Pop Crave spoke with the fourth eliminated castaway of Survivor 45, Sean Edwards, who became the second contestant this season to quit the game on Wednesday night’s episode.
Check out the full exit interview below!
The moment you announced to the tribe that you wanted to be voted out felt like a blindside in itself, but you said that the decision has been on your mind throughout the game. Can you pinpoint when exactly you started to have those revelations?
Thank you so much. That’s a great question. You know, those moments kind of bubbled up for me at the losses that we were experiencing [and] the failure that we were experiencing on Lulu. So after each immunity challenge and loss after loss, you kind of sit in that moment, you reflect on it, and that’s when that kind of bubbled up for me of, you know, ‘Is Survivor fulfilling the core purpose of why I came out here?’ which was to this idea of reclaiming last time. And whenever those moments would surface for me, I just kind of pushed them down, and I’d be like, ‘I’m here to play; I want to move forward in this game; I came on this show for a reason.’ And so I just kind of pushed them aside. And so that’s when it first initially started for me.
I asked Hannah this during my exit interview with her: What was your full conversation with Jeff like at tribal council? How much more did he push back at the idea of you leaving the game?
I love Jeff. He does such an amazing job at being the fix of the show—the host, you know—just being able to navigate all that happens during tribal council. And a lot of, like, surprises happen that he has to be quick on his feet to be able to figure out, ‘Where’s this going? What questions should I ask?’ And so I would say that, Jeff, when I started talking about leaving the game, he was very… I think he was definitely taken aback. It was a surprise to him. It was a surprise to me as well. And he treated me with nothing but dignity and respect, while also maintaining his positionality of being the host of Survivor. And so I just have nothing but love and admiration for Jeff.
You threw one last wrinkle in the game on your way out when you told Sifu that you didn’t vote for him. What made you decide to be honest with him at that moment?
I think for me, after being voted out, it was like, I don’t have to put on this… I’m not playing the game anymore. And so I didn’t feel the need to be sneaky or, you know, go around people’s backs. So it just came out as like, ‘Okay, I’m out of the game. I’m just gonna be honest. He asked me a question. Here’s my answer.’ And I know the Reba girls are very clever, so I was thinking, ‘You know, they’ll figure it out!’ [laughs].
Was your vote for Dee just a throwaway, or was there any intent behind it?
Yeah, it was pretty much a throwaway vote at that point. You know, I had been very obviously public in my announcement of ‘write my name down.’ So I was thinking if I had gone with the plan and wrote Sifu’s name down, and I knew that the other girls wanted to get Sifu out, that there was a potential of me ending up staying and not going home when I was so at peace with the idea of leaving the game. And so it ended up being a throwaway vote.
In a world where J. Maya and Julie decided to vote with Dee to take out Sifu, would you have stayed in the game?
I would say that I’ve always felt, as a fan of the show, that tribal council is the formal way you go out of the game. And so if I ended up staying, I would have found a way to work with the Reba girls, do my best to move forward, [and] advance in the game. And honestly, I bet if I ended up staying in the game, I would have been able to reflect more on that very emotional moment and be able to temper myself and say, like, ‘Oh, it’s okay that Survivor is not filling this core reason of why I came out, but I can still be here to play the game as a super fan of the show.’ And honestly, if I’m being honest with myself, the fans, and everyone else, after coming home and reflecting on the experience, I do have a level of regret that I couldn’t be more flexible-minded in that moment and think that way.
Jeff shared on his podcast, On Fire: The Official Survivor Podcast, that he doesn’t think you owned your quit, saying that you romanticized the situation because you may have assumed the vote was going your way. What is your response to that?
I didn’t. I had many conversations with the Reba girls about, you know, ‘We’re putting our votes on Sifu tonight. Sean, you don’t need to worry. We’re going to be saying things at tribal that are going to make you think that you’re going, but you’re not the one going.’ And so I felt very assured and very confident that Sifu was going to be the vote. And so for me, I would say Jeff is correct. It was when he asked that very hinge question of like, ‘Hey, if it’s your night, Sean, what has this Survivor experience meant for you?’ That was like the light switch for me. That’s when it all came to a head, but for different reasons—for me. Now, I don’t expect Jeff or the viewers to understand my very personal reasons for saying and doing what I did. Because no one’s walked a day in the life of Sean Edwards. And that’s okay. That’s okay if people don’t understand. But for me, that wasn’t the reason.
There was a hilarious scene showing your new Reba tribemates going through your bag and speculating if you purposely tied its knots in a specific way. Was that the case? Did you notice they looked through your bag?
Okay, watching the show last night was the first time I had ever even heard about or seen the Reba girls and Sifu going through my bag. I had no idea. And I love it. As a fan of the show, I love that they went through my things because Reba came to play, and I love it. Even the knot that I tied, I have no idea. I have no idea how I tied that knot. I could not, to this day, replicate the knot that I tied. I was just thinking, like, ‘Oh, I don’t want my stuff to fall out of the bag.’ And the thing that slides the bag tighter would come loose when you’re walking, so I was like, ‘I’m just going to tie this crazy knot so that I could just keep my stuff in and nothing falls out.’ So yeah.
We saw that you were hoping for a swap after what became of the Sabiyah blindside. How would you have approached working with Lulu in the event you all made the merge?
Oh, my goodness. I was thinking the same thing. I’m like, ‘What if we swapped and I end up with Emily and/or Kaleb?’ You know what? Every single day is a new day in the game of Survivor, and there’s so much complexity and nuance to the game that it changes, hour by hour, the conversations that are happening. And so my thinking was, I would love to continue working with Kaleb and Emily if they’ll have me—I’m willing to do it. I thought it’d be kind of cool if we could somehow find a way to do it, like secretly—make people think that we’re not together because of what happened with the Sabiyah vote, but actually be aligned. So that was my thinking at the time.
Going back to last week’s tribal council, I’m curious to know more of your initial stance on Sabiyah’s plan to blindside Kaleb. Were you on board with that move at first?
Oh, in the show, I believe they did show it. I was like, ‘Ooh, is it too early?’ And that’s how I felt. It felt very early in the game to be making such an aggressive move like that, to me. But the more I talked with Sabiyah about it and seeing how energized Kaleb was coming back from his visit with Reba, hearing about all the connections that he made… He told us that he had one-on-one time with every single member of the Reba tribe, and I was like, ‘Ooh, that kind of worries me. That is scary moving forward.’ And so the more I thought about it and had conversations with Sabiyah, I came to the point where I was like, ‘Okay, Kaleb’s the right vote. He is a threat. He’s dangerous. Let’s get him out of the game.’ But initially, I was like, too early.
In your exit confessional, you said that you could have made it all the way to the end if you wanted to. How did you perceive your game and its longevity in the event that you decided not to leave?
Thank you so much for asking. Yeah, I was feeling good about the connections I could come in and make and how I played the game. I felt like I may not have been the physically strongest, but I felt like I gave my all in challenges and that I contributed meaningfully to the challenges. I mean, getting the key off the thing—that was hard. I don’t know why we chose the shortest person on our tribe to do that; probably not the best. But I was feeling really good about my game. The only time in the game where I wasn’t feeling good was the Sabiyah vote, because it immediately put me at the bottom of the Lulu tribe. And that did not taste good for me. But I was feeling… especially like even going into Reba, being the lone newcomer, I felt like I was able to connect really well immediately off the bat with J. And then, over some time, I felt like Julie and Dee and I made a connection. Sifu and I had a beautiful moment on the beach with one another in a conversation that we had. And so I was feeling really good about my game. And longevity-wise, I thought, ‘Okay, I can continue this down the road.’ I think it’s no surprise to anyone—Jeff talked about this—about Kendra coming to Lulu Beach after the first immunity challenge. I felt like I made a really good connection with Kendra. And Kendra was like, ‘I’ve got Katurah, I’ve got Kellie.’ So I was like, ‘I have got options in this game.’
I mentioned Hannah at the top of our chat, who also quit the game earlier this season. Were you able to connect with her on a deeper level over both of your decisions?
Yeah. Oh, I love Hannah. Oh my gosh. You know, something I do wish that could have been shown more is the bond that Hannah and I created those first three days out there. We really, really had so much fun. We were laughing nonstop. And so when I got to Ponderosa and seeing Hannah there, I mean, she welcomed me with open arms. And being with her, and Sabiyah, and Brandon for a few days was just absolutely amazing. It was like Lulu 2.0 out there.
At tribal council, you spoke about the self-realizations and growth you had out there in just nine days, so I’m curious: How much more have you grown all these months later?
Oh, that’s such a good question. You know, this Survivor experience, I’m so grateful for. It has been a transformative experience for me. I, as a fan of the show forever, have always wanted to play the game, and here I had the opportunity. I played it for nine days. I felt really well. Although Lulu lost, I was proud of my game, and I learned a lot. And as I came home and have reflected on this experience, I have just learned so much about myself, who I am as a person, the space I take up in this world, and how much love and compassion I have for my husband, Matt. I feel very fulfilled with my Survivor experience.
Speaking of your husband, Matt, what was his reaction to your decision to leave?
He was definitely taken aback. He was like, ‘Whoa, I wasn’t expecting that.’ But it was this beautiful moment for the both of us where we could just be able to sit in that moment of my just declaration of love for him. I want to emphasize [that] I didn’t leave the game thinking, ‘Oh, if I leave the game, I can immediately see my husband!’ I wasn’t homesick; that wasn’t it. It was just that my core purpose of reclaiming lost time is not what was being fulfilled while I was out there in the game because my true, absolute love in life and all I need in this world is my husband. And so he’s very proud of me. He’s been nothing but absolutely supportive. And so, what an experience!
Finally, I’d love to hear more about your connection with Sabiyah! She wore one of your ‘The Sole Seanvivor’ shirts during our exit interview last week, which really warmed my heart. What was building that connection like?
Oh, my goodness. I absolutely love Sabiyah. She was my number one in my alliance. I mean, she’s one of my absolute closest and best friends. I have so much love for her. And we did; we had so much fun. Sabiyah and I were laughing nonstop; we had so much fun together. And you know what I absolutely love about my relationship with Sabiyah? With Survivor, Survivor brings people from all different backgrounds together. And who knew that an elementary school principal in Provo, Utah, would end up becoming best friends with a marine [and] truck driver from the south? I mean, that’s just absolutely beautiful. We’re so different in so many ways. And I just… I love her with my whole heart.
Survivor airs Wednesday nights at 8/7c on CBS and Paramount+.