After a lot of talk about "blindsides" at tribal council, Katie Hanson became the seventh player out of Survivor: Philippines on Wednesday night's episode.
The 22-year-old former Miss Delaware from Newark, Del., had made an all-female alliance with tribemates Dana Lambert and Sarah Dawson. But she was the last one remaining after Lambert left due to illness and Dawson was subsequently voted out in last week's episode.
Katie was seen struggling in the challenges and, despite trying to get her tribe to vote out returning player Jonathan Penner, was sent home. The episode's reward challenge also featured a first, wherein Katie's tribe, led by Penner, agreed to give all their rice to the other tribe -- thereby getting the reward of a huge meal and letters from family and friends -- in exchange for a forfeit by the other tribe.
The day after her elimination episode aired, Katie talked to The Hollywood Reporter about when she knew she was getting voted out, how the game would have changed had Dana not been forced to quit and why she thinks host Jeff Probst was too hard on her.
The Hollywood Reporter: Despite your best efforts to get Penner voted out, your tribe chose to send you home. Were you surprised?
Katie Hanson: I really thought I did a great job at convincing them. Hello -- it only makes sense to get rid of him. What were they thinking? It seemed like they were buying what I was selling them. But before Jeff turned around the first vote, I saw the "K", and I knew it was definitely me. At that point, I was like, all right, I'm ready, let's get this over with. I was so hungry.
THR: Looking back, do you think it was a mistake for the tribes to make the bargain during the challenge?
Katie: Sitting there, looking at it, it was the best idea ever. Looking at it from a standpoint now that there is no food and no guarantee to get any, it probably wasn't the best idea. But for me and just being voted out and to get the letters from home and being full -- it was one of the best meals ever. So I made out pretty well. If I had stayed in the game, it would not have been the best decision.
THR: You seemed to struggle in the challenges, and Jeff Probst pointed that out a lot. Did that bother you?
Katie: I was watching the episodes with my mom, and she was like, What's his problem with you? I don't know because he could have called out plenty of other people. In last week's episode, Jeff [Kent] was taking heat and he couldn't swallow his pride and admit he couldn't do the ax well [to chop a block of wood]. That could have saved us time; Penner had to do it for him. [Probst] really gave it to me. Ok , yeah, so I didn't catch the ball, but the balls weren't even coming in my direction. They all went to Carter [Williams, who also performed poorly in the challenge]. He could have focused his attention on how terrible Carter did. I feel like he was trying to warp their minds that I sucked.
THR: Do you think it played a role in your being voted out?
Katie: I think it definitely made them look at me and say, Wow, she's not really pulling her weight. But I did terrible in last week's episode. I think it was pretty obvious I didn't help them do well.
THR: What was the hardest thing about being on Survivor?
Katie: For me, I was dreading every challenge. After last week, where I did absolutely horrible, I didn't even want to go to the challenges. My brain just started to believe, "I can't do this." And when you tell yourself you can't, you really can't. That's the worst part. It made me so nervous. Also the weather conditions -- it was very depressing; you can't dry off, you're freezing. It's like, OK, where's the sun? It was pretty tough -- a lot of wear and tear on the body.
THR: Do you have any regrets?
Katie: The only thing that I think is that it made me sad when Dana left. I wish she hadn't gotten sick. It goes to show, anyone can win this game; it depends on the hand you're dealt. It's really a game of luck, and unfortunately luck was not on my side. But I was lucky and blessed to be able to participate on the show.
THR: Would things have turned out differently for you if Dana hadn't left the game?
Katie: One hundred percent it would have been different. Once Penner saw the girls' strength, he would have done what he had to do to stick it out with us instead of Jeff [Kent], and we would have gotten rid of Jeff next. It's a shame she got sick because things would have been a lot different.
THR: What are you doing now?
Katie: I'm in my last semester of school, and I graduate in winter. My goal is to be a Delaware state trooper. I guess in a way a benefit of the show, as far as my love life is concerned, I'm single and it was a great opportunity to get close with someone and potentially meet someone. That didn't happen. What's next for me -- a reality dating show?
THR: Would you complete on Survivor again if asked?
Katie: It was an excellent experience. It taught me a lot about myself and really shaped me. I am so grateful to be given the opportunity. I'll always be part of Season 25, and I have a new Survivor family. I would 100 percent absolutely go out there and do it again.