Two weeks ago, the surprise ouster of Survivor: Nicaragua mastermind Brenda Lowe shifted the balance of power immensely. Oh, what a difference a storm makes. The damaged shelter combined with the nonstop rain proved to be the breaking point for both abrasive NaOnka Mixon and silent ally "Purple" Kelly Shinn, who both quit with only 11 days left in the competition. Although the two used opposite strategies to get far in the game, the two will now be known as those girls that quit the game (what would Jimmy Johnson have to say about this?). NaOnka, 27, and Kelly, 20, talked with TVGuide.com about how they told their families, the reaction from their fellow castaways and how they feel about their respective Survivor legacies.
TVGuide.com: What was the feeling when you walked away from tribal council?
NaOnka Mixon: What was going on in my head was I get to lie in a bed. I get to take a shower. I get to wash my hair and tease my eyebrows. I didn't have any regret about it because Purple Kelly and I talked about it quite a few times and we both felt the same way. We were both freezing; we both literally didn't have any clothes. When we finally both made up our minds was when we were smiling at that challenge. That challenge was the hardest thing ever, and we both gave everything we had in us in that challenge before we left. That was truly a test. We were content with our decision. I kept telling myself, if [the money is] meant for me to have, then I'll get it some other way. You try to make yourself think all kinds of things when you're about to leave a game for a million dollars.
Kelly Shinn: During our last Tribal Council, it was pouring rain and that could not have been any more appropriate. I was numb to all of it. I was content because I knew one more day out there was not physically possible. I felt like, even though I was I walking away, it was something that I had to do for my own self and for my body in order to physically keep it together.
TVGuide.com: Did the fact that there was someone else who was thinking about quitting the game influence either of your decision to quit?
Kelly: That's funny because we spent the morning together, but besides that we were not together at all. I think that day in particular was the worst day that we had had so far. The shelter was leaking from the fire. Our river had broken into the ocean. Everything was just a mess. ... I don't think we were working off of each other.
NaOnka: I don't think that it was a factor for me. I had to let the other contestants know that I was not making my mind up to leave because of Purple Kelly, and Purple Kelly was not making her mind up to leave because of me. It's just ironic that we both were feeling the same way. We were both sleepy, we were both hungry. We just had had enough.
TVGuide.com: What was it like telling your family members that you had quit the game?
NaOnka: What really sucks is that I kept it from my mom and, ironically, someone wrote to my mom about it before the episode. She also read it in a spoiler so she called me, and she was like, "Is it true? Did you quit the game?" I was like, "I don't know. I can't answer yes or no." I don't know who wrote that spoiler, but that really sucks because that blew everything for my entire family. I would have wanted them to just see it. In actuality, I'm kind of glad that my mom knew because she was able to prep herself before she watched it.
Kelly: I talked to my family about it, but it was almost like I didn't have to say anything. The moment they saw me, they knew that I was just extremely sick. I was in and out of the doctor all the time once I got back home. They knew it was hard, they knew it was miserable. It's frustrating for them to see me like that, and in so much pain. I always have my families support and they were completely supportive in everything that went on. Of course, like me, they don't understand why you hardly see me in the episodes, but they supported me. After my dad watched it, he called me and said he was proud of me.
TVGuide.com: Have you made peace with now being known as the two people who quit Survivor?
Kelly: I am content with that. I look back and I see what kind of shape I was in. How physically screwed-up and sick I was, and nobody knows that. They don't show any of that on the show. I was just so sick. I think that's makes me content. There was really no other option.
NaOnka: I think that the quitter label is going be second to "that b----" because I am known as "that b----." I am content with that. I don't even like the word "quitter," even though that's what actually happened. I walked away from the game by choice. But I am content with whatever I have to live with because I'm still going to be known as NaOnka from Survivor: Nicaragua.
TVGuide.com: NaOnka, you were one of the most hated contestants this season. Do you feel you were portrayed fairly? Do you regret your actions?
NaOnka: I don't take back s--- that I said or did. I worked my game very, very hard. I just wish I had had better clothes on. I just wish I had jeans and a sweatshirt, but that's it. I don't regret anything. I'm OK with being the b---- because the b---- played hard, and she played a good game.
TVGuide.com: Are you nervous about going to the reunion and facing the other contestants?
Kelly: I have the support of the other contestants in this season and that is what's important to me. I've talked with them and they've said, "We know how hard it is out there. We know what you went there." ... Seeing them is going to be bittersweet because we see all these little comments that they make about each one of us, but regardless, I'm excited for the reunion.