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 an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Jessica talked about her Survivor experience and what went wrong. Below is a portion of what she had to say.
Reality TV World: You said in your final words you were blindsided. Could you confirm what you expected to happen walking into Tribal Council? You thought you were putting seven votes on Chrissy right?
Jessica Johnston: Absolutely. I think -- oh gosh, I could speak to this so much -- my downfall was being overly confident and too confident in the relationships that I thought that I gained with Ben and Lauren.
I knew going into the merge that [Cole Medders], [Mike Zahalsky] and myself would stay together and we'd play the whole game together. Mike and I have defended Cole, we've turned into his mom and his dad, we've protected him.
I knew [Joe Mena] and [Desi Williams] would come back to the Healers. You know, Joe tweeted last night that I was still his No. 1, which meant the world, because I felt like that relationship was strong. Of course we kept winning, and so that relationship we had didn't really make the edit, but I'm glad to know it was real.
So, going into the merge, I knew that we were tight. I assumed that we had Ben and Lauren. I got the impression Ben might kind of be on the edge, like he might go back to his original tribe, but I was glad to see that yesterday, you know, last night, that Lauren had tried to keep Ben with the new Yawa alliance.
I had no idea my name was out there. They did such a great job. I wish I knew at what point they decided they were going to go with "Plan B," which was myself, which was awful.
But yeah, going into the merge, I know it made the edit and I kick myself for saying that I was "the queen bee," but it's like when you see something and you feel something, you just say it.
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And I was like, "Oh, this is awesome! I'm with my old group again and I'm confident in my new relationship with Ben and Lauren -- of course I feel on top of the world. I know I shouldn't but I do."
And so, walking into the merge, I thought that we had seven against Chrissy, and in my head, I'm like, "Okay, well if it's not Chrissy, it's Cole. I can do this game without Cole. So I know it's not me." I am totally embarrassed to even admit that the thought of it being me did not come into my head.
It was a huge mistake on my part. I watch the game; I'm a fan. It's just amazing to me, like in that moment, how it didn't even dawn on me, like, "Jessica, you are not okay. You are not safe!" (Laughs) So yeah, I'm totally disappointed.
Reality TV World: Once the votes were read, what was going through your mind? Did you immediately realize it had to have been Ben and Lauren who flipped on you, or did you consider someone else might have, like Desi?
Jessica Johnston: Oh yeah, no, I immediately knew that it was Lauren and Ben. When my name -- when Jeff read my name aloud, I thought of this specific moment I had on the island. The day of the merge, it was just total chaos, everyone was just running around like a crazy person, and I remember a moment I had with Lauren.
I was walking to the water, and I was like, "Hey, girlfriend, what's up?!" Because that's how I'd communicate with her, because she's totally cool and would be like, "What's up Jess?" That's typically how she communicates.
Well, she totally kind of gave me the cold shoulder. So in that moment at the merge, I'm like, "Oh my God, that was my clue. I missed it." I missed it because I was too consumed trying to play, "Let's fix up my boys, let's make sure Joe and I are still tight, let's make sure Joe trusts Cole. Let's make sure Ben forgives Cole. Let's do damage control."
I was totally unaware how Lauren was reacting to me. And that should've been my clue, and I missed it. And that moment came into my head the night of the merge when Jeff lifted my name up. I was like, "Oh, God, I missed it. It's me." I knew it was me when I saw my name, because I hadn't heard it before! And I was like, "Oh, what is happening right now?!"
Reality TV World: It was a surprise to me that the Healers didn't seem more concerned about Ben possibly rejoining the original Heroes come the merge. Did Ben say something to make you guys think he was 100 percent with you, or maybe he said he had an issue with one Hero in particular? Mike seemed totally shocked when Ben approached him with the idea of going after Cole.
Jessica Johnston: Yeah, that's our downfall. We were too confident; I was too confident. I believe in my pre-game, I talked a lot about my ability to build good relationships that are genuine, like I have a lot of best friends and I love them all, and I just brought that into the game.
And I was overly confident that Ben would stay with me. I should have questioned my ability to bring people in, and instead, I'm like, "Oh yeah, I brought you in! I don't have to worry about you anymore."
Because he was constantly telling me I was going to have to flip against Cole, and I'm like, "Okay, fine, but not yet. There are bigger fish to fry. It's not Cole's time yet. Let's get through this vote."
Never once did he ever allude -- and even in the whole Yawa experience, it was always Ben and Lauren trying to convince me to flip on Cole.
It was never my name thrown out there with anybody on the new Yawa tribe, and I guess that's why we thought he would never go back. And we were just unaware, we were too confident in ourselves as Healers, and we were overly confident in the relationships that we had thought we infiltrated.