Survivor Season 37 Spoilers: Who Is The First Jury Member?
The latest cast-off and first Jury member of Survivor: David vs. Goliath dishes on their life-changing experience and what went wrong at Tribal Council.
It's that time of the Survivor season when the castaways say the game truly begins: the Merge.
On the latest episode of Survivor: David vs. Goliath, three tribes became one. The newly christened Kalokalo Tribe hit rocky waters almost immediately as the Merge feast turned into a lot of side conversation gossip, with the Goliaths learning about Alec flipping on Natalia and Carl growing increasingly frustrated with Elizabeth.
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After the first solo Immunity Challenge of the season, the former Goliaths decided that Elizabeth would be the one to become the first Jury member. In a bid that was part Jury management, part authentic human connection, Angelina took Elizabeth aside and broke the bad news. Elizabeth ultimately decided to use the insider info to try and showcase the cracking foundation of the Goliath alliance—to no avail.
With a unanimous vote, Elizabeth was sent to Ponderosa. We caught up with the 31-year-old Texas native to talk about her game, what she learned, and the one thing from Fiji that still haunts her.
Why do you think the Goliaths stuck with Angelina even after you pointed out "the cracks in their alliance," as you put it?
Elizabeth Olson: Well, definitely strong-arming the Davids to do what they wanted. I think they didn't have the courage to do what needed to be done and jump ship. I think they thought that it could potentially bite them in the butt and they just didn't have the courage to do what they needed to do.
More than that, I think Carl poisoned the water and they were afraid to drink from the well. What I mean by that was something that the viewers weren't able to see, which was that I was also whispering in everybody's ears trying to rally my troops to get out Angelina and give them my pitch.
I did not have time, actually, to do this before Tribal because Angelina rightfully did not approach me until the very last second. Otherwise, I would've done this on the beach at Kalokalo. So when I get to Carl, he's about my fourth or fifth person to talk to, he was like, "I don't even want to hear it, Elizabeth." Which was shocking to me. It was devastating. Because at that point, people were whispering to each other.
I was like, "Man, this Tribal is alive! They might actually vote out Angelina! I just need one more person to come." But at that point, the effects of all my feeding and the change I was trying to rally, went away because the Goliaths [weren't] going to vote with me if my own people aren't even confident.
That would be stupid to leave a pissed off Angelina in the game. So I blame Carl in my demise.
What went through your head when Angelina took you aside to tell you about the vote? Did you actually appreciate it as you said at the time?
Elizabeth: Yeah, of course I did. There was nothing to not appreciate. Why would you not want to know what was happening, you know? When you know, you can do something about it. I'm not dumb. I figured they were either gunning for me or gunning for Christian, even though they were lying to me.
Alec had told me they were voting for Davie, which was stupid. Ain't no Goliaths voting for Davie. So I knew it was me or Christian, and when Angelina told me, it wasn't like it was shocking.
When you know, it's helpful, because then you can do something specific about it. I think that it was a genuine moment, too. Sure, it was strategy; her talking to me and trying to earn some merit and favor with the soon-to-be Jury members.
But I think that there was some genuine connection there, too. There ain't no doubt in my mind she was playing the game, but she's also a compassionate human being, so I think it was both.
You were so close winning that last Immunity Challenge.
Elizabeth: Ugh! Boy, you know how many nights I've woken up, jolted from my sleep like, "I almost won!" Dammit, I was so close. I relived that in my brain so many times. It is what it is, I did my best.
I was prepared to be out there for five hours. I told myself that. I said I'd pass out in about five hours and that's how I was going to get out of [that] challenge. I'm not gonna quit. I'm not no wuss. I'm gonna go out dying. Literally dying.
Because I felt like that's what I need to do, and at that point I didn't even know it was my name on the chopping block. I just knew I needed to win. It sounds weird, but I feel like God told me I needed to win. So [I did] my absolute best, and it felt good to almost win, but at the same time, things would've been so different.
Obviously, you would've stuck around during that Tribal had you won, but do you think that extra few days at camp would've been a game changer for you in the long run?
Elizabeth: They didn't highlight all the connections I was making. I was also unaware that Carl was going behind me poisoning everybody all the time and constantly throwing my name under the bus and dragging me through the dirt, which was frustrating watching that back but good for him for playing the game. But I built a lot of relationships real quick.
I had connections and didn't talk a whole bunch of strategy with people, but you gotta start with relationships. Trying to find that common ground with people. I had done that with literally everyone, sitting down one on one with people. I think if I had won that Immunity I would've been around for a lot longer and might have [had a chance] at winning the game. I felt like I was in a pretty good spot.
You had a really nice interaction with Kara right after the Tribe swap talking about riding horses, which was a nice human moment that we got to see from you. How important was it to you to put those personal connections first, before strategy?
Elizabeth: It was critical to me. I didn't look at people as a number. For one thing, people can see through that. But I love the Lord and I get irritated when people in religious circles do the same thing, just look at a person as a number. They don't see the soul, you know? They see the sin.
I try my best to see people for who they are and give everybody a shot to be my best friend. You never know who's going to be your best friend, so I try my best to make that personal connection with everybody.
I actually reached out to Natalia, too. I was super stoked that she was Muslim. I was like, "Wow, I've never actually had a conversation with a Muslim before!" I was super excited about that and wanted to get in her brain, too, like, "Dude, we should talk more about this, if you're open."
Not to debate, but literally to understand. Understanding people is a huge part of who I am.
In your Ponderosa video you said something interesting, which was: "I knew I had enemies. I didn't know they would be friends first." When do you think you first realized that the game was going to challenge you in that particular way?
Elizabeth: When Angelina was talking to me. Because I then talked to Gabby, and it didn't even cross my brain that I should be throwing Angelina underneath the bus. I'm embarrassed to say that because, duh, it certainly was the right thing to do because she opened that door to show that huge, giant crack and I should exploit that.
But because I didn't even think about, it literally didn't even cross my brain, I'm just such a loyal person that I was like, "Oh my gosh, she's throwing me a bone, why would I ever betray her?" And then Gabby was like, "You're playing Survivor, remember?!" And I was just, "Oh my God, yes, I'm playing Survivor. This is what survivors do, and I am a good survivor, I know how to strategize!"
My heart was screaming at me. It was so freaking hard. Even at the Tribal before when Natalia ended up going home. I could not throw Davie under the bus. I cried before Tribal even started. All of that happening at the same time and realizing that yes, the game is hard, but it cost my soul to do those things.
And I wasn't good at backstabbing people, I really wasn't. And that was my biggest downfall in the game.
Now that you've been watching the season back, is there anything specific you can point to that you wish you would've done differently?
Elizabeth: I think one of my big mistakes was that I misread Alec. I thought Alec was on my side. I think he was potentially wanting to be on my side, but there were a couple things. One was Carl, poisoning everything. Two was that, at one point when talking to Kara, [she] mentioned wanting to vote out Alec at Kalokalo after Natalia had been voted out.
You always say yes when someone is like, "Hey, you wanna do this?" You go, "Yeah, I don't know, I'm not committing to it but that's a great idea!" So I said that and I guess at some point Kara mentioned that to Alec, that I was throwing his name out. Well, Alec comes to me and was like, "Did you ever throw my name out there?" I told him I was with him to the very end and had his back.
I forgot that I'd had that conversation, so I think he thought [I] was totally lying to [him]. In hindsight, sitting at Ponderosa, I figured that out. Accidental lies got me in trouble. But I misread him, and I'm telling him that my plan is to get out Dan, and he goes and tells Dan.
Good for him for doing that, but I misread that. I did not know that the conversation was happening. I knew I was annoying with the bed thing, but I don't think most people would say I'm a know-it-all. I don't think I was being bossy at all, actually.
Maybe I'm unaware, but I feel like I'm pretty aware of people's perceptions of me. I think Carl was one of the only ones that would think I was being a know-it-all. I know I'm annoying, yes. I'm passionate, I'm balls-to-the-wall, a loud personality. I know that can rub some people the wrong way.
You mentioned in your Ponderosa that you were going to return home as a better mom. Can you expand on what you meant by that?
Elizabeth: Well, I was afraid that I was an angry person. And when we fear something, that gives it power. So regardless of whether it's true or not, fear feeds and births into existence things that might not never have been there. So getting set free of that fear that anger is of course who I am, and realizing that Survivor strips you down, there's nothing left.
Whatever's there, the most stripped-down part [of you], that's real. And seeing that it was love, that that was really in the center of who I was... that was so freaking liberating. I felt like a thousand pounds were lifted off my chest.
So I think that living my life with the new eyesight of, "Wow, I am not who I always feared that I was." Yes, anger might still raise its ugly little head, but it's not defining who I am. Who I am, in the most core of my being, is actually a pretty freaking awesome person. It's because of Jesus, that's at the center of who I am. It's not because of me.
You read the Bible and you're like, "Wow, that's really cool." But then you actually experience it and see it firsthand. The Bible talks about how all things become new. I hate religion, but boy, I love Jesus. So my eyes opening to those things while I was out there, I was like, "This is what the Bible is talking about! I'm not that old person anymore. I'm not the angry Elizabeth. I have the ability [inside of me] to love people."
And that's true. I just have to believe it.
Watch all-new episodes of Survivor: David vs. Goliath on Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS and CBS All Access.