After her elimination from ‘Survivor,’ Stephanie tells HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY why she was ‘100%’ certain she’d be the one to go, how come she had NO hope of changing anyone’s minds and more!
Stephanie Johnson was the fifth person eliminated on Survivor: Ghost Island, and when her name was read unanimously at tribal council, she was not surprised. As viewers, we saw the five-person alliance of Desiree Afuye, Chelsea Townsend, Kellyn Bechtold, Bradley Kleihege and Sebastian Noel struggle to decide between Stephanie, Michael Yerger and Jenna Bowman, but at camp, Stephanie knew it would be her all along. “I was away from everybody for 24 hours because I was on Ghost Island,” she explains to HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. “I came back and I didn’t have an advantage, so I didn’t have a lot to play with. When I tried to approach Jenna and Michael, Jenna wouldn’t look me in the eye and Michael didn’t have anything to strategize with or didn’t want to, and that’s very un-Michael-like. So I knew immediately that they’d been able to build bonds or throw my name under the bus or whatever they had to do. They had 24 hours of socialization that I didn’t have. I think that worked to their advantage and my disadvantage.”
A popular game plan for castaways on the bottom of the totem pole on Survivor is to lie about having an idol or some other advantage to scare the majority alliance into switching their vote, but Stephanie says she didn’t even have a fighting chance to play that card. “I had a few ideas of things I thought about that maybe Jenna, Michael and I could pull off, but as soon as I started talking to them, I could tell then that I wouldn’t get anything,” she reveals. “They were aloof. They weren’t wanting to work with me anymore. So I knew immediately that none of my ideas were going to work becuase I needed their loyalty to make that happen. So it turned completely individual.”
Michael used his idol last week, which meant there was another one hidden at camp. We didn’t see you, Michael or Jenna looking, though. What’s the deal? I was out there looking by myself as much as I could, but I was away for that 24 hour time period, and there was only two dys between Brendan and myself being voted out. So I only had the morning after Brendan’s elimination and the time between immunity and tribal. So during that time period, I was absolutely out there looking and searching over and under and in everything, but there wasn’t an idol [I could find].
Is there anything you wish you could’ve done differently, or do you think it was simply bad luck with the tribe swap for you? I really think that I got a lot of bad luck! There’s always a coulda, woulda, shoulda, but I think ultimately, you have to have luck on your side. I had NOTHING!! The Survivor gods hated me or something. It was like one thing after the next. All I needed was a couple of breaks and I really feel like I could’ve made it far.
What did you find most shocking while playing the game as opposed to watching on TV? I was really shocked at how well I did with very little food. We were eating two tablespoons of rice a day, max, because we didn’t have anything else, and a handful of coconut. We didn’t have fish or anything. Nobody could catch anything. So really, I was living off the rice and water, but I felt really good. I had a lot of mental clarity. It was really surprising to me, at day 14, how much energy I still had.
You said you wanted to play to make your kids proud — do you think you did that? I didn’t know if I had and last night, I still think I had that lingering fear. I knew that the game kind of taught me that I was enough for my kids, but there was still a sense of disappointment or failure. My kids didn’t know the results until last night, so after we were done watching it, my eight-year-old picked up on the act that I had a lot of conversations about failing my kids, and he wrapped me up in his arms and said he was so proud of me. That moment made it all okay. Just that one moment. Because he did it on his own, and of course, I’m bawling my eyes out — they’re crying, I’m crying, everyone’s kind of a hot mess, but in that moment it was all okay.