Exclusive: Sophie Clarke talks about her 'Survivor: South Pacific' win
By Reality TV World staff, 12/19/2011
Sophie Clarke claimed Survivor: South Pacific's $1 million grand prize during the live portion of Sunday night's finale broadcast on CBS from Hollywood, CA.
Sophie beat Albert Destrade, a 26-year-old "baseball/dating coach" from Plantation, FL, and "Coach" Benjamin Wade, a 39-year-old former Survivor: Tocantins and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains castaway who currently resides in Susanville, CA, in the season's final jury voting results, which Survivor host Jeff Probst revealed live during the broadcast. While the ninth and final jury vote was not revealed on-air, Sophie received six votes and Coach received three.
On Monday, Sophie, a 22-year-old medical student from Willsboro, NY, talked to Reality TV World about her Survivor: South Pacific victory and overall experience. Below is the first half of our exclusive interview. Check back with Reality TV World on Tuesday for the remaining portion.
Reality TV World: Did the jury vote surprise you in any way or had you left Samoa believing you had won?
Sophie Clarke: You know, I had a pretty good feeling about it. I got demolished less than everybody else, but honestly, I thought that I was going to have one more vote. So, I was really nervous yesterday. First of all, you never know for sure, but then in addition, Coach got the two votes -- I thought he was going to get those two -- and then he got another one.
In a split five seconds or whatever, I convinced myself in my head that I was wrong and that I actually lost. I was surprised I didn't start crying right there. So, yeah. I was definitely surprised by how the vote turned out.
Reality TV World: Just to clarify, they didn't show the last vote on-air, but everyone has been assuming it was 6-3 vote. Has anyone confirmed that was actually the case to you?
Sophie Clarke: Yeah, yeah. It was 6-3. I thought it was going to be 7-2. Do you know who the three were?. Oh God, I haven't really had the time to look at anything online. I've been hearing different things from different people. Some people say it was [Rick Nelson] and some people say it was [Jim Rice]... I know [Edna Ma] and [John Cochran] voted for Coach, but yeah, I'm not sure about the third one.
Reality TV World: Did your opinion of how you were going to do in the jury vote change after the jury questioning or had you felt the same way before the final Tribal Council began? Because you've mentioned how you felt the jury was really hard on Coach and Albert at Tribal Council.
Sophie Clarke: I knew going in that Albert didn't have a shot. I had spent a lot of time at the previous Tribal Councils -- I don't think it was shown -- showing Albert underneath a bus. I called him out for giving Cochran the massage.
I called him out for giving false hope to a lot of people and I felt like I had started to sway the jury, because I was actually nervous for awhile that Albert was successfully shmoozing the jury. So, I put a lot of effort into trying to show people that it was a bit superficial.
So, I wasn't worried about Albert, but really, I was really confident in my game and I felt the whole time that I was pretty much in control and that I masterminded a lot of it. So, I felt like if the jury was open and ready to listen to what we had to say, I felt like I had a very good argument.
I was actually -- I got very nervous in the beginning of the vote or the Tribal Council, because "Ozzy" Oscar Lusth led off saying, "Coach, it's your game to lose." And to me, that didn't seem very open minded because I felt that wasn't true. I felt like it was also my game to win.
So, I was quite nervous, but as the questioning went on, I think I handled it quite well and I think Coach didn't give them what they wanted. So, I gained confidence as the questioning went on. Also, I also managed to fill up my water bottle with the champagne from the Final 3 breakfast. So, I had liquid courage.
Reality TV World: (Laughs) You did seem a little anxious and had some emotion in your voice when you started speaking.
Sophie Clarke: Yeah, every time someone said something bad about me, I took a swig. So, it was perfect. I was calm. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: There's been a lot of criticism that Coach only used religion as a means to attempt to manipulate [Brandon Hantz] and some of the other members of your tribe and seemed to ignore those religious values when it was in his own best interests to do so. And the show seemed to show you making comments that you felt that way. Was that actually the case? Because I don't want to misrepresent you, but you seemed to disagree with that when you were talking with the press when and I were in a conference call together a couple of hours ago.
Sophie Clarke: Yeah, I mean, it's such a hard question to answer. I want to be very clear, and I hope I've been clear in all of my interviews, that I do think Brandon -- I don't think that Brandon or Coach or Albert -- I hope they didn't -- I don't think they did overtly use religion to manipulate people.
I think that they were all very well-meaning and I think they believed what they were saying, but I think they all allowed themselves to be manipulated by each other. I think that they all fueled each other. They're all three very religious people and I think that when you approach the game like it's real life -- which is what Coach is a big proponent of -- things get sticky, because the game is not real life.
The game -- the point of the game is to backstab people. If people backstab you in real life, there are consequences. And by attempting to play the game like it was real life, Coach had to face the consequences.
Reality TV World: If I understood you correctly though, you did say you felt that if Coach had told people that he had used religion...
Sophie Clarke: I don't think that Coach -- I think that whether or not Coach believed it, I am almost positive that if Coach had said to all of them, "Screw you all. It was all a farce. I manipulated you. I used religion," if he said -- because that's what the jury wanted him to say. If he had said that, whether he believed it or not, I think they would have voted for him because I think they would have said, "That's brilliant."
They didn't give a crap about honor and integrity and loyalty. That's something that Albert and Coach somehow had failed to realize.
The jury was very overt. They said, "We don't give a crap. Just tell us you manipulated us." That's what they wanted and I think the both of them were very flustered and failed to do that.
Reality TV World: I don't want to take anything away from your victory, but you said the jury ripped Coach pretty hard and based on the other interviews I've done today, it seems like Coach and Albert both thought they were pretty bitter, so do you think people were voting for you or voting against Coach or Albert?
Sophie Clarke: I think Albert is almost a non-entity at this point.
Reality TV World: Let's just focus on Coach then.
Sophie Clarke: I think if you talk to the jury now, at least the people I've talked to have made it very clear to me -- they've said, "I know..." Because there is this question, and I talked to [Dawn Meehan], [Whitney Duncan] and [Keith Tollefson] about it, and they've all said, "We voted for you."
It wasn't a question of "against Coach." But I think -- I mean every vote is against somebody and for someone, right? I think that Coach had a chance to win it and I had a chance to win it, and only one of us performed at Tribal Council and that was me.
Coach could've done it. I mean, maybe there could have been something that Albert said as well, right? The game is about jury management and I think Coach played a great game. All three of us played great games. I think that the game ends when you get to final Tribal and it's about how you dealt with the jury.
Reality TV World: When I spoke to Albert, he said he believed the three of you were in an unusual situation in Survivorand said he genuinely felt the three people that played the game the best made it to the end. Do you agree with that?
Sophie Clarke: I think that the three people who played the game the best always make it to the end, right? That's the whole point. That's why [Russell Hantz]'s argument about "I should have won everything" is wrong. It's all about jury management. But yeah, I think that -- I don't even know how to describe that. I think that...
Reality TV World: I guess what I'm focusing on...
Sophie Clarke: The people who made it to the end were playing the game hard.
Reality TV World: Well, [based on the comments you had just made] you don't seem to have a very high opinion of Albert. (Laughs) So, do you feel he was one of the three best players in the game, sincerely, or not?
Sophie Clarke: Um, I mean, I think that Jim is probably a better mastermind than Albert. If they both went on Survivor five times, Jim would do better than Albert four out of five times. But Jim made mistakes and Albert managed to get to the end. It's hard to argue with results.
Reality TV World: So why were you so confident that Albert was a non-factor? You said before the jury vote even happened, you weren't worried about losing to him.
Sophie Clarke: Well he was doing all this jury pandering, right, and I started to get very nervous that the jury was buying into it, because you never know if -- you like to believe that these people can see through -- I wanted to believe that these people would see through Albert's kind of superficial gestures, but I wasn't sure.
And Coach and I, both together, started to really start pointing it out at Tribal Council. I got into a big argument with him, telling the jury basically that day that Albert was just kind of disgustingly pandering to Cochran's vote by giving him the massage. Sorry, I don't remember where I was going with this.
So, yeah. I think that as time went by, Albert's -- as much as it seemed like Albert was trying to be nice and try to save these people, it was all superficial. Nothing was real. He never actually did anything. What's a massage? That's nothing, you know? Cochran wanted another day in the game and so I think that Albert really turned the jury off of him.
Reality TV World: When I talked to Ozzy earlier today, he repeatedly said that he feels the final Immunity Challenge puzzle was pretty easy and he just collapsed under the stress of a belief that he was guaranteed to get the million dollars [from the jury] if he won the challenge. It almost seemed like he's taking the position that you didn't win the challenge, instead what happened, is that he choked -- what are your thoughts about that?
Sophie Clarke: Yeah, I think that Coach thinks that he lost and Albert thinks he lost and I think I won. It's all about perspective. I must say that everything I've heard from Ozzy, he's been very supportive and very congratulatory. But there's a reason why I won and there's a reason why he lost. I thought the puzzle was actually quite hard.
It took us awhile to do it. It looked like I had done it really quickly, but I was -- I think I must have been there for about three minutes before I got the first piece in. So, I don't think it was an easy puzzle. I also don't know about -- I don't know if it was in Ozzy's head. Maybe that was true.
It doesn't matter to me. I think that there are people who will try to take -- who will try to say maybe that they out-did the winner -- that always happens, but you know, I'm sitting right here with the check in front of me. I have no hard feelings.