It’s true that nobody likes a quitter. But man, did we all want to like Julie McGee (and we still do, we’re just all a bit annoyed). Coming in as the girlfriend of the season’s most well-known, controversial player, former MLB pitcher John Rocker, the immediate thought on Julie was: What sort of person dates a guy like John Rocker? She definitely is a knock-out, the perfect physical specimen that we would expect to see standing next to Rocker’s chiseled body, but when we started watching her on “Survivor: San Juan del Sur,” she impressed many of us in some other, unexpected ways. She was tough, for one, not just some prissy Barbie doll like she may appear. She was the calming force when John wanted to lose his temper, and she showed a sense of determination and grit early on. She seemed an early underdog with John voted out early. To me, she was very easy to root for. But after Wednesday night’s episode, everything came crashing down.
In case you missed Episode 7, you can catch the full recap here.
Julie began the game on the Hunahpu Tribe and seemed to be a player in the power alliance. Her biggest challenge was her close association with that of her loved one, John Rocker. Rocker’s reputation in and out of the game eventually put Julie at odds with even her closest tribe mates, and when Rocker was finally voted out, she had to watch while others cheered his exit.
Things didn’t improve all that much as time went on. A horrendous night of torrential downpours really drove Julie into despair, and she never quite recovered mentally. She did make the merge, mostly on the strength of her winning tribe, but then she decided to hoard a bowl of trail mix and hide it from her tribe mates following the merge feast. When she was found out, it just made camp life even harder for Julie. She seemed mentally ready to check out of the game, and much to the chagrin of us viewers, she did just that, chatting with Jeff Probst and officially telling him that she was going to quit the game.
Julie McGee became the 11th person to ever quit Survivor, and I spoke with her earlier today, about her big decision, her relationship with John Rocker, and just what exactly went down with the whole trail mix thing.
Tom Santilli, Survivor Examiner: Hello Julie! Hope you’re doing OK!
Julie McGee: Hello, I’m doing fine thank you.
Tom Santilli: So you even mentioned it during the episode last night, but you were prepared to face some backlash for your decision to quit. How would you describe the reaction thus far, has it been worse than you expected? Better? Same?
Julie: I was prepared. You know, there are some really hateful people. I mean, I get people being disappointed. But there are some nasty people. So I wasn’t completely prepared for people to be that nasty, but I’ve been prepared for years just dating John, seeing how people treat him, just for years and years. With his little scandal, and how people treat him and not know him. People thinking they could have done it better, they could have had my place. And I get it. But it’s a little tough to take and read, but I have so many great supporters as well.
Tom Santilli: How did John react once you finally saw him and he learned that you had quit?
Julie: It was nothing but love. He just held me and said he was happy I was OK, and that he just supported me no matter what.
Tom Santilli: We all know that Survivor is not easy, and it is very simple to just sit back on the couch and watch this show without ever knowing just how difficult the show can be. Even though you were shown having a tough time, I’m interested to know not exactly why you quit, but the timing of when you chose to quit. You could have quit after John was voted out, after that bad night of rain, or even a day later than you did, after Tribal Council. Explain to me why you quit when you did.
Julie: So everyone saw me just break apart during that rain storm. It was holy hellacious for me. I get very cold. I’m actually cold in the room I’m in right now. I just get cold and I get anxious. But just being that cold and wet and not having anybody warm that I could really turn to, yeah, it broke me apart. I knew that I was in no shape to make any kind of major decision that night. I just needed to cry through it, or do whatever to get through it. Then hopefully make a more clear decision once I’m through it down the road.
Tom Santilli: Well, Jeff Probst in an interview with EW.com today, mentioned that his take on you quitting, was due to the whole idea that you and John are rarely apart. To quit when you did, meant that you could see John much sooner, because had you stayed in the game through even one more Tribal Council, you would have made the jury, and would have been sequestered for several more weeks. Any truth to what he is saying there?
Julie: No, there’s really not. I’m not saying or suggesting that Jeff is lying, or making up something that’s not true. I just think that that might be his take on it, but when were sitting down there having our little time there, that little interview before it was official, he was saying, you know that John may not be there. Well I absolutely know that, I had actually figured they had already packed up John and left. So it wasn’t about that. I had already been away from John for three weeks and really hadn’t talked to him in a month. So it was just a decision that I made for myself at that point.
Tom Santilli: In that conversation you had with Missy prior to quitting, she obviously didn’t say the right things that you needed to hear, to convince you to stay in the game. Was your mind already made up to quit at the point when you talked to Missy? Could she have said something different that might have convinced you to stay?
Julie: I have to say that my mind was not made up at that point. To answer your other question, I’m not sure. I mean, she could have said anything different and would I have reacted different? I don’t know. What she said though, was definitely very fake. I could see straight through it. So it definitely pushed me away from her, but I was definitely on the fence. But come on, I know what this game is about, I know what people go through. And I left a lot. I left my business during the busiest time of year, my family and friends. There was no way I was going to quit three weeks into the game and just leave for the sole reason that I just wanted to leave. But I was on the fence, and production kind of pulled me to the side, and then my head was just spinning. Jeff came down, and then it was done. Nobody got to see the whole back-end on that. But there was so much more going on that isn’t seen on television, and people just aren’t going to be able to see that. They’re just not.
Tom Santilli: You were shown as being in the same alliance as Jeremy as well. Why did you only confide in Missy? Why not Jeremy?
Julie: Good observation, I’m glad you asked that. Because the only way I even ended up talking to Missy that day, was because 30-45 minutes before our conversation together, she had come up to me and she told me “we are all going to vote for Josh.” And I’m like, OK, why the hell are you coming to me with this, why wasn’t I involved in that? And I straight-up said that. She tried to make up something like, oh, oh, Jeremy and them just didn’t want the others to think you were in a close alliance. And I was like, man. So that was all very, very strange to me. So when I finally had that conversation with her about quitting, I had just gone up to ask her, OK, what is the deal? Who is really going home? Why are you really talking to me? Why is nobody else talking to me? It was just really bizarre. And that’s what had started that conversation.
Tom Santilli: What’s your version of the whole trail mix scandal?
Julie: I think it’s a little funny that there’s a scandal. I would not take from anyone, the stealing part is just totally weird to me. Watching last night to see that they were going into my bag and stealing from me. So when we’re up at the merge feast, everyone was full and rubbing their bellies, and throwing up. And I was like, hey, we only have a few precious moments to bag up all of this leftover food, because we were able to take it with us. So we all had to figure out how to get all of this food down the mountain. So everybody was just stuffing food in their pockets, in their shoes, whatever you had to do to get this food down the mountain. You saw that part with me and the basket on my head walking back down to camp, that basket was probably 50 pounds. I had a knot on my head for like a week (laughs). You’re welcome everybody! So they totally made it look like I was stealing something from them. It’s called smart. I’m trying to take care of myself when you have all of these couples taking care of each other.
Tom Santilli: Let’s talk a little bit about your relationship with John Rocker. Now obviously, nobody can claim to truly know him simply based on what we see on TV, or that controversial article written about him, or what we hear in the news. He obviously has another side, or has some qualities that you love about him, or I’m guessing you wouldn’t be with him. So when you both sign up to play Survivor, given his reputation, were you hoping that his time on the show would maybe help change public perception of him?
Julie: Yes, well, not was I hoping. I knew it would. If John is on camera representing himself and its not a written article about him, I knew that everyone would see who he really is. He’s funny, he’s hilarious. He’s really chill and giving. He’s not a basher of everyone else in the world except him. He’s a really nice guy. So I knew that would happen from the moment he came to me and told me that this was a season called Blood vs. Water. I had seen that season so I was familiar. He told me they wanted to interview me for the show and I said without a doubt. I wanted to do whatever it took to support him. I guess I’m just a good girlfriend (laughs).
Tom Santilli: Well, in John’s time on the show, though, some of the others were being pretty obnoxious with him, like when Natalie got in a shouting match with him after one of the challenges. Was that disappointing to you, to watch John lose his cool and react to Natalie and the others?
Julie: What the audience watching the show doesn’t see, is that we were all led to believe that John was some evil mastermind on the other tribe. Just picking people off one by one and just being a total dick. It freaked me out because I didn’t believe it. I just was wondering why he was doing that, just be who you are and people will like you. And now you’re going to feed into what everyone expects? So Natalie thought the same thing that I thought, that our whole tribe thought, but Natalie decided to yell at him because…well, she’s like a female version of John (laughs). She’s loud and will say what’s on her mind. So she just started cussing him out and he was like, hold up, I’m not going to be cussed out by a girl. Or even a dude. So he’s not going to sit back and suck his thumb. So when it was going down I was just like a confirmation of what we thought was going on over there. That John was just being a total ass. Of course when I heard his side of the story and also watching the show, that wasn’t what was happening at all. So I was really upset because I was misinformed and I thought the worst was happening.
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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