Hometown: San Francisco, California
Previous Season(s): Survivor: Kaôh Rōng
Previous Placing: 3/18
Days Lasted: 39
Correctly Voted for Boot: 5
Votes Received: 4
Individual Immunity Challenge Wins: 1
Most Memorable Moment: Refusing to hand his idol over to Scot Pollard and his relationship with Mark the Chicken.
What happened in his previous season: Tai is one of four Kaôh Rōng players returning for Survivor: Game Changers. He started his first season as part of the Beauty (Gondol) tribe. He was initially confused and amused why he, a 51-year-old man, was placed on the Beauty tribe with all the young, pretty people, but it soon became apparent that Tai had a beautiful soul. He was kind-hearted and had a love for nature which made him instantly likable. Initially, the girls of the tribe, particularly Anna Khait, wanted to work with Tai, bringing him in as their fourth vote to create a majority. However, Tai was worried that he was the odd person out and decided to go looking for the hidden immunity idol. Unfortunately, he was caught in the act.
Tai’s constant searching for the idol made his fellow tribe members see him as sketchy and untrustworthy, although they still enjoyed him as a person. Tai eventually found the idol after almost destroying himself by scaling a tree. After he had discovered the idol, Tai was able to relax a little and focus more on providing for the tribe and getting to know his tribemates. He formed a close bond with fellow Game Changers cast member Caleb Reynolds, the two of them cuddling at night for warmth, and Tai trying to steal a cheeky kiss. On Day 9, when Caleb was medevaced after passing out post-reward challenge, Tai was visibly upset.
It’s difficult to say what would have happened had the Beauty tribe gone to tribal council, they never lost a pre-swap immunity challenge, so the alliance dynamics were never truly tested. The tribes were swapped from three to two on Day 12, with Tai remaining on Gondol with Anna, while also being joined by Aubry Bracco, Joe Del Campo, and Peter Baggenstos from the Brains tribe, plus Scot Pollard from the Brawn. The former Brains had a numbers advantage on the new Gondol and wanted to target a Beauty member, given that Julia Sokolowski would be joining the tribe after tribal council. Aubry originally wanted to target Tai, seeing him as more of a long-term threat than Anna, but her fellow Brains viewed Anna as a more immediate threat. Anna was voted out, sparing Tai.
During this time Tai started to bond with Scot, even telling him about his idol. When Julia returned to camp, the three of them decided to work together and aim their votes at Peter, hoping that Aubry would flip and vote with them. Aubry was non-committal, but at tribal council, Tai’s group remained steadfast, which caused Aubry to cross out her Julia vote and instead send her former Brains ally packing. With this vote, Tai was able to make it to the merge.
At the merge, Tai found himself in a majority, as the former Beauties and Brawns appeared to team up, putting the Brains tribe members on the outs. Tai was also able to win the second individual immunity challenge after a hard fought battle with Cydney Gillon, ensuring his safety. However, when the women of the tribe (plus Joe) pulled off a coup, blindsiding Nick Maiorano, Tai found himself on the outs with Scot and Kyle Jason. The men didn’t take the blindside well, as Scot and Jason took to sabotaging the camp, which Tai also participated in, despite feeling conflicted about his actions. Even though the three men were outnumbered, they felt invincible due to Tai and Jason having idols which could be combined to form a super idol, allowing them to play it after the votes were read.
Tai struggled between playing with his head or heart, and it made him a very emotional player. Aubry, who will also compete on Game Changers, connected with Tai on an emotional level. Tai wanted to bring Aubry into his alliance but felt that Scot and Jason weren’t open to his ideas. In an effort to blindside Scot, Aubry talked with Tai, appealing to him both emotionally and strategically, hoping that he would vote with her alliance. Meanwhile, Jason handed his idol to Scot before tribal council. It led to the craziest elimination of the season, as Tai did indeed to flip to vote out Scot, and went back on the plan to hand over the idol, leaving Scot shocked, and sending him to the jury with Jason’s idol in his pocket.
Because of this flip, Tai developed a reputation as a wishy-washy flipper, even though he remained loyal to Aubry for the rest of the game. Armed with an idol, plus a double vote advantage that he won at a reward challenge, Tai was a big target within the game. After getting rid of Julia, Tai started to see Michele Fitzgerald as a threat because of her ties to the jury plus the fact that he didn’t have a strong relationship with her. However, the rest of Tai’s allies weren’t on board with the plan, causing him to mistakenly use his double vote advantage, while the rest of the tribe voted out Jason. Tai was upset that Aubry kept him out of the loop, but they were able to repair their relationship before the next tribal council.
After Joe was medevaced, Tai found himself in the Final 4 with Aubry, Cydney, and Michele. When Michele won the final immunity challenge, she tried to convince Tai to vote for Aubry, stating how difficult it would be to beat her in the end. While it seemed like Tai was considering, he ultimately stuck by Aubry’s side, voting with her against Cydney, forcing a tie. Aubry and Cydney faced off in a fire-making challenge which Aubry won. At the final tribal council, the jury criticized Tai’s game as being erratic and irrational, and he wasn’t able to adequately express why he made certain decisions. He didn’t receive a single vote from the jury, finishing as second runner-up behind Aubry, and losing to Michele.
Biggest Strength: Tai is a great provider at camp, he has tons of outdoor skills and is a clear asset to his tribe. He’s also very likable and can quickly form bonds with people.
Biggest Weakness: The language barrier definitely plays a factor in Tai’s game. He speaks English as a second language, and sometimes he struggles to find the words that would best express his moves in a logical way. Tai can also be paranoid, like at the beginning of the game when he was constantly searching for the idol. If Tai could relax a little, especially at the start of the game, and focus on providing and working his social game he could have a great chance at another deep run.
Tai is one of twenty returning castaways who will compete on Survivor: Game Changers which premieres March 8 on CBS. Stay tuned to Inside Survivor for more cast retrospectives and other pre-season content.