Exclusive: 'Survivor: Kaoh Rong' runner-up Aubry Bracco talks about her loss
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/19/2016
Survivor: Kaoh Rong -- Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty castaway Aubry Bracco finished the season as the runner-up during the live portion of Wednesday night's finale broadcast on CBS.
Aubry, a 29-year-old social media marketer from Cambridge, MA, lost to winnerMichele Fitzgerald, a 24-year-old bartender from Freehold, NJ. Aubry, however, managed to defeat third-place finisher Tai Trang, a 51-year-old gardener from San Francisco, CA, and fourth-place finisher Cydney Gillon, a 23-year-old body builder from Douglasville, GA.
In Season 32's final jury voting results, which Survivor host Jeff Probst revealed during the live reunion show, Aubry earned two of the seven jury votes and Michele received the rest.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Aubry talked about her Survivor experience. Below is what she had to say.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised Michele won and why do you ultimately think she did win? What did the jury respect so much?
Aubry Bracco: So, I wasn't surprised at all. I knew when I got out of that Tribal Council -- I said right after [Scot Pollard] spoke last year, "Oh man, I did not have the vibe in the room tonight."Survivor is all about moments. People say that all the time, but I really learned just how true that is. It's about moments day to day, and it's about moments in Tribal Council.
[Michele] had that moment and she gave the jury what they needed in that moment. She didn't anger people who had come out of the game. It was a very emotional game, and she didn't make anybody upset. And I think the underdog thing is a very big thing. People think, "Oh, there's an underdog!"
But in our season, the underdog was always changing. When Scot was taken out, [Kyle Jason] kind of became the underdog a little bit. And then when he went out, Michele was the underdog. So, she had the right things at the right moment.
Reality TV World: Were you expecting a vote from somebody that you didn't get?
Aubry Bracco: I would say that when I first came out of the Tribal, I said, "Okay, it's 5-2." And that's what ended up happening. There are people from whom I would have liked to have gotten a vote -- like Cydney or [Debbie Wanner].
But I got the feeling when I came out of that Tribal that I didn't have it and our relationship, it was still so in-the-moment and fresh, it was hard to move past the emotional things that had happened.
It was hard for them to see my game in the moment because it was so personal to them. So I would have liked to get their votes, but did I think I got them? I was pretty sure I hadn't. Of course you have moments when you have a year to wait, like, "Oh, maybe!" But yeah, I wasn't surprised.
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Reality TV World: Imagine if Cydney had won the fire-starting challenge and made it to the Final 3 in your place. Do you think Michele still would have won? And would you have personally voted for Michele, Cydney or Tai in that case?
Aubry Bracco: If Cydney had gone in my place, I think I would have voted for Cydney for her strategy. But at the end of the day, I understand that I don't know what it was like in Cydney's place in that moment. To go out on fire is very tough, and if I had gone out on fire, I can't necessarily say how I would have felt on that day when it came down to actually voting.
I think it would've been a tight race with Cydney and Michele. I also think, similar to me, the jury wasn't exactly psyched about Cydney -- particularly Scot and Jason. And I think that a lot happened between them, and so I think it may have also been Michele again.
And I think if Tai was there, and he was there with Cydney and Michele, it would kind of be a similar dynamic where Cydney was kind of the "me" in that situation. I think Michele hadn't hurt people.
Reality TV World: Do you have any regrets about taking Jason out when you did? Because it seemed like many people viewed him as sort of a goat to take to the end since he wasn't very likeable.
Aubry Bracco: On the Jason vote, so that was a tough one. That's probably a vote where I just think about what could've happened, and I was obviously very torn on what to do that day. I would say that Jason wasn't as much of a goat in that moment to me as he may have seemed to other people.
When he was able to speak and shared the story about his daughter, he's a very endearing person who loves his daughters very much. I know how powerful that can be emotionally. And he also was the underdog in that moment, so I took a gamble and then [Joe Del Campo] got medically evacuated, and that didn't leave me any wiggle room to get Michele out.
Reality TV World: Looking back, do you think there was anything more you could have said or done to argue your case at the Final Tribal Council in order to sway the jury to vote in your favor? For example, I thought you had a good argument in that you lost both of your closest allies in the game to medical conditions yet still managed to bob and weave and make new alliances.
Aubry Bracco: Sure. So something important is that there was this vibe that people didn't like that I had Joe, who was with me the whole time. He was referred to as my "extra vote." He was referred to as I was protected by him. And I felt like there was a lack of respect for the fact I worked with Joe, and that actually made people pretty annoyed.
So, (laughs) I felt like that wasn't the right thing to bring up in that moment. I didn't think it would work. And as for [Neal Gottlieb] getting medically evacuated, yes my biggest ally went out, but people had also said to me, "It saved you that he went out."
So I knew that that group of people did not think my ally Neal going out as being something I should use as an argument in my defense. And similarly with Joe, they just were irritated that he was, in the words of other people, "my extra vote," even though I didn't see it that way.
So, in that group of people, the vibe I was getting, I thought that would irritate them more. So I decided to talk about the things I did as a player and not the circumstances as much. Because they weren't going to take that. These people also went through a lot, and I know some people felt they got the shaft. So I wasn't going to say, "I had a harder time." It wasn't going to work with that group of people.
Reality TV World: How was it possible that Neal thought Michele's game was so poor and he had no respect for it when mostly everyone ultimately voted for her to win? Where did Neal's outburst at Tribal come from? What's the story there?
Aubry Bracco: I think that Neal valued a very different kind of game than the other people on the jury. I think Neal is an incredibly analytical person and he stripped the emotional side of it away much more than other people.
Reality TV World: Do you think Neal truly had the power to persuade the jury members to vote for you instead of Michele if he wasn't removed from the Final Tribal Council? And if so, do you think Michele's decision for that advantage was her million-dollar winning move?
Aubry Bracco: Sure. I wouldn't say it was a million-dollar winning move just because it was 5-2, but I understand what you're saying, that he could've been able to persuade people. I thought about it, whether Neal could persuade people, but I think it could have gone one of two ways.
He could have persuaded people in my favor, or, he could've said something that annoyed them so much they would not vote for me. So, as much as I think he could've helped me, kind of going up there and very passionately speaking against Michele and for me could've had the opposite effect.
Reality TV World: You were emotional and, for lack of a better term, weak towards the beginning of the game. When do you feel you really came into your own and grew strong as a player? What caused the shift in your confidence and inspired you to play the game so hard?
Aubry Bracco: I would say it started to shift on Day 3 at the Immunity Challenge with the oars. That's when it first started and then I got stronger day by day. I had the mentality, "I did that, so I can get through this day. I can get through that." And I just dealt with everything as it came. And I just made it work. I kept my eyes on one day at a time.
To read more exclusive interviews with the Final 3 castaways, check out Reality TV World's Survivor: Kaoh Rong page.