Jake Zweig explains his erratic behavior on Top Shot: “I am on the show for exposure”

Last night’s Top Shot featured some Survivor-style drama, another example of the show transcending its basic subject matter (a competition between expert marksmen) and becoming more about human drama, which probably drives marksmen crazy but makes it have much broader appeal.

The drama centered around this season’s drama queen, Jake Zweig, a 39-year-old college football coach and former Navy SEAL. For most of the season, Jake has been playing the “I’m acting crazy to win this game” card, which didn’t seem all that implausible. He started by having his team run drills in the back yard that the other team mocked (and later emulated), but soon Jake started to drive absolutely everyone crazy. But he backed up his words with skill. After his team voted him into the elimination challenge, which he absolutely dominated, he made good on his threat to move into the back yard to be away from them.

This week, he quit the show rather than compete in the elimination challenge, which seemed childish and not at all what you’d expect from someone playing to win instead of for friends. But for the kind of competitor you love to hate, it fit right in with our expectations for him based on his behavior.

During the episode’s broadcast, Jake took to Twitter to comment, calling it “BS TV” and playing the “it’s fake” card, writing, “Everyone does understand that it is a TV show and not a real.” (Not a real what, Jake? Don’t leave us hanging like that!) He also claims the other competitors were “very very mad” at his decision.

I haven’t seen a post-quitting interview with him yet, but in an interview with Bleacher Reporter Jake did a few weeks ago, Jake offered a bit more insight. He admitted, “I am on the show for exposure so I have to know what’s being said about me. I read all the stuff.” And he also doesn’t care that the exposure comes at the price of people loathing him. “Oh man they’re gonna remember me being the asshole. I don’t really care how they remember me as long as they remember me. It’s better to be remembered than forgotten,” he said.

Jake said his behavior was strategic (“When they showed me getting voted into elimination on some hogwash I made it seem like I was a lunatic, but that was all calculated. I wanted to shake up the house.”) and also further played the that’s-not-me card, saying, “you only get to see ten percent of what is going on so that is not me or who I am, but a lot of what you see was calculated. I talked the first few episodes about psychological warfare and I tried to use that the whole time I was on the show. But no, that’s not me you are seeing on the show.”

When asked if he’d change anything he did during the competition, he said, “no, not at all.” And that probably sums it up pretty well.

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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.