Exclusive: Michelle Sacco opens up about her 'Love in the Wild' experience (Part 2)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 08/02/2012
Michelle Sacco and her partner Benjamin Clark finished Love in the Wild's second-season in second place during last week's finale of the NBC reality dating series, which featured singles attempting to find love in the Dominican Republic.
As the runner-up couple, Michelle and Ben just fell short of claiming Love in the Wild's grand prize of an all-expenses paid first class trip around the world together. The pair were beaten by champions Kenneth Barrington and Yanina Beccaria in the season's grueling final adventure, which took the couples two days to complete.
Last week, Michelle talked to Reality TV World about her Love in the Wild experience -- including why she is "Team Jesse Wilson" all the way, whether being picked last of all six "surprise" girls was a shot to her ego and what makes her feel like she's ready for an engagement in the near future.
Below is the concluding portion of our exclusive interview with Michelle. Click here to read the first half. To read what Ben had to tell Reality TV World, click here.
Reality TV World: When I talked to Jesse, he said he was always "Team Ben and Michelle." What was your opinion of Jesse while you were on the show and of his gameplay throughout the season? He thought he played a pretty selfless game to get the right people together, but other contestants I've spoken with believed he was playing a selfish game for his own benefit.
Michelle Sacco: Jesse is a good friend of mine and a good friend of Ben's, and honestly, when I first came onto the show, I went to the Oasis pretty quickly, so I didn't really know anyone outside Ben and [Jenny Blatt]. This didn't make it on-air, but we went back to the cabins one night actually when we were at the Oasis just to kind of go back and say hey to everyone.
Ben and Jenny had friends there that they wanted to see. I had my original five ["surprise"] girls that I wanted to see, so when I got back to the cabins, I had a pow-wow with the five girls. And they were just like, "Oh my gosh, this guy Jesse, he's a nightmare. [Tara Locke]'s mad at him. This girl's mad at him. He's just terrible," and whatever.
So that was kind of a red flag. I was like, "Okay, who is this guy? Is he not cool?" When he picked me, I totally just disregarded anything that anyone said negatively about him because he saved my butt, and I learned that him and Ben were really good friends before I came on the show.
So Jesse kept me in the game and Jesse stayed because he wanted to help out Ben and keep me on the show because he knew Ben and I had a connection. So I'm very, very thankful for Jesse and I think he's an amazing guy. If people think he was a villain or he was there for the wrong reasons or whatever, it's not true at all. He's a really good person.
Reality TV World: You and Ben weren't together very long leading up to the dating game in which you competed against Summer Mack and "Chase" Aaron Chase and Ken and Yanina, but you guys ended up winning the dating game. Although some people thought you just had a physical attraction, you guys proved that wasn't the case. So why do you think you guys won? Was it luck that you had discussed the exact questions asked or do you believe you just knew so much about each other you would've been fine no matter what was asked?
Michelle Sacco: You know, the questions that they asked, you couldn't really prepare for. Yes, Ben knows my birthday. I know his middle name. I know his dad's name. He knows my dog's name. We knew stuff like that. But these questions, you had to think how your partner would think, you know? So you really had to know your partner.
And I feel like up to that point, Ben and I, we were learning about each other. I knew how he would respond and he knew how I would respond. So, that helped us in that game. As far as me coming into the game later than everyone, I find it irrelevant. Because besides Ken and Yanina, a lot of couples there -- pretty much everyone -- they weren't together the entire time.
Summer had like three or four different partners. Chase was the same, he had like three different partners, I don't know. They all switched around so much. So to say that they were together longer or around each other longer, maybe they would've had the upper hand on Ben and I, it's irrelevant.
As far as Ben and I winning the game, we just knew each other better than the other couples. We were more familiar with each other and we knew how each other thought and felt and everything. So I think that's how we won.
Reality TV World: When you first got introduced to the other contestants on the show when you came out with the other five "surprise" girls, did you have any idea what was going to happen? Did the producers tell you what type of situation you'd be walking into?
Michelle Sacco: The new girls, we knew that we were going to be crashing in on the Couples Choice, and we knew that everyone there didn't know that we were coming. So that whole surprise factor and everything, we knew. I think you could tell we all had sneaky little grins on our face when we walked in the room. We knew exactly what we were walking into.
I didn't realize that these girls that were there, well maybe besides Ken and Yanina -- because they were the only people that were solid and honing in on each other since Day 1 -- I didn't think that the original girls were going to be as upset and possessive as they were.
Just because honestly, there wasn't that much time before we showed up and there was some switching going on and people were like, "Oh well I'm with her but maybe I like her," or, "Oh she's really cool, my partner, but I kind of like him." That whole switching thing was still going on, so that was kind of a shock factor to me. But as far as walking in and surprising everyone, we totally knew what was up.
Reality TV World: During that episode, you unfortunately got picked last and ended up with Ben by default. Was that a little bit of a shot to your ego? And in a funny way, do you consider it fate that that was the hand of cards you got dealt?
Michelle Sacco: Yeah, I definitely believe that everything happens for a reason and I completely feel that I wasn't the -- the guys before Ben, I completely feel like I wasn't their cup of tea for a reason whether they were intimidated because when I walked in the room, I had on huge heels and I was six feet tall, or I was probably one of the glamorous girls out of the group.
And they were probably like, "Oh she doesn't like to get her nails dirty." Whatever reason the other guys didn't pick me, I think it was totally the hand that I was dealt because I was supposed to end up with Ben.
Reality TV World: When you were standing there with the other five girls, did you actually have your eye on Ben from the very start while the men were taking their picks or did you actually think another guy was going to pick you based on eye contact or his gestures or things like that?
Michelle Sacco: Honestly, when I was standing up there, it was all a blur. I honestly didn't focus in on one single guy's face. I didn't think, "Oh he's hot," or, "I hope he picks me." It was a complete blur until I was picked last and I got in line with Ben, and then Jenny McCarthy said, "Well Michelle, how do you feel? Are you happy? You were picked last, what do you think?"
And there's a moment when I turn around and look at Ben and I was just like, "Holy hell, like he is hot! (Laughs) I am just fine with where I am right now, like I am really glad that the rest of the guys didn't pick me, because this guy is the best looking guy up here." So, yeah. Up until that point, I didn't see anyone. But when I did finally focus in, I saw Ben.
Reality TV World: When I talked to Summer and Chase recently, I asked them about their thoughts on you and Ben basically telling them they seemed like a friendly competitive couple without much romance involved. Chase then told me he thought your opinions of them was actually a strategy to keep you two in the competition longer. So did you really just believe Summer and Chase were a buddy-buddy couple or was it truly a tactic to get you and Ben into the finale?
Michelle Sacco: I genuinely thought that Summer and Chase were just like a power couple. I thought they were friends and they just joined up because they wanted to get to the end and win the grand prize for whatever reason.
I don't know if they were chasing fame or just wanted to show off their athleticism or if they wanted to travel around the world regardless of if it was with a friend or a lover or a boyfriend or whatever.
But I 100% percent thought that they were just there for the competition, not to connect with someone. I mean, you know, as two separate people, they're great. I got along well with both of them, but as a couple, I just didn't see it while we were there. I'm not talking about them being physical.
Even just by the conversations that they would have, there wasn't a lot of affection or emotion when we were around them. It was all about the game. It was, "Oh well Chase, why didn't you do this?" or "Summer, if we would've done this, then this would've happened and we would've done better." It was always about the game and where they placed and how they did. Everything was strategy and whatever.
Ben and I laughed about if we would mess up or if we came in -- well, we never came in, well I never came in last -- but if we messed up or did poorly or whatever, we laughed about it.
We didn't take it very seriously. So the fact that they were so hardcore about, "We have to win! We have to win!" or "Oh my gosh, why did you do this?!" What else are you supposed to think? Yeah, I don't know, that's basically them.
Reality TV World: Did you leave the show with any ill feelings towards anybody? Do you see friendships lasting with particular people?
Michelle Sacco: No, I don't have any ill feelings for anyone on the show. When a camera's in your face and you're stressed out, you're kind of backed up into a corner. People feel insecure or people get upset and they just say things without really thinking about, "Oh am I going to hurt this person's feelings?" or "Is this going to come across poorly?" So I don't have any ill feelings toward any of the cast members.
As far as forming friendships, I have formed tons. Ben and I just watched the finale with Ken, Yanina, Jesse, [Christian Seklecki], [Jenna Gillund], and Tara. I talk to my group of girls, [Melissa Alatorre], [Natalie Korzon], [Lindsay Furman], and [Vanessa Ramirez]. I talk to all of them. Ben's friends with most of the guys, so I definitely formed amazing friendships during this show.
Reality TV World: When I talked to Ben, and maybe this will come as a surprise to you, but he mentioned he could see you two getting engaged in the near future -- possibly even a year from now. So what's your reaction to that? How does that make you feel and were you kind of thinking the same way?
Michelle Sacco: Yeah, I mean, we've both had conversations about engagements and it's to the point where if you know he's the only person that you ever want to be with, and there's no one else in the whole wide world that you want to spend the rest of your life with, and this is the right person, then I don't think that someone should have to put a time or a date -- like, "Oh we should wait two years, three years," whatever.
If you feel it and you know it and you know that it's right, then you might as well. And I am the happiest that I've ever been in my entire life and I love Ben with all my heart, and I definitely see us getting engaged in the near future.
Above is the concluding portion of our exclusive interview with Michelle. Click here to read the first half. To read what Ben had to tell Reality TV World, click here.