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Bubba Took A Chance And Lost

The Vanuatu Survivors endured an island-rattling earthquake, tough water contests and a tribe shake-up that redistributed the contestants and ended the gender split between the two groups. After Travis "Bubba" Sampson was caught sending signals to his former tribe mates during the immunity challenge, his new tribe decided he wasn't a team player and voted him out.

But Sampson told co-anchor Harry Smith Friday on The Early Show that he was sure his fate was sealed before he sent those signals to his former tribe mates.

"I felt like turkey on Thanksgiving. The ax was coming down," he said. "So whether it was this week or a couple of weeks, I felt like my goose was cooked."

Explaining his effort to signal his former tribe mates, Sampson said, "Just thought I'd pull the old Boston College Doug-Flutie-in-the-end-zone and see if anybody catches it, you know?"

What he wanted to do was remind the male tribe to think about the merge, "because the way it's laying is if Lopevi wins the immunity challenge, they're cutting their own throats because they're going to end up with more women than men."

He admitted he wanted the other tribe to throw the immunity challenge: "I thought that was the obvious choice. I thought it was already decided by them. I thought we got two women, we can get rid of two women."

If he had succeeded in his plan, he told Smith "people would be calling me a genius, If I pulled it off, people would be calling me a genius."

In answer to viewer questions, he spoke about his Lopevi alliance of five, the failure of the tribe to vote off Rory and his trademark orange T-shirt with a picture of "The Price Is Right" host Bob Barker.

He said the alliance of the five older Lopevi tribe members was a necessity born of the first night's experience.

"The other four, if you remember in the first episode, when we were going out trying to find camp, they had led the whole time and that whole night, they stayed apart from us on a rock. The next day when it's working, the four stayed together. And Chris pointed out, 'Hey, these guys are really working together. They're staying together. And if us five don't stick together, we will be picked off one by one. '"

He was asked if he regretted his original alliance with the group of men who wouldn't throw Rory off when, in his new tribe, Rory voted him off.

"As far as regretting the alliance, no," he said. "Because it worked the whole time I was there. It kept me on the show. As far as voting Rory off, strategically, I thought that would be a mistake, because Rory was ruffling some feathers. And keeping him around was making sure no focus came to me."

He said he and Rory ended up becoming close. "Rory is very misunderstood," Sampson said, "but he's got a heart the size of the state of Texas. He's a great guy."

As for the trademark tee, he said, "I'm a big fan. Me and my granddad watched him growing up and it's an image I have of my granddad."

Thursday's episode of "Survivor: Vanuatu" began with each tribe receiving a surprise visit from island natives, demanding both groups pick a "chief." The men's Lopevi tribe dubbed military man Lea "Sarge" Masters their head honcho, while the women's Yasur tribe handed leadership duties to their eldest member, Scout Cloud Lee.

The significance of naming a tribe leader remained a puzzle until the two groups convened for a deep-diving water reward challenge. Upon arrival, host Jeff Probst pulled the two chiefs aside and ordered the remaining Survivors to drop their buffs.

Scout divided the Survivors into two new tribes, each a mix of men and women. Sarge then picked the one he wanted to lead and became chief of a newly formed Lopevi tribe, while Scout took command of a new Yasur tribe.

Some tribe members remained loyal to their men or women and had difficulty allying with the groupings. Led by Sarge, the new Lopevi tribe -- consisting of Julie, Twila, Chris, Chad, John K. and Sarge -- swept both the reward and immunity challenges. Reward for the new team was beer and Pringles, and a trip to some waterfalls.

While Lopevi enjoyed their reward and immunity, the new Yasur tribe -- Scout, Rory, Bubba, Ami, Leann, Eliza and Lisa -- muddled toward a tribal council decision. Both men felt marked for expulsion, but in the end a fatal error in the immunity challenge cost Bubba the game.

Ami spotted him making hand signals and mouthing the word "merge" to his former Lopevi friends during the challenge and spread the word among the Yasur clan. When the votes were tallied, Bubba was booted out of the game.

"I had a great time playing," he said in his final testimonial. "I got in trouble throwing a little signal. I think the Yankees are going to give me a job to work first base so I can send some signals."

Unaired insider video and a "Survivor" fantasy league are featured on the official "Survivor" Web site.

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