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Plus: Why she didn't give her advantage to Brad
For Sierra Dawn Thomas, identifying her biggest regret about the way she played Survivor: Game Changers is a no-brainer: She should have never told her tribemate Sarah about the legacy advantage she found way back at the start of the game.
But as if that wasn't enough, Sierra then bequeathed the advantage to Sarah... who she didn't realize had just voted her out of the game.
"I'm like, 'Here, you voted me out? Let me just give you something that could help you in the game.' Stupid," Sierra tells TVGuide.com, with the benefit of hindsight.
Check out our Q&A with Sierra to find out why she didn't give the advantage to her biggest ally, Brad; how she feels about Sarah's betrayal; and what she wishes viewers had gotten to see about her game this time around.
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So, first things first. Do you regret telling Sarah about your legacy advantage?
Sierra: One hundred and ten percent. Let's be honest. I had no intention, from Day 1 when I found it, to tell anybody. Her and I had been sitting there for a while, having a conversation. We were connecting. We were crying. I mean, you see the fear in my eyes as I'm saying it. I shouldn't have done it. I'm regretting it as I'm saying it. If I was going to say anything, I should have made up a lie or said, "Hey, I have a secret advantage. It's an immunity. I can use it for both of us, but I have to be here to use it." Why in the world did I tell her that I could will it to someone? I can't tell you. It is my biggest regret. [Laughs]
As you were passing on the legacy advantage right after you were voted out, you said you hoped Sarah hadn't flipped on you. What was your reaction upon seeing that she had?
Sierra: Sarah did an amazing job. Honestly, what decided where I was going to send the secret advantage happened the moment my name was read and I knew I was going home. I looked at Brad Culpepper. Obviously it was between her and him. I look at Brad, there's nothing. There's no emotion. I look at Sarah and she has tears in her eyes and she is just acting like she is so dang shocked that I'm going home tonight. So in that moment, I forgot about the whole game, the whole connection I had with Brad, and I was like, "It was him!" And truly, he was just in shock, come to find out. But I was like, "It was Brad. Brad wrote my name down." So I just played off of emotion and I was like, "I've got to give it to Sarah." Later, finding out that she was the one who wrote my name down, I felt played. I felt ridiculous, stupid, embarrassed. I could name a million things that I felt once I found out.
At what point did you find out?
Sierra: At Ponderosa. Once the next person joins us, I find out. Very quickly I find out. And then I have to sit there and regret it for a really long time.
But it sounds like you did consider giving it to Brad at one point.
Sierra: I did. It's my biggest regret. I should have given it Brad, but I thought, oh, he sent me home. And little did I know, I gave it to the girl who really did.
Are you and Sarah OK now?
Sierra: Oh gosh, absolutely adore her. A lot of people take things serious, but no. I talked to her yesterday and she's like, "Know that I love you and the relationships we did have out there weren't fake." Maybe I'm getting played now! After watching it, I'm a little bit feeling like, hey, maybe she is playing me. No, I really feel like me and her are friends, so I'm OK with it.
Going back to Brad, how disappointed were you that he didn't pick you to go on the reward challenge?
Sierra: I was absolutely heartbroken that he did not pick me. I feel like we kind of had this agreement that, if one of us was to win, we're going to take each other. But, I understand where he was in his position of, I have these two girls that I'm not in an alliance with. I'm going to let them feel like they're in charge. So, I understand what he did, and as it was happening, I got it. But I wanted to see my daddy! I wanted a burger to eat with my dad.
Do you think that had anything to do with you not giving him the advantage?
Sierra: Possibly subconsciously. I don't think I was sulking about that. Really, it just came down to the moment of me going home and looking at both of their faces, is what I played off of.
You and Brad seemed to be in control for a lot of the game. Do you feel like you got a little too comfortable in that position?
Sierra: A hundred percent. Yeah, I did. I felt confident. I felt in control. I was telling people where to vote, I was making big moves. And it was so different from my first time around that it was like, you get that little bit of taste of it and you want more. So I just kept going and kept going, and I should have slowed my roll. But, yeah, I think it was a big reason why I went home. But, do I regret it? No. I wanted to be able to stand in the end with all these amazing players I was with and give them a million reasons why I deserved a million dollars. So, it was like, I knew I had to do something, but I maybe should have been a little bit not as sassy and telling people their business.
Michaela's attitude seemed to really alienate a lot of the other tribe members. Why do you think it went over so poorly with people?
Sierra: Michaela is a hysterical girl. She's so funny. She's so witty. Ninety percent of the time, she's great. But that 10 percent, she can fly off the handle and can't control her emotions. And in Survivor, you can't do that. You have to be in control as much as you can. And you see that 10 percent of the time that she is hard to be around. And honestly, in real life, I probably would get along with her great. But I'm irritable, you're irritable, we're tired. And how you're acting, I just don't like it right now. so, it's funny. I probably would have much more patience in real life. But out there? Her flying off the handle for 10 percent of the time was so difficult to be around.
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Did you consciously make adjustments to your game or change your strategy at all this time around?
Sierra: I felt like a lot of people felt about me, that I didn't deserve to be there. I'm my worst critic. I questioned it. Especially finding out the theme of what the season was going to be. Yeah, I'm like, "Oh my gosh, look at these people I'm sitting next to. I don't deserve to be here." So at that moment, when I felt so weak and I didn't deserve to be there, I was like, well, you're here, you'd better buck up, buttercup. And you'd better prove why you deserve to be here. And as my dad said last night, get tough skin and freakin' play the game. So, yeah. I was like, I'm going to go out, I'm going to surprise everybody else, and I'm going to surprise myself. I'm going to prove that I do deserve to be here. So, yeah, I was fully aware of my first season and how I played, and how socially it didn't get me as far. I wanted to make it to the end, so I was going to have to do more. I was very aware of that.
How did this season compare to your previous outing?
Sierra: I loved my first season. It was a great experience. I made amazing friends. But, when I look at both seasons next to each other, [Season] 34 was a million times harder, and I'm so much more proud of myself. Yeah, I didn't last as long, but I played the game. I went out, I adjusted, I surprised myself, I played hard the whole time, and I just didn't get by. So to me, I can hang my hat on 34 knowing that, you know what? I did the best I could.
Was there anything we didn't get to see that you wish was shown?
Sierra:There's a couple things that I did that were really sassy that I was hoping was going to make it. Me and Caleb get into it at a Tribal. There was just a couple things that I'm like, man, I was kind of hoping to shock people and have them see me be "Sassy Sierra," and that didn't get to air.
Would you play again, if asked?
Sierra: Yes. Watching it right now brings up a lot of emotions but, come on. I'm so competitive. And to see my change between the first season to the second, I would want to do that again. I can't imagine what type of player I'd be the third time around. I learned so much this time that I feel like I could be even better. And, yeah, of course. Put me in, coach. Whenever. Let's go.
Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)