Reality Dish Exclusive Interview: Sandy Burgin of Survivor: Tocantins


Sandy Burgin, the 53 year old bus driver from Louisville, Kentucky, was 4th castaway voted off Survivor: Tocantins after she clashed with teammate Sydney Wheeler. The boys of the tribe preferred to keep the flirtatious and scantily clad model over the tribe mom. She was definitely a character. The day after she got eliminated, I got the chance to participate in a conference call interview with Sandy. Here are the highlights of what she had to say about her Survivor experience…

Did you have an idea you were being voted out?

Sandy Burgin: Yes, because earlier in the day me, Taj, JT and Stephen were in the water and we were gearing towards Sydney. Then that afternoon prior to leaving JT was avoiding me and I knew right then that they were voting me off.

How much do you miss not going after Spencer?

SB: Ahh I miss it…(laughs) he is the only one that would ‘snuggle bunny’ with me so ya know. And since I turn like a rotisserie chicken all night long just like I am cooking there wasn’t too many that wanted to sleep up next to me but Spencer he did so that wasn’t too bad.

Do you think you were accurately portrayed on TV?

SB: For the most part, ya, probably… (laughs) I’m a nervous type person but I’m hyper and crazy in a good sense not mentally. I’m crazy in the aspect that I cease the moment in anything I do. I love adventure and if they think that’s being crazy it’s cool.. I must be a pretty crazy gal!

What was your overall strategy were you trying to form alliances or were you trying to float along?

SB: Well I kind of went in with Taj. She said that if she ever saw I was in trouble she would never write my name down. She could see how strong I was in challenges and stuff and I was strong every time we went and played one, so she said she would never write my name down and she didn’t. I tried to kind of tried to hang in there with her and Stephan and JT.

Why were you so threatened by Sydney?

SB: Threatened by Sydney… Hell I don’t know. I guess the beauty and the body. I don’t know why they didn’t go with strength over beauty and the body because that is not going to get you one challenge. You have to have the strength like I had… I have no clue. I hate it but that’s the way the tribe voted so.

Do you now know what a pace is?

SB: Of course I know what a pace is. I knew what a pace was at that time, they just didn’t let you guys know. They wanted you all to know I was silly but I would have been silly when I looked up and said “pace Gods tell me what a pace is” because i was doing a little bit of acting. This is one smart chick, she’s from Kentucky she knows what a pace is.

How long did you spend searching for the Idol that day?

SB: Oh my God in Heaven I searched a lot before the tribe got actually got there and before I got there in the helicopter. I looked for a long time on the wrong beach because it said your biggest beach. Well hell I had just got there and hadn’t ventured on the beach enough to find the bigger beach than the one right next to me. I looked for quite a long time.

What was that like being voted out that day?

SB: AWWWWWWWW it was awful it hurt my feelings and it pissed me off, all rolled up into one. I actually thought I was leaving the game and that is what crushed me so bad. I was like ‘oh my God’ I’m gone through all of this and I’m not even going to do anything. It was all in the wording that Jeff Probst says things you know… “You’re not going to make the adventure”.

Watching the show now what do you think of Taj and her ability and strength to build the alliance and her alliance with Brendan?

SB: I think that they will feel like it will work and take them pretty far, but I don’t see it working all that well. It sounds like a great thing to cross alliances and it is a great thing in the respect of sitting back and looking and everything… but I can’t see it going far, but I could be wrong.

As you watched the show back over did you see things you could have done differently?

SB: I probably would have toned it down 5 or 6 notches instead of 2 or 3 (laughs) I am who I am I kind of kept my same persona. I have a lot of fun doing the things I do I’m over exuberant at times so I think that if I had been a bit more calmer it would have been better but I was myself and that’s the way it was. I definitely would have been a bit more calmer, maybe.

Rather than disadvantages of being older in the game, what advantages do you think you had?

SB: Mentally I think I had I was more wiser. Like the raid of the other camp. If they would have sent me I would have taken all their ammunition there is no way I would have left them anything to shot back at me. I would have took every piece of food they had. The ones that went said “oh no we left them a little food if there was a merger”. NO you need to play the game today and that is all you are guaranteed is today. So ya I definitely would have took all their food.

And how much Survivor experience did you have recently in terms of watching the show?

SB: I watched it since like the 2nd or 3rd season, so I have seen quite a bit of it and pretty much felt that I knew what I was getting into and when I got there it was just exactly and a little bit of what I expected.

How did you get cast for Survivor?

SB: I think what brought the house down was when I went to tramp stamp. When I went to California and met the producers and stuff. I gave the last speil on why I should be on the show? I said you have a lot of contestants but you need a character and I’m that person.

What was your personal relationship with Sydney like was there conflict?

SB: Sydney and I really didn’t have a relationship at all really. She was with the guys most of the time and hanging around with them or on them or whatever. So we really did not have a relationship, per say.

How would you describe Stephan? He seems very interesting?

SB: Stephan I tell you is from the city, totally out of his element. I hope he wins the game. He did great teaming up with JT because opposites attract and Stephan and JT got to be 360, total opposites. And I love the fact that he got up there with JT and wanted to learn about everything. I want to learn about fishing, I want to learn about everything you know, and was really cool. He caught his first fish ever and stuff like that. Stephan is wonderful, he is a great guy!

Do you think Stephan and JT are going to go far?

SB: I think he and JT will go real far. I do believe that they are the team to beat. There you go that is what I believe. That alliance there is so thick it’s unbelievable. I describe them as Siamese twins you do not see one without the other.

Where you aware of Taj’s secret alliance at all?

SB: No not when I left the game. Not nearly a clue, no. None.

Do you think now looking back that he has a secret alliance with Taj how will that play out with JT?

SB: I don’t know. I think Stephan will stay true to JT. They have been like that since day one. These are two you see together non stop! He fancied the idea of what Taj has going for him, but he will never leave JT. That is something I have seen from day one!

Was there anything that surprised you about the whole experience that you didn’t expect?

SB: Oh Lord… that surprised me???…. maybe the wildlife and stuff because there were definitely the elements of danger there. Like the Killer Leaf and the one thing that could blind you like if you brushed by it and it got in the air, kind of like dandelion of sorts. So the wildlife that was very interesting and things that you made choices on your own in this game. It’s not like you can’t go here, you can’t go there. You make your own decisions on where you are going to go and you just try to be safe, but it’s not like you are safeguarded it’s pretty interesting.

After you got voted out what was the first thing you did?

SB: Ate!! I think it is all about food and getting cleaned.

How do you now look at Kentucky now that you’ve experienced Brazil?

SB: Oh there is no place like home. I am just like Dorothy, call me Dorothy, there is no place like home. As much as I liked going to Brazil and experiencing what I did with being on Survivor and everything it was definitely brutal and unreal.

How has the hometown treated you since you’ve been back?

SB: Well since I at least got to be on the show for 4 weeks and stuff, everyone has recognized me here in Louisville and have been real receptive and cashiers will come from behind the counter to hug me. And since i’m a pretty affectionate person I will hug them right back. The funniest statement said to me thus far is a lady came up to me the other day and said “oh my God do you know who you are?” That is my funniest statement, I love it!!

Did you travel much before you went to Brazil?

SB: Lord no I’ve never been out of the country. 

JT called you the mom and Stephan called you Mama Kay on the boat. It seemed you were well liked, did it seem that way to you?

SB: Well you know they got the name because I drive a bus and at the time I was transporting construction workers and I said hey look don’t call me granny it’s just not getting nothing so I don’t care what you call me. But if you are going to call me a name my gosh call me Mamma Kay. My middle name is Kay. So if you all want to call me anything call me Mamma Kay and it stuck.

It seemed like it was really a friendly atmosphere on your side?

SB: Oh it was. I tell you what Jalapao was the happiest campers you would ever want to see. We really were. We were happy and content like 99% of the time. The only time you would ever see any strain on our face, what so ever, was if we were faced with going to Tribal Council. Other than that we were cutting up, laughing, swimming and fishing and doing things just all the time. It was a great tribe.

Is there a moment that you wish had made the show?

SB: Yes, actually there were two. One is I filet all the fish they had caught. I did it by the fire at our camp and normally it was like the early evening and it was getting dark and I filet all the fish and I wish they had really shown that. And the other didn’t land last nights episode but when we got up they said Mamma Kay what did you dream last night and I said that there was this really brutal challenge and the reward was to go and raid the other camp. And I wish they had shown that because that was a dream I had and it really came true.

What was your reaction that Taj was married to someone famous?

SB: Oh my God these guys will never get rid of her because of who her husband is. Eddie George and they are all football crazy and they love the game. Her husband will keep her in the game longer than she will keep herself in the game.

How well do you think you would have done in the pole challenge with the weight?

SB: I think that I would have probably, I would have gotten, I would have held 140 lbs probably easy.

Would have like to have seen that?

SB: Ya, ya… well because I trained so hard and my upper body strength was really, really good. I lifted weights for 3 1/2 months and I did some training where I felt I could have done really well. And then mentally if you could just focus on anything but that weight I know you still have to have the stamina, but your mind can take your body places that you never thought it could go. Mind strength is kind of scary it really is. I could do stuff that you would think a person could never do because I have that mind strength. 

Why couldn’t you outwit Sydney? Or did you wait to long?

SB: I don’t think I really tried to outwit her. The thing about it is when we had discussed in the water Taj made the statement that I was pretty strong and I felt at the time she told me she would never write my name down and JT and Stephan were leaning toward Sydney too and you are correct I did wait to long. Because in a short time JT started to ignore me before we went to Tribal Council so I didn’t have the enough time to confirm that we are voting for Sydney. 

And did the beans make you fart?

SB: YES! (laughs)

First Tribal Council did you think it was you or did you think it was Carolina?

SB: Oh I knew it was Carolina. I didn’t even take my stuff. I knew it was her.

You guys had it in the bag before you left for Council?

SB: Oh Ya it was signed, sealed and delivered. I felt it so strong in my heart that I didn’t take my belongings to Tribal Council knowing that Carolina was gonna leave. But she kind of sealed it with her own fate and everything by wanting to clean around the camp all the time. Like how do you clean outside and stuff. Do you push dirt from one side to another. I was so thrilled you don’t know the mark on my back and I thought I would be dinged at the first Tribal Council and it ended up turning around so God it was so great.

Was there anyone other than Sydney on Jalapao that really irritated you?

SB: Oh maybe Spencer a little bit and only because he talked about how he missed his phone, his Ipod and his computer. He wanted to know all kinds of sports scores and stuff and it was like you are in Survivor and it’s only for 39 days and that is just the way it is. Maybe Spencer but not to the point to that it really bothered me that much. It was just somewhat of an annoyance. Nothing to bad.

What exactly is happening between Joe and Sydney? What aren’t the viewers seeing?

SB: Sydney is flirting with all of them. It’s not just Joe. She is flirting with JT and Stephan I mean she is like right in the middle of all of them guys and everything they do. You know if I had a body like hers I would use it to my advantage too. But it’s not going to keep her in the game. It might take her a little ways, but it ain’t gonna take her far.

Anything you would change?

SB: Hell ya the vote last night!!! (laughs)

What was your favorite part of the game?

SB: The challenges! I really like participating in the physical stuff. I really do. Oh my God the way they came up with the challenges is something else. I love, I love challenges.

What was the most uncomfortable part of the Survivor experience for you?

SB: Oh my gosh, well missing my girls and my grandsons. I just missed them terribly and so finally I just put them out of my head and focused on the children of St. Judes Hospital thinking they couldn’t go up to the desk and say “I don’t want to have cancer anymore”. So that is what kept me in the game, kept me focused.

What are you most proud of?

SB: For lasting as long as I did. And first and foremost getting a spot on this phenomenal TV show.

Out of all of the Survivors you’ve seen which was your most favorite? Not including yours.

SB: The one Tom Weston won. He was the utmost deserving one 

The opening vote you said your feelings were hurt and you were pissed off. How hard was it to overcome that?

SB: It was immediate when the tribe arrived at camp. Literally it was immediate. I already knew what they had done and they knew what they had done. And I knew the vote was because I was 53 years old and they did what they felt they had to do. I’m just glad I got to prove myself different.

Spencer is the youngest to play Survivor did you see his youth come out was it a problem for him?

SB: I’m telling you he is a Survivor literally eat up fanatic. He has been watching since he was 10 years old and I can fathom him seeing each episode at least 4 or 5 times he can tell you the name of every contestant, where they live, and probably what kind of toilet paper they use. His youth came out with the I miss my Ipod and stuff that whiney, crying stuff. You see the youth when it comes to that. Most of us might miss a family member but he was missing more the material stuff.