Ben/Coach says casting threatened him, calls Survivor aftermath “most difficult [time] in my life”

Benjamin “Coach” Wade talked extensively to the Missouri News-Leader, which first reported he was fired from his job as a soccer coach earlier this year. The interview is absolutely worth a read, covering everything from what he’s doing now (“I know I’m going to have two offers from community colleges in coaching. I want to still be a coach, I want to get into public speaking more. We’ll see what opens up. It’s a total state of limbo.”) to why he told me that his team thought he was being tested for cancer.

Just as he was when he talked to me the day after his elimination episode aired, he shows considerable humility and honesty, saying “the last four months have been, without question, the most difficult in my life. … I’ve had just about everything taken away from me that you can have taken away. It’s in those valleys that you really grow.” He doesn’t so much blame the editing as acknowledge that it only showed parts of him, yet he admits those parts were actually him.

Although he pulls out the annoying God’s plan card, which is what people use to disown any responsibility for their own actions (“everything that happened after that was meant to happen”), he is reflective (“I was able to look at myself in the worst light, in the darkest moments, in the most preposterous and pompous things that I would say”), and says the experience has lead him to change (“in the personal relationships maybe being a little bit too over critical”).

The newest and most interesting part, however, is that he’s also now going after the location and casting producers. He says no one doubted or questioned his kidnapping kayak story until “the producers systematically went to work on every single person. Steven and JT and Debbie and Tyson have all told me this … to get that edit that they wanted to drag me through here and bring me out on the other side.” He does say, “I am honored by the edit that I got. … It’s made me a stronger person.”

As to his firing, it’s a long and complicated explanation (read the whole interview), but it boils down to him telling one supervisor but not the athletic director, the person who actually fired him. As part of that story, Ben says that when producers called him to say he’d been cast and told him production would begin in late October, he said no because his team was doing well. Ben says “they went off on me. They said: ‘Do you know what you’re turning down? We’re going to blackball you in Hollywood.’ They were (angry). And I said that’s me. You look at the show — I was loyal. I was loyal to a fault. Never went back on my word. … I’m very loyal, and I’m fiercely loyal to those girls that I coach. So I told them no. They were so ticked off at me, they couldn’t believe it.”

He said later, “I wish, in retrospect, that I would have gone and told my athletic director before I left, but CBS was, like, ‘We’re going to sue you for $5 million if you break this clause. We’ll cancel the season.’ They just brainwash you before you even go down there.”

Wade trying to survive ‘Survivor’ [News-Leader]

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.