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Survivor's Hali: "I Have No Idea Why I Was Put on This Season"

Plus: The challenge she wishes she'd thrown

Liz Raftery

Survivor's Hali Ford is still scratching her head about why she was included on the Game Changers season, but says she's happy with the way she played.

"I have no idea why I was put on this season," Ford told TVGuide.com on Thursday, after being voted out on the first of two episodes Wednesday night. "But I did OK this game. I still wouldn't put myself in the Game Changer category. I think a lot of people deserve to be there more than me. But ... at least I didn't embarrass myself."

That's not to say she doesn't have any regrets, though. Read our Q&A with Hali to see which challenge she wishes she would have thrown, plus her version of what went down at the Tribal Council where Malcolm was voted out.

And, check out "Beyond the Buff" on Facebook Live this afternoon at 3 p.m. ET, where I'll be chatting with Hali, Ozzy and host Brice Sander about last night's two-parter.

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How does this stack up against your previous Survivor outing?
I was so miserable after my first season. I just felt like I did absolutely nothing and I just went out there and made a couple friends. This season, I was playing. A lot of it didn't show, and I didn't get any different result. But I'm happy with what I did out there because it was me. I played a Hali type of game, and I'm not ashamed of it. So I feel a lot more comfortable coming off of this season.

Ahead of Tribal, we saw Michaela really strategizing and trying her best to get the target off her back. Did you do the same, and was it just not shown?
Yeah, I did. I spent the entire day scrambling. My pitch was pretty much what I presented at Tribal. I talked a lot with Brad. I talked a lot with Cirie. Little did I know Cirie was the mastermind, saving Michaela instead of me. But my pitch was, "Hey guys, this is where we make the move. We can get the numbers right now. We can pull in Aubry." I felt Debbie was going to be on board, which she was. She was in tight with Sierra and Brad. And it made no sense to me to be voting out a non-threat like myself when now was the time when we needed to pull numbers in. I tried to paint myself as a non-threat to people. I think Sierra was, for some reason, threatened by me, and just didn't have any interest in playing with me. I thought it was a dumb move all around, and that's what I was trying to tell people all day.

Hali Ford, Jeff Probst, Survivor: Game Changers
Screen Grab, CBS

Do you have any regrets about the way you played the game?
In hindsight, I regret what I did at the Malcolm vote, but I still wouldn't take it back because at the time, all I wanted was to play with my original Mana people. I just had a lot more natural chemistry with them. They're the people that I thought I could have those real alliances with, whereas I was trying to put something up with Brad, Sierra and Debbie, but there's just not a natural chemistry there. So in hindsight, I don't really regret that vote, but I think that is where I ruined my chances of getting in with Brad and Sierra, and making some alliances there.

The second turning point was at the Metamorphosis challenge. I could have flipped that challenge if I wanted to throw the challenge and vote out Cirie. I could have thrown the challenge and sent us to Tribal Council, but I don't know if I would have gone home and just been pre-juried at that point. If I had to identify a regret, it was not throwing that challenge. I always regret not doing things more than doing things. That was just a non-move that I made strategically, and I wish I had just done it. Because who cares? At least I would have done something big.

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Let's talk about that Tribal Council. What was your end goal there?
I just wanted Brad out of the game. I thought he was a good pitch. He's this strong physical contender. And I didn't want to work with those people. I just didn't like them as much as the Mana people, and I was trying to get some numbers at that point in the game. But apparently
J.T. had them in his back pocket and just had them fooled. We had spent so much time apart, I guess they didn't have any reason to really trust me.

Malcolm told me that you may have mouthed to him that they were voting for him, but he wasn't sure. Did you do that?
Yeah. I was trying to, as subtly as I could, send messages that, if you come with me right now, I might be able to save you. What I didn't know was that Tai had an idol. If I had known that, I would have told them, I think. But what I was doing at that juncture was trying to maintain whatever rapport I could with Debbie and Brad and Sierra and Tai.

Why did you say "you might regret it, but we can start the vote"?
Well, I just wanted them to work with me and they just weren't having it. I was like, "Y'all, let's vote out Brad." I didn't say that, but I was whispering it to everyone, and no one wanted to do that. So I wanted to keep the conversation going, but if they weren't going to talk to me, I was just going to stick with what I had and prove to Brad and Sierra that I was on their side, and I voted out Malcolm.

So what was your strategy afterwards, when you were forced to work with them?
I started talking a lot more with Sierra and Brad. It was kind of humbling, but apparently that didn't get me anywhere. I was under the impression that I was in good with them. We spent a lot of time together. even Brad and I had deep talks and a good connection. But apparently it was all just surface level and they just couldn't wait to get me out.

At Tribal, did you think that the vote might have gone to Michaela, or were you pretty sure it was going to be you?
I felt like I was going home. I was pretty sure it was gonna be me. What let me know that I was first in the hot seat was when I saw Sierra and Ozzy talking together, because they were clearly strategizing together. and I was like, wow, if they're on the same page, I'm clearly not on the same page with Sierra. But then what let me know that I was probably going home is when Cirie stopped talking to me. Because we had been talking throughout the day, and then at that point I figured that Cirie was with Michaela and so I was the one voted out. She was the mastermind behind that vote.

Any final thoughts on this season?
I'll just say I loved this group of people. We have some pretty elaborate group texts going on, and I just adore every single person. I'm kind of wanting to put out the message right now that people need to lay off Varner and give him a little grace, but besides that, I just have everything positive to say about this season. It was a blast.

Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS.

(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)