Survivor: Winners at War - Past Winners Share Survivor Secrets
The cast members of Survivor: Winners at War each share a secret about their winning season.
With Survivor filming for seasons 41 and 42 indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EW is reaching back into the reality show’s past. We sent a Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire to a batch of former players to fill out with their thoughts about their time on the show as well as updates on what they’ve been up to since. Each weekday, EW will post the answers from a different player.
BREAKING NEWS: Playing Survivor is hard. But what doesn’t get talked about as often is how difficult it can be for contestants who didn’t fare well in the game after the season is over. Whether humiliated with how they were portrayed to a national television audience or upset about missteps in the game, it can often take years for players to recover from the experience.
Lindsey Richter was one such player who said some things she regretted and made some moves she regretted on Survivor: Africa, and then had trouble living with those regrets upon returning to the United States after coming in 11th place on season 3. But she finally found peace — and in a very unlikely place. We caught up with Lindsey, who gave us the full scoop on her adventure in Africa, as well as her journey back home ever since.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you’ve been up to since appearing on Survivor.
LINDSEY RICHTER: Well, let's see. I moved to L.A. for Survivor and got eaten alive by the energy and environment in L.A. The ridicule and embarrassment I felt after being on Survivor was devastating to me. I sank pretty low in L.A. and felt very lost about what to do next in my life. Then I met a pro mountain biker at a race a year after my show aired. We got married a year later and traveled the globe over the next decade racing and promoting mountain biking.
I became his marketing manager and helped his career beyond racing. We started a kid's race team and brought them around the country to teach them life lessons on the road. I learned a lot about myself and my ability to persevere through traveling and mountain biking. I noticed a void in the participation of women in mountain biking, so I started a company called Ladies AllRide mountain bike skills to help get more women involved in the sport. Now, I run a series of mountain bike skills camps across the globe. I inspire women to face fears, change negative, fear-based thoughts to positive thoughts, and I help them believe in themselves when they realize they're capable of more than they thought possible. All through mountain biking!
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
Honestly, I'm not proud of much from the show. I guess I'm proud that I got on the show when it was new. Being an "Old School" Survivor player is something to be proud of. We had no blueprint [as to] how to play the game. Many of us on my season hadn't even watched it until we got on it. We had to rent the DVDs to see what we were getting ourselves into.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
My biggest regret is obviously not making it further in the show. Being voted off sixth was really devastating for me. I thought it was a game for athleticism and I was sure I would excel in that arena. Turns out it's about manipulating and getting RID of the strong athletes. I regret being so emotional, loud-mouthed, and mean at times. I wish I would have aligned with the older people in my tribe because they were smarter and would have been better allies.
What’s something that will blow fans’ minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
I got sick on episode 3, I think. They showed me on the ground, but didn't show that my kidneys were going into failure mode from dehydration and they put me in a van on an IV drip for four hours.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
I was definitely shown as the athlete/emotional wreck. My dream was to be showcased for my strength and yet I was showcased for my weaknesses. I did what I did and said what I said, so I can't blame editing.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there?
After spending six weeks in Kenya, Africa, it was really shocking adjusting back into regular society. I wasn't sure what to do with myself. I had to take a long hard look at what I wanted to do with my life. I had no clue. It felt weird going back to advertising when everyone knew me from the show. It was definitely a culture shock after being in Africa. It made me realize what's important in life and how Americans are so focused on material things since I was just in a place where people have next to nothing and make it work. Africa is a magical place and it changed my life being there.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
Yes! When I watched episode 1 and the first thing out of my mouth on national TV was: "OMG, I just started my period. No wonder I have cramps!" I was devastated and regretted every second of it. Then when I was publicly talked about in a negative way, I regretted being on the show.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
From my show, I still talk to Lex and Ethan. Lex and his wife Kelly became two of my best friends and have become family to me over the past 20 years. They opened the ceremony at my wedding, then 15 years later helped me through a painful divorce. Ethan and I have always kept in touch because we share a passion for public speaking and getting people involved with sports to help enhance their lives. Ethan is always sending me ideas and ways he thinks I can get in front of a more mainstream audience for my cause with mountain biking, and I'm always trying to get Ethan a good mountain bike so we can ride together.
Do you still watch Survivor and, if so, what’s your favorite season you were not on and why?
I do not watch Survivor and never did again after the show after mine. Speaking of that show, I became really good friends with Gabriel from season 4. He's a gem.
Who’s one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
I just wish I had a cast I bonded with better. I don't really know any other players so I can't answer that.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
I guess I wish strong athletes would have gained points for immunity based on performance in challenges. Other than that, it's a crazy show that is really a social experiment. It's not easy to put yourself out there like we did, but I can't say I would change much. It's a game of strategy, chance, luck, and grit.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
I might play again. Depends on the situation.