On Monday night, sitting next to Chrissy and Mark in the final Tribal, Shay had a chance to plead her case as to why she deserved to be crowned Sole Survivor. But after a gruelling 47 days, Shay wasn’t prepared for what was waiting for her.
“I remember getting barked at a lot,” she said, laughing, “I tried to make people realise playing from the bottom is a huge Survivor trait, and managing to get to the final three when no one wanted you there, I wanted to hype on that.”
But the biggest question Shay got again and again from the Jury was what “big moves” did she make.
“I was stuck for an answer because I was like, I couldn’t do any big moves because all of you in the majority were too comfortable and wouldn’t listen to any of my pitches! So I looked like an idiot.”
Early on in the game, Shay said both she and her partner Ben were targeted as the biggest physical threats. And rightfully so after both showcased their strength and capacity for endurance. But they were also targeted specifically by those who would later make up the majority alliance, hoping to shake off the targets on their own backs for being physical threats. Unfortunately, that meant Shay never had a chance at working with that majority.
“It made it extremely difficult to do anything, even sleep at night because there would just be conversations going on, people would go away and chat and I couldn’t get a foot in the door.
“It was frustrating because it was predictable, the majority is sitting there, coasting through quite comfortably picking off who’s next,” she said. “It was impossible to break that comfort and I understand it. If you’re in a comfortable majority and you’re able to sit there and pick off people why would you want to be swayed by someone in a majority to change it up?”
Being frozen out of working with the majority also meant Shay’s “Survivor resume” was limited to the moves she made with the misfits alliance later in the game, as well as the many solo achievements including her individual immunity wins and her comeback from Purgatory.
“It’s funny because basically they were saying ‘You don’t deserve to be here’ but they also kept saying ‘Shay’s not part of the top five plans, top four plans’. But I made it there. SO isn’t that, in itself, a pretty big move?
“For some reason you couldn’t get rid of me, but you really didn’t want me there at the end! Must be a threat of some sort.”
Though it was a massive achievement to make it through to the final tribal, Shay admitted she almost envied Josh and KJ’s exits.
“They didn’t have to go through the torture of final Tribal, just being wiped out. It was quite painful to be on the receiving end of, and I did want it to end on a positive note.
“Chrissy and I just went off laughing. We left that Tribal and, as we headed back — out of the game — we just sat next to each other laughing saying ‘Oh my gosh, we’re such losers’. Like, we got annihilated. Absolutely crucified in front of everybody!”
At the time, Shay was unsure if she even wanted to relive the final Tribal, but sitting down to watch it on Monday night she saw how proud her friends and family were of how far she made it in the game.
“And it’s good to sit back and celebrate Mark’s win because he so deserved it. His moves were huge… honestly, A-grade game. It was just unfortunate to not catch a single vote,” she added, laughing.
Watching the season back Shay realised, despite being completely prepared physically, there was one necessary skill she was lacking from the start.
“I’m genuinely not someone who can lie! I don’t have any of those bones in my body. I don’t have the ability, so thinking I could just turn up in the game and switch that on, I was kidding myself!
“I would love to go back on another day, another year,” she said of a return to Survivor, “and definitely get some acting classes under my belt and pretend I’m the same ol’ Shay, but play a sneaky game. It would definitely take some good lessons.”
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