A seriously ill Survivor player was removed from the reality show and rushed from Samoa to New Zealand to recover - only to fall in love with Kiwi soap Shortland Street.

Controversial contestant Colton Cumbie became the sixth player to leave Survivor: One World - and second to be medically evacuated - after suffering crippling abdominal pains.

The 21-year-old Alabama resident was initially thought to have appendicitis, but Cumbie told nzherald.co.nz it was a bacterial infection from something he had eaten in Samoa.

"I had a severe bacterial infection in my stomach and intestines," he said. "It was likely to be something I ate ... like a crab that I left out too long. There's a lot of things you can get out there (in Samoa)."


While he recovered, Cumbie said he fell in love with Shortland Street.

"You guys don't have the Young and the Restless so I had to settle for Shortland Street.

"It was good. They actually took me and showed me where Shortland Street was filmed ... I was really excited."

Cumbie has been branded as a villain for his bullying on Survivor - especially against stand-up comic Bill Posley, who he labelled as "ghetto trash" during a torrid tribal council argument. He also called little person Leif Manson a "munchkin".

He said he defended his brutal comments, saying it was all for show.

"I obviously don't treat people like that in day-to-day life. I don't sit around and order people to serve me. That was obviously for entertainment purposes.

"I don't believe half the stuff that I say on television. It's all to make people laugh. At the end of the day I really don't hate anyone."

But he admitted that hadn't always come across, and he regretted some of the more outlandish moments. He had apologised to the contestants concerned.

"We are all on good terms, everyone has let everything go. It's kind of like having a fight with a family member. You can't go through something like that with someone and not develop some sort of relationship, whether it's a life-long friendship or a love-hate thing.

"I don't dislike anyone on my season. I think that there's something positive about each and every one of them. When you're not starving and trying to kill each other for a million dollars, you can see those things."

But watching the show had led Cumbie to do a fair bit of soul searching.

"There have been episodes that I have watched through my fingers ... I definitely regret those types of things because that really is not who I am.

"I feel like instead of playing the game, I was letting the game play me."

Watch highlights of Cumbie's time on Survivor:

* Survivor screens on Four every Sunday night. nzherald.co.nz will interview every contestant as they are eliminated.