How Officer Sarah Played Survivor: Game Changers Like A Criminal And Stole The Show

When this cop decided to play her second run like a felon, she went home as Season 34's Sole Survivor.
Posted on May 25, 2017 | 12:30pm

From start to finish, Survivor: Game Changers has been an unforgettable and heart-pumping journey. After the highly anticipated season finale, all 20 castaways joined together at the Live Reunion Show to learn the best news of all—who the winner would be.

In an epic ending that had fans on the edge of their seats, 32-year-old Sarah Lacina was voted the Sole Survivor by the Jury and took home the coveted $1 million prize.

WATCH: The Survivor: Game Changers Season Finale, "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished" 

We got a chance to catch up with the two-time castaway following her big win to talk with her about her time in Fiji, why she never doubted herself, and why grabbing the game by the throat led her to the end.

What does it mean to you to walk away the winner of such a special season of Survivor?

Sarah Lacina: I'm the one person that gets to walk away with that and for it to be me... It was like a fantasy going out there and now for it to actually happen, I'm really proud of myself to beat out the people I beat out and to walk away as the one person that wins the game. It's really hard.

I can finally be proud of all of the mental, physical, and emotional stress that I went through. I can finally breathe and say, "I did it," and be happy about it. 

What are you planning on doing with your prize money?

Sarah: [Laughing] I really hate that question just because most people have a really fun answer and I don't. We're looking at moving. I think we're going to buy a house and then obviously just save for retirement. So it's like super boring. But if people have suggestions of stuff we should buy, tell them to let me know!

WATCH: Sole Survivor Sarah Lacina Talks To Former Survivor Castaway Rob Cesternino On The Red Carpet On CBS All Access

What did Survivor: Game Changers teach you about yourself?

Sarah: It's such a hard game and anyone that can make it 39 days—even to the final three—it's so hard to do. You have to be on every single day. You don't get to take a day off out there. If you do, you're going to go home.

It just shows how mentally and emotionally strong I was to be able to endure all of that. The turmoil of stabbing people in the back; it's something that's really not fun to do.

Which shocking Tribal Council this season caught you most off guard?

Sarah: Well, obviously the Zeke Tribal Council was extremely intense. When we left there, we all said to each other there is no way this is going to come across on TV the way it came across there because of how much emotion was there.

People were devastated there. You can't see the production team as they're filming, but you could just feel that they felt it too. It really was awful to witness but a lot of good things have come from it so there really is a bright side to it.

Was there ever a point in the game where you thought, "this might be it for me"?

Sarah: No. It sounds really tacky, but I had that game by the throat the entire time. Zeke said it at the last Tribal Council: there was one driver of the ship and it was Sarah. And that's the truth. I never felt like I was going home. I really set out on playing a great game and I prepared for it.

I didn't just go out there thinking, "Oh, I already know how to play Survivor." I studied and planned things like, what if this happens, how would I recover from that? I constantly played out scenarios. 

What was the story behind your giving Cirie that advantage? Was that a test?

Sarah: Okay, so, I knew Cirie couldn't play it so it was like a fool proof thing to give to her. So Cirie and I were really close and I didn't want to work with Aubry, I wanted to work with Tai. Cirie and I wanted to stick together, so it was like, who is this person that's going to get brought in?

So this was my way of getting my way and her way of trying to get her way. That's what it was. It wasn't her trying to stab me in the back and screw me over. She just wanted to try and get her way and she knew I wasn't going to budge on Tai.

How were you able to socially manipulate people so well this season?

Sarah: My job is all about talking to people and interviewing them and making them feel comfortable enough to admit that they’ve committed a crime to me—the person that's going to put them in jail.

You have to make them feel like it's okay for them to tell you this and then you turn around and lock them up. It's not because I don’t have a heart; I have to do that because it's what I'm paid to do.

What other traits from your career did you incorporate into the game? 

‚ÄčSarah: Just being able to think on my feet and paying attention to detail. Also, watching people and their body language, and seeing who's talking to who and interview skills. I'm not a lie detector test but I think I can ask the right questions to see if someone's lying to me or not.  

Do you hang out with any of the castaways from this past season? 

Sarah: There was some that I hadn't talked to a lot since the season ended, but seeing them at the finale, we just picked right up where we left off. There's a solid group of about ten people I talk to on a pretty regular basis.

I mean, we're really like family. Everyone treats each other really well, and after the fact, you can digest it a little more and say, "Okay, it was just a game and nothing personal. This is a really cool experience not many people get to do so they can set what had happened aside."

Would ever play again now that you've won? 

Sarah: If you come back and play, you can only tie what you've already done. It's not like you get a one up on Sandra at that point. To really walk away from a game that's treated you so well and given you so much… if they were to ask me to play again, it would truly be an honor that they think enough of me to invite me back for a third time.

It'd be really hard to turn it down. The only way I would is if my family said they didn't want to lose me for that long again. 

Watch all 34 seasons of Survivor now on CBS All Access.