She thought Ryan Ulrich was somebody she could trust, but he proved her wrong twice. In our one-on-one interview with Ali Elliott, she discussed her current feelings toward Ryan and his betrayal on Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers. Is she angry? She also revealed why she still doubts everything Chrissy Hofbeck ever said to her during the game. Plus, Ali explained what her initial thoughts were when learning the season had been titled Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers.
SheKnows: You seemed very surprised by your elimination. Was it a true blindside or did you have an idea it was coming?
Ali Elliott: I wouldn’t say it was a blindside. I think my emotion came from just knowing it was over. I had a gut feeling on the way to Tribal that it was gonna be me. I was hoping there was a chance for me to stay, but I had a pretty good inclination it was gonna be me.
SK: How did you know?
AE: The obvious thing was being left out on the last vote with Roark. Me and Ryan seemed so close the first few days of the game. You would’ve thought he was going to fill me in. After that, it was him publicly saying he no longer wanted to work with me and he didn’t need me in this game.
SK: After that, did you get any trust back in Ryan leading up to your elimination?
AE: I was hopeful. I don’t know if I would call it trust. After our blowup, we mended very quickly. We were very close, almost like brother and sister. We talked about it, and he said, “Hey, I’m sorry. I don’t know what to tell you.” I was still very confused. I did hope that the words I was hearing would be true, but I was hoping he just made a mistake in not telling me the plan to vote out Roark.
SK: Do you think Ryan is playing a smart game or is he making mistakes?
AE: I think he’s set himself up OK. I think if he would’ve filled me in on the vote, he would be a lot stronger. He could’ve said, “I already had a super Idol relationship with Chrissy. We’re tight. I’m taking you along with me.” I would’ve trusted Ryan completely from that point because of that knowledge. I think he would’ve had both of us trusting him rather than just having Chrissy on his side and J.P. hanging out.
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SK: Why do you think the tribe targeted you instead of somebody like J.P.?
AE: JP is going to vote whichever way Chrissy tells him to vote. I think for myself, and that’s the reason why they didn’t think they could control me as much in that moment. Maybe J.P. was a bit more under wraps and he was more predictable. They didn’t really know after the merge where I would go.
SK: Are you bitter toward Ryan or Chrissy?
AE: I don’t think that I’m bitter. I understand it’s a game. I think Ryan is playing a good game, but I don’t think he’s playing a great game. He’s very smart, though. Maybe Chrissy isn’t as strong socially as me, so we’ll see if she will be able to create the connections I would have to benefit me and Ryan after the merge. I’m not bitter, even toward Chrissy. I just don’t think I know Chrissy. Being with someone for that many days, I think all of what she told me was just a lie to get me to stay calm. She didn’t want me to find the Idol I was looking for. I didn’t ever see myself aligning with her after having a few conversations. She always seemed like she had an ulterior motive. I couldn’t ever tell if she was lying or telling the truth. We go out there and make great friends, but because of her choice of play, I’m not sure if I really know the real Chrissy even to this day. Nothing against her. We talked a lot about family and stuff like that. Maybe that’s the real Chrissy or was that her way to draw me in? Thinking back, you start to weigh out what was real and what wasn’t.
SK: Is there anything about Chrissy in particular you really doubt?
AE: There were times I thought she was just lying to me to calm me down and keep me on the outside. But there was one thing she said that I thought maybe I was appealing to her. She told me that after the merge we would be set up. She said, “Ali, you have nothing to worry about. You stick with us. We’re gonna be great.” I was like, “OK. Sure.” We had talked about family, and she told me her husband was coming to the family visit. I told her it would be my sister. She knew my sister and I are great friends, and Chrissy said something along the lines of, “We’re so good. I can’t wait to see you run and jump into your sister’s arms.” I was wondering if she was starting to believe I was willing to work with her. It seemed like something so heartfelt to say. Why would you lie about something like that? I understand the game, but when you make a lie personal, just don’t say anything about my family. That was probably the only thing I can say that really had me thinking I had a small chance with Chrissy. I don’t know.
SK: So you’re still uncertain if she was lying to you or was genuinely sincere in that moment?
AE: Exactly. I have no idea if that was a true feeling or maybe she said it like it was nothing. Maybe lying about that didn’t matter to her. Maybe it was something she thought I wouldn’t find hurtful after.
SK: Do you feel hurt by either Ryan or Chrissy?
AE: I don’t feel hurt by Ryan. He was doing what he thought was best for his game. That’s it. Honestly, one thing that has been kind of shocking to me is people saying Chrissy is playing such a great game. Chrissy has only got to this point because of everything Ryan has given her. Ryan has carried her so far to the point of where she is. If Ryan wouldn’t have given her that Idol, there would’ve been no connection. I think she would’ve been voted out instead when Roark went home.
SK: Would you vote for Ryan to win at this point?
AE: I don’t know at this moment. A lot happens through the merge. I wasn’t planning on starting my winning game until I hit the merge. As of now, I think there’s a lot of top contenders, and Ryan would definitely be one of them.
SK: Did you have a final-three scenario in place?
AE: I did not have a final three yet. It would’ve come after the merge because everything can change at the drop of a dime. I did plan on getting back with Lauren and Devon. Me and Lauren were really close, and I trusted her completely. My goal was to get back with them. If Roark was still around, I would’ve teamed up with her too. I don’t think I ever saw myself working with the Heroes.
SK: What’s your take on J.P.? Many other contestants we’ve interviewed have said he doesn’t deserve to be there. What do you say?
AE: I think that J.P. was on the wrong show. I think J.P. is a survivor, just not on Survivor. He could go on Naked and Afraid, where you’re just with one other person. He could make fire. He will find food. He will build shelter and survive for three weeks. He is made for that. To have to interact and create these bonds with people, I’m not sure how much game knowledge he actually had going in. I just don’t think he was prepared in that aspect.
SK: How did you get on the show?
AE: I am a die-hard fan. My mom has 10 brothers and sisters, and that side of the family is all die-hard Survivor fans. My uncle tried out twice. My sister tried out. My mom and my cousin have also tried out. Finally, one day I was at home and said, “It’s time for me to apply.” Some of my family had gotten to finals, but nobody ever made it. I sent in one video and the rest is history. My uncle actually was an alternate one year. He passed away about four years ago before he ever got the chance to play. He tried out in Boston Rob’s year, and it was his dream to play the game. That was another reason my heart was so in it. I was finally the person in the family that got this chance everybody wanted. I can’t even be upset about my experience. It was amazing. I had so much fun. I met so many great people. I loved every moment of it, the good and the bad. Watching last night, I was laughing and crying. I loved every minute.
SK: Being a self-described die-hard fan, what were your thoughts when you heard the title of this season was Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers?
AE: [Laughs.] Yeah, I was a bit shocked. It was hard for me to understand where it was going. I could see myself being a hustler, but at first, I was like, “Drugs? Hustler? What do I hustle?” I understood afterward they meant hard workers. I did think the hustlers, just looking at us, we were oddballs. If we would’ve had to stay as a group the whole time, looking at the tribe setup, we did not have strength. We didn’t have anybody confident in puzzles. We were just not well-rounded whatsoever. I think now as the season has gone on, the idea of Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers has grown on me.
SK: Which is your favorite season?
AE: That’s really hard to say. I loved Worlds Apart [Season 30]. It was interesting from the beginning to the end. For Mike to come out and win it all after he was on the bottom for, like, nine people, that’s what a real Survivor looks like.
SK: Would you do it again?
AE: Oh, in a heartbeat. If they said, “Hey, Ali, we’re leaving tomorrow,” I’m there.