She was dubbed a “flipper” on Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X for the way she played the game. But does Hannah feel the label is fair? We asked her that question on the finale’s red carpet — and her answer was flawless. She also revealed behind-the-scenes details on the panic attack she suffered while sitting out of a challenge and explained how she landed a spot on the show.
SheKnows: You were clearly a huge fan of Survivor. It was almost like you were in awe of being in the presence of Jeff Probst. You created #TrustCluster, so what’s your hashtag to sum up your season.
Hannah Shapiro: When #TrustCluster was trending worldwide, I screen-grabbed it because it was the coolest moment of my life. I guess it would be #IsntJeffProbstBeautifulAndTheCastIsSoLovely.
SK: You were making such a strong, eloquent argument at that final Tribal Council that it seemed as if you may have convinced some jury members to vote your way to win the game. How confident were you?
HS: I was gonna play so that I could have a very strong argument at the end. I wasn’t going to do anything except be bold and believe in that argument. I felt like I presented a very clear argument at final Tribal Council, and I felt like I had been playing a strong game. You don’t always see it throughout the season. I realized that the person I was sitting next to, Adam, understood my game the best. Perception is such a real thing out here whether or not it’s the reality. I sort of sensed I had probably not won Survivor. [Laughs] We’re all close to each other. I was pretty sure this one wasn’t mine. I was not ashamed of the game I played. I played really hard. I gave it everything I had. I made moves. I made risky moves. I was proud of the game that I had played. I think Adam also played a wonderful game, and I congratulate him.
SK: When you hear somebody like Bret call you a flipper, do you feel that label is deserved?
HS: I really think, again, perception is everything. We had a post-merge of mostly men and I think when women make moves in the game — especially in a post-merge of mostly men — when a woman makes a move, she’s a flipper. When a guy makes a move, he’s a game player. When a woman is loyal, she’s a goat. When a guy is loyal, he’s loyal. I think flipper is perception. I think Bret didn’t understand my game. I think Bret was also hurt. I think he didn’t like being outplayed by someone he considered weaker than him. That flipper thing also came into play because, weirdly enough, the Zeke vote. Zeke needed to convince four people, who he had voted out their allies, to reach into a bag of rocks. Bret is a very emotional player who doesn’t necessarily always understand the strategic element. In order to convince Bret to stick his hand in a bag of rocks for him, Zeke helped paint me as a flipper and that perception really remained throughout the game. I don’t think Bret understood my game, and I also think flipping is a matter of perception. Adam also flipped on a lot of people. Am I a flipper? I really think it’s perception.
SK: Let’s take you out of the final three and put David in your place. Would you vote for David, Ken or Adam?
HS: I think Dave wins in that situation hands down. I always knew Dave would win. The jury really wanted to give Dave $1 million. He is someone who I related to on every level. I also think he played a fantastic game, but I now more clearly see what Adam’s game was.
SK: One of the components that connect you and Dave is anxiety. There was a moment when you had a panic attack while sitting out of a challenge. What happened? Is there something we didn’t see?
HS: Something you didn’t see is that on Ikabula, we were not eating or sleeping. The other beaches had food. We would wait for the moon to change places in the sky so the bugs would go down and be less bad. The camera guys had netting over their face only on our beach. I get to the challenge and I’m already physically done. The thing about a panic attack is that it feels like a heart attack. It’s a very physicalized thing. As soon as I was feeling weak and dehydrated, it transferred into anxiety. It became a very quick, rapid physical thing. I mentally understood what was happening, but I had shooting pain in my legs. Panic attacks are a very physical thing.
SK: Please don’t take this the wrong way, but you and David always looked filthy.
HS: [Laughs] My mom was so mad. She was like, “Hannah, you have to wash your face.” Dave was like, “Hannah, you’re dirty.” Watching it back, I’m getting all these tweets like, “Wash your face.” You have to understand, I didn’t have a mirror. [Laughs] I was incredibly dirty. I was incredibly skinny. I was on Survivor. I’m sorry. I shower at home, I swear. [Laughs] But I was not the smelliest one out there. I will not say who it was, but I did wash myself. I was fine. Although Jeff Probst once said when I was walking out of Tribal Council that I had a layer of dirt on me. I was like, “Oh, Jesus Christ.”
SK: You’ve got to tell us who was the smelliest.
HS: Absolutely not. Oh, no, no, no. Gotta leave some things a mystery.
SK: How did you get on the show?
HS: So, I have loved Survivor since I was, like, 14. I wrote my college common app essay about wanting to play Survivor. Then I took a Survivor class at Northwestern taught by Max Dawson, who was on the show. He encouraged me to apply, and the opportunity came up. I just couldn’t say no.
SK: How many times did you apply before getting picked?
HS: This was the second time.
SK: Would you go back and play it again?
HS: I feel like I would go back as a much more confident, bold person. I think there’s so many things I want to pursue, but I’m a fan of the game, so who knows if I would ever go to the island again.
Would you label Hannah as a flipper? Join the conversation and leave a comment in the section below.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below.