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In our chat with Sarah, she confirms that her idol was indeed fake, reveals that she and Carson discussed targeting Carolyn, explains why she felt safe at last night’s tribal council, and more. Keep reading for the full exit interview!

Hey, Sarah! So sad to see you leave. How have you processed your elimination since filming wrapped, and what was it like watching the episode back?

I would say in processing it, before I found out the idol was fake, it was horrible. I was like, “No! I could have saved myself! I could have kept this dream going. I’m so sad.” It was not even sad, it was like, so much regret, and I’m not a person that really regrets much. But then after finding out it was fake, I mean, that’s so much relief. I still lost and that sucks, but it was so much less regret for that specific moment. I guess in processing the whole thing, it really is just such a dream to go out there and play. The amount of fun it is to play a game 24 hours a day, for nine days straight, was just an incredible experience. So while there are a ton of things I could have done better, I’m not regretting what I did or feeling bad about it. I’m just so happy with the entire experience.

It’s good to hear you confirm that the idol was indeed fake! Fans were conspiring online that Carolyn might have accidentally handed you the real one [laughs]!

Yes. Carolyn is smart. I think that, baseline, we’ve seen so far that Carolyn is making good moves and able to read things. So she didn’t mess up the idols. I think it’s fun that she got me. Also, [regarding] where she put that X, I slept right by there, so she knew that that was gonna come to me. Or you know, hoped and planned. So I do think she 100% knew what she was doing and gave me the fake idol.

Based on your confessionals, I know that you wanted to remain Tika strong, but did you ever consider working with Josh, especially after voicing that you felt on the bottom of the tribe after the Helen vote?

​​Yeah, so I think I was feeling in a really good place with him. I don’t think I was feeling on the bottom at that point anymore and even before Carson left. I was feeling really good with Carson. It’s kind of funny, you read a lot about how to lie before you go out there and they’re like, “You need to believe your lies.” So when I was having all these long conversations with Josh and trying to convince him that we really want to get Carolyn out, you’re going through all the reasons why it makes sense to get Carolyn out. And then in your head you’re like, “Hm, maybe these are good reasons.” I also knew Carolyn and I just didn’t match. I respect her so much and loved getting to know her, but you can see it out there that we’re very different people. So I think that in giving all the reasons to potentially work with Josh to Josh, I was like, “Could this be good?” But I never actually considered it. We were very set on the plan of going Tika strong. That’s probably a bad way to play… you can’t be too set on a plan.

Courtesy of CBS

During your interview at the end of the episode, you said that you didn’t think he was gonna vote for you. Why was that, and what were your conversations with him like?

I thought that Josh didn’t like Yam Yam. I thought that we were good enough. And then when Carolyn and Yam Yam were going at it at that tribal, first, we had talked about doing that. That was the plan going in. We were like, we can’t be Kumbaya at tribal, and we all need to hold strong and know that this is to deceive Josh. But then as the fight is unraveling, I’m like, “Is this a real fight?” So then Carolyn and Josh whisper for probably a minute. She was in his ear and Jeff and I were sitting there like, “What?” [laughs]. So immediately following the fight and then those two talking, I was like, “Well, if it was going to be me, hopefully now they’ve switched it to Yam Yam because of this debate that just went on.” So yeah, I think I was just overly optimistic, overly confident. I just hoped it wasn’t gonna be me.

Up until last night’s episode, it seemed that Carolyn and Yam Yam were an unbreakable duo out there. How did you perceive their relationship throughout the game?

I would say that the way that they both communicate… they’re kind of cut from the same cloth in some ways. They’re both expressive, they both crack jokes, and they both have this very unique style of communication that really did work. It’s kind of like brothers and sisters. That debate we saw at tribal was not at all unheard of, basically any day on the island. So they were always this very open, very, “That was funny. That was rude. What are you saying?” kind of dynamic. I would say that it was less of a, they were BFFs and then they’re not BFFs. I think it was just more that they have this very unique relationship and communication style. But I do think they were feeling slightly less close to each other clearly, because she didn’t let him in on it. He was very surprised by that vote.

Do you think you could have swayed Yam Yam to turn on Carolyn if you knew about Josh’s idol?

Yeah, I do. I think Yam and I were in a really good spot at that point.

Courtesy of CBS

You went out of the game with your Inheritance Advantage and a fake idol. In regards to the Inheritance Advantage, in an ideal world, how were you planning to use it?

Yeah, so obviously, I thought my idol was real. So, having the Inheritance Advantage basically means you have two idols because if you play them together, you’re saved for that tribal, and then you get it back afterwards, which is the most incredible thing. It’s like a boomerang idol, basically. That was so exciting to me. And then in that moment when you’re thinking about that, you’re like, “Well, that puts me two more spots out” or, “If I don’t play it tonight, that means I have three more votes.” You almost get ahead of yourself with what I perceived to be power, which clearly wasn’t. But it was very exciting to me — what the Inheritance Advantage meant — and the fact that it was fully secret. So if I or if anyone had effectively played an idol, that would just show up in my bag back at camp as long as I made it through the vote. You would be entirely a mystery. I hope it comes back and someone can use it in a very cool way that clearly I was not cut out for.

There’s been some back-and-forth among fans on whether or not they like the idea of having fake idols in the game that are hidden by production rather than players. How do you feel about this twist and it possibly re-appearing in future seasons?

The thing for me is, since the idol is from production, it’s made out of things that we don’t have access to on the island. Like, it clearly looks like an idol. In all past seasons, you see people evaluating it and being like, “Does this have beads that we don’t have access to? Is this made out of something that someone couldn’t have made?” I use this reference, but it’s like if you’re playing poker. Say you have a two of clubs, and it looks like the two of clubs, and it reads like a two of clubs. And then you play it and they’re like, “That wasn’t a two of clubs.” It”s like, “Oh? Huh.” So I think in that case, it makes it confusing in the game. But I’m guessing that’s a mechanism that production wants. Like, idols used to be such a fact as long as you weren’t being given a stick or whatever fake idol might have come about. But to make idols now non-factual, and this dynamic that one person knows it’s a fake, does it make people more apt to share their knowledge of an idol? Because I think in recent seasons, it’s become, “Don’t tell anyone about your idol! That’s dumb.” And then now is it like, do you have to communicate about your idol to try and gauge how someone feels about you saying that you have one? I don’t know. I think reducing the confidence by 50% on whether an idol is real or not is an incredibly new dynamic in the game. It’ll be interesting to see how 45, 46, and however many more seasons happen, deal with that.

What was your initial reaction to the one-person swap? Did you view it as a potential saving grace for your game?

While losing Carson, I was so sad. Carson and I had talked though because I knew that the journey was high risk. I knew there was a two-thirds chance I was gonna lose my vote. And whatever the journey held, Carson and I talked about it that we wanted Carolyn to go. We were like, if it’s going to be something bad with a high likelihood of being bad, we didn’t want either of us to go because we were feeling good about each other. And then when Carson got picked, I was like, “Shoot, Carson! Carson, I love him.” I think we really repaired where we were at. Then when we got Josh, I did immediately say to him that there’s no way they would have swapped one person without giving you an insane advantage or an idol. He was like, “No, they didn’t do that”, but we all thought he had something crazy because a single-person swap basically implies that unless production is very unfair, which they’re not, they have to come with something.

Courtesy of CBS

‘Survivor 44’ has had 4 tribal councils now and only women have been voted off. What are your thoughts on the current boot order, and why do you think this trend seems to be so persistent in the new era of the game?

Yeah, so one, I hate to see women go, but it made for a phenomenal Ponderosa. We absolutely loved hanging out. But I think it does bring up… Clearly, I screwed up on my own, but to talk about the game as a whole, and that this has now happened two seasons in a row, it does at least ask the question of, “Is there an aspect of the game design?” And absolutely not purposely. Production cares so much about fairness and they care so much about designing a game where anyone can win. But it is [the game design] if there’s something that’s not purposefully creating this outcome. You can think about the smaller tribes and that we’ve been running off the assumption of no swaps recently. In challenges for instance, when you throw the ring… in previous seasons, sometimes you’d be able to swap out. If I couldn’t do it, you could swap in for me. But this season, nothing could be swapped out for. So like, if Carolyn couldn’t throw the ring, no one can swap in for her. If I screwed up the snake puzzle, no one else could try. And I think that builds further. Each individual needs to pull their weight more in these highly physical challenges. Again, who knows if it’s any of those things that are leading to this. But, I think it’s worth reconsidering what the design is that could be leading to that.

What was your Ponderosa experience like with the other pre-jurors? I have to say, we have such a great pre-jury this season!

We had so much fun! We had a party and we delivered, us four gals, invitations that we made, and gave them to all of production that was at Ponderosa with us. Then we had a body paint party. We did so much. Production even made a bonfire for us one night and found out how to get marshmallows in Fiji — which I think isn’t a common thing there — so we made s’mores. We really did have so much camaraderie and so much fun there. It was kind of this funny thing, like, contrasting all of us being broken that our dreams had just died and we failed so epically, but then we really did love each other and get along so well. We were doing talent shows and so many silly things. It was a major silver lining.

New episodes of Survivor air Wednesday nights at 8/7c on CBS.