She's been called lazy. She's been called a coattail-rider. But no matter what Survivor castaways and fans said about Natalie Tenerelli, it was her passive game play and her unflinching devotion to "Boston Rob" Mariano that earned her a spot in the final three. Unfortunately, these two traits were also her downfall and she received zero votes from the jury (she even came in behind Phillip Sheppard, which is really saying something). The 19-year-old professional dancer spoke with TVGuide.com about why she decided not to throw Rob under the bus, how she feels about the jury's — especially Julie Wolfe's — harsh words and why she wasn't as lazy as people think.
What did you think your chances were going into the live finale?
Natalie: By that time, I was pretty sure that Rob had it in the bag. Looking back, I thought that the jury would understand how much Rob played them and I was hoping that they would be bitter and hopefully vote for me.
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Do you think there is something else you could have done or said to the jury to turn them against Rob?
Natalie: That's the thing. A lot of people were like, "Why didn't you express yourself and show reasons as to why Rob shouldn't win?" I thought about doing that. I could have thrown Rob under the bus and said, "He's played this four times. He's already kind of experienced the $1 million with his wife, Amber. He's already done The Amazing Race. He's already done so much. Why would you give it to somebody who has that much experience?" But then I thought about it and that's not the way I played the game from the beginning. From the very beginning, I just wanted to be myself and just maintain close relationships with people. I thought if I just changed it up for the final Tribal Council, what would that really do for me?
Were you surprised you didn't receive at least one vote?
Natalie: It was kind of weird. I thought maybe I would get one or two votes. ... I just think I flew right under the radar and people thought maybe I didn't do enough. I believe I did a whole lot that wasn't shown on screen.
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What did you do that wasn't shown on TV?
Natalie: I was kind of made to look like I was lazy at camp and didn't do much. In reality, I did a whole lot of things that went unnoticed. Maybe I didn't start the fire every single night, but I basically was the homemaker. There was a time when Grant's shirt was just completely ripped to shreds and I sewed the entire thing back up. His shoes were torn apart so I sewed his shoes. Ashley and I would make the bed every single night and take everybody's clothes off the line. I was also the rice maker. Grant liked his rice mushy so I made his rice mushy and Rob liked his crunchy so I made his crunchy. Stuff like that that just went completely unnoticed.
One of the big criticisms from the jury was how much you followed Rob, with Andrea even calling it "creepy." What did you take away from those comments?
Natalie: I did not expect to get any of that reaction out of people ... I think everybody was kind of embarrassed that Rob didn't take them to the end, so I think therefore they were bitter and they tried to make it look like it was something that it wasn't. Rob was basically like my big brother out there and now, so I don't take any of that to heart. I think a lot of the people that said things apologized and said, "I don't know why I said that. I really regret it." I'm not really thinking too hard into that.
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Julie was especially hard on you during the final Tribal Council, but apologized during the reunion. Did you talk to her further about her remarks?
Natalie: She was probably one of the only people I was nervous to see just because she did have such harsh words at that final Tribal Council. I just figured I was going to be as cordial as possible and she ended up giving me a hug. She didn't really say too much and then after the live show, she came up and apologized. I'm a really forgiving person so that's all I needed to hear.
Do you think Ashley forgiven you for voting her out? How are you two now?
Natalie: I think everything is good. I think she understands that it was really up to her whether she got to the final three or not, just because there was no changing Phillip or Rob's vote. Rob is very, very stubborn when it comes to the game so there was no way for me to convince Rob to vote Phillip out. Also, I realized that Ashley did win two immunity challenges before that, so she had a lot going for her. I knew she would have been big competition.