Survivor 43 runner-up Cassidy Clark says she was shocked Mike "Gabler" Gabler won the game and that she believes Karla Cruz Godoy followed through with her prior threat to turn the jury against Cassidy.

Cassidy made it to the Final 3 of Survivor 43 with Gabler and Owen Knight, but she only received a single jury vote to win from her former alliance partner James Jones.


Gabler was crowned the $1 million winner of Survivor in a 7-1-0 jury vote, with Owen receiving zero votes during the three-hour finale event that aired Wednesday night on CBS.

"I was pretty shocked [by the jury vote]. I just felt like I had set myself up for the win. And I think even -- between me and Owen -- we were in awe," Cassidy told Entertainment Weekly.

"Good for Gabler -- obviously I never want to take away from somebody's win. He really pulled that out. But yeah, I got to say I was a little surprised."

Cassidy said she thinks the jury was "upset" at her for trying to set Jesse Lopez up to fail in the fire-making challenge against Gabler, who won his way into the Final 3 with a fast Survivor record-setting blaze.

Jesse was arguably the best player of the season, who made some historic moves and said he really needed to win the money for his wife and children.

"I think they were just upset that Jesse got out and that I was a part of a big reason why he got out because I made that decision," Cassidy explained.

"Because I think they all had their minds made up for Jesse to win, which I don't blame them. He was playing an incredible game."

Cassidy suggested the jury was bitter in saying, "Once [Jesse] was gone, I think they were looking at me like, 'You're the reason, and you should have done this and that.' And just trying to undermine my win and the fact that I got to make the decision to put Gabler in."

Although Gabler made the fire and won the challenge fair and square, Cassidy repeated how she was a huge part of getting "the biggest threat" out of the game.

Cassidy admitted she was especially surprised that Jeanine Zheng's vote went to Gabler.
Reality TV World is now available on the all-new Google News app and website. Click here to visit our Google News page, and then click FOLLOW to add us as a news source!

"Because Gabler had voted out her closest ally and consequentially ruined her game as well in a way," Cassidy reasoned.

"And then the fact that I didn't write Jeanine's name down -- that was a part of the reason I was hoping to get her jury vote. But it was also because I didn't want to vote another woman out."

Cassidy acknowledged she was also taken aback by the fact Karla didn't vote for her to win.

"I think Karla obviously surprised me as well, because we worked together the whole game and I thought she would be able to look past what went down in the last few days," Cassidy told EW, referring to how the women had been openly and ruthlessly gunning for each other at the Final 5.

"And still I feel like if it had been her in that position and she had gotten me, I would've voted for her."

Cassidy said she simply "didn't understand" Karla's thinking when it came to her jury vote.

"Her and Gabler didn't really have that close of a relationship out there, so I just didn't really understand. I felt like she was doing it as a last bit of revenge against me in a way," Cassidy confessed.

Cassidy explained that she walked into the Final Tribal Council confident she was going to win, but then something in the air shifted and she could feel the game slipping through her fingers as the jury interrogated the Final 3 castaways.


"I think that I felt like people were really open to Gabler's answers and really supportive of what he was saying and just smiling. And, with me, it felt like they had already closed themselves off and it almost felt like it didn't matter what I said," Cassidy claimed.

Cassidy believed the jury had already made their minds up at Ponderosa that Gabler should win the game.

"I don't know if that's true, but that was how it felt. And so it was discouraging. And as you keep going on, and then people are jumping to Gabler's defense and then people are attacking me for things I'm saying, you start to lose confidence," Cassidy said.

"You're already under so much pressure and you're exhausted, you're tired, you just ate all this food [at the Final 3 feast] and it put my body into shock. It was just a lot of hard things to overcome in that moment. And then you feel it slipping away, and it's difficult."

Cassidy suggested the voting result was stunning because she and Owen actually thought Gabler was shooting himself in the foot at final jury questioning with his stories and arguments.

Cassidy recalled even exchanging a look with Owen at one point about Gabler's behavior.

"It almost felt to a point like he was rambling. He would just talk and talk and talk and talk, and was taking up so much of the time that [Survivor host Jeff Probst] had to even stop him for a second," Cassidy claimed to EW.

"And so me and Owen were thinking, 'Oh, man, he might be digging his grave even further,' because to me he would just say a lot of stuff and I just didn't feel like a lot of it was like [compelling]."

But Cassidy acknowledged how the jury was still "eating it up" and appeared extremely receptive to everything Gabler was putting on the table.

"And I was just surprised," Cassidy pointed out.

"I feel like they had already made up their decision before they even came in the final Tribal is what I felt like. I don't know if that's true or not, but it was like fighting against this tide that was already turning."

Many Survivor fans suspect the jury had been sold on Gabler winning prior to the Final Tribal Council because Karla had her way with her former tribemates -- and Cassidy apparently agrees.

Prior to the Gaia Tribe voting out Karla at Final 5, Survivor aired footage during the finale of Karla trying to convince Cassidy to vote out Jesse, saying he had played a much stronger game overall.

Cassidy snapped in reply that she's "not an idiot" and Karla wasn't exactly breaking new information to her.

Since Karla's argument didn't seem to stick, Karla told Cassidy that if she got sent to the jury, she was planning to take credit for all the moves they had made together as former allies.

"The Coco votes, anything pre-merge, I don't know if you'll be able to use as gameplay because it was all me and James," Karla told her former friend, which made Cassidy's jaw drop to the floor.

Karla essentially suggested she'd poison the jury and tell them whatever she needed to say in order to sway their votes in a different direction from Cassidy winning Season 43.

Karla continued on the show, "[I'll say that] because I'll be on the jury, and my vote's not going to go to you."

Cassidy told Karla that her scare tactic was "interesting," and Cassidy later vented in a confessional, "I just lost a lot of respect for her for pulling that move on me when we've played so long together."

"I think she's upset that I may have gotten the better of her," she elaborated, "and that I formed better social relationships and outwitted her to the point where I'm going to be the one in the Final 4, and potentially not her."


When looking back on how the jury ultimately voted at the Final Tribal Council, Cassidy seemed to think Karla had some major pull on their former tribemates.

"After I got out of the game, I can't remember who, but somebody mentioned to me that she had been speaking against me," Cassidy told EW. "And I'm not saying it's 100 percent true, but that was what I had heard from somebody who was at Ponderosa."

Cassidy chose not disclose the juror's identity who allegedly leaked such information about Karla.

But she elaborated, "It was really hard to hear that she couldn't just look at it and be like, 'Damn you got me, good game' and still support me, because we have been allies the entire game."

Cassidy said if Karla truly turned the jury against her, as she suspects, then that's "really unfortunate."

"I'm not going to speak for her and say that is 100 percent what happened," Cassidy continued, "but that's just what I heard. So it was hard to come to terms with that."

Cassidy also told EW it was "extremely petty" of Karla to have made such threats about jury management considering Cassidy didn't think Karla's perspective on the situation was factual or accurate.

"I thought that was not the kind of game I wanted to play. And I just felt like it was really dirty to try to do," Cassidy lamented.

"She was throwing all types of insults and different things at me that whole day. The conversation was way more intense than what was shown [on the show]."

Cassidy said Karla wanting to take all the credit for their moves and then allegedly badmouthing her to the jury "really hurts."

"Honestly, I feel like being a Survivor fan, I would think you'd have a little more respect for the game, and that's the game you got to play?" Cassidy snapped.

"I get that you're feeling cornered, but it just seemed unfair, and it hurt because we had had such a close relationship up to that point and I didn't understand why she was coming after me when there was three other people that were also going to be writing her name down."

Cassidy, Owen, Jesse and Gabler all voted out Karla at the Final 5 Tribal Council, but Karla had cast her vote for Jesse to go.

During the final jury questioning, Karla seemed to have followed through with her prior threat when she boldly asked Cassidy to explain one specific move she had made pre-merge that helped propel her into the merge.

Cassidy answered by saying it was building her relationship with Karla and James, trusting them, blindsiding Geo Bustamante, and then taking control of the tribe.

In light of the fact the women had been fighting and at odds leading up to Karla's exit, Cassidy apologized to Karla during the final jury questioning, saying that she felt ashamed for how she had acted in that last conversation they had on the beach.

While some viewers thought Cassidy may have just been trying to score Karla's vote, Cassidy insisted it was a "sincere" apology at that time.

"Looking back, I also felt nervous that vote [when Karla went home], and I felt like a cornered animal as well. And I feel like the conversation just got really heated, and I did regret that it ended that way because looking back, we had worked together on so many votes and we had had such a close relationship and I really was sad," Cassidy explained to EW.

"Looking at her on the jury, I'm sad that this is how it ended. Also, obviously it really wasn't me pandering to her at that time. I did want her to know that I was sorry for that, but I was also hurt at the same time."

Cassidy admitted it was difficult to make that apology because Karla had really hurt her, but she apparently regretted her part in the argument on the beach.

"I did regret that. I didn't really have any regrets in the game, and she asked me that question specifically, and that is the one regret that I had had," Cassidy noted to EW.

"And so I was just trying to be honest about that. Besides underestimating Gabler, that was my other regret."

During the finale's afterparty in which the cast celebrated Gabler's $1 million win with pizza and champagne in Fiji, Jeff seemed to hint that he also believed Karla played a significant role in the jury's nearly unanimous decision to vote for Gabler when the host appeared to immediately single out Karla to explain the entire jury's votes.

"Did Gabler sway you during this Q&A? Karla, what made seven of the eight votes go to Gabler?" Jeff asked.

"Obviously when you're in the jury, you get to kind of fact check, right? And so we created a checklist for each player, like, 'If Owen can do this, if Cassidy can do this, or if Gabler can do this...' And Gabler just checked most of the boxes off," Karla replied.

Sami Layadi then agreed that Gabler had proven he wasn't just "a loopy old man" and that he knew what he was doing during the game.

Cassidy told EW that it was very challenging to put on a happy face and act like everything was fine after such a devastating loss against Gabler.

"I think that was one of the hardest things to have to go through because truly I really felt very confident like I could win this. And for a lot of the game, I wasn't sure I was going to be capable of that," Cassidy said.

"And so whenever it was right there in front of me and I really felt like I had played the best game considering who I was sitting next to, having to lose that and then go through this whole like, 'Oh, we're happy! We're eating! We're drinking!'"

Cassidy confessed that she had "way too much champagne" just "trying to deal with the shock" of only receiving one jury vote to win.

"I honestly drank way too much champagne just trying to deal with the shock, the pain and the loss of it. And then the next day, I remember I was at Ponderosa, I had a really bad panic attack, because it was just so much to go through within 24 hours, and there really was no time to process it."

Cassidy reiterated how it was a "difficult" experience, adding, "I wish that we had had that time to be able to come back and come together and discuss it. But it is what it is."

Cassidy, however, said she has since "come to terms" with the way the game ended.

"I've healed from it, and then I get upset all over again. I know people are like, 'But you got to the end. You should be so proud.' And I am. I really am, and I'm proud of the game I played," Cassidy explained.

"But to be that close and to really think you had it and then for it to slip away like that, you start questioning every little thing that you did. And it's hard to be proud of your wins unfortunately, because you were so close and you just missed out."

Cassidy said she wasn't sure she was capable of what she was able to accomplish going into the game.


"I've been watching it since I was a kid, so to be that close to being the winner... ugh!" Cassidy lamented.

"You doubt yourself a lot and you go back and look at all the things you could have done differently and it's a game that you'll never win in your head. But I'm still really proud of the game that I played no matter what."


About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.