Her time on Survivor: Ghost Island may have been cut short, but Morgan Ricke's impact on the game could go deep into the season because of her decision to give Domenick the Legacy Advantage. In our one-on-one interview with Morgan, she explains why Domenick is her pick to win it all despite saying his fake Idol contributed to her early elimination. She also reveals why her alliance wanted to vote Angela out from the very first day and discusses how she was almost put on a different season of Survivor altogether.
SheKnows: You looked absolutely shocked to be voted off. Was your elimination a true blindside, or did you have a sense it was coming?
Morgan Ricke: I was really as shocked as it looked on television [laughs]. I wasn't as shocked as Angela because she was really so clueless and had no idea what was going on. I knew exactly what happened once the votes were read, but I was still shocked to be going home.
SK: Is there one person in particular who turned the tide against you?
MR: I know Laurel and James threw my name out there once Domenick showed them his fake Idol. Obviously, I don't blame anything on Domenick, but I think that kind of screwed with my game. My name was never on the chopping block until they saw his fake Idol. I don't remember who threw my name out first, but one of them did. I blame them [laughs]. No hard feelings. Game respects game. I ultimately think Libby made the bigger move because we did have that bond and that connection. You saw how hard it was for her. I give props to Libby for actually following through with it, because had she not done that, Angela would've gone home. I like to take all the credit away from Laurel and James [laughs].
SK: Why don't you want to give any credit to somebody like James?
MR: I love James. I love him as a person. It was a good move on his part. It was a solid move. He knows I'm physically a very strong player. I think I was physically stronger than him in all of the challenges. In the water challenge, he struggled. We had those Ninja Warrior steps that he failed and had to go back to do again. No guy likes to see a girl be better than him. I know he was a college athlete. I was as well, but I think I did better. I think that may have been a little embarrassing. I also think he saw I had a strong social game. He saw the connections I formed right away with Libby. When they came to our beach [after the tribal swap], they were greeted with open arms. He was like, "Damn, everyone loves Morgan. I gotta get this girl out of here." I think he also saw I was the glue that could hold Naviti together once Chris came back. I did have a relationship with Chris and Dom. The way he explained it to me in these last eight months is, "I thought you were the glue that could get everyone back together. Everyone really respected you and appreciated you socially."
SK: Although you went out of the game early, did you have anybody you wanted to go to the end of the game with?
MR: Yes. My strongest alliance in the beginning was an alliance of five with Dom, Wendell, Bradley and Kellyn. I always wanted to go super far with Dom. I kind of viewed him as Boston Rob. The tribe swap happened, and Dom, Wendell and I were still super close. I honestly want Dom and Wendell to get to the end. They have a huge target on their backs, so we'll see if they can do it. I'm rooting for them to go all the way.
SK: Being so close with Domenick, is there anything you learned about him from watching the show that you didn't know during the game? Did he keep any secrets from you? Did you know he had a real Idol?
MR: I didn't necessarily know 100 percent he had a real Idol, but I had an idea that he had one. I wasn't disappointed that he didn't tell me. I honestly didn't really ask. I was more upset about his fake Idol crap that he kept telling everyone about. He was messing up my game by doing that. He didn't have to tell Chris that. He didn't have to tell the four Malolo members on my tribe about that. That's ultimately what threw me under the bus. They were gunning for Dom, and when they found out about this fake Idol, they didn't trust that it wasn't real. I think that hurt me, but good for Dom. It saved his butt. You gotta do what you gotta do.
SK: After you were voted off, you gave your secret Legacy Advantage to Domenick. Walk us through that decision.
MR: It was a very hard decision between Dom and Wendell because I obviously love and respect both of them so much. My connection with Domenick was just stronger. But the big question is, can Domenick keep his mouth shut? Domenick has a big mouth like me, and he likes to tell everyone he has fake Idols and real Idols. Jacob couldn't keep his mouth shut, so I like to think the curse remained with Jacob. I kept my mouth shut for once in my life. The whole season is themed to reverse the curse. Domenick could do something with this because nobody really knows about it.
SK: When you got the Legacy Advantage, did you worry that it might actually be cursed?
MR: When I got it, I didn't believe. Maybe it's because I didn't want to believe it. I blame Jacob because he couldn't keep his mouth shut. Sierra actually messaged me on social media. She was cheering for me. It sucks that I let her down, but I didn't do anything. We'll see if it's a curse for Domenick. I really hope not, because I want him and Wendell to go far.
SK: Is Domenick playing too hard too fast, or do you think he's playing it just right?
MR: I think he can really get to the end. I don't know that he's gonna be able to win because I don't know how many people he will stab in the back and be like, "I don't fucking care." Will they respect that gameplay, or someone else's gameplay who might not have stabbed them so hard? I like the players that go out hard. If they make it to the end, props to them. It's not like Domenick has been hiding in the shadows. He's like, "I'm here. Vote me out." No one has done it yet. I like seeing the big guys make it to the end.
SK: If Chris didn't get sent to Ghost Island, was he going to be voted out that night instead of you?
MR: That's a great question. It would've been depending on what the Malolo members wanted to do. Domenick, Wendell and I literally wanted Angela out from day one. We just never really trusted her. We knew she was Chris's right-hand man. Chris is also strong in challenges, so I don't know that we would've gone for him right away. Chris was obviously gunning for Dom, but Dom, Wendell and I really did want Angela out. If Malolo wanted Chris out, we would've obviously gone with that, so Chris got really lucky. That rock draw was luck on his part. I kind of wish I would've drawn the white rock, but I didn't [laughs].
SK: Why did you guys want Angela out so badly?
MR: She just never really opened up to anybody. We knew she was Chris's right-hand man. We tried to have conversations with her and talk to her about her life. Now, I know she has gotten a divorce, but she didn't really want to talk about her life. She was in the military. She didn't want to talk about the military. You just tried to get to know her and she would be like, "I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to talk about it." It was really hard for people to form that bond and relationship with her. Hopefully she starts opening up, because maybe this vote she realized, "Oh, shit." She was so clueless, it was kind of comical. She had no clue what anyone was doing except herself. Hopefully this will open her eyes.
SK: But at the tribe swap, she showed lots of emotion about the original Naviti being separated. She talked about how much she cared for the group.
MR: Maybe that was her talking about her alliance of five. I think it was more just being worried about the swap and leaving fate in the hands of the Survivor gods. Maybe she was like, "Oh, crap. I really didn't do a good job with Dom, Wendell and Morgan, and now I have to be on a tribe with them." That's exactly what happened. Her alliance of five was Chris, Desiree, Chelsea and Sebastian.
SK: Who is the biggest underdog? Is there somebody viewers might be underestimating?
MR: I think Kellyn is underestimated. I think Wendell is underestimated. You haven't seen a lot of other people, so I don't want to give too much away. I love Kellyn. Wendell is hanging back in the shadows, but he's very smart and very strategic so it will be interesting to see his gameplay from here on out.
SK: How did you get on the show?
MR: I went to an open casting call in Cape Canaveral. I stood in line for probably six hours, and then you have one minute to talk. I'm a very loud, outgoing person. I can easily go for a minute straight. That was in April, and then in November 2016 they called me and said, "Hey, we'd love to fly you out to L.A. Can you be here in two days?" I said, "Hell yeah!" That was it.
SK: So, you were considered for a previous season before Ghost Island?
MR: Correct. I was originally considered for Season 35 [Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers]. I think I could've gone further in 35 potentially. On 36, this season has a lot of superfans, so everyone knows the game as well as I did. I love the season I'm on. There's some things involving the history of Survivor, and I love the people I was playing with. We're all so super close. A lot of people have already been to Orlando to visit me. Even though I went home early, I'm glad I got to play on a season of players that are actually playing the game. The Ghost Island theme, being a superfan, is amazing. It's great getting all these tweets from all these old players.