Elyse Umemoto Elyse Umemoto

Before heading to the South Pacific for Survivor's 23rd season, former Miss America contestant Elyse Umemoto said: "It's not just my character traits that make me a winner. It's literally in my blood to survive. I'm engaging, personable and a master at reading people." But Umemoto's ability to read her teammates failed her: her elimination was the season's first blindsiding.  Viewers thought Umemoto had been taken under the veteran wing of Ozzy, guaranteeing her safety for weeks to come. But when her tribe, Savaii, turned on the power couple, the 27-year-old Umemoto was floored. We chatted with her about her elimination, the hardest part about the experience and who she doesn't want to win the million.

TVGuide.com: I can't believe you're out already! Were you as surprised as we were?
Elyse Umemoto
: I had absolutely no idea. Going into it I felt confident. Sometimes you stop and think, "Should I be worried? Is there anything that happened that should make me concerned about my spot?" But that didn't even cross my mind that day. Even during tribal there wasn't any hint of it. I thought that we were all on the same page. But we were in different books.

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What was it like when Jeff held up that first piece of paper with your name on it?
Elyse
: My heart completely dropped. I held my breath for a moment, and I know I seemed expressionless but I think I was just completely shocked. Instantly the wheels started turning in my head and I was thinking, "Who did what? What did I miss?" It was just an attack all of a sudden.

Was there anything you think you could have done differently?
Elyse
: I've looked back and thought about that. What skills could I have used, or who could I have chatted up more? But I'm really just kind of at a loss. It sucks!

Have you changed your mind about anyone now that you've seen the show?
Elyse
: I actually have not watched a single episode. When I competed at Miss America, it was always really weird for me to watch myself on TV. I kind of want to just let the experience settle and be what it is, and wait until I can watch it all in its entirety. If I were to watch it piece by piece, the anticipation of not knowing would be too much for me, especially having lived through it.

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What was something you thought you knew about the experience until you got there?
Elyse
: The one thing that never crossed my mind was how lonely you were going to feel. Even when you're in really tight quarters with a lot of people. You're kind of stuck in your own head, and despite the friendships that you make, you know, just like everyone else, that at the end of the day you are all looking out for No. 1.

It's surprising to hear you say you were so lonely, because it seemed like you and Ozzy had the tightest bond of your tribe. Were you not at close as it seemed?
Elyse
: It's interesting that it was portrayed that way. I bonded with Ozzy as one of my "bros" — not like a girlfriend. But when we decided that we wanted to stick together, we  kind of wanted to play it down. So either we did a really bad job of playing it down, or it looks more like we were a unit more than we were.

Was there anything you really missed while on the island?
Elyse
: I thought I would want something like my cell phone or chapstick, but I didn't particularly miss those things. I desperately wanted Diet Coke and bread. I could have just eaten myself sick with it. I also never appreciated deodorant more in my life.

Redemption Island is tough, and you were only there for a few days. Can you imagine how Christine has survived for so long out there?
Elyse
: I can't imagine. It's not like our beaches, that had sun and reminders that we're all here as a group and we're all playing together. It was darker and colder and wetter and there were more creatures. There was just something about it that was so ominous and dark. I have so much respect for her conviction and her ability to do that. I would have cracked.

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Is there anyone that you don't want to win?
Elyse
: I don't want to sound like a cry baby but Jim ... you and your big used-car salesman smile, and your cheesy pick-up lines, and your stupid stories! I wouldn't be writing him a million-dollar check any time soon.

Speaking of Jim, I assume you've heard that he's actually in the medical marijuana business, and not a teacher?
Elyse
: I did! Holy marijuana! I remember sensing something was a little fishy when he said he was a high school science teacher and I told him I minored in biology. And then I realized I should have doubted him and called him out on it publicly when he couldn't tell me the boiling point of water.