Jenna, a 23-year-old advertising account executive from Detroit, MI, was voted out at the first Tribal of the night -- which only featured half the tribe -- through a 1-1-3 vote instead of Sebastian Noel and Donathan Hurley.
Jenna voted for Donathan, while Donathan voted for Sebastian. Jenna and Donathan were well aware they were on the outs as they were two original Malolo tribemates standing against three original Naviti members following a twist in the game that randomly divided the tribe into two teams of five.
During a recent exclusive interview with Reality TV World, Jenna talked about her Survivor experience. Below is the concluding portion of what she had to say.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when Michael Yerger got voted out of the game right after you instead of someone like Wendell Holland? Did you assume Michael was going to be the target?
Jenna Bowman: Yeah, so what they didn't show this season was how close Michael and I were, like, we were best friends. We were in an alliance, you know, every single Tribal was us deciding on what was going on and what was the best for our game.
When we were separated, we had a conversation right before, and Michael was like, "I'm good, Jenna. I came up with this whole idea of a fake idol, and I think I pulled it through." And I was like, "I'm good too! I have everybody on my side."
We gave each other a hug and were like, "See you on the other side!" And so when he walked in and saw me sitting there [on the jury], he was bummed. And then we knew he's been the target the whole show because he's such a good player, and just us being Malolo, they obviously just wanted us out.
So, I knew they'd be gunning for him, but I thought he might have somehow figured out a way to stay another day, because he's so good at that! But unfortunately, he also got voted out.
Reality TV World: You made a comment when Michael got voted out that you didn't receive any hugs like he did. Were you just being funny or were you pissed? (Laughs) Were you genuinely expecting a hug from somebody, maybe from Sebastian Noel?
Jenna Bowman: I think I was just kind of being funny just because of how awkward and quick my Tribal was. It was like, "Nope, we're done. Jenna is gone. We don't care." You know?
I think it was just because I was with three people -- or four people, I guess -- that weren't huge threats in the game and weren't really opinionated people. So it was just a quick, awkward exit in my mind.
And seeing Michael, he just stirred the pot so well, and he's just such a great player. And he's such a good person. And just watching him give people exit hugs, you know, I'm very proud of him. So I wasn't angry; I think I was just trying to be funny.
Reality TV World: Putting yourself in Sebastian, Angela Perkins and Chelsea Townsend's shoes, do you think they made the right decision in taking you out when they did? And I'm also wondering if people underestimated Donathan a little bit, because I've heard castaways say he was just in Fiji on a vacation, but he did at least look for and find an idol.
Jenna Bowman: Yeah, I mean, I think their whole point was they didn't want to vote for Donathan just because they knew about the idol. They just didn't want to take the risk of him playing it and then one of them three going home.
So I think that was the final nail in my coffin, once they knew that I was the less-risky vote at that point.
But you know, Donathan is a good player too! He found an idol, he's laying low, he's aligned himself with the top dogs, and no one knows about it. So, managing to keep a secret like that is good and impressive. So, I'm happy for him.
Reality TV World: Do you feel the deck was stacked against you the entire game since you were an original Malolo and you had to crawl your way out of every unlucky situation, or looking back, do you think you made any mistakes or wish you had done something differently to advance yourself in the game?
Jenna Bowman: No question about it, from the get-go, Malolo was literally cursed. It was the most frustrating ride, but it was amazing. Survivor is amazing. But it was a very frustrating ride never being able to make a move. My move was saying that I survived another day.
My move was sucking up to people, working on relationships, just trying to get someone to say, "Okay, wait, let's keep her around because she's more tolerable than the next person."
And, you know, being on Malolo after we did the first swap, it was miserable, like, I was crying every night. It was very hard. So it was very frustrating. The deck was definitely stacked against us. If we could go back and change one thing, I would ask to be put on Naviti.
Reality TV World: When you saw Michael get voted out after you, whom did you think was next? Did you think it was going to be Donathan?
Jenna Bowman: I felt like the next person that would go based off the Tribal would just have been, maybe, like, [Kellyn Bechtold] based off just how erratic their Tribal had gone, and clearly she felt like she couldn't trust people now and her alliance because of how crazy everything was.
Kellyn also wears her heart on her sleeve, and like you saw, she was arguing with [Domenick Abbate] and telling him who she wants to vote out. She's very emotional and she's just very upfront about everything, so I just felt like that would cause her to go into a downward spiral.
Reality TV World: You told me that Michael and yourself had a very close relationship even though viewers didn't see that unfold on TV. So when did you find out Michael was only 18-years-old when he played the game? And what was your reaction?
Jenna Bowman: So, I found that out when we were filming our Ponderosa video. And it was actually pretty fun because -- I don't know if you saw it -- but they let our parents show up to Ponderosa because we were obviously voted out right before the loved ones' visit.
So here we are having a lunch at Ponderosa with his mom and my dad, and our parents obviously know the secret, like, Michael's mom had told my dad, "Okay, my son is 18 but Jenna probably doesn't know."
And so there was this big moment where Michael was like, "I have to tell you something." Everyone was staring at me and I was like, "What do all these people know that I don't?!"
And then he told me, "I'm 18." And I was shocked! It went from this guy that I felt like he was my age and we both lived in L.A. and had similar interests -- we had so much love for each other. And it was weird!
I almost felt like all of a sudden I looked at him differently, as more of a younger brother. But at the same time, I was so much more impressed by him because at 18, he's amazing. So it was weird, but once I took a step back, I was like, "Holy shit, this kid is literally so cool."
Reality TV World: How were you cast on Survivor? How did you end up on the show this season?
Jenna Bowman: I was recruited and it was, like, the craziest thing! In high school, I was voted "Most Likely To Be On a Reality TV Show," and it was always something that, you know, I just thought about randomly but never actually put any real progress into getting on one.
So, the night before, I'm at a family dinner, and I was like, "I'm so sick of my job. I want something new. I want to do something big and exciting." And then my dad was like, "Jenna, go on The Bachelor." Because that's something we've always watched together.
And so I was like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, fine." The next day, I got a call from the recruiter while I was at work, being like, "Have you heard of Survivor? Do you have any interest in putting together a tape?"
I immediately told my dad and it was just so funny how it all came into fruition. And he was like, "This is a scam, Jenna. They probably want your social security number!"
And I was like, "Dad, they're asking about my sex life, not social security, like, I don't think this is what you're thinking." It was so funny. And so then I obviously flew out to L.A. and yeah, it all came together! And I'm just so grateful for it.