Jessica Lewis will live in Survivor infamy for falling victim to one of the craziest Tribal Councils ever. She technically was never voted out of the game. Nope. Instead, lack of luck determined her demise from the game when a tie vote forced the tribe to face a nail-biting rarity: drawing rocks. When her fingers unfurled, Jessica’s unfortunate fate was revealed for pulling the black rock. That stings. In our one-on-one conversation with Jessica, she relives that dramatic moment, argues she made the right decision to swap her vote despite the disappointing outcome and laughs about a tweet she unleashed offering to sell her black rock. By the end of our chat, Jessica shed tears when describing how she stayed strong through all of Survivor‘s struggles.
SheKnows: Wow. I bet Thanksgiving dinner was interesting for your family after watching that epic Tribal Council.
Jessica Lewis: Oh, my word. [Laughs] We traveled up to see my family for an early Thanksgiving. We ate and then watched the two-hour Survivor episode to sit and cry together. [Laughs] It was a little bit much.
SK: What was your family’s reaction?
JL: I really had to explain it to them. It’s hard because my parents have never really watched the show before. My father has a ton of questions about it. I had to try to get them to understand the strategy behind it and the game itself. I really had no choice. I know I could have chosen differently and put Hannah’s name down, but as [far as] my game was concerned, I was not going to win if I flipped. I knew that. The way my game had been progressing, and where I was, I would’ve been done if I flipped. I had to explain that to my family so they could understand I wasn’t going to win that way. I didn’t put myself on that island to not win. You want to have a chance to win.
SK: As you were holding that rock waiting for the big reveal, did you believe luck was on your side or did you know you were doomed?
JL: It’s weird because I didn’t want to open my hand. Up to that point, I hadn’t had really good luck with rocks in the game. [Laughs] When we would draw them for challenges, I didn’t really seem to be getting a lot of luck with the rocks. I was hoping at that moment I was going to have some luck. I picked the first rock I felt in the bag, which I shouldn’t have done. Clearly. I didn’t necessarily feel like I was doomed. I kind of felt like that this was my game and this was what my game was going to ultimately come down to. This is it. It’s a do-or-die moment right now. Unfortunately, that was it for me.
SK: Do you have any regrets that you didn’t change your vote and write down Hannah’s name?
JL: I don’t. I regret the rock that I picked. [Laughs] I knew when I was sitting there making this decision that I needed to maintain any bit of loyalty I had. I had three people that were very loyal and strong. I couldn’t lose their loyalty. I knew I was kind of expendable. Zeke had worked his magic, and he knew the people on his side didn’t want me there. I think there was this idea that I would be an easy vote anyway. I didn’t want that to be the case. I didn’t want the fact I ultimately flipped and made it a few more days to cause my demise. I wanted to take a chance and pick a rock. It worked out for five people, just not me. It’s a lot to process right after it happens because you’re like, “Wow. That’s it.”
SK: How long has it taken to get over your elimination? It has to be tough.
JL: I’m still not over it. Now, you’re getting me upset. It still upsets me because all I had to do was move my hand over. Just move my hand over and pick a different rock. That would’ve been great. It’s something I will forever think about and kick myself. I know in the end that I made the right choice. I just picked the wrong rock.
SK: After your epic elimination aired, you tweeted out a phony Craigslist ad asking viewers if they wanted to buy the rock. It seemed quite a few fans were interested.
JL: It was just a joke. I just thought it was hysterical because you have to laugh about it. I didn’t think I’d get any serious offers for it or anything. [Laughs]
SK: Would you ever sell it?
JL: [Laughs] That would depend on a lot of things. I don’t know how CBS would feel about any of that, either. [Laughs]
SK: What was your end-game plan?
JL: It was a combination of three different people. I wanted to go to the end with Ken. I had formed a good bond with him, and I knew he probably wanted to go to the end with me as well. He and I played a very similar game since we were playing together. I do feel I played a more aggressive game, so I thought I would have a good chance of making arguments as to why I should win over Ken. He is a very genuine person, but I thought he would be good to sit in the final three with. I was also considering Adam. He and I were very close as well. We had created a good bond and a good relationship. Adam had rubbed some people the wrong way that are on the jury, so I thought maybe I’d have a good chance of going against him. It would’ve been an interesting battle. Hannah is also one of the people I was considering. I think that Hannah was struggling a lot with flipping. She didn’t really have loyalty to a lot of people, which was rubbing some the wrong way. She was a little chaotic in the way she played her game. I thought I might have a good chance sitting next to her as well.
SK: In the beginning of the game, you stumbled upon the Legacy Advantage, which we still know nothing about. You eventually told Ken you had found it, but did you ever reveal your secret to anybody else?
JL: At one point around the Chris vote I mentioned to David that I did have an advantage. I knew he had an Idol, so it didn’t seem like it was a bad idea to share it with him at that point. Ken knew more of the specifics than Dave did.
SK: It had to drive you crazy not exactly knowing what the Legacy Advantage could mean for yourself.
JL: It drove me insane. I had that package in my bag for about two days because I didn’t know where to put it. When we got evacuated, I was really nervous about having it in my bag because I didn’t know what was gonna happen. I certainly didn’t want to just bury it somewhere because I had to bring it with me to every Tribal Council. I didn’t want anybody to find it. It was frustrating because I didn’t know what it was all about. I did a lot of speculating trying to guess what was in the envelope.
SK: What were you guessing the advantage might be?
JL: I was thinking it was probably for one of the Immunity challenges to go and practice beforehand. I had seen them do that in Survivor previously. I thought it could also potentially be an extra vote at Tribal Council.
SK: How did you get on the show?
JL: Interestingly enough, I’m one of those rare people that only applied once. My daughter actually made my video for me. She was 12 at the time. We’re big fans of the show. Our family watches it all together. One day I told her she should make me a video. She did. I thought it was great and I sent it in. They called me a few months later and I went through the process. It was interesting because I’ve always loved Survivor, but I never thought I would actually get on the show. Going through the process and having it happen was crazy. It moved so quickly, but I have my daughter to thank because she caught their attention with the video she made for me.
SK: Looking back, is there one thing that summarizes your Survivor experience that makes you proud?
JL: Wow. That’s tough. I think strength. You’re making me emotional. [Cries] I think when you play the game of Survivor you have to be very strong. Not just physically, but mentally. You really put yourself out there to be judged, to be ridiculed, to be manipulated and all of these things that on a day-to-day life you wouldn’t want to be involved in. When it comes to this game, that’s exactly what you enter into. If you don’t have strength to get through all of those moments, then you’re never going to make it through this game. I think I showed I had a lot of strength. Not only in physical challenges, but the mental challenges I went through as well. There are the emotional challenges of missing your family amid the serious components of the game. I was really surprised at how well I handled all of that considering the game I was involved in.
Would you ever let your Survivor fate be determined by drawing rocks? Join the conversation by leaving a comment in the section.
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