Chelsea Meissner: I felt safe the whole time on 'Survivor: One World'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/15/2012
Chelsea Meissner made it to Survivor: One World's Final 3 but finished in third place and missed out on the $1 million grand prize during the live portion of Sunday night's finale broadcast on CBS.
Chelsea, a 26-year-old in medical sales from Charleston, SC, was beaten out by Survivor: One World champion Kim Spradlin, a 29-year-old bridal shop owner from San Antonio, TX, and runner-up Sabrina Thompson, a 33-year-old high school teacher from Brooklyn, NY, in the season's final jury voting results, which Survivor host Jeff Probst revealed live during the episode.
Chelsea received zero votes from the jury, while Kim received all but two votes. Sabrina's two votes came from Troy "Troyzan" Robertson and Leif Manson.
During a Monday conference call with reporters, Chelsea talked to Reality TV World about her Survivor: One World experience -- including whether she thought she'd have a better shot at winning if Kim hadn't won so many Individual Immunity Challenges in a row, why she didn't ever consider getting rid of Kim when she had the chance, what her relationships with the men were really like, whether Kim gave her the hidden Immunity Idol she had been holding onto for awhile in the game, and which reality star influenced her to apply for Survivor.
Below is the first portion of Chelsea's call. Check back with Reality TV World in the coming days for the concluding portion. To begin reading Kim's interview, click here.
Reality TV World: How big of a role do you think Kim's four consecutive immunity challenge wins played in her victory? Sabrina has said that she had no thoughts of voting Kim out of the game at any point, but did you have any similar thoughts at some point? Viewers obviously saw Kim expressing those thoughts about you. And do you think the fact that she won the last four challenges was a big factor in why seven of the nine jury members voted for her?
Chelsea Meissner: Yeah, I think because the jury was mostly men that they do respect someone who's really competitive and goes out there and wins challenges. And not only did she do that, but she did play her social game very well.
So I think that played a big part in the votes that she got. I think if she was only strong in her social game, and maybe me or Sabrina just killed the Immunity Challenges, I think she would have had a run for her money.
Reality TV World: What about in your inability to vote her off? Was that something you would have ever considered?
Chelsea Meissner: Well, I knew that she had that [hidden Immunity Idol] and I knew that with us being seen as a pair, that if she were to go, then I would be next on the chopping block. And I just thought that I would make it a lot further in the game if I kept her around.
Reality TV World: Speaking of the idol, last night's finale showed a scene where it seemed like you were expecting Kim to give you her hidden Immunity Idol to use at the final Tribal Council vote, and given you didn't end up playing it, viewers are assuming she didn't actually give it to you. So can you confirm you never got it and can you talk about what your reaction was to not getting it? Did you have some doubt she was going to turn on you until the votes were actually announced or what was going through your mind there?
Chelsea Meissner: I think both of us were so 100% percent sure that we wouldn't ever have to play that idol that we just never did. You'd rather not play it. You don't have to play it at least. I felt safe the whole time. I trusted in Kim and she told me, "You're not going home. You're fine; You don't need it."
And so, we didn't use it -- didn't play it. And actually, at final Tribal, she ended up giving it to Troyzan because he was such a big fan of the show and she respected him a lot. She ended up giving it to him as like a souvenir.
Reality TV World: She gave it to him at the jury questioning during that final Tribal?
Chelsea Meissner: Yeah. I mean, it was later on, but yeah.
Reality TV World: At the beginning of last night's episode, Jeff Probst's recap of the season talked about how you were a big threat because you had a "close bond with the men." But we never really saw you talk about feeling that way during the episodes, and in fact, during the final Tribal Council, you actually apologized for how cold you'd been during the second half of the game. So what are your thoughts about Jeff's comment, do you think you actually had close relationships with the men at one point, or do you think Jeff was kind of off base with that?
Chelsea Meissner: That was probably my biggest mistake, was that you see on the show -- you see me and Kim going back and forth about [Jonas Otsuji]. I did not want him to go. You see us going back and forth about [Jay Byars]. I did not want him to go. You see us going back and forth about Troy. I didn't want him to go. And it started even at the beginning with [Nina Acosta].
I didn't want her to go and it was like, looking back, I would've been an idiot to keep those people around. But the problem with that was those guys had no idea. I'd never go back to them and say, "I just really fought hard for you to stay here, but it's just not happening." None of them knew that I really tried hard to keep them around.
They just thought I was along for the ride with Kim and whoever she wanted gone, done -- we never, you know, talked through it or anything. So that was my biggest mistake -- that they had no idea. And I think a lot of them watching it back, watching the season over again, they were like, "Oh my God. We had no idea."
Reality TV World: I wanted to talk to you about Kat. When I talked to her a couple weeks ago, she said you were her hero since Day 1 and she thought you were inspirational and looked up to you and hoped to be just like you when she gets all the way to the ripe old age of 26. (Laughs)
Chelsea Meissner: (Laughs) I hope she has more aspirations than that in her life, but...
Reality TV World: So what's your reaction to that and can you talk a little bit about your background and what you think it was that she may have found so inspirational? Because we didn't see a lot about that on the show or even much about any type of close relationship that existed between the two of you.
Chelsea Meissner: Right, and you know, Kat and I, with Kat, I was always just very upfront with her and honest. I would tell her like, if I thought she did something wrong, I would just straight up go to her face and be like, "Kat, why did you do that? That was crazy!" I think looking back, she respected that a lot.
Just as a group of girls, we all just gave each other a lot of encouragement and we all just grew really strong, and her and I continued to be friends. I just think -- I don't know if it was just that she saw I competed hard or I know when I caught those two chickens in the very first episode, she just like couldn't get over that. (Laughs)
There's a lot of things that they don't show. Her and I would go out in the marsh crabbing all the time and she was just amazed that I could catch a crab. I mean, she's just so enthusiastic and so shocked by such little things. I don't know if that's what it is or not, but she's awesome.
Reality TV World: You were shown telling Kim during last night's episode you thought if she took you to the end with her, it wouldn't minimize her chances of winning because you were sure she was the one ruling the game. When you told her that, were you being sincere at the time or was that part of your strategy to influence her to keep you around? Where did those comments come from?
Chelsea Meissner: You mean when we voted Christina Cha out?
Reality TV World: Yes.
Chelsea Meissner: At final Tribal, when I said the decision she made would gain respect?
Reality TV World: Yes.
Chelsea Meissner: We had talked about that vote and we had gone back and forth on who to take, either Christina or Sabrina, and I just thought if the jury is as bitter as they seem -- and when we would go to Tribal, we would look at the jury and they just looked like they wanted to eat us alive. It was nuts.
We thought we were going to have to have security when we left the show. It was bad. (Laughs) So I just felt like kind of the move that everyone thought she was going to make was to take Christina and me, which everyone saw me as her coattail or whatever.
But I just thought that the bigger play for her would be for her to stick with her Final 3 and show all these people who she betrayed or whatever that her absolute original Final 3, she stuck to until the end.
And I thought they would really respect her that she did do that and that it would possibly help her with the votes and maybe they'd be less bitter. I think it would've just killed me if Christina was sitting up there and got votes just because they were bitter. I would've just lost it.
Reality TV World: When Greg "Tarzan" Smith addressed the Final 3 at the jury questioning, the editing made it seem like he didn't ask any questions and that he just thanked you for giving him the opportunity to see his wife on the island. And then afterwards, you kind of seemed to have an emotional connection with him and took a moment there to say how much his relationship with his wife meant to you and stuff, so did it surprise you at all that you at least didn't get Tarzan's vote?
Chelsea Meissner: No, it didn't surprise me at all. Tarzan, I feel like the arguments he and I had on the show were shown all the time. So, I knew that he and I didn't have a very close relationship, but that didn't change my feelings towards what I thought about he and his wife.
I just really thought that was a very special thing, and as much as Tarzan got on my nerves, him and his wife together, it really just painted a whole new picture of him and I really respect that of him.
Reality TV World: Do you think the game would have played out significantly differently -- especially with regard to the women's dominance and ability to take out all the men -- if Colton Cumbie had not been medically evacuated right before the merge?
Chelsea Meissner: Well, I read some of his exit interviews and he was out to get me. I was the next person on his list and so I was like, "Thank God for his bad appendix," because I had no idea how much control he had over so many people until I watched the season back.
And knowing that I was next to go because he was all about Kim and I know he wanted to go far with her, so his way of doing that was getting rid of me early on. So, I mean, if he stayed around, I could have very well been the next one gone.
Reality TV World: When you get towards the end of a Survivor season, typically that final Immunity Challenge is an endurance challenge of some kind. Were either one of you surprised that wasn't the case?
Chelsea Meissner: To me, that was an endurance challenge. I mean, it was so much focus and the rod that we had that held those little cups was really heavy. You're using all your upper-body strength to go through whatever that little course was. So it didn't look intense, but to me, it was a physical challenge.
Reality TV World: How were you cast on Survivor: One World? How did you end up on the show?
Chelsea Meissner: I actually became a huge fan afterSurvivor: China. One of my good friends, Jaime Dugan at the time -- she's married now, but -- was on that show and I just started religiously watching and really thought I could do well on the show.
I talked to her and I was like, "Can you help me do this?" And she gave my information to one of the CBS recruiters and they called me out to L.A., and for some reason, they liked me.
Above is the first portion of Chelsea's call. Check back with Reality TV World in the coming days for the concluding portion. To begin reading Kim's interview, click here.