Thirty-eight year old preschool teacher Gretchen Cordy’s outdoor skills made her a favorite to win ”Survivor.” But when she was voted off by a secret island alliance, the ex Air Force survival instructor learned that it takes a lot more than hands-on skills to endure the island. Now she tells EW.com about the even trickier strategists she has since faced back home.
Did you know about the alliance?
Even though they denied it, I was pretty sure it was going on. Sean had kind of seen it work on Dirk. So he clued us in on who was working together.
Richard said you were a threat.
Yeah, I heard Rudy said that too. If I’m gonna be voted off for any reason, boy, that’s as good as any. That’s a compliment, I think.
Is there any way to play fair and win?
I don’t think so. I’m not saying that the whole alliance thing was wrong. I gave a lot of thought [to forming an alliance]. I just kept thinking, Is it worth it? Is the money worth it? Like, if I had to stab Jenna in the back to get it?
Why do you think you lost?
It’s more of a game than I prepared myself for. I thought maybe it would have more to do with survival skills — as in keeping yourself alive. But it took a different kind of survival skills. Social skills. I think I have social skills, but not the kind that help win you a million dollars. Obviously.
What happens right after you get the boot?
Initially, you walk down a path; it’s really dark. [Later] they take you to a table, and while you’re eating your meal, a psychiatrist debriefs you. I [stayed] in a tent right there on the production site that night. I couldn’t sleep at all. I was just running everything through my mind, and trying to come back to reality. From what I understand, I’m not the only person. A lot of people had trouble sleeping the night [they were voted off].
Anything you wish you hadn’t done, or that hadn’t been shown?
One of the things I [said] was that I had drank a fifth of whiskey when I was 14. Which was an isolated incident. And I got so sick, I can’t even smell whiskey now. But Kelly mentioned that in one of her interviews. So, to have my 14 year old son see that…
Do you feel you were you portrayed fairly?
As fair as they can be. You’re never going to see a person’s whole character. Like, just by watching nobody knows that Greg is so smart or has so much control. He just seems like a loose wire with a coconut phone.
What’s it like to suddenly be famous?
When I go to the store in my hometown, I see people pointing. Two or three people have come up to me and said, ”Oh, you’re Gretchen from ‘Survivor.”’ Which I don’t mind. I’d rather have them come up [to me] than point. It gives you the idea that it’s not so great being famous. You know a lot of people that were on the show have changed their phone numbers. A couple people have moved.
What kind of ploys do people use to get you to tell them who wins?
Lots of radio stations have called the house. Some of them try tricky measures. One offered my son money and bikes to try to get him to say what he knew.
Is there anyone you’re rooting for?
Probably Greg. I’d like to see him win. He’s so smart.