Sarah Lacina may go down as one of the greatest Survivor winners ever after her Game Changers performance, and with good reason: She found a way to make every person feel like they were good with her, both before and after she made huge moves that stabbed apparent allies in the back. She was aggressive when she needed to be, and also laid back enough to make people think that she wasn’t that aggressive until after they were gone.
It was pretty clear after the finale last night that this was a Survivor interview that would be a heck of a lot of fun to do, and Sarah didn’t disappoint us.
CarterMatt – Has it started to settle in now that you’ve won, or is that something that’ll happen when you’re back home?
Sarah Lacina – Since last night, I really haven’t had a chance to breathe. I don’t know if it’s really hit 100% yet. Maybe once that check is in my back account (laughs).
When you left Fiji, did you feel confident you had it won?
Like 90%, but 90% is not good enough when there’s a million dollars at stake. You want to be SO sure that you won, because if you’re not you are setting yourself up for the biggest disappointment ever.
So in the time between when the show was filming and today, did you ever start to have doubts that maybe this wasn’t going to work out for you?
One minute, I would go ‘oh man, I think I won,’ but then another I’d be freaking out, thinking I didn’t win because someone’s mad at me or someone said something in exit press. There was just no way to [know] until the votes were read.
What was the biggest thing you learned about yourself following Cagayan leading into this season?
I didn’t separate real life from the game. I went in there thinking ‘you need to treat people the way you would treat them in real life.’ That is not an effective strategy when you think about where Survivor is today. You have to sit there and adapt and say that this isn’t real life, that you have to be willing to turn on people. Otherwise, you’re probably not going to win.
I understand one of your fears in doing that was probably just the perception of you as a police officer and the trust you need for that job, but I feel like everyone at work is pretty proud of you.
Oh, for sure. My co-workers have totally enjoyed the season. Every Thursday when I come in I go to the lieutenant’s office and give him the rundown of this happened, that this is what you didn’t see, or this is what you did see. They’re super-proud and they’ve been reaching out. I haven’t had a chance to talk with many of them yet, but they’ve been reaching out and the support’s been awesome.
One of the funniest things about this season as of late is the story of Zeke’s jacket. It’s been brought up in exit interviews, and it was even brought up on the show! Was that something you ever thought of as this big deal out there, or were you just cold and liked the jacket?
He literally gave me that jacket like three days in. At that time it was cold. The first night I felt bad and I tried to give it back and he was like ‘no.’ Over time, I was just like ‘well this is my jacket’ (laughs). The jacket had a name, and its name was Lucy. Sometimes he would wear Lucy, but Lucy was mine.
I’m just curious from your perspective. What did you think was your best move?
It’s hard to say, but the one that saved me was getting the Legacy Advantage. As you saw last night, had I not had the Legacy Advantage I would have gone home at six. That saved my life in the game.
While you’re out there, what is the process like of trying to manage all of the different relationships? I think one of the things that you did best is that everyone seemed to really trust you, and nobody ever compared notes on what you were saying.
It was just checking in and reassuring people. Trying to make them feel as comfortable as possible because the more comfortable they feel, the less they’re ever going to question anything that I was doing. If someone ever questioned me about [talking to someone else], I would make sure to explain why I did that so there was never any doubt. I just worked to make sure I wouldn’t look guilty if I was caught doing something I shouldn’t be doing. I wouldn’t give anyone a reason to wonder if I was up to no good. Someone would say ‘why are you talking with Troyzan,’ and I would say ‘he was seeing if he had a shot and I would say no.’
What I would often do was check up on other people. In Cagayan, I would never check up on Tony’s stories. I just took what he said and believed it, because he would constantly reassure me and pound it into my head that this is the way it was. That was what I would do, too. That was the model that I watched play, and I wanted to do it firsthand.
Since you brought up Tony, would you have wanted to work with him had you had the opportunity?
For sure. I can’t say that I would have never voted him out, but he can’t say that he never would have voted me out. We definitely would have worked together for as long as we could. We wouldn’t have targeted each other right away, I’m confident in that.
What did you think about the way that the jury was handled last night? Do you think that this was a great change to the game?
I liked the new format. For example, if someone doesn’t like you, they don’t have to ask you a question. This way, Debbie obviously didn’t want to ask me any questions. In the old way, I wouldn’t have had a chance to defend myself. With this format, it takes away some of the power from the jury and gives us a chance to showcase our game better.
Now that you’ve won and you’ve cemented your legacy, is there a desire to go out and do this again?
I don’t want to play anymore. I want a break where I’m not thinking about Survivor – I’ve thought about it every single day since Cagayan.
A year from now if the right opportunity presents itself and I’m supported by my family and my work [maybe I’ll go back] — I’m not quitting my job or anything. If I’m meant to go back, I’ll go back.
Further Survivor finale coverage
If you do want to get some other CarterMatt exit interviews from the finale, plus some reviews from the show and a look ahead to next season, head over to the link here. (Photo: CBS.)