After 35 gruelling days of being starved, sleep-deprived and wrangling her original tribe to stay “Naviti strong,” Kellyn Bechtold joined a new tribe on “Survivor” — the jury.
The tears that streamed down her face as Jeff read the votes had already dried as she proudly stated, “Didn’t go down without a fight y’all. Made you vote twice at least!”
The reason for the second vote? Donathan’s paranoia. It was a close call as his “truth bombs” almost blew up his game.
All of the players’ mental faculties seemed to be crumbling out there. Wendell didn’t call for Probst after technically winning the individual immunity, Donathan admitted to Dom and Wendell that he was targeting them (after telling Kellyn not to say anything about the plan to blindside), and all the castaways not named Dom or Wendell are allowing themselves to be steamrolled.
Kellyn, who left the game with her head held high, talked to ET Canada about her game in Fiji, and her life afterwards.
How much scrambling did you attempt after losing the challenge, and finding out Donathan was ready to flip?
Donathan being ready to flip didn’t really matter because Dom and Wendell had the numbers without Donathan. So he was kind of an emotional side note actually, to my plan. I was working really, really hard. I knew nothing was going to happen unless Dom and Wendell broke up. Laurel had shut me out, so she wasn’t going to make a move. So I spent my entire last days trying to convince him, like taking Dom through every single potential jury member and how he wouldn’t beat Wendell. And then I sat with Wendell and went through every potential jury member about how he couldn’t beat Dom. I really was trying to plead the case, “You cannot take him because he’s the bigger threat.” The same story to both of them. I thought it was dangerous for both of them to go to the end together, and I thought that my case was, “Look, you can beat me in the end. You guys have been playing so strong. I’m just here, I won’t take any of the overall votes. If you take Laurel or Donathan, they may swing the Malolo vote. So my final scrambling was obviously pointless, but my final scrambling was trying to get Dom and Wendell to believe the other person was the bigger threat.
At what point in your game did “Naviti strong” become your mantra, and how much do you regret that strategy?
“Naviti Strong,” I know it looks like it was my mantra, but my mantra was to figure out the right time to no longer tell Dom and Wendell that I’m the mother of the purple spot. And I really felt like I wanted to make sure we could get down to that right around eight or seven, and I thought Donathan and Laurel and the Malolos would be able to switch while I still had the numbers and still could have control. So it worked for me. The Naviti thing, Dom and Wendell were coming to me, they were also saying, “We’re a purple Naviti family.” I like to say that Dom was the fake Naviti dad and I was the fake Naviti mom. It was best for our game at the time to stay strong in the numbers. Dom and Wendell just outplayed me, and they swooped in — Donathan and Laurel — while I had already voted out so many Malolos and I hadn’t even met Donathan and Laurel until the merge. I was just playing from behind. Dom and Wendell got a head start and they didn’t have to do dirty work in the pre-merge. Dom had voted out Bradley, that was it; Wendell had voted out zero people. So I came into the merge and I had done a lot of dirty work by then. That’s where I was trying to play the “Naviti strong” theme where Dom and Wendell wouldn’t see me as a threat, that I was gonna keep voting with them until I could make a move where I could hopefully pin it that Dom and Wendell — and Sebastian too — like, those strong boys. Like, me, Chelsea, Angela, Laurel, Donathan – we’re the weaklings. We should turn on them. But you know what, I was too late, and I waited too long.
What were the most frustrating things that you were made aware of, by watching the season play out on TV?
Oh that’s a great question. The #1 most frustrating thing to see on TV was that Laurel was told about Wendell and Dom’s idols outright. The rest of us had heard rumours, I was never 100-per-cent looped in, so the fact that she knew that early on that they had that much ammunition in their pocket, I don’t know where her math went wrong. I don’t know. That was really frustrating, and also to see that Laurel actually said the words, “I can beat those girls at the end and I can’t beat those boys at the end.” And yet she still wasn’t willing to come with us. I didn’t know that she was even considering it. She pretty much stonewalled me by giving me the cold shoulder. We were nice to each other, but she had cold-shouldered me with strategy, so I thought she just seriously thought she could beat them, and that’s why she wanted to keep going. The fact that she really thought she couldn’t and then still didn’t make the move is probably the #1 thing for me to watch. That’s frustrating.
How much did the lack of food and sleep affect your judgement and decision making?
Oh gosh, it’s so crazy. I don’t even know how we look… watching that final challenge, I tripped and fell, it felt like I fell from five feet up but I fell from, like, three inches off the ground. And when I stood up it took me a minute to figure out which direction do I even go. Like, that’s how disoriented I was, at least, that things will get turned around. When you’re in confessionals, talking, and they’d go, “Who are you working with?” And you try to list off who’s left in the game and you forget people’s names, even though you know them, it takes an extreme toll on being able to keep everything straight. And also physically, to keep up in those physical challenges, by the end there it was impossible for me. My legs were just giving out. My brain was giving out. I couldn’t get the puzzle together. It was really getting to me by the end.
What would you say was your defining moment out there?
In some weird way, my defining moment is my exit. I think the fact that the people who I had been working with… they told me that it was coming my way. Sebastian was pretty upset about it and I know he went and tried to ask Dom and Wendell, like, can we please keep her? But just to have that moment and to look back and to tell them, “Thank you, good luck, this was the time of my life,” that really sums up the “Survivor” experience for me. Yeah, I was bummed to be going home, but the fact that they took me out because they were a little bit scared of me feels really good, and the fact that I believe I went out with grace and honesty of respecting that they outplayed me, and also just sending love. There’s not enough of that out in the world, so I’m glad that was kind of my last moment on the game.
How aware were you of all the advantages, idols and fake idols in the game?
It’s crazy how much you don’t exactly remember, which is nuts. But I think I knew that Dom had an idol for sure. I mean, he had told me he had an idol but I’m not sure when I finally believed that he really did. And then I had just heard rumours that Wendell had an idol as well. So I was running under the assumption that Wendell might also have an idol but I did not know for a fact. They never showed them to me, obviously I’m not the smartest chick on the block, to ask people to show me idols [laughs]. So I did not know for sure that Wendell had one. I was 100-per-cent positive they had one between the two of them, so that’s what my strategy, was, “We’re running out of days to be able to vote them out. If one of them wins immunity and there’s at least one idol…” So that’s where I was. I definitely wasn’t looped in like Laurel was.
What did you learn about yourself playing Survivor?
I learned that I am tougher than I ever thought I could be, and I learned that sometimes I’m the one who holds myself back. I went in being really worried that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up, that I was going to be the weakest link. I was more… well, not athletic, but some version of that, than I ever thought I would be! And also had a great run strategy-wise, in my opinion, so I just did so much better than I thought maybe I would going in. I’m pretty proud of myself for making it 35 days.
Since playing Survivor, do you still follow your gut?
I never even realized I used that phrase so often [laughs]. But yeah, I think it’s your intuition. Hey, my gut is a lot more correct when I have eaten food in the last month, and I’ve showered and slept and brushed my teeth. My intuition is a lot better outside of the game of “Survivor”. But here’s the thing: you have to make decisions in life and take risks and it’s not always going to work out. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have made the move.
How villainous is Bradley in real life?
[Laughs] Is there a particular reason why people are asking me? No, Bradley is absolutely not a villain in real life. That was his character on the show, and yeah, Bradley does speak his mind. But there’s a difference between speaking your mind and just being an outright villain. Bradley and I have spent a lot of time together and he has been my #1 person outside of this game, inside the game while he was there and then outside this game. He is definitely a softie at heart, even though he may not want me to tell you that, a great listener and has been someone who has really given me a lot of confidence and perspective on life, and I’m super thankful my time with Bradley.
Now that you’ve played, fill in the blank: You shouldn’t come on “Survivor” if you can’t _______.
You shouldn’t play “Survivor” if you can’t put yourself in others’ shoes.