The 26-year-old in graphic sales from Ocala, FL, was the first castaway eliminated from the game. She was voted out of her Malolo Tribe on Night 3 through a 5-1 vote at Survivor: Ghost Island's first Tribal Council session of the season.
A couple of votes were not shown, but they presumably went to Gonzalez as well. As for Gonzalez, she voted for Donathan Hurley, a 26-year-old caretaker from Phelps, KY.
During a recent exclusive interview with Reality TV World, Gonzalez talked to Reality TV World about her short-lived experience on the show. Below is the concluding portion of her Survivor: Ghost Island interview.
Reality TV World: You said you're so much more than a girly-girl and you couldn't wait for your tribe to see that. Do you feel your tribe had the wrong impression of you and they didn't have enough time to figure out who you really are?
Stephanie Gonzalez: They did not have any time to figure out who I was. I think they only saw me as a very harsh and aggressive person.
And there was a part in Tribal when Donathan was talking about being bullied, and at one point, I turned around and at one point, I had my hand on his knee or something, and he was almost in tears, and I can relate to Donathan on a whole other level.
My tribe didn't get to know the side of me that's very in tune with my emotions, and I have very humanitarian parts of me, where I love people and I'm a people pleaser. I like to make people happy, and so I'm a really big softy and I'm extremely loyal -- until you get in my way.
When you get in my way, then it's a whole other game. So they didn't get to know a lot of me. They didn't get to know that I was strong in puzzles and I'm a strong swimmer.
I could have really, really helped them out in winning that second Immunity Challenge. So that sucks, and I feel they quickly regretted it when they lost that second challenge.
Reality TV World: If you had a chance to help with the puzzle at the first Immunity Challenge, do you think it would've changed your fate in the game? Looking back, do you wish you had been more vocal about wanting to help with the puzzle -- or maybe you were and you just felt ignored?
Stephanie Gonzalez: So, before we started the game, we were all looking at the challenge and we were about to start, and we had a moment to kind of figure out what was going to happen, and we didn't have any structure.
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So I spoke up and said, "Hey, we should probably get some type of structure together," so that way, when we start our challenge, these two people are going to be untying the knots and then these two people are going to undo the rope and then these two people are going to do the puzzle.
No, it seemed like we just went in there and all of our brains were just scatterbrained, and I was just trying to have some uniform structure in which each person would know what they're doing so we could all function as one unit vs. everyone just losing their minds under pressure.
So I wish I had been more vocal in doing that earlier in the challenge vs. later in the challenge. But I was actually helping [Jacob Derwin], [Michael Yerger] and [Laurel Johnson] put the puzzle together, and I think the only person who was super flustered -- because it's so much pressure -- was Jacob.
So I was actually directing Jacob, like, "Hey, put this piece here! Put that piece there!" I was looking at the puzzle from a different perspective, so I was like, "Look at the puzzle from afar," and, "Look at the colors. We need to coordinate."
So I should've just been the one in there instead of Jacob, and I'm almost sure we would have had the puzzle done first and won immunity, sadly. And it hurts my gut to say that. It's painful to say that, but yeah, I think we would've avoided Tribal altogether that day.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when you found out Michael was only 18 years old at the time of filming, not 23? And do you think your vote or the next one -- when he was targeted along with Jacob -- would have been any different had the tribe known how young he really was?
Stephanie Gonzalez: Umm, nah, not really. Okay, so yeah, he's young, but whatever. Is he an asset or a nuissance? I don't really think anyone would make age into a big deal. It is what it is, as long as they're not childish or annoying or just really arrogant or something that's a turnoff.
It's like, "Whatever, I can work with you as long as you're mature," and he is, he's very wise. He knew he was going to have to be extra wise and portray that 23 year old he was saying he was.
So, it worked in his favor and whether he was 18, 23, or 34, as long as we had communication and a connection, I don't really know that I care.
Reality TV World: Had you been the one sent to Ghost Island, is it safe to say you would have taken a risk and played that Game of Chance, just like Jacob did, or do you think you actually would have played it safe so you wouldn't have to lie to your tribe upon your return?
Stephanie Gonzalez: Oh hell no, I definitely would have played the Game of Chance! Absolutely. That's what you're there for. You're not there to play it safe; you're there to play. Anyone who plays it safe is ridiculous!
Reality TV World: What did you think about Jacob's lie about his fake Immunity Idol when he got back? How do you think you would've handled it differently had you been in his shoes?
Stephanie Gonzalez: I would not have said that at all! I think I would have come up with a little bit of a better story, but of course that didn't happen to me, so it's so hard to judge.
Reality TV World: At the point you left the game, which player did you think was emerging as the biggest threat to win the game, someone you thought the other tribemates needed to watch out for and get rid of sooner rather than later?
Stephanie Gonzalez: To win, umm, so I think the biggest person who could be a big threat here is probably Donathan because everyone can feel so deeply for his story.
I was like, dude, if he got me voted out and clearly we needed someone around who could be physically strong in challenges, and I'm out and I'm gone, I think he could probably sway anybody into doing anything by just shedding a couple tears and telling his story in this insanely cute accent that he's got. (Laughs)
That's extremely charming, and in the past, you don't have to necessarily win any Individual Immunities to win [the title of] Sole Survivor. So, he doesn't necessarily have to win any Individual Immunities -- maybe he will or maybe he won't.
But if he can use that southern charm and everyone has a weak spot in their heart, that's it, game over. If he can make it to the end and show growth and show progress as a person, then I think his story could sway people in and get him to the top spot.
For the whole cast, I don't think he's my pick, only because I judged the other tribe's cast members as being a little more dominant and a little more aggressive in the way that they play. I think maybe if I had been on the Naviti tribe, my outcome wouldn't have been so God-awful.
I think maybe I would've played a little bit longer because I was the more aggressive person right out of the gate in a tribe that literally just wanted to just be kumbaya for as long as they could, and together and happy for as long as they could, but going into the Naviti tribe, I think... [Bradley Kleihege] was there to play.
I think [Domenick Abbate] was really there to play. I think [Morgan Ricke] was there to play, I mean, look at her. She's super athletic and she's got a killer smile that could probably charm a lot of the boys, so I think those three had a really, really good chance out there -- even [Angela Perkins], she has an insanely fit body. A lot of those tribe members do!
And I loved [Kellyn Bechtold]. I felt like she just had an auro about her, I don't know, you're just drawn to her. She has a bubbly personality and she's just very sweet... Domenick gives off more of a villainous look. I hate to say that because I know I can come off the same way, but I don't know! It just depends I guess.