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Survivor: Gabon — Susie’s Second-Place Finish

December 23, 2008 11:00 AM by Ryan Haidet

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After flipping on the Onion Alliance, Susie Smith changed the outcome of Survivor: Gabon completely. She managed to work her way into the final three coming just one vote away from winning the $1 million prize (yup, she got three votes against Bob‘s winning four). On the red carpet following the Survivor finale in Los Angeles, Susie spoke with RealityTVMagazine.com about her game, including why she deserved the three votes she got, what her family thought of watching her on TV, what she plans to do with her $100,000 second-place prize money and why she stayed in the bath tub at the Survivor auction for such a short amount of time. (Look in the article for a video about the new Survivor: Tocantins.

“I know I made it to the final three because I didn’t disrespect Crystal or Kenny or Matty or Sugar or Bob,” Susie, a 48-year-old hairdresser from Charles City, Iowa, said. “I didn’t disrespect anybody, so I was able to gain that from them and I think that’s why they gave me their vote. I think the reason Bob got the other votes was more because of loyalty — Kotas. I love Bob, but Bob flew under the radar like I did. It was late in the game when he started making strategic moves — just like I did. We were just the Indians, ‘We’ll do the work, you guys tell us what to do, ’cause you guys are young and you think you know what you’re doing.’ I shouldn’t have to defend it, I deserved it. I think it’s comical that some people went, ‘Uhhh, why would I get three?’ C’mon. You know what, I did my game the way I was supposed to play it and I’m sorry they’re disappointed.”

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Susie said her social skills played a big role in getting to the end of the game even though she wasn’t the most physical force in Gabon. In fact, when she was a member of the Fang tribe, she was ranked as the least important member. “This game isn’t all about physicality, this game is about your patience and your tolerance toward personalities. Who do you let roll off your back? Who do you not let roll off your back? Take Crystal. I love her to death. She’s great. Very direct. Aggressive. But you have to know how to take that personality. In a normal situation, (with) a really really really good friend I would probably say something to her. But in general, when you’re talking to people you should never say anything rude to them. I would rather just walk away and not say anything. I don’t have to battle with her. And that’s OK. I was like that with Randy. Every once in a while, Randy kind of made me mad, but I didn’t want to disrespect him, I think he did that on his own. So I deserved it, I don’t care what people say.”

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Another one of those personalities she had to deal with was Corinne. And when Susie made it openly known she was going to cast a ballot against Gabon’s nastiest villain, she was ready to tread the turbulent waters she had stirred up because she knew Corinne was upset. “I did, because she actually went to talk to Marcus and Charlie and I knew she was going to do that. I knew I was going to be next. Then when I told her that, I said, ‘Oh Corinne, you guys aren’t talking to me you’re not telling me who you want to vote for.’ So I knew then she was going to go talk to them. And when she did, I said, ‘Oh my God, this is going to help save me a little bit.’ And it did, it worked perfectly. When I heard her talk like that, I didn’t take it to heart. This is a game.”

Susie said they talked after the game and told Corinne that she didn’t take any of her words to heart. She said that Corinne responded by saying, ‘Oh I just love you Susie.’

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Not only did Susie have to deal with the nasty comments from the other castaways, but her son had to hear them too. “He didn’t like watching Randy say what he said to me — he was really upset about that. I just kept telling him, ‘It’s just a game, hon. Don’t take anything to heart. I’m above that.’ … With Trent, he didn’t like that when Corinne talked to me like that, too.” But Susie says that she thinks Corinne isn’t really as nasty as she seems. “I knew that Corinne had a heart, because when we got to the hotel (the weekend of the finale), she came right up to my son and she goes, ‘Trent, I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to say that about your mom. I would never stab her in the face.’ Right then I seen her and I’m like, ‘She’s not that way.’ She’s putting up a huge wall.”

Susie said her biggest move came when she turned on the Onion Alliance and voted off Marcus. “Bob’s deserving, but if I would have went up with Marcus and Randy — they’re deserving too. I’m not going to say that none of them were. Every one of them from Michelle to Bob — we were all deserving. The game’s just interesting. It is shocking to see Bob and I showing up at the end. Who would of thought Bob and I were going to be up there? I kept telling Bob when we were on Kota, ‘Bob, I’m telling you, we’re on the chopping block — we’re older. They’re going to take us out. Randy’s already befriended Marcus and Charlie. We’re out, so we need to do something.’ I think Bob was so loyal that he believed Marcus and Charlie and Randy that he didn’t flip. I know he was disappointed when I flopped. Afterward he goes, ‘Susie, you took out my biggest ally.’ It really is uncomfortable when you’re in those moments because your emotions do play a part in that.”

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But it’s that move to swap alliances that she said took her farther in the game. “I think I would’ve been voted off pretty quick. I don’t think I would’ve made it as far with Bob and Randy because I know that Marcus was very aligned with Charlie — and they’re physically stronger. Obviously Marcus has an IQ of 138 and Randy right next door to him. I think it was just because of my tolerance and knowing when to flip. I had to do that to Marcus, but I felt horrible.”

It seemed that the major move she made to switch alliances took a lot of thought — much unlike the decision to bail out of the bath she had purchased at the Survivor auction. “I was in there for at least 30 minutes,” Susie said. “That water was very hot and then they tried to cool it down for me and the water was still jacuzzi water — it was that hot. So I could only hack it for like 30 minutes and I had to get out. You know, TV. They made it look like I was only in there two minutes and I was in there probably 30 minutes.”

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Having made it to the end of the game, Susie got to experience everything Survivor had to offer from winning two immunity challenges to spending time on Exile Island. “You’re there for a full two nights, a full two days and a half. I made my own fire out there. I cooked my own rice, I washed my own laundry — there’s no detergent or anything like that. But you boil the water and you wash your clothes.” She said staying on Exile helped her realize that she can do so many things on her own. “I can do OK. And I love my spouse, my husband, but if he was to leave me tomorrow, believe me, I’m gonna be OK. So that’s what I learned being there two and a half days — I will survive. I can make it, not a problem.”

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With the holiday right around the corner, Susie says her $100,000 prize may be going toward a gift that her son has been asking for. “He wants a drum set — he’s a drummer. He may be getting it, I don’t know.” But spending the money on herself is a different story. “I don’t know, I’m not one to buy anything for myself. Although I did say I wanted a Bowflex (laughs), so I guess I can buy one now. I’m not a big spender. It’s just like Bob winning the $1 million and then the fan favorite. What’s he gonna do, because he doesn’t spend money either. I’m hoping I can pamper myself a little bit more. One thing I told my husband, I said, ‘I would really always love to have like a couple thousand dollars in my checking account and I never do’ — it’s a paycheck by paycheck deal. … But now I can have money in there so that if we’re with family or we’re doing something, ‘Hey I can get that.’”

For anybody who is interested in taking on Survivor, Susie has this advice. “You have to really play your own game. When you come in, I don’t think you should talk a lot — assess the situation. Although I will say that you should immediately make alliances. Only because if you don’t, then you never have numbers — never. So if you make an alliance, people remember that. Like in the beginning, I was aligned with Crystal, Kenny and Matty. I knew already we had numbers.”

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With her Survivor experience behind her, Susie is ready to move on to the next chapter of her life. “I’m just going to go back home and work, probably. I’m going to have my windows open — my doors are open. If I can help with doing some mentoring or somebody wants to listen to me talk. — I really want to get my message across about what it means to try. You are going to fail, you are going to stumble. But trying is everything, you can never change your life unless you try.”

Images from the red carpet taken by Ryan Haidet at the Survivor: Gabon finale in Los Angeles on Sunday, December 14.

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Other images courtesy of Jeffrey R. Staab and Monty Brinton/CBS.

- Read an exclusive interview with fifth-place finisher Kenny Hoang.

- Read an exclusive interview with fourth-place finisher Matty Whitmore.

- Read an exclusive interview with third-place finisher Jessica “Sugar” Kiper.

For other great Survivor news, please feel free to check out SirLinksALot: Survivor Gabon. Discuss on our reality TV message boards. You can also read more about each of this season’s contestants by checking out our Survivor bios page.

And stay tuned for coverage of Survivor: Tocantins — The Brazilian Highlands, which premieres on CBS in February. Check out the video below!

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHadtcxkpR8]

Topics: CBS Reality TV Shows, Survivor, Survivor Videos |

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