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Exclusive: Sarah Lacina talks 'Survivor': I completely miscalculated the damage I had done to my friends


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/30/2017 

Sarah Lacina was crowned champion of Survivor: Game Changers and winner of its $1 million grand prize during the live portion of the finale broadcast on CBS.

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Sarah, a 32-year-old police officer from Marion, IA, won Season 34 of Survivor with the majority of jury votes, more than half.

Sarah defeated Brad Culpepper, a 47-year-old retired NFL player from Tampa, FL, and Troy "Troyzan" Robertson, a 55-year-old photographer from Miami, FL, in the Final 3. Brad received three votes to win the game, while Troyzan earned zero. Behind them, Tai Trang finished in fourth place, Aubry Bracco claimed fifth place, and Cirie Fields placed sixth.

During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World following the finale, Sarah talked about her Survivor: Game Changers experience and victory. Below is the concluding portion of her interview.

Reality TV World: Brad was absolutely confident he could beat everyone at the final Tribal Council. Going into the jury questioning, how confident were you that you could beat Brad and Troyzan? And then how did those feelings change, if at all, by the end of that Tribal session?

Sarah Lacina: Going in, I'm like, "I've got this in the bag." As we're walking down to Tribal Council, I'm like, "Tai got voted out. I just won the game." I felt confident, you know, going to sleep that night and all day. And then I was just like, "I just won Survivor," and I was having a really good day, right?

We walk into Tribal Council and then the mood changes very quickly. I realized -- you could see how emotional people were and how upset they were. And at that point, I go, "I really underestimated people's feelings and how I've hurt people, that I might not have this in the bag." So it was a really hard pill to swallow, to see the damage I had done that I completely miscalculated.

Reality TV World: Despite such damage, you stood by your gameplay in every way. What was your reaction when Debbie said, for example, that she had no respect for you or your game?

Sarah Lacina: Well, that's Debbie. Had it come from anyone else, I probably would've been like, "Oh wow," but coming from Debbie, I mean, we saw her be that way her first season, so, I was like, "Whatever." If someone else said it, then it probably would've hit home a little harder.

Reality TV World: Was there any part of you that believed Cirie was telling the truth when she told you that she was trying to play your steal-a-vote advantage for your own benefit? After all, moments before, she mentioned how her plan was to expose a rat and that someone would thank her after it was all said and done with. Could she and Michaela Bradshaw have done or said anything to make you believe they were being honest in that moment?

Sarah Lacina: When she took my vote, that's what I couldn't get over. If you're trying to save me, I'm the only person that can't write my name down and you're just expecting me to trust you that you have all these people under control and now they're not going to vote me out. I'm the only one who can't write my own name down, so don't be taking my vote.

So as she's trying to explain what she was doing, she's also trying to explain it quietly because we're at Tribal Council and she didn't want everyone to blow up her game. So there just wasn't time to recover from that, and then we get back from camp -- you obviously see us have it out -- but then the next day, we really did some recovery and she was able to say what she was doing.

And I didn't necessarily agree with what she was doing. It was really a dumb thing to do, but I saw what she was trying to do. And even watching it back, now I'm like, "Yeah, I get her intentions now," but I just don't think she went about it the right way.

Reality TV World: Were you surprised that after the Final 7 Tribal, Tai admitted Cirie was telling the truth about him viewing you as a threat and planning to betray you? Some found it shocking he came clean to you.

Sarah Lacina: I was like, "What, Tai?!" At that point, I had been the only person who had not written his name down. I was like, "Tai, I'm the only one who hasn't turned on you. Everyone else here has written your name down." I couldn't believe [it] because I had done nothing to him up to that point to [make him want] to come after me.

So it just shocked me, "You're going to trust people you haven't played most of the game with?" Because he hadn't played a lot with Cirie or Aubry, and we were close and I hadn't backstabbed him, other than the Debbie thing, but that wasn't a backstab to Tai necessarily. So, I definitely didn't understand it and I was like, "Wow!" 

Reality TV World: You got rid of Michaela as revenge on Cirie since they were tight. Had Cirie's advantage mistake not played out, what would you have done with Michaela? What was your plan from that point on if she had stayed in the game?

Sarah Lacina: I don't know! I'm sorry, honestly, I can't answer that now just because so much has happened and it was so long ago. So much happened that I can't give you an honest answer on that.

I have no clue what my idea was for using it. I know we had something in the works, because I'm yelling at Cirie, "Now, I don't get to play it! I wanted to play it!" But at this point, I don't remember what I wanted to do with it.

Reality TV World: When there were six people left in the game, including Aubry, Cirie, and Tai, what would your ideal Final 3 have been?

Sarah Lacina: Well, it might not have been the smartest, but either -- I have to back up to six. Either I wanted Cirie, myself and Michaela, or some form of myself, Michaela and Troyzan. That kind of a situation. I definitely didn't want to go to the end with Brad -- not that I thought he could beat me, it's just he wasn't in any of my Final 3 [options] by choice. He just wins out and so we're forced to adapt to that.

Reality TV World: So if you had won that final Individual Immunity Challenge, do you think you would have taken Tai with you, instead of Brad, to the final Tribal Council?

Sarah Lacina: No. No, no. Because I think Tai can potentially beat me. I knew Brad wouldn't beat me. You know, Brad did a great job recovering from his last season where he really got a bad edit.

The problem is, last night, you got to see him get a similar edit that he got the first time, and that's really how he did talk to people. He was kind of bullying Tai and condescending and "you will give me your idol."

That's how he treated people, and on that same note, he did sit out of the merge feast, he would go fishing, he would gather firewood. He was a provider, but sometimes, he could be very condescending when he talks to people, and I just knew that he rubbed people completely the wrong way. And obviously I know Michaela doesn't like him.

And so, I don't know whom Tai was enemies with at that point. Aubry is over there sitting on the jury and Debbie is sitting on the jury. They were former players with him, so does he automatically get their votes? And I know [Ozzy Lusth] really liked Tai, so no, I'd still -- that's the Final 3: Brad, me and Troyzan, even if I win [the challenge].

Reality TV World: What do you plan to do with the money? And considering how difficult it was for you to leave your husband Wyatt and son Knox behind, would you ever want to play again?

Sarah Lacina: So no big plans. I think we're going to build a house, but we're just going to be smart with our money. I worked hard for it, so I don't want to just go blow it on nonsense stuff. So that's what we're looking towards, is a home.

And yeah, it was so hard leaving Wyatt and Knox at home that mentally it's just draining, and emotionally. As of right now, I have no desire to leave them again. But if the right opportunity presents itself, how do you say no? (Laughs) So, we'll just have to see.

To read the first half of Sarah's interview, click here. And be sure to check Reality TV World's Survivor: Game Changers webpage for more of our exclusive interviews with the season's Final 6 castaways.


 



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