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Survivor

EXCLUSIVE: How Survivor star Sam Gash really feels about being labelled an "evil villainous woman"

''It's been a rollercoaster.''

By Laura Masia
Samantha Gash and Mark Wales were the golden couple of Australian Survivor.
Meeting on the show as castaways in 2017, Mark and Sam were too distracted by each other to make it close to the final. The real reward for them was going on to get married and have a beautiful son together.
Now, on Survivor: Blood v Water the pair are forever grateful for the game for giving them their beautiful family.
Sam sacrificed herself to keep Mark in the game. (Image: Ten)
But when the opportunity arose to give it another shot together, they knew it had to be all or nothing – and it was this ballsy attitude that rubbed a few people the wrong way.
"The first time we played we behaved very differently," Mark, 42, tells TV WEEK.
"This time we came back without the rose coloured glasses on. We decided it was going to be us inflicting the punishing so we went hard rom the start, and I think you have to."
It obviously paid off for the couple. While Sam sacrificed herself to keep Mark in the game, he's made it to this week's final immunity challenge, and is hoping to take home the title of Sole Survivor along with a life-changing prize of $500,000.
Mark is hoping to take home the title of Sole Survivor along with a life-changing prize of $500,000. (Image: Ten)
Despite their success making it through as the last remaining pairing, Sam's moves in particular have been harshly criticised online.
Shockingly, many comments have gotten personal, commenting on her appearance and even her skills as a mother. While Mark describes the feedback as coming from a "noisy minority," it has still be a rough time for the couple.
"It's been a rollercoaster," Sam, 37, shares. "Some people are saying I'm an evil villainous woman, which obviously I've taken some agency to be that, then on the flip side, people are saying that I've played no game at all."
Sam doesn't regret any move she made on the show, including stealing Jesse's idol, she believes the strong public reaction comes down to her gender.
"We just haven't seen a 'villainous' woman in Australian Survivor yet because in this game it's fine to be a villain, and do bold, cutting edge, unique moves," she says.
We've seen male players do this in the past and they don't have the same degree of hate, they cop some, but it's nowhere near as personal as this."
Outside of the show, the castaways are as close as ever, and are definitely not holding any grudges – even after the frosty reception Sam received at the Jury Villa.
After meeting on the show in 2017, Mark and Sam went on to get married and have a beautiful son together. (Image: Instagram)
"If we can get over it, most certainly people who have no connection should be able to get over it too," she quips.
Now, as the couple eagerly await to see who will be crowed winner, they're quietly hopeful that Mark has made enough big moves to see the jury vote in his favour. And while it's Mark in the final, he says it's largely due to Sam's incredible game play.
"I kept thinking I was going to get knocked out early and every time we went to tribal I had a farewell speech ready," he laughs. "Getting to the final, it's all thanks to Sammy."
"Winning would be a testament to our partnership, and how we can work together inn adversity." (Image: Ten)
Although Sam is still wrapping her head around everything the game has given her already, she says that taking home the big prize would change their world entirely.
"Winning would be a testament to our partnership, and how we can work together inn adversity," she explains.
"It's just crazy that we would not be a thing, we would not have a family if it was not for Survivor. It's not lost on me how much this game has given to my life so far. But wouldn't it just be mind-blowing if we actually won?"
Australian Survivor: Blood v Water airs Sunday and Monday on 10 and 10 play on demand.

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