updated 11/08/2013 AT 5:00 PM ET
•originally published 11/10/2013 AT 8:00 AM ET
On paper, John Cody is the type of contestant who should do well on Survivor. Athletic, attractive and affable, the 30-year-old doctor from Washington DC seemed primed to go the distance.
But things went awry 30 seconds into the game when his wife, Candice, was voted out of her tribe. As she dominated challenges on Redemption Island, he became a bigger target.
After being blindsided on Day 8, he lasted 11 more days on Redemption Island until he lost a challenge and was eliminated from the game.
He talks to PEOPLE about his game, his socks, and crying in his underwear on national TV.
Let’s start with this week. If you had won the Redemption Island, you would have come back into the game.
I felt like I had a lot of game left to play! While I was on Redemption Island, I had been making plans to return to the game, and what I was going to do. I felt like I had unfinished business.
So you get to the challenge, and it’s a pole-clinging challenge!
I know! That was not a challenge that played to my strengths. I knew that the cards were stacked against me. I was going to have to hold 200 pounds up, and I knew it was unlikely I’d win. But I gave it all I had.
You kicked off your shoes partway. Big mistake?
I was really struggling before then. It was a last-ditch effort on my part. I couldn’t get a foothold, and so I was holding myself up with just my arms. I regretted taking off my shoes because I had socks on. I should have gone barefoot. I took my elimination hard. I think you could see that on TV.
So the game didn’t turn out like you expected?
Not at all! First thing, I watched my wife get voted out. That was the single worst thing I had to deal with, to see someone you love more than yourself go through something so painful.
I knew that anything was possible, but it would have been easier for me if I had been the one voted off first.
You could have changed places with her.
She wasn’t going to let me do it. We made the right decision. If I had switched with Candice, she goes to a tribe full of people whose loved ones just voted her out of the game. I’m not sure it would have worked in Candice’s favor.