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Exclusive: Debbie Wanner talks 'Survivor' -- It's funny how men are called confident but women are cocky


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/28/2017 

Debbie Wanner was eliminated from Survivor: Game Changers' merged Maku Maku tribe during Wednesday night's episode of Season 34 on CBS.

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The Maku Maku tribe sent Debbie, a 51-year-old from Reading, PA, packing at Tribal Council on Night 26 with 6 out of 11 votes because Sarah Lacina, a 32-year-old from Marion, IA, made a big move and flipped on the tribe's majority alliance in order to escape being on the bottom.

Debbie -- who previously competed on Survivor: Kaoh Rong -- Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty and finished in ninth place -- voted to oust Andrea Boehlke from Survivor: Game Changers with her five allies.

During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Debbie talked about her Survivor experience. Below is a portion of the interview.

Reality TV World: You told Aubry Bracco that Sarah didn't trust her, and then Aubry went off and told Sarah what you had said. Looking back, do you think that was your big mistake -- either trusting Aubry with that information or kind of throwing Sarah under the bus to begin with?

Debbie Wanner: Well, the truth is, Sarah did say that she didn't trust Aubry. (Laughs) Look, you know, Aubry and I have a history. I like her. I think she likes me in the "real world."

But this happens all the time. You see this between Andrea and Sarah, oh, this person said that, and then that person goes and tells the next person. This is a reoccurring theme that happens over and over again on Survivor.

The truth is, Sarah was saying that she didn't trust Aubry, and I knew Aubry and I weren't ever going to be able to trust each other. Was I giving it some kind of last attempt? Some last ditch effort? You know, I actually wanted to work with Aubry and see her go further.

Do I wish I wouldn't have had that conversation with her? Well, yes. Now in retrospect and hindsight, I do. Little did I know how Aubry was so salivating at the chops to (laughs) give me some obscene gesture, but all in good fun! Yeah, I regret having the conversation with her.

Reality TV World: Aubry said that when you get cocky in the game, you tend to make mistakes. It seemed like she was kind of picking on you out of frustration, but since you got voted out in last night's episode, would you admit there is some truth to that?

Debbie Wanner: Was I cocky and arrogant or was I confident in the decision I made? Beth, I always think it's funny how men are confident and secure, but women always seem to be cocky and arrogant.

Okay, look, you could have just as easily seen a clip of me saying, "Well, you know, this six is going to break. I have my gast about Sarah and [Troy "Troyzan" Robertson], him not being an original Nuku member.

But you saw the line in the concrete! What I did was take the information I had, did the best evaluation I thought I could, and at the end, I'm content with it. If Aubry's interpretation is that I was cocky, then she's entitled to her interpretation of the facts.

I prefer to think I did the best I could with what I had, at the time I had it, and moved forward with some confidence hoping that my alliance of six -- some of whom swore on their sons' lives that they were in the alliance of six -- that it was going to hold. So, I guess I tried to have some faith in a game where there's very, very little faith and honesty.

Reality TV World: How did you see the rest of the game playing out? If you got to the Final 6, how did you think it was going to play out from there?

Debbie Wanner: I had gone to [Brad Culpepper] a day or two prior to being eliminated, and I said, "When this group breaks, it's going to be Troyzan -- who's not an original Nuku member -- and on Mana, it is going to be Sarah playing both sides of the aisle."

And I'm patently aware of everybody talking to everybody, but Sarah did it a lot. So Sarah goes off and talks to [Cirie Fields] and talks to [Michaela Bradshaw] and then comes back and says, "Okay, I'm just getting information."

Look, we all do it. That's the game. But she did it a lot. So Brad and I had a conversation and he said, "Fine. She'll be the first one, once it whittles down a little bit more, to go." Whether he was being disingenuous or not, who knows.

But hindsight is 50/50. Do I wish I would have taken Sarah out and made her the target? Well of course I do now. It's easy to say after what happened. But had that six held strong, in my mind, it was going to be [Sierra Dawn Thomas], myself and Brad; or Sierra, myself and [Tai Trang]; or Troyzan going to the end.

I always wanted to go to the end with Sierra Dawn. But it was Sarah who always gave me an uneasy feeling with her hyperbole about, again, swearing on her son's life! Who does that? That's a little over the top.

So that's one of the things that always made the hair on the back of my neck -- I wouldn't swear on my kids' lives to anything I really didn't mean, not even in a game. So that's what raised my hackle about her.

And then with Troyzan, it was not being an original Nuku, because Nuku really hit it off. We really, I think, liked each other as people and did outside the game -- would outside the game.

To read what Debbie Wanner had to say about Jeff Varner outing Zeke Smith as transgender this season, click here. To read more from Reality TV World's exclusive Survivor: Game Changers interview with Debbie, click here.


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