Survivor: Worlds Apart castaway Carolyn Rivera lost out on the $1 million grand prize and finished as the runner-up during the live portion of Wednesday night's finale broadcast on CBS.
Carolyn, a 52-year-old corporate executive from Tampa, FL, lost to winner Mike Holloway, a 38-year-old oil driller from North Richland Hills, TX. Will Sims II, a 41-year-old YouTube sensation from Sherman Oaks, CA, finished in third place as a result of the 30th season's final jury voting results.
Host Jeff Probst revealed six votes during the live reunion show. One person voted for Carolyn, one person voted for Will, and four people voted for Mike. Because Jeff did not show whom the two additional votes were for, Mike likely got them. Rodney Lavoie Jr. finished in fourth place, while Sierra Dawn Thomas claimed fifth place.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Carolyn talked about her Survivor experience. Below is what she had to say.
Reality TV World: Given they only showed one vote for you and one vote for Will, everyone is assuming the ones not shown were for Mike. Did you figure that out? Was that the case?
Carolyn Rivera: I'm assuming the same thing. I mean, I really don't know who voted for who, but that's what we think.
Reality TV World: You told Jeff you were surprised you didn't get more votes. What votes did you think you had before jury questioning and how did that change -- if at all -- after hearing everyone talk?
Carolyn Rivera: I don't know if anything changed after I heard people talk. I thought I played a great game and I thought I had more votes.
Reality TV World: Okay, so you weren't sure who might be voting for you? You just figured you'd have a higher number of votes regardless?
Carolyn Rivera: Exactly.
Reality TV World: What about Shirin Oskooi? She told you right to your face she was going to be voting for you, but we saw you get one vote and it was from Sierra Dawn Thomas.
Carolyn Rivera: I don't know if Shirin did or didn't [vote for me]. I think that definitely the whole White Collar connection would have brought us together.
Reality TV World: How much of a role do you think Mike's apology to Dan Foley played in the jury voting for Mike to win? Everyone seemed extremely mad at him until that moment, so do you think Mike won people over with his sincerity there?
Carolyn Rivera: I think that his apology to Dan definitely helped. I think Dan, at that point, was not going to vote for him, and I think that definitely changed his mind.
Reality TV World: Did everyone want Mike out so badly for so long because you guys wanted your core alliance to go all the way to the end together, or did you really want him out because you thought he was truly the biggest threat and would beat you all in the end?
Carolyn Rivera: Mike was definitely a threat. He was a challenge beast, as you all saw, and when his back was up against the wall, he won every single challenge. So, yeah, he played the game hard. He played the game well, and that's why we wanted him out.
Reality TV World: You said you were very proud of the game you played and the jury seemed to really appreciate it. Looking back, what more do you think you could have done? What was the jury looking for that you didn't deliver, or, do you think you did the best job possible and people didn't give you enough credit?
Carolyn Rivera: I think that when you're going up against somebody who just won five Immunity Challenges in a row and saved himself every single week, no matter what game you played -- unless you did something like that -- you're already at a disadvantage.
I think that what I would do differently next time is really connect more deeply with the people on the jury. I think that everybody liked me, but you know, true, deep relationships might have gotten me further if, in fact, you don't win every single Immunity Challenge.
Reality TV World: You were just shy of winning $1 million and then Jeff revealed you weren't unfortunately voted into Survivor's Season 31 cast. Do you feel like you were totally robbed? After the season you had and how things played out at the end, was there almost a little bit of relief you wouldn't have to go through all of that again?
Carolyn Rivera: Oh, never a relief to not go through that again. When you're a competitor, you want to go out and take home the gold. So I think that actually being on this season until the end put me at a disadvantage. Although we had a lot of viewers watching, I think a lot of people suspected that I could win and they didn't want to waste their votes on me.
Reality TV World: I want to go back to the Final 5. Why did you vote for Sierra? I think everyone assumed that she'd be the easiest one to beat at the end next to Will.
Carolyn Rivera: Actually, I had every intention of voting [Rodney Lavoie Jr.] out that day and things just got so crazy. When I found out that every other person on the tribe was voting for Sierra, I thought it would put me out as an outcast and certainly at the bottom of that alliance if I did not vote for Sierra. So that was a difficult vote for me.
Reality TV World: Did you ever get an explanation from everyone as to why they wanted Sierra out? Since you so strongly disagreed with the choice they were making, I wonder how they came up with it.
Carolyn Rivera: I think that Mike convinced -- well Rodney was surely voting for Sierra. I think Will was kind of on the fence but probably voting for Sierra if Rodney was.
And Mike, I think, saw Sierra as the only possible threat that could beat him in a challenge. Because in those few final challenges, Sierra was kind of neck-and-neck with him in terms of who might win the challenge. So, he was thinking about that.
Reality TV World: When there was still a Final 5, whom did you envision taking to the Final 3 with you if you had the choice and why?
Carolyn Rivera: It's so interesting because I had so many different thoughts in my mind. I had an idea that I wanted to go with Mike and Sierra, and then the other two, I had something working with Will and Rodney. So, I think there were different reasons for the two different sets, but I don't know that I wanted one more than the other.
Reality TV World: Dan was a big topic of conversation during the live portion of the finale. You spent a lot of time with him, especially having been part of the majority alliance for a while. Do you believe a lot of his comments were misinterpreted and/or edited out of context, or do you think he was just in a tough spot and didn't know how to handle things once he started feeling some heat?
Carolyn Rivera: Listen, you know, people are such in a different state of mind when you're out there. Things happen. Honestly, I think Dan said things, but I don't think he meant them as malicious as maybe it sounded.
I mean, he can't really take away things that he said that were out there, but you know, your heart can be a little bit different about it, you know what I mean? It's not like it was malicious intent, I don't think.
Reality TV World: So I wanted to ask you flat out if you personally thought there was any prejudice against women while you were out there. Rodney, Will and Dan all had an issue related to that at some point this season, but it doesn't sound like you think so?
Carolyn Rivera: I did not feel like we were, you know, this season of, "Oh my God, these men are crazy." (Laughs) I thought we had a great season. I think that there are a couple of episodes where you saw some fighting, and this season should not go down as the season that was all about fighting, because that's not what it was all about.
Reality TV World: Besides yourself, were there any other former castaways in the running to compete on next season who didn't make it that surprised you?
Carolyn Rivera: As far as the "Dirty 30," no. I thought for sure that Joe was a shoo-in. Honestly, I thought I was a shoo-in. And I thought Shirin might've been the third. I definitely did not think they were going to take four of us.
Reality TV World: How were you cast on Survivor? How did you end up on the show?
Carolyn Rivera: I actually applied -- I've watched the show since Season 1. I've seen every episode and I applied for four years before I got on.
Check Reality TV World's Survivor page for more interviews with Season 30's Final 5 castaways.