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Survivor 46’s Maria Shrime Gonzalez Defends Voting for Kenzie Petty to Win Over Ally Charlie Davis (Exclusive)

Maria Shrime Gonzalez is standing by her decision to crown Kenzie Petty as the Sole Survivor over her day one ally, Charlie Davis.

“So just to be clear, five of us voted for Kenzie,” Maria, 48, exclusively told Us Weekly on Thursday, May 23, after the season finale of Survivor 46. “I wasn’t the single vote that changed anything.”

Maria was one of five to select Kenzie, 29, as the winner while Charlie, 26, received three votes. If Maria had chosen Charlie, who she aligned with on day one, instead of Kenzie, there would have been a tie vote. In the result of a tie, third-place finisher Ben Katzman would have become the tiebreaker vote. (In Ben’s interview with Us, he revealed he would have voted for Charlie as the winner if he was in the position to vote.)

Throughout the season, many fans thought Maria would have been a sure vote for Charlie in the end due to their tight bond. However, she took fans — and Charlie — by surprise by going in the opposite direction.

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In the Survivor 46 aftershow, Maria shared that she was convinced to vote for Kenzie because of her determination in the final four fire-making challenge. When chatting with Us on Thursday, Maria shared that Kenzie’s response to Q Burdette’s question about what she would do with the $1 million prize spoke to her.

Survivor 46 Maria Defends Voting for Kenzie to Win Over Charlie
Maria Gonzalez, Kenzie Veurink, Charlie Davis Robert Voets/CBS (3)

“As a mother in my life, I have given up so many of my dreams. So many of the things that I wanted to do to be a mother, to be completely unselfish in my life,” Maria explained. “And going on the show, this was the first time in a long time that I was doing something selfishly for me. And when [Kenzie] said that she was going to be selfish, take this money, start her family, I’m like, it spoke to me on such a deeper level that just transcended the game.”

When asked whether Charlie could have done anything else to convince her to vote his way, Maria stood by her decision to vote for Kenzie.

Survivor 46 Maria Defends Voting for Kenzie to Win Over Charlie
Kenzie Veurink, Charlie Davis, and Maria Gonzalez CBS

“This is not a story about why I didn’t vote for Charlie. This is a story about why I voted for Kenzie,” she told Us. “Kenzie just had that personal moment for me, that was a painstaking decision. I was walking up those steps to vote saying Charlie, Kenzie each step, Charlie, Kenzie, Charlie, Kenzie. And ultimately, I chose to go with my heart in this decision, which was awarding a woman who wants to start a family the opportunity to do that.”

Social media has been abuzz about Maria’s decision and how she seemingly betrayed Charlie. But for Maria, she’s taking the perception of her move with a grain of salt.

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“Listen, me and the block button are, like, best friends,” she joked. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get so much hate for everything that I’ve done, so much that has been taken out of context or narratives that have been created about me. It’s hard to listen to. It’s hard to watch. I try to ignore as much of [it] as I can. I know who I am, the people who love me and are close to me know who I am. And so the rest don’t matter. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s hard to read some of that stuff.”

Survivor is available to stream on Paramount+.

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