, and Kelley’s step-mom, raiser her for most of her adult life. We raised Kelley to be outspoken, independent, think-for-yourself. But then when they do it in your household you get really pissed at them (laughs).
Tom Santilli: (Laughs) Ah, the joys of parenting.
Dale: Dammit, you did exactly what I raised you to do! (Laughs) And that causes friction. So at some point you have to let them get out and grow up, and Kelley did. And then we got reconnected. And this just amped up the reconnection. We’ve been getting along great for about three or four years or so. To be the first-ever father/daughter team to be on Survivor, that’s something that means a lot and will always be there. We didn’t go as far as what we wanted, but what Kelley and I gained out of it, is more than what Jeff Probst could have paid both of us had we made the Final Three. I mean it was fun. I wouldn’t trade it for all the money in the world.
Tom Santilli: Awesome, Dale. I’ll end this with a non-Survivor question for you. You’re a farmer. What would you say is one of the biggest economical and/or social issue facing farmers in America today?
Dale: Hmmm (pause). The regulations. The regulations that are put on the farming industry right now will be the death of it. It is so tough when the American farming family is less than two-percent of the population. People have no idea the struggles the American farmer goes through on a daily basis. I mean, we know how to grow stuff, we can make food, we can fight the weather, but when you tack on things like, you have to have an outhouse strapped behind a combine for both sexes for people that work out in the field, it’s one of the most asinine things you can think of. It’s mind-boggling what you have to go through with the regulations. You have to hire extra people just to keep track of records needed for regulations. You’ll get a $1000 fine if there isn’t toilet paper in the outhouse. So there! (Laughs) That’s as short as I can make it.
Tom Santilli: Best of luck to you and your daughter!
Dale: Thank you, I enjoyed this.
Be sure to join me next Wednesday for another episode preview, full recap and instant analysis, and of course, the next exit interview next Thursday.
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