Pop Crave spoke with the eighth eliminated castaway of Survivor 45, Kaleb Gebrewold, who was one of two castaways voted off on Wednesday night’s episode.
Check out the full exit interview below!
Kaleb! How are you feeling after experiencing what was such a high from last week’s episode to watching back your elimination last night?
I’d tell you it was very Lulu, you know? [laughs] I said previously in the game that we won a reward challenge just because losing another immunity would not have been enough, like we needed a high in order to really hit the floor. And that’s how I felt with this. I don’t know what it was with the Survivor gods, but yeah, they picked me up just to slam me down a little harder, you know?
At the top of the episode, Emily revealed she was lying to you about having the numbers moving forward, following your historic tribal council. Did you believe her words in that moment?
I really did feel like Emily was logical. She’s self-interested, and she’s not going to lose her game for me, but I think that she would have worked with me if there was a legitimate path. I think her concern was that, after the last tribal council, she didn’t know where the numbers stood in terms of who had my back. But knowing that Jake had told me about the Shot in the Dark; Sifu had told me about the Shot in the Dark; Kellie and Katurah had come to me and said, ‘Listen, you don’t have the numbers. We’re trying to get you the votes.’ Emily had obviously told me. I thought that there was a strong coalition we could have built, and I think she would have been very receptive of that. I just don’t know how much of that she knew about.
I’d love to hear more about what led up to your decision to play the Shot in the Dark once Emily told you that you were receiving votes. It’s safe to assume you knew Emily was in on the plan to vote for you, right?
Yeah, everyone was in on the plan. I think one of the things that Reba was trying to do, specifically Austin and Drew and Dee and Julie, was really trying to push a unanimous vote so it would be hidden if there was a vote missing, which was their number one focus. And so they originally wanted Jake because they thought everyone could get on board. And then they wanted me because Bruce was so adamant it had to be me. So they’re like, ‘Well, we’re not going to turn away a free lunch, right?’ And so they’re like, ‘Okay, great. Well, we’ll pick up our six. And we’ll be able to do that and then get rid of J. or Sifu next time.’ But I did have people who were working with me, people who were telling me what was going on, and I just thought—after the Shot in the Dark—what an advantage? Because I don’t think anyone realized how many personal relationships I actually had. If I look on the outs, that’s great. Hopefully it lets them lower their guard a little bit and we can go and storm the capital at the next vote, which, unfortunately, there was a split.
Going back to the early days at Lulu, you decided to keep Emily over Brandon, despite his loyalty to you. Why was that? What did you see in her as an ally that maybe viewers didn’t at the time?
I wanted to work with her literally since minute one, when she’s yelling at Bruce on the mat. I’m like, ‘This girl, she’s not from 2023. She’s a 2003 reality star right here on my mat with me.’ And just like Abi Maria, I wanted to keep her in front of me and work with her the whole way, but she wanted nothing to do with me for three days. I’m pitching to her; I’m doing everything I can. And it only took her hitting rock, rock bottom and being so humbled by almost going home [that] she became open and receptive to the fact that I was actually trying to work with her. And so when it came to the Brandon vote, I just had felt Sabiyah was getting a lot of power in the game. That was the scary part to me. Brandon had given her the Beware Advantage. I knew I looked at her really highly. I knew Sean looked at her really highly. I was like, ‘Man, Sabiyah can get me out anytime she wants to. I need to even the power distribution.’ So I went to work on Emily. It wasn’t like I was trying to go after her or Sean, but I just felt like if I had Emily, Brandon was gone, and she didn’t have a vote, that I could be able to have at least some power in the game. And honestly, I was gonna look out for her and take out Sean until, you know, obviously, she was pushing hard to get me out.
What was the tribe’s perception of you and Emily as the remaining Lulu members at the time? I could not believe that they were willing to clue her in on the plan to vote you out last week!
We wanted to push the fact that, ‘Yeah, we have a relationship together, but she said my name, you know?’ It was kind of like a comedy of errors that we even made it this far together. And that, like, ‘Yeah, we’re cool. But we’re not ride-or-die. It was just like fate that we were just up against Sean and Sabiyah.’ And I think it worked. I think people didn’t know how close we were. I think that’s one of the biggest things I hear from people: ‘I didn’t realize how close you and Emily had become.’ And yeah, I think we both played the part well, and if anything, it’s hard. I’ll tell you, as a social player, the shorter days, I think, is the biggest thing that I probably didn’t correct for. Because there’s so little time. You know, I’m a person who likes to plant seeds and water and let them grow, as opposed to just hard-selling or pushing all the time. And I feel like if I had known how fast it was coming, I probably would have pushed harder at some points and had more strategic conversations with her at the merge to let her in.
It’s ironic to me that Katurah ended up being your downfall, considering the bond you two seemed to be building out there. Why did you choose not to share the information about Bruce’s idol with her earlier?
I didn’t tell her right away because, as much as I trusted Katurah, there’s a reason that she was on the bottom. I knew she had a vendetta for Bruce, and if it was anybody else, maybe I’d let her in. But if I tell her about Bruce, there’s a 100%, 10 out of 10 chance I felt like she’s gonna spill the beans to everybody, and then that means it could flip on me by the next vote. Should I have trusted her? In hindsight, probably right away. But I just felt like I wanted to see how the Mergatory split was… Now I’m invulnerable. Now is a really bad idea to tell her because she’s vouching for me, and I don’t want to disrupt that momentum. And then after that, I wanted to tell her the first opportunity, but literally, it’s sunrise; we’re literally there all along the beach. We get asked to go to tree mail. It’s Katurah and I. We come back. We don’t know it’s going to be a six-six split. We don’t know it’s going to be such a rush day; literally, within two hours of waking up, is when this happens. And so I really underestimated how little time you have in the new era, especially post-merge.
You spoke a bit about this in the episode, but why was sharing that information with her an important move for you to make? Jake pushed back on it originally, so I’d love to hear more.
Yeah, I don’t think he realized… My pitch to Reba by the end was, especially to the shields, like, ‘They have an idol. They’re not telling you about it. They’re coming after you, guys. And listen, I’m at the bottom there, anyway. I want to work with you guys. We can protect each other.’ That was my pitch. Knowing that that information was floating out there, I knew we had to tell her sooner than later. And the reality is, I probably could have lied to her or left her out. I don’t know if that would have changed going to rocks or not, but ultimately, I wanted to work with Katurah. I felt like we needed each other. I felt like we were both at the bottom. And I think the problem was that I treated her like Emily. Emily, who when she was left out on information, she understood. I think that Katurah had a jaded experience from her time at Belo to not trust somebody who left her out of something again.
Katurah had an interesting confessional, speaking of the dangers of flipping on you and Jake and siding with Reba. In hindsight, were there any signs she was going to make this move? Was she having conversations with Reba?
Yeah, she definitely was having conversations with Reba members and building some inroads, but we were all talking with everybody, so I’d be hypocritical to [complain] about that. I didn’t mind that she was having conversations with these people. I genuinely thought that Julie had an idol. I was terrified of her, and she was my winner-pick walking out of the game. I was like, ‘Julie’s a gangster!’ It’s always easier in hindsight; I did not realize that they got into the rings conversation, and that’s probably the point that I feel like Katurah felt like she was getting played, as opposed to just being left out of information. But in the conversation that we had, I think she was also very nervous about going to rocks. The idea of going in with so many people, I think, was kind of a crazy idea [to her]. And I don’t blame her. I almost went to rocks with 15 people; I get it. None of this makes sense! You know? But I do think that between the fact of going to rocks this early and being potentially fooled, I think that she thought maybe I should go to the other side. My pitch was, ‘Listen, I’m on the bottom, too. I’ve had to work with Emily, who’s been saying my name since day one; I’ve had to work with Bruce and be his bitch for four days. I get it. But, like, at least we can do this together. And if we want to have agency, this might be our last chance to be able to overcome the Reba numbers, and then we can… who cares? We’ll figure it out.’ You know, everybody wants to turn on each other.
Jake’s plan was to force a tie and hope Austin would be willing to flip on Julie. Do you think he would have gone forward with that?
You know what? I don’t know. In the game, I genuinely thought that there was a chance. Part of me thinks that, now watching the show—I mean, he has the amulet; he has an idol. If he loses one person in his alliance, is he really gonna lose all of those powers that he’s accumulated? Plus, he has a three? Like, would he have flipped? Potentially. But I do think that they shared a genuine, genuine bond—that four-person Reba alliance. Being bonded by information like that, I think, is really powerful. And so you know what? There’s a very good chance that he could have went to rocks; we will never know. But in the game, I felt like it made sense. And even outside the game, I still think it makes sense, but we’ll see what happens.
Austin spoke of Dee’s potential rise in people’s rankings as a threat following her immunity win. Would you say that was accurate?
I think Dee and Kellie were rising in the ranks. I think Sifu was always going to be just physically considered a threat. Austin and Drew were going to be considered threats. I think Dee was doing a great job of managing her threat level, along with Julie, but I think she was rising at this point, along with Kellie. Bruce is always going to be a threat. And I think, Emily, there was still a perception of, like, ‘Are we really scared of Emily? Like this girl’s kind of nuts.’ And I don’t think they maybe realized the uphill journey that she had overcome to get to this point.
At the beginning of Mergatory, you spoke about sort of wanting to play the middle between Reba and Belo. After that first vote, though, did you see any possibility of working with Reba again, or were you Belo all the way from that point forward?
No, I wanted to work with Belo. Because Reba, you think like, ‘There’s all the shields over there. I gotta work with those guys!’ And then you hang out with them, and I was like, ‘Wow, you’re so competent. Wow, you’re such great players. You guys might actually just flip this thing on me at some point.’ Belo, in the meantime, and I’ve said it before: Bruce didn’t trust Katurah. Jake didn’t trust Kellie. All these people didn’t trust each other. It was like, ‘Okay, this group can’t wait to go after each other. Maybe it might actually be better to go with them, at least for a few votes.’ But my plan, if I was to pick up Reba numbers, would have been to vote out their other options. Like, if I could vote out a Drew, could I pick up an Austin? If I vote out a Julie, could I pick up a Dee? I wanted to pick up these bigger threats to still work together deeper into the game, but I just didn’t see me working with the bigger group of Reba as it was built.
Going off of that, there was a lot of talk, particularly from Belo members, of wanting to keep you in the game as a shield. Did you sense you were being used in that way? Who would you have trusted moving forward into the endgame?
It’s interesting to me; I was very set. Emily, Kellie, Jake… I felt very good about Katurah. I don’t think she’d go to rocks for me, but I think she wanted to work with me. And then I felt like Kendra and Sifu were very flippable. They were talking about how Kendra and Katurah were so happy after I made really good inroads with Kendra, especially that night. And so I felt like we had a chance to flip Sifu, who was at the bottom, a chance to bring in, potentially, a Bruce—although I’m glad I was voted out so I can save my breath because obviously, that wasn’t really going to go anywhere. But I definitely thought that we had numbers and could have made a really surprising push.
Your Shot in the Dark play garnered tons of props and respect from the Survivor community. Who was the craziest alum to reach out to you?
Oh, that’s a tough question. I mean, I gotta give credit to mother, Kelley Wentworth. She hit me up on Twitter, and I would say that she’s the person who’s passing this baton of the most canceled votes. You know, I appreciate it. She was a great sport. And yeah, we just both love ruining people’s day.
As the first member of the jury, what traits are you looking for in the winner of Survivor 45?
I want somebody who’s playing the game. What strategic moves did you make? And how did you have agency throughout this thing? I think that those are probably the biggest criteria. I’m not gonna be a person who’s going to be probably like, ‘I know people are gonna have vendettas; that’s okay. We’re going to talk it through when you come to Kaleb’s place in the jury.’ But ultimately, we want this season to have the best winner possible, and so we’re all fans of Survivor, and I’m going to make sure that everybody who comes into the jury house comes in with the same mentality.
Survivor airs Wednesday nights at 8/7c on CBS and Paramount+.