All’s fair in love, war … and Survivor? Though Michaela Bradshaw thought she had established a strong alliance with fellow Millennial Justin “Jay” Starrett, she was blindsided on the Wednesday, November 2, episode and sent packing. (Watch her reaction in the clip above!)
“I thought I was building loyalty with Jay, and I looked at us as a team,” Bradshaw exclusively tells Us Weekly. “We both have very similar backgrounds. We both wanted to win this for our families. For him to do that to me, it was just like, ‘Man, what happened to this personal rapport that we were building?’”
While it’s not the outcome she would have liked to see, the vacation-club sales rep understands the betrayal. “It forced me to remember this is a game where nobody wants you to win the million dollars, because they want it,” says Bradshaw. “So if they feel you have a shot of taking it from them, even if that’s not your intention and where your heart is, they’re going to take you out.”
Backstabbing aside, Bradshaw, 25, and Starrett, 27, have learned to bury the hatchet. “I talked to him not too long after we came back to America, and now we text,” she adds. “Both of us work in sales, so we don’t sit on the phone all day. We have other things to do. But even last night, he texted me. It’s all positive. I don’t take it personally. It was a game. He was trying to win. I don’t harbor any ill will toward him. We’ll be friends.”
The Texas-based Bradshaw talks more strategy with Us.
Us Weekly: What do you think made you such a threat?
Michaela Bradshaw: What made me a threat was the fact that I’m athletic. You don’t want somebody super athletic in the merge. I’m intelligent. I can articulate my intelligence, so that makes me convincing, if you will. I think those things put together make me a challenger. In Survivor, you don’t necessarily want to go up against your competition. You want to get them out of the game. I let my strengths show a little too much.
Us: Looking back, do you think voting you out was a smart move for Jay?
MB: In the short term, it looks like a smart move. But what Jay miscalculated was that, in the long term, he got rid of somebody who would have been loyal to him. He lost out on somebody that he could actually trust. But did he know that in the moment? No, because you’re playing Survivor and you’re always thinking,”Who is going to stab me in the back?” I think he shot himself in the foot.
Us: Did you have any idea whatsoever that Jay flipped on you?
MB: No, I had no inkling based on whispers around camp. My inkling was, in Survivor, votes are never ridiculously easy. If something is super easy that means there is a likelihood that something is going to go wrong. I knew that in my mind that if a Gen Xer didn’t go home, it was going to be me, because I was the only one that made sense. I just wanted to trust my team that a Gen Xer was going to go home.
Us: Your tribemate Hannah [Shapiro] wasn’t clued in on the decision to send you home, either. How do you think this will affect her game?
MB: It’s interesting how Hannah has been portrayed so far. She definitely has a supergoofy element to her, but Hannah is very bright. She just comes across in an awkward way. And you can only treat someone as though they are unimportant for so long. So the two tribals Hannah’s been through, she was left out until the very last minute, and then she was blindsided. If Hannah’s smart, she’ll be like, "You guys are not really trying to play with me,” and then play with that. Because the best thing for a smart person to appear to be in that game is dumb, because then nobody is watching you.
Us: Any regrets?
MB: Now that I got voted off, I wish I could go back and be like, “Let’s vote for Will [Wahl] or Jay.” But I can’t say I regret anything because I didn’t get the outcome that I wanted. It was an experience, I enjoyed it and I will always look back at it fondly. If I could still get that million, that would be great. You know, If Jeff [Probst] still wants to award me a million dollars for effort, I would happily take it. But no, I wouldn’t say I have regrets.
Us: Would you play again?
MB: I actually would. Whisper that in the wind for me. After I got voted out, the first thing was I wrote down what I did in the game and then opened up the journals that I had before the game and compared what I did to my actual plan of action. There are clear instances where I deviated from the plan, and those were the things that led to me looking like too much of a threat. If I just remember my plan and find a way to stick to it, it will go well for me.
Us: Who do you think is the biggest threat in the game?
MB: Based on what I’m seeing right now, I think the biggest physical threat is Ken [McNickle]. He’s a strong person that can communicate well. Zeke [Smith] is also a really big threat. Zeke knows where the idol is, he has allies on both teams and he’s going to do what he needs to do. He’s so smart and has so many resources already, that’s going to put him in a power position.
Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X airs on CBS Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET.
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