Exclusive: Jessica Johnston on dating Cole Medders after 'Survivor': "You never know" what could happen
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 11/15/2017
Jessica Johnston was voted out of Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers during the latest Season 35 broadcast on CBS.
Jessica, a 29-year-old nurse practitioner from Cape Girardeau, MO who currently resides in Louisville, KY, was voted out of the newly-merged Solewa tribe on Night 19 of the game through a 7-5 vote instead of her personal target, Chrissy Hofbeck, a 46-year-old financial analyst from Glen Gardner, NJ.
Jessica thought she had pulled Lauren Rimmer and Ben Driebergen into her alliance of Healers, but the pair decided to work with former Hustlers and Heroes instead.
"I think I experienced the biggest blindside of my life. My heart is broken," Jessica said following her ouster. "Who knew a game could crush you? I thought only guys could do that. I was wrong."
During a recent exclusive interview with Reality TV World, Jessica talked about her Survivor experience and what went wrong. Below is the concluding portion of what she had to say.
Reality TV World: Putting yourself in Ben and Lauren's shoes, do you think they made the best decision for their own personal games? And do you think Ben's was ultimately a tactful or emotional decision? Because Ben said on the show his goal was to make the tactful choice.
Jessica Johnston: Yeah, so you know, I applaud both of them. It hurts to admit that they made a good decision, because ultimately, I ended up on the bottom. But they made the right decision for their game.
I was pleased to see last night when Lauren was [pitching] Yawa to Ben, I was like, "Yeah! That's my girl! That is the girl I built a relationship with. This is truly genuine," which is what I do.
That's who I am and I was really pleased to see that it seemingly almost worked. However, I had no idea that [Devon Pinto] would've been so against the Healers. I really missed the ball not thinking bigger than I was. I wasn't thinking Devon would be so outspoken against the Healers.
I wasn't taking into consideration that [Joe Mena] and [Desi Williams] seemingly had zero relationship with [Ashley Nolan] and Devon. And I just totally think that I thought too much of my relationship with Ben and Lauren. I think Ben probably [wavered] a little bit.
Ultimately, he went back to Chrissy. They had a pretty tight connection. I knew that going into the merge. Ben affirmed Chrissy a lot, to the point where I was like, "Oh no, no, no. This is not healthy. If you're going to have any woman in your life it's going to be me, not Chrissy."
And so, that is where the name Chrissy came up with us. Obviously, she's a threat. We need to get her out, she's too close with Ben. Basically, as we've seen, anyone Chrissy talks to goes -- they vote with her. There's a problem.
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So yeah, I think that he went back to his original alliance because it was comfortable and Lauren went with the majority, so bravo for both of them, honestly, it was good for their game.
Reality TV World: While you were out there, did you realize Ryan Ulrich, JP Hilsabeck and Devon were sort of a package deal? Did you ever try to get one or more of them to join your side or did you think it was hopeless. And what about Ashley, too?
Jessica Johnston: Yeah, no, to be honest, I wish that I had even thought about anything you just said. I mean, again, there is so much to my game that I wish I had done different. I was totally closed off to even thinking about the other players, which was my downfall.
Entering the merge, all I cared about was that [Cole Medders] and Joe were going to be safe. I knew I had Desi, I knew I had [Mike Zahalsky], I thought I had Lauren. For some reason, I didn't even entertain the thought of really caring about the others.
And if I would have, maybe somebody would have spilled the beans on something. So I had no idea that Devon, Ryan and JP had sort of built this thing. I was totally shocked when I saw that play out last night. I was like, "Wow, Jessica, you missed the ball, girlfriend," like, "Duh, this is why you're not there anymore."
Reality TV World: So watching the season back on TV, has anything else really surprised you? Maybe the connection Ryan had with Chrissy for example?
Jessica Johnston: Yeah, that was definitely a surprise! I didn't have a lot of time with Chrissy or Ryan, so I didn't even have a clue that they had this, like, underlying alliance together before they were even on a team together, so that was really interesting and was definitely a surprise.
The other thing that was kind of a surprise was hearing Cole's commentary on some of the things he did to me. I was kind of like, "Oh, was this intentional?"
Because during the game, I just kind of played it -- like in my head, I'm like, "Okay, stupid move, but it wasn't malicious." But was it malicious? So there are moments where I'm like, "Hold up, wait a minute, like, were you malicious?" That was probably surprise No. 2.
And in a positive light, surprise No. 3 was just seeing Lauren last night descending, initially, the alliance that we had on the new Yawa. I love the fact that -- I feel like I was able to build a genuine relationship with her, enough where she wanted to join with the Healers.
Like, that's a big deal. We were a dominant force. It would've been stupid for anyone to join with us, honestly. We would have eventually voted them out.
I know that's what would've happened. So the fact that we were seemingly almost to that point of her really coming with us was kind of a pat on the back, Jessica, but you're still not there, so. So all of your effort is for nothing! (Laughs)
Reality TV World: You said in your final words you hoped Cole would take you out on a real date after Survivor...
Reality TV World: Did that happen? (Laughs) What's the status of your relationship with Cole now?
Jessica Johnston: Yeah, so we've definitely seen each other. Cole's great. We both think very highly of each other, but we're definitely in different places in life and different states. So, we're friend-zoning it at this point. There's nothing negative to say. He's not, like, a dad or anything. (Laughs) There are no hidden secrets with him; it's just we are friend-zoning it.
Reality TV World: But there's potential for something more?