05/08/2014 at 01:00 PM EDT
When the Survivor: Cagayan
contestants were split into tribes of Beauty, Brains and Brawn, everyone – even Jeff Probst
– thought that the Beauties didn't stand a chance.
Sure enough, the Beauties were the first tribe to become extinct after Jefra Bland was voted off
Bland, 23, a former Miss Teen Kentucky USA, insists that she had strategy, and is more than happy to dish about the moves she made while on the show. Before we get into specifics, I see that there's a lot of online chatter that you weren't good at the game. What did the fans miss about your strategy?
Oh my gosh, I'm so glad you asked that question! I did have strategy! There's a lot that you don't see. It's easy to sit at home on the couch and say, "She should have done this" or "Why isn't she doing that?" But I was playing very hard. I was always looking for idols; I had found a clue on the reward challenge in the cave. I ran numbers in my head and tried to figure out what was the best move for myself. I tried to play a social game, to make people like me and to bond with people. I really played harder than you saw.
What specific moves did you make?
I had a big part of convincing Kass to flip
. I had heard a lot of things that Sarah was saying about Kass, and I told her about it. Back before the merge, I was a big reason why Brice went home. Everyone wanted to take out Morgan and I told them that she was not a threat, but Brice was a huge social threat.
It's a good thing you helped convince Kass to flip. If she hadn't, you would have gone home weeks ago.
I know! When I first saw my name, I thought it was going to be me, and I got really emotional. I wasn't ready to go home. I was praying that my conversations with Kass had worked.
You could have made a big switch at the Final Eight, and voted with Spencer, Tasha and Jeremiah.
I would have if I had known that Spencer had an immunity idol, but I wasn't going to flip just to force a tie. If Spencer had told me, I would have been with them 100 percent.
Last week, Tasha was trying to put together a girls alliance. Did that come close to happening?
No, not really. Tasha is so dangerous in this game. She's in beast mode at the challenges, she's likable, she's smart. We should have taken her out when we took out Morgan
. I was standing in the water begging Tony, saying, "Please, let's take her out. What if she goes on an immunity run?" And sure enough, now she's winning immunity every week! Meanwhile, there was Morgan, who wasn't a threat at all. We shouldn't have voted her off.
So what's your take on Tony? He's calling the shots.
He is. He was crazy out there, but he's making a lot of moves. We all sort of felt that Woo is Tony's puppet, and that Tony is the one who should be the big target. No one knew he has the special idol. We had all looked thoroughly for it, and I thought no one had it. I knew that Tony was a threat and needed to go home.
Who else is playing a strong game?
I think that Trish is not getting enough credit for everything she has been able to do. She's responsible for a lot of the game's big moves. She has had to keep Tony from going off the deep end multiple times. She definitely deserves a lot of recognition for what a strong game she's playing.
Okay, last question. They keep saying that you're a "former beauty queen." Is that even a job title?(Laughs)
I know! Clearly, I do more than just be a former beauty queen! I study broadcast journalism at the University of Kentucky. I'm also the general manager of a fitness center and gym, which is why I loved the physical part of the game. (Pauses)
You know, actually, I loved every part of the game!