Her elimination will go down in Survivor history as being connected with one of the angriest reactions as she intensely stared down Jay. But how is Michaela Bradshaw feeling about her blindside today? Is she still angry with Jay? We covered all that and so much more during our one-on-one interview with her. Plus, she revealed the one player she truly believes should win the game — and it’s not who you’d ever expect.
SheKnows: Wow, your elimination was intense. You were genuinely shocked, as were many viewers. Tell us what was going through your mind as you gave Jay that fiery stare.
Michaela Bradshaw: I knew something was wrong the moment my name popped up. If this was going according to plan, Bret and Sunday should’ve voted for each other. My name should not be coming up right now. I saw two votes and thought Bret and Sunday were working together. There’s only two people they could possibly be working with, but I knew Jay wouldn’t cross me. Then three votes come up and I knew Will wouldn’t do it by himself, so I knew Jay had something to do with it. I was so angry at him. I felt so betrayed. I felt devastated. I was mad. We’ve had these conversations of how we’re going to change our families’ lives, and how much the $1 million or even $100,000 would do something good for us. For him to know where I come from and rip that from me like that, it was hurtful. That’s what that exchange was about. I knew he had something to do with it. Him staring me in the eyes was his way of owning the move. I respect that he owned it.
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SK: What was it like watching that moment play back on TV?
MB: I knew it would come across epic. After the show, I watched more Survivor and I realized that most people when they get voted off are really quiet. They just get up and they’re like, “Good luck, guys.” Then they walk off and they cry [laughs], and that is not what happened with me. I was explosive. Watching what happened after the challenge and Tribal Council, it was actually entertaining. It was entertaining to me. I didn’t realize my neck could turn with such ferocity, so that was cool.
SK: Did we see everything that happened or was there more exchanged between you and Jay after he backstabbed you? Did we miss anything?
MB: There was a lot more. I didn’t use too many words, but I had some words to say to Jay repeatedly over and over. But, what you see is what was there. I felt really betrayed, and I felt like it was a dumb move. That was a shortsighted move. You don’t get rid of your most trusted ally in the game, especially not somebody who can be a shield for you. I was like, “Oh, Jay, you messed this thing up.”
SK: What words did you have for Jay that we didn’t see?
MB: Those were ones that you bleep on a family-friendly show [laughs].
SK: After you were officially voted out, how long did it take you to leave Tribal Council? Was it longer than we saw because it didn’t seem like you were in any rush to walk away.
MB: Oh, heck yeah! It took a while. First, I was sitting there in disbelief and we had that moment that was hilarious on TV. We were definitely just staring at each other. I was so focused on that $1 million that I was willing to do whatever within my morals to get it. I had never once thought of how to properly leave Survivor. Finally, after I’m able to get off and take my eyes off this guy who just thrust a dagger into my heart, I went up to Jeff and I didn’t have a torch. He was like, “Michaela, you need the torch.” And I was so mad, like, “Don’t talk to me right now, Jeff.” I went and got the torch, slammed it in the hole and was like, “Wait. I gotta get my shoes.” I was thinking this is probably the first time ever somebody left the torch. It was a production. It was a crazy moment, but one that I won’t forget.
SK: How long did it take you to get over being blindsided?
MB: I was deep in that angry, betrayed emotion. I was in that emotion for at least 30 minutes. After that, they gave me a Milky Way and that helped dramatically [laughs]. Then I got to Ponderosa and got to meet all these happy faces like Rachel, CeCe and Mari. I just chose to embrace the positive of the situation. I was kind of done with it at that point. Are there still times where I look back and think if I would’ve just done something different? Yes, but those times are overshadowed by just me being grateful to have had the chance to play the game.
SK: So you’re not still angry with Jay?
MB: No! Not at all! We were actually texting while watching Tribal Council. It’s just funny. I say, “Bravo.” You got me, boy. You got me.
SK: So when Jay betrayed you, there was an opportunity right then for you to expose to everybody that he has a hidden Immunity Idol in his possession. Why didn’t you reveal that secret as you left the game?
MB: That seems to be the bitter move. If I can’t win, then neither can you. That’s just not how I play in real life. Yes, I wanted to win, but if you get me in a game where somebody has to be got, because I respect you as a competitor, I’m going to let you run the rest of your game. My game is over once I get voted out. For me to come back and throw salt in somebody else’s game, that’s just bitter. That’s not the type of person I am. If this thing doesn’t work out for Jay the way he wanted it to, if he doesn’t get to that $1 million at the end, I want him to look straight at himself and say, “I did this,” opposed to, “Well, Michaela told everybody about my Idol.” I’m just not a bitter competitor. I respect competition, so I couldn’t do that.
SK: Give us one word to describe Jay.
MB: Real. He stuck a shank in my heart because he thought I was standing between him and that $1 million. He wants that $1 million for his family. I get it. I would call him “real.”
SK: Do you think maybe you played the game too hard too fast?
MB: That’s an interesting concept. I would say no. I like to win. I’m not used to losing. I don’t want to lose, particularly when losing can send me home. I would’ve made the merge had we won one more. It wasn’t about hard and fast, I was just trying to win. If I could continue to channel that winning energy into the merge, then maybe that would’ve resulted in some Immunities for me and maybe I could’ve gotten further.
SK: You’ve said you were willing to do whatever possible to win the game, so what was your strategic plan?
MB: I did not care who I went to the very end with, but I had a plan. My plan was force people to stay with me because they have nowhere else to go. They didn’t like that, which is why they got rid of me.
SK: The response you’ve received from fans has been mostly positive with a lot of love being thrown your direction. How does it feel to be so adored by fans?
MB: It really feels great. Coming out of the game, because my goal was $1 million and I did not achieve that, I actually thought of myself as a loser. It’s crazy, right? However, each episode I watched all these good qualities that are genuine to me coming out on TV with other people seeing that. It’s nice to be affirmed. There’s so much negative in the world. It was nice to get this outpouring of love from all these different people. That’s been a really positive aspect of this experience.
SK: How did you get picked to be on Survivor?
MB: I actually applied for Amazing Race. That led into me applying for Survivor. I got an email saying I wasn’t going to be picked for Amazing Race, but asked if I considered Survivor. Yep, I just hadn’t applied yet. I applied and started going through that process. It ended up working out to my favor. I just applied at the right time, and the right season was coming up. I fit.
SK: At this point in the competition, who do you believe should win the $1 million? If you could vote for anybody right now, who would it be?
MB: Hannah. Why? Hannah is a very intelligent person, a very fun person and a very loving person. I saw Hannah being talked to crazy, being treated like crap, people thinking she’s dumb and having to go through that feeling like she needs to prove her worth all the time. Watching the season, her goofy moments are accentuated so much that she seems like a non-factor. That is just not the experience that I had and not the view I have of her. If I could just vote a winner, I want to see Hannah blossom and I want her to win that game.
SK: On the flip-side of that, who doesn’t deserve to win?
MB: I would say Sunday. Up until this point when she was going through all those Tribal Councils on Gen-X, she wasn’t a decision-maker. She was a go-along person. On Ikabula, she wasn’t someone that contributed to the wins, she was a go-along person. When it came down to voting, she didn’t initiate any conversation about changing the vote. If it hadn’t have been for Will or Jay going to her, she wouldn’t have done anything. She would’ve just sat there and waited for the inevitable to happen. She’s playing a game that’s keeping her in it, which is no game, essentially. Survivor respects big moves, so if I had to cast a vote for a winner right now, it would not be for her.