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Sabrina Thompson: 'Survivor: One World's jury voted like they should


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/16/2012 

Sabrina Thompson made it to Survivor: One World's Final 3 but finished as the runner-up and just missed out on the $1 million grand prize during the live portion of Sunday night's finale broadcast on CBS.

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Sabrina, a 33-year-old high school teacher from Brooklyn, NY, was beaten out by Survivor: One World champion Kim Spradlin, a 29-year-old bridal shop owner from San Antonio, TX, but won out over Chelsea Meissner, a 26-year-old in medical sales from Charleston, SC, in the season's final jury voting results, which Survivor host Jeff Probst revealed live during the episode.

Sabrina received two votes from Troy "Troyzan" Robertson and Leif Manson, while Kim received the rest. Chelsea unfortunately got herself zero votes from the jury.

During a Monday conference call with reporters, Sabrina talked to Reality TV World about her Survivor: One World experience -- including whether she's bitter about Kim's victory, how much of a role she believed Kim's immunity wins played in getting seven of the nine jury votes, why she thought Troyzan ultimately voted for her, what the reasoning was behind her getting rid of her hidden Immunity Idol so soon in the game, and how she surprisingly and unintentionally ended up on Survivor.

Above is the first portion of Sabrina's call. Check back with Reality TV World in the coming days for the concluding portion. To begin reading Kim's interview, click here. To check out Chelsea's interview, click here.

Reality TV World: I know you said you never considered voting Kim out, but how big a role do you think Kim's four Immunity Challenge wins in a row played in her victory as far as the jury voting went and the fact you ended up with only a couple jury votes instead of the five you needed.

Sabrina Thompson: You know, every Tribal Council, we came back and she's sporting this big-ass necklace. The jury, they're alpha males, and a lot of them are just like, "Wow, another win?!" And you can just see it in their eyes, and honestly, I think she could've literally walked in the finals because they were a bitterless jury.

She could've walked in, not said a word and still won. I really do. Her actions solely spoke for herself, and you know, whereas I had to take the other route. I had to talk my head off just to get a few votes. And so, everybody plays the game differently. Everybody has a different GPS of how they get to the final destination.

You have to applaud her, and so -- but you know, the final Tribal Council, that's your time to get your shine on and talk about your strategy, and you just hope you get some votes -- enough to win. But yeah, I think the guys at the end of the day, they voted how Survivor should be played.

You get sometimes in past seasons bitter juries. You see like an assh-le win, you know, because they're just so bitter. And at the end of the day, it is a game. And I think they did the honorable and the right thing, so I'm not bitter at all. I'm so glad that that girl won and she's going down in Survivor history.

Reality TV World: So do you think Kim misread the jury? Because she seemed to expect that they were going to be bitter going into it. That seemed to be her biggest concern.

Sabrina Thompson: Right, because there's a lot of stuff that you guys don't see -- a lot of comments that you don't hear -- and you know, you never know, especially Troy, Troy didn't vote for her.

And so. you never know. Once someone gets voted off, what the heck they're going back to Ponderosa and saying. Are they being very persuasive and God knows I was hoping that Troy would go back and just, "Oh my God, please, say a couple of words in favor of me."

And so, after the show last night, he gave me this big hug and said, "I tried, I tried." I said, "No, that wasn't your responsibility," so yeah. It really all boils down to, aside from her great play, how they feel -- how are they going to vote? Are they going to be emotional or are they going to be rational and look at the facts?

Reality TV World: Leif and Troyzan were the two jury members who voted for you. Did either vote surprise you, and did they ever explain why they voted for you and what they based their votes on?

Sabrina Thompson: There's a lot of editing going on, but I knew that those two voted for me. There's a big question mark on a couple of them and Kim and I would talk after the season, and literally, we could not sleep. We were like, "I don't know, I don't know."

And it just got to the point where we were like, "Let's stop counting; Let's stop counting." And so, yeah. It ended up how it was supposed to, and I learned never to question things. Everything is in God's water and it's how it's supposed to be.

Reality TV World: So do you think Troyzan voted for you because he really wanted to vote for you or do you think he just voted for you because Kim didn't give him the answer he was looking for during the jury questioning and he was kind of punishing her for it?

Sabrina Thompson: I think it was maybe 60/40. Sixty percent she didn't give him the answer that he wanted and he was looking for a particular answer. The other 40% percent -- Troy and I had a very good relationship, just talking about life in general and our experiences. I'm sorry you don't get to see all of that obviously on TV, but yeah.

Reality TV World: Do you think the game would have played out significantly differently -- especially with regard to the women's dominance and ability to take out all the men -- if Colton Cumbie had not been medically evacuated right before the merge?

Sabrina Thompson: It's funny. Colton obviously was backstage talking about that. He would have obviously made the merge, but it's funny. He duped people that were able to be duped. I don't think he could've pulled that on 90% percent of the new Salani at all. We just had a different personality and presence than some of the Manono people, but he might have gone one more round.

But I think it still would've ended up women, because at the end of the day, when he first came over, we genuinely loved him. He's a crazy wild guy, whatever. But then he's tricky. He's a wildcard. Is he really a girl's vote or is he with the guys? And we quickly were just like, "No, he's with the guys and he's playing us," so he may have lasted one more round. I sincerely, in my heart, think it still would've been girls.

Reality TV World: Did you know Kim had a hidden Immunity Idol, and what do you think your reaction would have been if she had given it to Chelsea to play at the final Tribal Council? Would you have been insulted or offended?

Sabrina Thompson: No, I know out of the three of us, they were obviously much closer. That's undeniable. I didn't know she particularly had it. I knew that it was found and I knew someone that was still in the game and was pretty close to me had it. I just didn't know who.

Because I found a wrapper and when I found the very first idol out there, I knew that it was really a wrapper and how it looked and everything.

And I said, "Wow, who would leave the wrapper?" And so, yeah. But I felt like they didn't know that if that's your right arm out there, why not save her when you guys are going [to the end together]? But you know, I was just going in on every decision.

Reality TV World: During the final Tribal Council session, Jonas Otsuji asked Chelsea what the boldest game-changing move was that she had made in the game without Kim's guidance or initiation, and she said it was taking Kat Edorsson out. So had Jonas asked you the same question, what would you have said? What was your biggest strategic move in the game that you could take full responsibility for?

Sabrina Thompson: Well, actually that question was asked to me from [Christina Cha] but it was edited out. I think some of my stronger moves were at the very beginning of the game when you saw a lot more of me before I went under the radar.

I really found that [hidden Immunity Idol] without a clue and, on like Day 2 -- something crazy like that -- I was just like, "Who in the hell do I give this to?" Because I couldn't keep it for myself. And so at that point in the game, I was either thinking, "Colton's the only person that I really talk to since Day 2."

I barely knew his name, you know? And so I was like, "Well God, do I give it to him?" I could have given it easily to someone else that could not have broken up the guys. Colton did his job and he did it well.

He broke up the guys. He was the one that was totally irrational and was like, "Oh my God. Let's give up our immunity." So, if I were to have given it to someone like Jonas, which I considered, he's a lot more rational than Colton.

And he would've never duped the guys, and the game would have totally been different. So, that was my biggest play. But it was so early on in the game, people obviously forgot about that, but it is what it is, and that was a game-changer -- giving it to Colton.

And our conversation was much longer and much deeper between Colton and I, and some of the things that we would do after the merge -- I knew I didn't want to go too far into the merge with this guy. But yeah.

Reality TV World: The one criticism that people seem to have was why you felt the need to unload that hidden Immunity Idol so quickly on Day 2...

Sabrina Thompson: You had to. It was in the rules. I had to give it to him pretty much by sundown, and I'm like, "Crap!" And the sun was going down.

Reality TV World: So that wasn't your decision then?

Sabrina Thompson: No. It was part of the stipulations in the -- I had to give it [out] before the next Tribal Council. It was actually the third day I found it. It was going into that night.

Reality TV World: So if you had the choice, do you think you would've held onto it longer and tried to play it more strategically maybe at some point later on?

Sabrina Thompson: Yeah, but it was so like, "Man, I'm going to have to give this up!" And so I was kind of weighing some options and I decided on Colton. And because he was so impressionable at the time, he went along with what we had talked about, and then boy! I want to say he abused the power! Yeah.

Reality TV World: Normally when you get to the end of a Survivor season, the final Immunity Challenge is an endurance challenge. Were you surprised that wasn't the case?

Sabrina Thompson: For me, I was shocked. I feel like the Immunity Challenge before last, the one with the huge maze and you had to climb up, I said, "Oh man, if this is that big, I know the last Immunity Challenge has to be super epic." And then we walked on the field and I was like, "What is this?" And then when Jeff explained the game, I said, "Okay."

It was much harder than I think what the audience thought it looked like. It has a lot of depth perception. The stick is very long and you can only hold it at the very end, and then it would shake. It was sort of like the game "Operation" -- the game when you were a young child, and touching the sides was horrible.

So for me, I said, "You know what? Let me take my time. I'd rather take my time and not drop any of them than fly through it," but you had to be very poised to do it, and obviously I absolutely sucked. But yeah, kind of surprising, yeah.

Reality TV World: Unless I'm mistaken, I never saw you tell your fellow castaways that you had been laid off from your teaching job prior to competing on Survivor. So just to clarify, is that accurate?

Sabrina Thompson: Yeah! Some of the players knew. What happened was this, a week before, I got this random email. I got a letter saying new budget cuts were going to lay off 6,000 teachers and 4,000 cops and that my name was on the list and that I would get further information later on. And literally, I was expecting when I came back to not have a job.

I said, "Let me just go." And when I came back, they had found some money in the budget to re-hire me, which I thought was amazing. But I didn't want to go back to teaching the next day after I came off the plane. So I went into teaching a month later and then finished out the semester. And because I teach in such a horrendous environment.

It is really, really bad -- a lot of gangs and stuff. So there's no way I can teach this semester and be part of the show, and because I would literally probably wouldn't be able to make the finale because I would be injured. It's that crazy around here, so I took a leave of absence for this spring semester and just watched the game in peace, so they found money in the budget to re-hire me. But it was totally accurate.

Reality TV World: So you shared that news at the end. Was there any strategy involved in that? Was it the case where you thought you might be too sympathetic a figure and then have a target on your back if you revealed that too early on?

Sabrina Thompson: You know like, Troy is a different story. A lot of people have been applying for this show for years. Yeah, I was thrust into it. I've watched a couple of seasons, but I'm not a super fan at all, you know? So for me to pick up on the subtleties of the game and make it this far, I thought would win some points.

Hell, I didn't know how to swim. I learned how to swim in three weeks. So certain things, I had to be thrust into this game -- it may have worked to get some votes.

And so, I just wanted them to see the frame of reference I was coming from coming into this game and how I was just surprised I even made it as far as I did. And if it got me some jury votes, oh well. However you can get to the end with integrity and with truth, and everything I said was the truth.

Reality TV World: So how were you cast on Survivor: One World? How did you end up on the show?

Sabrina Thompson: Oh it's so wild! In a 30-second recap, basically after I got the letter saying that I was going to be laid off, a week after that, I got a random email. I used to be a TV producer prior to being a teacher, and it was called "TV inquiry," so I'm thinking it's just my buddies from TV emailing me about something.

And pretty much, it was a producer saying, "Hey, we have two more spots left in the next season of Survivor and we're interested in casting a black or Hispanic woman." And for the most part, they had already pretty much picked who they wanted and they were just doing some more research on these women to create an electronic profile.

And one of the ladies, a black lady, had my exact identical name Sabrina Thompson. So every time they Googled her, my picture and my bio would come up and they were a little confused like, "What? Who is this?" And they read my bio and said, "We like this Sabrina way better."

They didn't have my number, so they emailed me from the site. Obviously I thought it was somebody like Ashton Kutcher Punk'ing me. I emailed them back, we had a conversation and the next week, I was out talking to Mark Burnett. Three weeks later, I was on the island. 

Above is the first portion of Sabrina's call. Check back with Reality TV World in the coming days for the concluding portion. To begin reading Kim's interview, click here. To check out Chelsea's interview, click here.



(Photo credit CBS)


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