This past week, Jay Starrett became immortalized in Challenge history by defeating CT in a one on one elimination that was physical, mental, and endurance based. In three episodes, Jay has dominated screentime in confessionals, won two eliminations, created a rivalry with Rogan, and has had a little fling with Dee. I was lucky enough to have MTV set up time for an interview with him to talk about his experience on the show.
This is a transcript of our conversation with some curse words edited out. I took some of my repetitive phrases out, and some of the “dudes” used by Jay for your reading pleasure. My biggest takeaway from the interview is Jay is a true competitor with a real personality. He is incredibly grateful for this experience, and he’s someone who should be a mainstay on this show for as long as possible.
Q: So first question, as the only player to come from Survivor ever, and to have the only person on the cast you’ve done a show before with being Nelson, how did it feel being somewhat an outsider on the cast?
Jay: In all honesty, coming into the house as the first Survivor player ever, I was super stoked. I knew Turbo had been on Turkish Survivor, and I wanted to compete with him, but he wasn’t there. Coming into the house, I was looking for any potential alliances considering I was the odd one out. I knew it was going to be hard coming in.
Q: Yeah, you’ve killed it so far. I watched your Millenials vs. Gen X season of Survivor, and while watching, I noticed you were fantastic in all the challenges. You had a good sense of balance, quick on your feet, a good climber, and could solve puzzles. However, you come onto this show, and you know you’re a good athlete, but everyone sees you as this small guy, what was that difficult to deal with?
Jay: I have been the small guy my entire life, and as much as I would like to put on muscle, the food doesn’t stick to my body (laughs). I know I’m the underdog, and I’m out to prove size doesn’t matter and that it’s about the brain that comes with the muscle. I think I’m doing a good job of that so far.
Q: I love that when you beat CT, you guys hug, and he looks like 3 of you, but at the end of the day, it’s you who got the win.
Jay: Oh, f*** yeah, dude! I was so pumped. I was going against a Challenge legend who dominates people. It was a one on one game, and it wasn’t a weird threeway elimination like Kyle and JP. Thank God it wasn’t a Hall Brawl, but still, I won!
Q: Yeah, I think you’re the first person to beat CT in something remotely physically straight up. Most of his losses have been DQ’s, or weird loopholes/situations. So at the end of the day, you’re a legend.
Jay: Dude, I didn’t think my head could get any bigger, but after you saying that it matches my hair in size. Haha.
Q: When I was researching you for this season, I noticed in your Preseason Survivor Survey, you said the thing you were most proud of was buying a house before the age of 30. To me, it reflects that you’re a hard-worker. Every quote on Survivor/The Challenge about your family has shown a remarkable amount of care and resonated with me. From here on out, what’s your goal/focus?
Jay: After I got off Ex on the Beach, my focus was getting on the Challenge. I’ve always wanted to compete on the Challenge. Now that I’m on, I just want to keep competing. Maybe go on Rob Dyrdek’s fantasy factor (laughs), that’d be dope. Honestly, my goal is to live life and accomplishment any goals I put in front of me.
Q: That’s cool. You were someone who was obviously working hard in your early 20s, and now you get to go on reality TV shows and have fun.
Jay: Yeah, I had my first job when I was 15. When I was 13, I was selling mangos in my neighborhood, and then I would go to my aunt’s house, and she’d live next to a golf course, so I’d collect balls and sell them on the side for 25 cents a ball. I’ve been working my whole life, so being able to enjoy all these experiences has been nothing but a blessing to me. I’m thankful to the Universe, god, etc.
Q: Moving on to the elimination itself, during the episode, Nelson was like: “Jay keeps working on one rope.” In the elimination, were you just trying to find the master knot?
Jay: The thing was, I saw CT kept grabbing the big heavy ropes, but those are easy to follow and untangle, even though they are heavy as f***. Exercise wise; it is very difficult. However, the smaller ropes are better, because if you try to untie a knot out of a fishing line, you’re in trouble. Plus, I was able to use the chain link, and chains don’t de-smooth and come out nicely, it’s going to lock itself even worse. I’m glad I was able to come up with that on the fly.
Q: When you were building your stack of stuff in front of your bunker, did you have in mind that the rules said the door had to be all way open? Because I noticed with CT, you had these little rocks that kept him from fully opening the door. Was that the plan the whole time?
Jay: Yes. I was looking at all the debris around the bunker and decided I’m going to use mini rocks to put in front of the door because it’s going to tire him out instead of big rocks. He put one giant rock in front of his door, and even though it’s heavy, once I move it, it’s gone. So I put a bunch of mini ones, a bunch of sandbags, and a bunch of cinder-blocks. Plus, I know he smokes cigarettes, so I just have to tire him out as much as possible.
Q: When he went to open the door, and the little rocks kept it from fully opening, I was shocked by how brilliant it was.
Jay: Thank you. Also, I couldn’t lift a bunch of big rocks anyway. He’s a mountain of a man, and I’m a little rock in comparison.
Q: What’s great is everyone in the crowd is like, “what is Jay doing?” And in the end, the smallest rocks made the biggest difference
Jay: Everyone was cheering for CT the whole time. I just blocked them out. I’m really good at not hearing the seatbelt ringer in my car, so they were just the seatbelt ringer to me, haha.
Q: Moving onto the house, what is your relationship like with Dee and Rogan. They seem to have this triangle of toxicity where they wring people into their drama.
Jay: They are one a billion. Going in, Dee was flirting with me the whole time, so, being in the house with everyone, I wanted to be cordial and respectful at first, because it’s the Challenge and everyone hooks up with everyone, and I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Then it turns out I’m the odd one out as the only Survivor player, and everyone sees me as a Red Skull for them to take. So once that happened, I’d just figured I get myself in more trouble by having some fun. I met Rogan once before the show, and then I met him in the house, and he’s a completely different person. I walk in, and I’m like, “why is he being such an a**hole? So I figure why not hook up with Dee and leave him jealous.
Q: Well, that’s just great.
Q: So would you rather compete on an Exes season with Dee as your partner, or on a Rivals season with Rogan as your partner?
Jay: Oh, I’d rather be on a Rivals season with Rogan. We’d argue a bit but then would have to team up and crush. My brain plus his muscle would be great.
Q: 100%. Are you disappointed at all that you didn’t get to play the strategy/politics part of the game because of the format and the fact you had such a big target from the jump?
Jay: I was able to play it a little bit early on in the house vote between Asaf and me. I was working with Swaggy, but then also Swaggy was working with Bananas, and Bananas did not want to work with me. I tried to create relationships to build off for when I’m not a rookie anymore. As far as this time, let’s just battle it out, I f***ing love doing this stuff.
Q: Do you have animosity towards Bananas from the EOTB/Morgan stuff?
Jay: I never did. Just thinking about it, no.
Q: That disappoints me because you two arguing would be fun to watch.
Jay: There was actually a time in the house that they didn’t show. I don’t think there were even cameras around, but he put his dirty shoes on my bed, and I got upset and told him, “don’t put your dirty shoes on my bed.” It wasn’t even a storyline thing, it was just like, don’t be a dick. I’m not like Devin trying to build a storyline off you.
Q: One of my last questions, which Survivor player would you want to see on the Challenge?
Jay: Get my boy Cole on here. It’d be like me and Rogan, muscles and brain. Let’s get a Survivor team on the Challenge.
Q: What about a female Survivor player?
Jay: Nobody is coming to my mind. My brain says Parvati, but she’s too old now. She has a life and kids, but when I think of her social game, that has to be my pick.
Q: Any last words on your experience overall?
Jay: Again, thankful to the Universe, God, and everything. Hopefully, I’m able to make some people laugh. Just happy that I’m around to experience all of this.