Not long had the smoke cleared from Shane Gould’s torch snuffing when the only other former winner on the All-Stars cast met the same fate. The season two champion, Jericho Malabonga, was unable to recapture past glories and soon found himself on the outside of his tribe’s majority alliance.
While Jericho was trying to shift the target from his ally Moana Hope, little did he know that the majority of seven was plotting his downfall over a jar of cookies—an ironic twist of fate for the man who calls himself the Cookie Monster. Jericho’s attempts to push the votes onto Daisy Richardson didn’t take hold, and at Tribal Council, the former champ had his first-ever taste of the Survivor blindside.
Inside Survivor’s Martin Holmes caught up with Jericho to chat about his time on the island, going from Sole Survivor to second boot, the tribe dynamics, and his cookie-led downfall.
1) Hey Jericho, thanks for chatting with us! When you first got the call for All-Stars, what was your reaction? Did you have any hesitation about coming back, and what ultimately made you say ‘yes’?
Firstly, I was stoked for the franchise! I was so excited Australia was about to have their first all-star season. Then I asked them, “are you sure you want me back!? I mean, I’ve already won. I’m happy to sit out.” But they insisted they wanted me back for this season so of course, I couldn’t say no.
2) We saw Shane voted out at the first Tribal, and now you, the two former winners leaving back to back. Do you think you being a winner played into the tribe’s decision? Was there anything you could have done to play down that target?
Massive contribution towards my downfall. But I also think I was dealt a bad hand from the start. I had a lot of people from my season in my tribe who were pushing for my name and [using] my title as a scare tactic that I was the most threatening in the tribe, which wasn’t the case.
3) The tribe seemed to break into two groups fairly quickly. Can you speak a little bit about the tribe dynamics from your perspective? Who were the leaders? And why did you gravitate more towards the older crowd?
The majority made up of Flick, Brooke, Daisy, David, Locky, AK, and Phoebe formed naturally. They were younger, social butterflies, and really liked each other’s company. Unfortunately, that led to out-casting the older, more quieter bunch that didn’t fit the mould. David and Locky were two characters who showed strength and security, and the girls appealed to that. In my perspective, where those two boys went, the girls followed. I wasn’t about to go into all-stars just to follow. I came here to play and go against it.
4) Who did you consider to be your closest ally at this point in the game? What was your strategy moving forward had you survived the vote?
Despite AK and Phoebe voting with the majority, I still wanted them to be my number 1 and 2. By default, Mat became my number 1, and we tried our hardest to get AK and Phoebe to join us. Had they voted with me, Mat, Tarzan, Mo, and Jacqui, we could have taken control.
5) What was it that made you think AK and Phoebe were the potential swing votes? Did they not seem as attached to the David group?
I found AK and Phoebe two people who weren’t following Locky or David. They were their own people. Which meant they were free agents in my eyes. So I took the opportunity to reach out to them. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t reciprocal.
6) Heading into Tribal Council, how confident were you in the Daisy plan? And did you ever expect the other alliance to be targeting you?
I wasn’t too confident in the daisy plan. But I also didn’t think they were gunning for me. So kudos to them. It was a great blindside.
7) Also, I’ve got to ask, but as the self-described Cookie Monster, what was it like watching this episode back and seeing the alliance chowing down on cookies while deciding your fate?
It was the most hilarious thing. How poetic where my first time playing I selfishly ate an entire cookie jar all to myself, and this time round, almost my entire tribe were eating cookies behind my back which lead to my own elimination. So great!
8) There’s always a lot more going on than what we get to see. Can you share any other insights or moments we might have missed from the first few days?
Myself and Moana became really good friends on the island and [that was] a huge factor to my elimination. They believed I was getting too close to Moana and that they needed to split that duo.
9) Looking across to the other tribe, is there an All-Star that you would have liked to work with? Or any past players who didn’t make the cut who you would have liked to go up against?
I would have loved to have linked up with Shonee and Lee. I’m gutted I didn’t even cross paths with them. I was gutted that Janine, Luke, Sarah Tileke, and Shaun weren’t on the island.
10) In retrospect, how do you feel about going from Sole Survivor to second boot? Are you still happy to have played again, and what are your takeaways from the experience?
I came away my second time really grateful. No regrets. I felt like I didn’t have anything to lose because I’ve won it before and experienced the full 55 days.