Danny McCray Explains Why He Voted for Deshawn to Win ‘Survivor 41’

Deshawn Radden and Danny McCray

YouTube Deshawn Radden and Danny McCray in episode 11 of "Survivor 41."

Last month, Erika Casupanan was revealed as the winner of “Survivor 41,” beating out Deshawn Radden and fan favorite Xander Hastings in a landslide 7-1-0 vote. It was clear to many fans for several episodes prior to the finale that Deshawn was an unlikely pick to win, given his haphazard gameplay and inability to maintain good connections with several jury members after betraying them.

Deshawn did receive one vote, however – that of sixth-place finisher Danny McCray, a former NFL star and Deshawn’s closest ally during the game. Given Deshawn’s rather lackluster strategic and social game, many fans speculated that Danny only did so because of their friendship, or to make sure he secured second place over Xander. As it turns out, the real answer is a bit more complicated than that.

On Monday, Danny broke down his jury vote for Deshawn, and why he was almost going to vote for Erika, until she fumbled a response to one of his questions at Final Tribal Council. Here’s what you need to know:

Deshawn Was Unable to Present Himself Effectively at Final Tribal Council

Deshawn Radden

YouTubeDeshawn Radden at the “Survivor 41” Final Tribal Council.

Echoing statements made recently by other jury members, such as Shan Smith and Liana Wallace, Danny said in an interview with the “Survivor Specialists” on Monday that Deshawn was quite unable to express himself coherently at the Final Tribal Council. This, he explained, was in part due to the accusations about disingenuously using shared cultural and racial backgrounds to his advantage that were levied against him.

“His mind was already gone,” Danny said, “because he was asked a question about turning his back on the movement and taking stuff out of the game and I’m just watching him not be able to be the person that he is.” Despite that, Danny tried to help Deshawn out by encouraging him to point out all the close calls he dodged in the game, such as the infamous “hourglass twist,” the Do or Die twist, and the dramatic final 4 fire-making challenge. However, he was simply unable to do so (dovetailing with Shan’s description of Deshawn being in “sulking mode” during Final Tribal).

Danny went on to explain that he voted for Deshawn because he knew Deshawn’s game, despite his inability to present it. “I know what game he played,” Danny said, “and I know how I would’ve explained it if I was him, which is part of the reason why I gave him my vote.”

Danny also revealed that had Deshawn had a better Final Tribal Council performance, he probably would have gotten a few more votes. “I still think Deshawn played an amazing game,” he said. “I think Erika did what she had to do to get the win, I think if Deshawn was able to explain everything that he did…and people were able to hear and really believe it, I think [the jury vote] would’ve been tighter. I don’t know if he would’ve won, but I think it would’ve been a little bit tighter.”

Danny Wanted to Vote for Erika

Erika Casupanan and Deshawn Radden

YouTubeErika Casupanan and Deshawn Radden in “Survivor 41.”

In his interview, Danny also revealed that, based on the discussions that were held at Ponderosa, Erika was the heavy favorite going into Final Tribal. He explained that he respected Erika’s game, despite not voting for her in the end, revealing that “What they did not show on camera [was] I was looking for any reason at this point to vote for Erika…[so] I asked Erika, ‘Was it intentional? Like, the game that [you] played, was it intentional? Did you do this on purpose? Or did it just kind of happen to you’?”

After he asked Erika this, he said, she “[put] me on hold” and answered someone else’s question. When he came back to her and asked his question again, Danny claimed that host Jeff Probst stepped in and told her that Danny was “throwing you a softball.” Danny explained that he wanted her to say what he ended up saying – that she “played the game that I wanted to play, low key, stick my head up at the right time, and make the right moves to get me to win. So intentional or unintentional, congratulations, but I just wanted her to say it.”

Danny added that he knew Deshawn’s game, but needed to know that what Erika did she did to get to the end intentionally. It was because she couldn’t answer this that Danny ultimately gave his vote to Deshawn, even though it wasn’t enough to win. “I still think Deshawn played an amazing game,” Danny said.

“Survivor” airs Wednesdays 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS. Be sure to catch season 42 when it premieres March 9, 2022.

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