After almost 50 days of competition in the harsh tropics of Samoa, it was Liz Parnov who outwitted, outplayed and outlasted her fellow tribemates to win the title of sole Survivor.
Facing a final three composed of Matt, Gerry and herself, Liz gave a triumphant pitch to a jury composed of eliminees, many of whom Liz had sent packing there.
Speaking with Liz the morning after her onscreen win, the 28-year-old is still incredulous that she not only made it to the end but took home the crown.
”I’m still so shocked. It still hasn’t sunk in. I honestly cannot believe it. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would make it this far, let alone take the title. I’m just stunned, I think it might take a while for it to sink in….” Liz tells TV Week.
From the very first episode, she was tipped as a favourite to win, with fans throwing their hats in the ring behind her on her Survivor journey.
According to Liz, it had been humbling to see how many fans were rooting for her.
”I never really realised how strong the Survivor community was and the support out there has been so kind, people are so sweet and lovely,” Liz says.
”It’s so pleasant while you are watching to have that support and to have people barracking for you. It just makes me so happy that the show can bring people so much joy.”
So now that she has taken the title (and the half a million dollar pay day that comes with it), is there anything Liz would have changed about her gameplay?
”The one thing I said to myself before going into Survivor was that ‘I just want to be myself’. I didn’t want to change or try to be anyone different and the feedback I’ve gotten back from friends and family is that I have stayed 100% true to myself and I just love that because that is an authentic journey for me, and I honestly wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Whilst Matt and Gerry floundered in front of the jury, it was the former Olympic pole vaulter who kept her head above water, recapping her strategy, her social game and physical dominance in the challenges, securing all seven of the votes from impressed jury members.
”I was really confident in my speech, I felt like my pitch summed my game up and I had quite a strong case. I was obviously quite nervous about the votes, I thought I’d get a couple, but I never thought I’d get as many as I did,” Liz says.
”Once the pitch started, I swear to you I just blacked out in my mind because I was just so damn nervous and then whatever came out of my mouth was just word vomit. But thankfully it all made sense.”
And whilst she has walked away on top of the world, Liz admits that she faced some seriously tough times during the season, both mentally and physically.
”When you are disconnected from all of your friends and family and there’s no contact, it’s challenging. Just not having communication with my partner, my family, it was really difficult for me. When there’s absolutely no contact you don’t realise how much you miss people until you are in that position.”
Speaking about that brutal final individual immunity challenge which she walked away victorious from after more than four hours, Liz said it was ”really, really tough.”
”By that point in the game you are just so physically and mentally exhausted that every minute out there feels like an eternity but I’m so proud of all the contestants and the effort they put in because it’s a massive feat. It was really, really difficult but having the support of our friends and family sitting on that bench really helped.”
Another sore point for Liz was seeing BFF Shonee booted in a blindside by George, aka the Tsar of Samoa.
”In the game of Survivor where it’s all about deceiving one another and lying and fake relationships I feel like me and Shonee had formed a really organic friendship and I just felt like I had one of my people out there which was really nice.
But revenge was sweet for Liz as she finally took her shot against George in the final tribal council, sending him packing to the jury.
”It was quite sweet, he really dogged me a few times there,” Liz laughs as she reflects back to the moment George had his torch snuffed.
”Taking a player out like George you need to time it perfectly because if you fail, he is out for blood, but thankfully it all fell into place and Georgie went to the bench.”
So, what’s next for Liz?
She’s hinted at a possible podcast with Shonee, and some television appearances but is anything locked in?
”I am open to any opportunities that come from this experience. Survivor has changed my life.”
As for her $500k payday, Liz still has no clue what she wants to do with her hard-earned winnings.
”It’s an amount I don’t think I can even comprehend. I feel like I’m going to have to sit on it for a while and really think it through.”
”I definitely would play again, I just need a little time to process this whole thing and deal with my trauma but ask me back next year and I’m all yours.”