Survivor 43 has come to an end, and Pop Crave had the chance to speak with the final 5 castaways about their time on the season.
Keep reading for our full exit interview with 3rd place finisher, Owen Knight!
Congratulations on your run! Third place isn’t too shabby. Have you been able to grapple with how the season ended since filming wrapped?
Yeah, I mean, since filming has wrapped, I’ve been very at peace with what happened. I’m not gonna lie to you. Last night was really hard to watch. I was watching with a lot of people, and it wasn’t all just friends of mine. To have this kind of raw, emotional thing happen while people are just partying and yucking it up, that was a little hard. That was not amazing, but I’m still very proud of making it as far as I did from playing from the bottom for so long.
Just as a viewer, this final tribal council felt pretty even for the most part with everyone giving solid arguments on why they should win. How much pressure did you feel in that moment?
I mean, at the time, I was flabbergasted by the result, to be honest with you. I really thought Cassidy was the favorite going in. I thought I had a chance at a couple of votes. I really did not think I was going to win. I thought I worked well with what I had to work with. You know, I wasn’t able to take credit for a lot of strategic moves. I think the last question they showed was about persuasion and how I was honest. Like, I didn’t have the social capital to persuade a lot of people to do anything. I knew I needed to be honest with my game, and I thought I did pretty well watching it back. I wish I had been maybe a little bit more confident and tried to be a little less self-deprecating, I guess. Really, what the edit doesn’t show is just how long that final tribal lasted, and I think Gabler did a great job. You know, getting those nuggets out there, but it was a long time, and he has a meandering way of speaking. I really wasn’t sure what was gonna happen with the votes.
Is there anything in particular that was cut out that you wish was shown?
In final tribal, I don’t really think so. I think they caught kind of the highlights. I think one of the main detractors for Cassidy was talking about the Ryan vote, and I think Gabler did a good job, eventually, of explaining his fluidity of alliances. It took a while to get there, but I think he did a good job of vocalizing it.
Karla mentioned in the after show that the jury had a checklist for finalists that would ultimately decide whether they won or lost. Either from what you’ve been told, or how you view your own gameplay, what do you think your unchecked boxes were?
So, I think what was explained to me by a couple of people is that I checked every box that I could have. It’s just I had less boxes on my checklist available to be checked, if that makes sense. Like, my sum of things checked was just not enough to win, but everyone told me I did a good job. I was humble, I was not trying to make anything up, but I just think it’s like a blackjack scenario or something. I was trying to win the game with like a 14 or something, you know [laughs]? It just wasn’t going to happen, but I was proud of my performance at final tribal and had a lot of people telling me I spoke well, so I can take that with me.
You were super close with Noelle. Has she explained her vote to you?
Not really. I mean, she has expressed that she wishes she had voted for me, which I guess is nice [laughs]. I’ll take it. I love Noelle, don’t get me wrong. Yeah, we’re good friends still. We stay in touch, but yeah, that one was the most surprising for me. That was the most surprising and sad.
We saw how adamantly both you and Gabler had fought to compete in the fire making challenge, which ultimately went to Gabler. How much of your fate in that final vote do you think depended on beating Jesse in fire?
Not as much then. I think my whole fate hinged on the final four challenge. I needed to win that challenge, take off the necklace, and take out Jesse myself. I think even if Cassidy had put me in and I had taken out Jesse, I don’t know if that would have been enough. I don’t know if it would have been enough if I had pulled a Chris Underwood (Survivor: Edge of Extinction). I think that would have been my best shot at winning. I think I would have gotten a few votes, but I think the jury would have respected that way more than just beating Jesse at fire. I’m not losing a ton of sleep over that decision making process. I think I probably could have been more aggressive with trying to push Cassidy to get me to go in, but honestly, our perception was that Gabler was kind of drawing dead. That’s our blind spot.
You and Cassidy practically had your jaws dropped at every vote that went Gabler’s way, and then when he won. Where do you think you miscalculated his threat level, especially while working with him so closely?
Um, I don’t know. I really don’t know. It still puzzles me because I was shocked. They showed this when Cassidy brought up the point, it’s like, “Well, couldn’t you make the argument that Gabler, you were never voted for because you weren’t all that threatening?” And everyone was like, “No, no, that was intentional! It was intentional!” And I was shocked because I thought everyone on the jury wanted to take Gabler to the end, you know, so that felt a little incongruent to me. I was just like, “What the hell is happening?” That really, really threw me for a loop, and so at that point, I was just like, “I have no idea what the hell is about to happen.”
You won a third of this season’s individual immunity challenges along with Cassidy, who did the same. Both physical and mental! How much did you surprise yourself out there when competing in those challenges?
Yeah, I don’t know about mentally [laughs], but physically, yeah. I did impress myself with my challenge performance. Like, I’m a pretty athletic guy. I’ve played sports, I used to swim growing up, road crew for five years, all of that. But I’m not the biggest person, I’m not the strongest, I’m not the fastest. I was really proud, especially with that clutch word scramble. It was an element of my game that I didn’t expect to be as good as it was, so I was proud of that. It was a lot of fun.
You were targeted quite a bit in the beginning of the merge, both prior to your immunity win the week Jeanine went home, and by James and Karla during the split tribes twist. How were you able to wiggle your way back into good graces with everyone after those votes? It’s something I’ve been wondering for quite some time now!
I mean, I don’t want to give myself too much credit, to be honest. I don’t even know if it was anything I necessarily actively did to wiggle my way back in. I think so much of Survivor is perception being reality. You can prop someone up as being a threat, you can prop someone up as being a non threat. I think just the story and kind of the way things unfolded for me was just like, “Oh, he’s not all that threatening. He’s in the minority,” whatever, whatever. But I don’t know. I think I did have some genuine bonds. I think I showed, like with Jesse, we had a good relationship. Noelle, we had a great relationship. Cassidy and I had a good relationship. Even though I maybe was on the wrong side, and the opposite side of the field with some of those people in the power alliance, I was not someone they were super itching to get rid of. I’ll give myself a little credit for my social game and building bonds, but I don’t know. I think it was just kind of decided that I wasn’t going to be all that relevant, and that was kind of my fate for a lot of that early-middle merge.
We know you’re a huge fan of the show! How does it feel to not only have competed on the series, but be embraced by fans and alumni the way that you have?
It’s been amazing and very validating! Just going in, I’ve been dreaming about being on the show for a long time. For the past few years, going through casting and really seeing it as a possibility for myself. Not only to play well and place well, but to be someone that I think a lot of fans related to and saw as kind of a narrator and all that, it’s a huge honor for sure!
Survivor 44 premieres on March 1st at 8/7c on CBS and Paramount+.