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Survivor’s Michelle Schubert Opens Up About Her ‘Fatal Mistake’ in the Game

Silence isn’t golden on Survivor. A lesson season 33’s latest castoff, Michelle Schubert, learned the hard way.

Before the merge, she had successfully manipulated her fellow tribe members and had engineered blindsides. But when Gen X–ers and millennials came together, she grew quiet.

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“My fatal mistake in the game was at the merge when my closest alliance members, Jay [Starrett] and Will [Wahl], came to me and said, ‘Michelle, certain Gen X–ers heard that you’re friends with everybody and you strategize too much. You control everybody. Just stop for now,’” Schubert tells Us Weekly. “In my sleep-deprived mind I said, ‘That sounds right. I’ll sit back for a vote or two and not control and then kick it into gear.’”

Michelle Schubert Monty Brinton/CBS Entertainment

But cutting off communication had its consequences. “I go dark and now the people I had been strategizing with think I’m not aligned with them anymore,” says the 28-year-old. “You stop talking and you go home.”

The Washington-based missionary recruiter shares more with Us.

Us Weekly: Your alliance wanted to vote out  fellow millennial Adam Klein, which you said wasn’t strategic. Why didn’t you convince them to vote differently? 

Michelle Schubert: Yeah, it was a personal move! I was not a fan of that. I didn’t like the idea but, of course, I went along with it. I felt like I didn’t have any other choice. If I jumped up then, I proved them right that I strategize too much and have to control the game. If I don’t, we make a stupid move. I felt like I was in a lose-lose situation. 

Us: Are the millennials doomed if they keep voting based on personal issues?

MS: Unfortunately. It’s definitely possible. Millennials are known for making choices based on impulse. That was one vote that I felt like showed how certain millennials wanted to play the game. 

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Us: Taylor Stocker is all about personal votes and getting revenge. Why isn’t he concerned with strategy?

MS: He’s out there to have fun and he’s having fun. He’s doing the things that he wants to do rather than what might be best for his game.

Us: Did you know he was stealing the tribe’s food?

MS: No, I did not. We all knew he was eating the food in the middle of the night, but nobody knew he was putting it into a jar and running off with it. 

Us: What went through your head when you saw the votes against you?

MS: This was the one vote that I wasn’t the one looking the person in the eye saying, “Hey, this is the person we’re voting.” I wasn’t the one making the deals. So I didn’t feel good going into tribal council, not even knowing who is supposed to be voting with me. The one person I knew who was supposed to be voting with me was Chris [Hammons], and mid–tribal council I started to say something and he interrupted and disagreed. It was something about trust. I was like, “Somebody that’s supposed to vote with me is calling me a liar. That’s not a good sign.” As soon as I saw my name I thought, All right. This is it.

Us: Who do you think is the biggest threat in the game?

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MS: Jay. He’s strategic, he has an idol and he’s likable. If he goes to the end, I don’t know who could give him a run for his money there.

Us: But do you think now that some millennials have sided with Gen X and they have the numbers, a Gen X–er will take home the million?

MS: [Laughs] Oh man. Well, if millennials keep making these emotional moves, then I might have to go with a Gen X–er.

Us: Going back to the immunity challenge, can you describe the pain that went through you while you were holding your arms up? 

MS: I had a bug bite that I had an allergic reaction to on my ankle. My ankle was huge and swollen and I couldn’t walk very well on it. The was the one day — day 23 — that I cried. As we were walking into the immunity challenge, I had tears on my face because I realized this was the first individual immunity challenge and I could barely walk. Of course, we had to stand on our toes on this little ledge, which takes a lot of ankle strength. Not only is it your arms, your back, your deltoids, your neck — everything is really tensed up. You’re holding a bar above your head and then you have to keep this balance and stay on your toes. Altogether it was painful. 

Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X airs on CBS Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET. 

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