Still, that seeming inevitability didn't make the fall of the 56-year-old dog trainer and all-around badass (She starts fire! She fishes! She beats young studs in strength competitions!) any easier to swallow – especially for the Jackson Springs, N.C., resident herself.
You were pretty angry when you learned your alliance was voting for you. Still holding a grudge?
There are some people I will be friends with and some I won’t. Chase was the one who wanted an alliance with me. He approached me to begin with. We got close. I had set him up with some eggs and fish on the side that the rest of tribe didn't know about and things like that. He should have stayed true, but he didn't and that hurt.
Do regret putting the fire out in a rage?
Nope. I had already told Chase and Holly when I was expecting us to go to the final three that when we burned the shelter and all that, I wanted to be the one who put the fire out because I started it. I already told them that was my plan. They just came a few days early. I knew I was getting voted out no matter what happened at tribal.
Did you try to team up with Dan and Fabio to save yourself?
I approached them. I told them they were the next on the chopping block and that they weren't gonna get saved by Sash or Chase. The only way they were going to progress was to have immunity around their neck.
Did you know that everyone thought you were an unbeatable force in a final vote?
I didn't think I was a big threat until Marty brought it up. I don't think anyone else thought I was either until he made the case at that tribal.
Do you believe it was a done deal if you got to the end, that the jury would have just handed you the money?
No, I always thought it would be a young person because there were a lot of young people on the jury and they were tight.
Your work ethic and survival skills were so impressive especially considering you're almost 60.
I don't show my age in real life. The way I was on the show is pretty much the way I am in life. I am always up for a challenge. If someone says, "Hey, let's go waterskiing." I go, "Throw me in." Snow skiing? I'll go. I am not a coach potato person. I have always felt like I was made to play Survivor because if put in the situation for real, I've always thought I'd make it out alive.
It seemed like you handled most of the heavy lifting for the tribe.
My biggest amazement was that nobody else wanted to go out and try to catch fish. It wasn't like they were plentiful but fish were available. My philosophy was if you have 10 people fishing versus one, you're probably going to catch more.
Was it a matter of exhaustion, depleted energy or laziness?
I did the same stuff everybody else did and I wasn't exhausted. And if you ate more, you would be less exhausted. One would think they would at least try. But they did it day after day. That was hard for me to deal with – the young folks' poor attitude towards work. One day, Benry and Fabio were arguing about who ate the last tamarind and I'm like, "Who cares who ate the last one? There are trees out back. Go get some more." NaOnka boosted me up, I climbed a tree and we brought back two shirt-fulls of tamarinds for everyone. But they'd rather argue than do something if it requires a little work on their part.
Was this a vote-losing betrayal? If one of the people who wasn't in your alliance gets to the end, do they automatically get your vote over someone who turned on you?
You'll have to wait until Sunday to see.
How have you recovered physically? You were looking scarily thin towards the end.
I don't look as bony and I do clean up a whole lot better than I looked on the show. I looked ancient. I lost 24 lbs. although it was weight I didn't mind losing. I put some back on so I don't look like a bag lady anymore, but I continued to do the Total Gym and run after I got back to stay lean.
Would you do it again?
Definitely. It was the adventure of a lifetime. I'd be the first one on the airplane and the first one off.