Survivor Castoff Stephanie Gonzalez: ‘I Did Everything In My Power Not To Be Voted Off’

Survivor is back for its 36th season and this year’s show plays up a spooky theme. 20 contestants started in Fiji on a land called Ghost Island where mistakes from castaways of the past will bring brand new twists to the game. Stephanie Gonzalez found out the hard way just how crazy this season is going to be.

Gonzalez talked about her Survivor experience with CBS Local and explains why she was voted off the island.

How would you evaluate how everything went down?

Stephanie Gonzalez: It was interesting. I feel like there was so much more to the story that couldn’t be shown because we would be watching for hours. It’s cool to see yourself on TV, but it really freakin sucks when you realize you won’t be seeing any more of that. It was interesting because you live it through different eyes. You’re not thinking that’s me, you’re thinking who is that? Everything that happened was very sad and depressing every time I think about it. I did everything in my power not to be voted off. Should I have done things differently? Absolutely. I would’ve been super friendly and played dumb as hell.

What was the biggest difference between your actual experience on the show and what you saw on TV?

SG: The biggest difference in my eyes was I guess just the emotional part. I’m really big on listening to my intuition. I already knew what was happening before going to tribal. It’s weird watching it again because I think I should’ve done this and I really needed to do this. I should’ve just been dumb and friendly. That would’ve gotten me through easily.

What were your thoughts about what happened to Jacob and Donathan?

SG: Jacob didn’t hang around much longer than I did. I knew he was the one that was going to be on the outs just because he didn’t quite fit in with the crew as tightly as he wanted to or we would’ve liked. I mean what do you do? You kind of do what you can with what you got. I was bummed out because I know the guys really wanted to be there too. Donathan is a Kentucky guy. He’s never traveled outside of the country, not that I have really either, but he craves so many adventures and life experiences that most people take for granted like going to the beach and hanging out with a group of friends on a Friday night. I feel like he doesn’t get that social interaction that is crucial for people our age. I know that for him was the highlight of his life. I felt guilty for wanting to vote him off. I’m still a human and an empathetic person and very kind-hearted. I understood that from him and I didn’t want him to go, but I was like you gotta go because I don’t want to go. I’m here to play hard. I’m here to play a kick ass game and I wanted people to root for me and really connect with me. I wanted to show everyone that you can come from a kind of crazy background and maybe not the best upbringing from a super strict family and still have an awesome and wild mindset.

What was the best part of the experience for you?

SG: The best part of the experience was just testing the waters and realizing how accurate your gut was. You don’t get to build a shelter and go find your food. We live under a roof and everything is there for us in exchange for money. The coolest part was being there and practicing all these things I learned like building a shelter, making a fire and making a crab trap. It was cool having all these strangers that your life and the game depend on. You have to manipulate that to work in your favor.

What’s next for you?

SG: I don’t know what’s next, I’m open to any possibilities now. I want to conquer and take on whatever adventures come my way from here on forward. I’m driven to experience much more of that. I want to create opportunities, open doors and meet people and live life a little fuller.

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