03/24/2013 at 10:00 AM EDT
Matt Bischoff started out last week's Survivor: Caramoan
in a good place.
He was in the majority alliance of his tribe, and no one had even thought about voting him off. But a tribal swap changed all that.
Although the switch was random, the other tribe got the buff, athletic contestants, while Bischoff ended up on a significantly weaker tribe.
Even worse, he was outnumbered – their tribe had only three Fans and four Favorites.
A diehard fan of the show, Bischoff, a 38-year-old BMX Salesman from Cincinnati, talks about his time on the game – as well as his amazing beard. Okay, first things first. How long have you been growing that beard?
I began it about 7 years ago, and I have to shape it with my hands all the time. It's a dreadlock beard.
Did it ever get in the way during Survivor?
Well, my face kept getting bitten from the sand fleas that ended up in it. There were things feasting on any coconut I got caught in my beard.
That's kind of gross.
[Laughs] Yes, it was.
So you and your beard decided to try out for Survivor. Why?
Oh, I was a huge fan of the show. I watched it from Day One, the very first episode and I was hooked. I have such a love and respect for the game, and I still can hardly believe I got a chance to play it.
You were in a majority alliance when you were on the Fans tribe, but in the minority after the tribal swap.
The first thing I thought was, 'Dude, we're doomed.' The other tribe got all the major physical powerhouses, no offense to my tribe. And so I kind of knew we would lose the immunity challenges, and being in the minority, I knew that there was a good chance that I would go. But what could I do? I was helpless. There were four of the Favorites on my tribe, and only three of the Fans. I knew we were screwed.
You quickly turned on Julia, who had been part of your alliance. Why?
Well, I thought maybe they'd keep me around because I'm stronger than her, and I knew that the four favorites were going to stick together. So I thought, 'maybe if I can make it to the merge, I can figure out something to do.'
But why did they choose you?
I was brutally honest that I didn't have the hidden immunity idol, and they knew that they could vote me off. Maybe that made me an easy target. I was too honest.
Were the Favorites nice to you after the tribal swap?
Absolutely. They were very nice, but at the same time, they were playing the game. They wouldn't let us go off on our own without one of them following us. They were very upfront that they were going to stick together, so we knew there was no opportunity to flip one of them. So they were all business, but they were nice about it.
You were on a tribe with Phillip Sheppard, who seems like someone best taken in small doses.
I thought he was freaking hilarious. He's always talking about secret agent stuff, and it's really funny. I didn't mind him; if things had been different, maybe I would have been able to work with him.
Who else did you like on your tribe?
I loved Dawn Meehan. She and I connected on an amazing level. I think we have similar hearts. She's just a fantastic lady. And I actually liked Corinne, too. I know people think she's a b----, but she's witty, funny, a big ball of energy. She was great.
So now it's over. Still a fan of the game?
Even more than ever. Only a few people really get to play Survivor
, and I'm one of them. I wish I could have lasted longer, but I really had the time of my life.