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'Survivor' host Jeff Probst: Sierra Dawn Thomas earned her 'Game Changers' spot, at least she made moves!


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/17/2017 

Survivor: Game Changers host Jeff Probst is "very impressed" with Sierra Dawn Thomas' gameplay this season following her under-the-radar approach on Worlds Apart in 2015.

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"Sierra made a strong early alliance and was very successful in pushing her agenda for who she wanted out of the game. She did a good job of keeping tabs on what was happening and adjusted as necessary," Jeff told The Hollywood Reporter of the 29-year-old barrel racer and model from Roy, UT.

"When the game flipped on her, she did not hesitate to try and create a new relationship, willing to sacrifice even her closest ally."

The game turned upside down when her ally, Sarah Lacina, decided to flip on Sierra's alliance to take out Debbie Wanner. Within one day, Sierra went from the top of the tribe to the bottom, as did her ally Brad Culpepper, whom she was ready to betray upon throwing herself on the mercy of the court.

After Zeke Smith went home at the subsequent Tribal Council session, Sierra told swing-vote Sarah about her "Legacy Advantage" in order to gain her trust and loyalty. The "Legacy Advantage" basically serves as individual immunity at the Final 6 Tribal Council.

"Her heads-up awareness on Day 1 helped her find the 'Legacy Advantage,' which, though it ultimately led to her demise, was still a great example of staying open to opportunities," Jeff said.

The advantage led to Sierra's demise because she promised to pass it on to Sarah if she ever got voted out of the game. While Sierra thought she was rebuilding a friendship, Sarah thought -- from a strategic standpoint -- it gave her all the reason in the world to get rid of Sierra. (And after her vote-off, Sierra did follow through on that deal with Sarah).

"Sierra's confidence in her alliance was probably her downfall. But as is often discussed in the game, you do have to put your faith in one or two people and you then have to demonstrate your loyalty to them through your actions," Jeff explained.

"So, when you are asked about how secure you feel at Tribal, the person who responds, 'You never know, Jeff, anything can happen,' is saying to their alliance members, 'I'm not sure I trust you,' and that doesn't usually sit well with the other members. Instead, you have to constantly remind your alliance of your loyalty to them -- and hope they are being loyal to you. And when they aren't, you get blindsided. It's super tricky to navigate."

In a separate interview with Entertainment Weekly, the longtime Survivor host revealed he didn't necessarily view Sierra's "demise" in which she discussed the "Legacy Advantage" with Sarah as a mistake.

"So in this game, if you find yourself close to the end but on the wrong side of the numbers, and you need to convince someone to keep you in the game -- what can you offer them? If all you offer is your 'word,' that may not do it, but if you have something more valuable that you can use as currency, then you have to use it," Jeff insisted.

"You have to survive every Tribal Council. So if you are in trouble at one particular moment in the game, you MUST do what it takes to survive that moment. Then you deal with the next day."

He continued, "So yes, Sierra's move backfired. But she made the move. I will say it until you guys vote me off the show: You can't play this game without making moves. When they work, you're a genius and when they don't, you're usually blindsided. That's the game."

When asked whether he could see himself making the exact move Sierra did -- bargaining with Sarah over the "Legacy Advantage" in a last-ditch effort to stick around -- Jeff admitted, "One hundred percent."

"But I would probably attach a threat to it," Jeff told EW.

"I'd be more likely to say, 'Here's my advantage. If I am voted out tonight, I am giving it to your enemy. If I make it through tonight, then I will give it to you.' I'd want to whet their appetite and then make them do the work to make sure I'm safe. I'm not saying that would have had any more success than Sierra's approach, that's just more my instinct. I tend to push and go all in."

Sierra became the twelfth person voted out of Survivor: Game Changers and the season's fifth jury member on Night 32 of the game. Her first time around on Worlds Apart, Sierra placed fifth and didn't really make a name for herself.

"Sierra earned her spot on Game Changers. A lot of people tilted their head when they saw her on the ship on Day 1. But our thought with Sierra was that she played from a place of caution the first time and we saw that caution evaporating in her first season, but it came too late," Jeff explained.

"So we followed our gut that she might pick up where she left off, and she did. I was very impressed with how she played and that she took control and played aggressively. She played a very solid game and should be proud."


Sierra Dawn Thomas/Instagram

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