Chelsea, a 24-year-old EMT and former professional cheerleader from Salt Lake City, UT, was voted out of the game on Night 32 through a 5-3 vote at Tribal Council instead of Wendell Holland, a 33-year-old furniture company owner from Philadelphia, PA.
Chelsea therefore became the sixth member of the Survivor: Ghost Island jury.
"As a Survivor fan, I am so grateful. I actually have no regrets with this Tribal. I knew I wanted to make a big move tonight and I'm proud that I went for it. Even though it didn't pan out in my favor, I can go out saying I went out with a bang and I went out fighting," Chelsea said following her ouster.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Chelsea talked about her Survivor experience. Below is the first half of what she had to say.
Reality TV World: Did you assume Wendell's alliance was going to target you at Tribal Council? Whom did you think that side was going to vote for?
Chelsea Townsend: Yeah, so I actually knew even before the Immunity Challenge that I was the target, so I actually knew well in advance that they were gunning for me. So, I found out after the loved ones' visit.
I figured they were going to come for me soon, so the loved ones' visit made it very apparent that the line was kind of drawn between guys and girls, obviously besides the [Laurel Johnson] and [Donathan Hurley] situation but as far as the three guys and three girls who weren't part of that.
So, it only confirmed it later when I heard my name through the grapevine that I was whom they were targeting, and then I just tried to pull off an epic blindside. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: When I talked to Jenna Bowman last week, she assumed Kellyn Bechtold would be the next person to go since she had voted for Laurel twice and also realized she wasn't as close with the boys as she thought. So why do you think Domenick and his group didn't take a shot at Kellyn when they had the chance? Was it just because of your Immunity Challenge wins?
Chelsea Townsend: Yeah. A little bit before this, Wendell just started calling me "the challenge beast." It made it hard because not only was I winning Individual Immunities back to back, but I was also winning the Rewards in between those.
So it kind of just made it seem like I was winning all the time. I knew that was putting a bigger and bigger target on my back, but I refused to be a Survivor who made it to the end and didn't have, like, an awesome resume.
So, I knew it was only a matter of time, and then when I didn't win this Individual Immunity, I knew they probably saw me as too big of a target and they were taking me out because they were worried about being able to save themselves through Individual Immunity Challenges if I was still around.
Reality TV World: Donathan spoke openly about there being a crack in Naviti at Tribal Council. Did you assume he was talking about your plan to take out Wendell? Or did you have an idea at this point he might've been working with Domenick and Wendell to get rid of you instead?
Chelsea Townsend: Yeah, going into Tribal Council, my hope was -- I wasn't sure -- but they had both told me they were voting with me, but I wasn't sure if that was actually the truth or not.
Because I talked to Donathan and he was ready to make a big move. He was ready to vote with me; he wanted to get Wendell out. But he told me continuously throughout the day, "I can't convince Laurel. I'm having a really hard time."
And Laurel had already told me she was good to go, but Donathan was telling me otherwise. So I knew there was a good chance [the Wendell blindside] might not happen, because I knew Donathan would vote whatever Laurel would vote.
And Laurel just seemed too scared to pull off the big move. So I think it was just kind of a matter of whether they were going to try to pull off a big move or not.
Reality TV World: Were you frustrated Donathan was talking about the crack in Naviti though, because if he was working with you, such a statement might make Wendell feel like he's in trouble and convince him to play his idol to save himself.
Chelsea Townsend: Yeah it was really hard, and my whole strategy going into Tribal and throughout the day was I had to be really convincing to the boys that I wasn't going after each of them. I actually told them I was going after Donathan.
And I had to play that role to a "T" and kind of be a little bit of an actor at Tribal, like, "What?! There are cracks? I had no idea." (Laughs) So when Donathan kind of blew up Tribal, it was really hard for me because I knew my only saving grace was if Wendell didn't get spooked enough to play his idol.
Otherwise, I was going home. So when he said that, "I was just like, 'Oh my gosh." I could see my chances just crumbling in my hands.
So I think that's why when Wendell didn't play the idol, I was shocked. And I got so much hope that I might be about to pull off a huge blindside. And then of course it didn't work out because Laurel decided that she wasn't ready to make a big move.
Reality TV World: I was personally shocked when Wendell chose not to play his idol. That was super risky.
Reality TV World: Laurel was well aware Domenick and Wendell both had idols. It's hard to keep track of who knows about which idols and advantages in the game at this point because there have been so many. So just to clarify, did you also know Wendell and Dom each had an idol? And what about the other girls?
Chelsea Townsend: Yeah, so I actually knew, probably the day of, when Dom found his idol because he told me. So I knew about his idol all along. He's actually the one who told me about Wendell's idol.
Because people didn't really see my relationship with Dom throughout the show, which is a shame, because we actually were really good partners throughout the show up until the [Desiree Afuye] vote. And he told me about Wendell's idol for the purpose of, like, "Hey, we've got to get him out. He has an idol now. He just told me."
So I knew they both had idols, so my pitch back at camp was, "Hey, Dom is safe but Wendell has an idol. If anything, even if he plays it, at least get his idol out! At least get him to play his idol so you guys have a better chance."
The [argument] was not only, like, save me and give me a chance, but to get their minds stirring on, "Hey, he has way too much power. He's the most powerful person in this game. How can you not see he's got to go now?!"
Reality TV World: Do you have any insight into why Wendell decided against playing his idol? Do you think he just had blind trust in Laurel, and maybe Donathan as well? Or maybe there was something else going on viewers were not made aware of.
Chelsea Townsend: I think it was completely based on his confidence in Laurel. I think they had a really good relationship, which is maybe why she was so scared to pull off that move.
I think her telling him, "We're good to go," he was willing to take a big enough risk to ensure safety down the line by not playing it. It was super risky and he was putting all of his trust in another player, but you know, ultimately it paid off for him.
Reality TV World: At the time you left the game, did you think anyone left out there in the game had a shot to beat Domenick and Wendell in the end? And taking that into perspective, do you think there was smart strategy behind Laurel's decision to stick with the guys or would you admit it was foolish?
She seemed really familiar with the game. And anyone who is familiar with Survivor wants to make big moves and wants to really earn their title.
But I think I was very surprised at the fact Laurel didn't want to do this epic blindside and take out a huge power player, just because of her love for the game and for the sake of the fact that she had to know if she went to the end with him, she wasn't going to win.
So it seems to me it would've been the smartest move to get rid of one of them -- at least break up the power alliance and go from there to give herself a fighting shot at the end.
Reality TV World: So it sounds like you think Laurel was just playing to get to the end, not to win.
Chelsea Townsend: Her gameplay, yes. I would say her gameplay at this point in the game is simply just to get further in the game, not to win. And that's surprising! My whole thing was like, "Okay, I want to make it to the end and I want to have a huge resume that earns me that title."
And she just wasn't really making big moves to start a resume. She's just kind of following along with Dom and Wendell, so hopefully she decides to make some big moves down the line. But as far as building her resume, that's not really happening yet.
Be sure to check back with Reality TV World soon for the rest of our exclusive Survivor: Ghost Island interview with Chelsea Townsend.