She overcame adversity to win the title of Sole Survivor on this year’s show, proving that sometimes the underdog can come out on top.
Kristie, who flew under the radar for the majority of the series, was announced as the winner by host Jonathan LaPaglia after the jury almost unanimously voted for her. After asking fellow competitor Lee to bow out of the final endurance task, the account executive won immunity and voted out fellow female finalist, El.
And despite all the odds being against her when she found herself in the final with two of the competition’s strongest competitors, Kristie’s powers of persuasion and clever game tactics in the final Jury saw her crowned the winner of Australian Survivor.
We caught up with Kristie as she was boarding a plane following her win, and the 24 year-old was ecstatic as she spoke about her experience, “What an absolute whirlwind this has been! It’s all really starting to hit me, I’m like ‘Wow, I’m the Sole Survivor!’”
See what Kristie had to say about her controversial tactics and plans for the future, when we caught up with Australia’s new favourite underdog…
You beat two of the strongest competitors, Lee and El, to win. Could you ever have seen that coming?
I knew I had it in me. I was saving myself until that final immunity. All that really mattered was that I had the choice of who to bring to the end with me. I never doubted that I’d be able to step up to it, but it doesn’t take away from how unbelievable it was when I did!
WATCH: Kristie tries out beach yoga during the show. Post continues...
Talk us through the moment you realised you’d won?
I was absolutely fighting out there and I knew that I had a compelling case, and that I just needed an opportunity to sell it to them. So when I knew that I was in the top two I was like, ‘I’m potentially going to get some votes here’.
It was really tough out there, sitting down and being hit by the jury’s questions, it was definitely like ‘Ooh, is Lee ahead? Am I ahead?’ But as the jury went on and I saw the look on their faces and the responses when they were like, ‘That’s a good answer Kristie,’ I was like, ‘I’m slowly building up these votes here’. There were moments in that tribal where I was like, ‘I’ve got that person now, who else do I need? I need to get that person. What do I need to say to get that person on board?'
You never really had an alliance throughout the show, but last night you said that was your game plan all along. That a pretty risky strategy, right?
Oh yeah, definitely. There were times when I was like, ‘Woah this is crazy!’ But I didn’t really have a choice. I was in the minority and my goal was to sit on the right side of the vote, and if I’m in the minority, what good is an alliance to me? I’m better off playing it on my own anyway.
I played with the cards that were given to me and I went for it. I was there playing to win and that’s what I did. It was so scary and I had nobody to lean on really, I had nobody to talk about stuff with, if I was going through something I didn’t have anyone and everybody else had somebody to bounce off and make them feel a little bit secure. I only had me out there.
I think the journey for me was just so different from everyone else’s. I would never advise anybody to take my path because it was hard and it doesn’t always pay off. But the alliances that were formed, I just didn’t have a chance to break into them, so you have to find another way to get through – and there’s more than one way to play the game.
Do you think your plan of making subtle, rather than big moves, will inspire future Survivor contestants?
I think the way I played the game will definitely challenge the conventions on how Survivor has to be played. I know in the U.S. season, alliances aren’t really that much of a ‘thing’ any more.
For me, an alliance is voting together more than one time, it’s not just, ‘Oh we’re going to band together for this one vote conveniently and then we’re an alliance,’ no, that’s just you guys voting together because you have a mutually beneficial interest!
I definitely think I’ve challenged the conventions of how Survivor can be played, and I hope to see a more unique game going forward. I love seeing people go out on a whim and try new strategies.
The final endurance challenge was intense. Do you think you’d have lasted if Lee hadn’t stepped off the pedestal?
Yes, I would have stood there all night. I have never wanted anything more in my whole life.
You’ve achieved your childhood dream – what’s next?!
Oh my goodness, I know right?! How do you move on from this?! I’m still figuring it out, but I’m just gonna enjoy it for all it’s worth. I worked really hard for it and I’m going to become the Survivor ambassador. I want to see people loving the show, playing the game and having an active interest in it all.
Otherwise, in my personal life, I want to buy a van, convert it and rescue dogs from a shelter and drive around Australia! And just explore. I want to keep the challenges and adventure going!