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She was sooooooo close. Just one vote stood between Kelly Wiglesworth and the million dollars at the end of Survivor’s very first season. Over 50 million people watched her lose out to Richard Hatch.
So when Kelly and I spoke out on location for her return on Survivor: Cambodia—Second Chance, I had to know: How often does she relive that one vote loss? “I relived that losing vote quite a bit in the first year or two,” says Wiglesworth. “But as the years have gone by, not so much. But every once in a while I still think about it. It’s still there. Maybe once a year, I’d say.”
Shockingly, Wiglesworth did not even watch her history-making season when it aired 15 years ago. “I watched the first [episode] of my season in 2000 with my mom,” she says. “And then I obviously watched the finale at CBS. But the whole 11 episodes in between I never watched until a few years ago.”
And what was that experience like for her? “It was difficult watching,” says the runner-up. “It’s always difficult to relive the end. The final episode is difficult to rewatch.” One can imagine, given Sue Hawk’s infamous “rat and snake” speech, but Wiglesworth does not find that epic takedown to be the hardest thing to swallow.
“It wasn’t her vote that really surprised me,” she says. “I knew she was mad. I knew how she was going to vote. I knew Rudy was going to vote how he voted. The two votes that really shocked me were Greg and Sean. That was really sort of disappointing. And they actually told me later — they apologized. They said, ‘Sorry.’ Each one of them separately said, ‘Sorry I didn’t vote for you. I couldn’t lose to you. I couldn’t lose to a 22-year-old female.’ It was easier to them to lose to Richard. Which made me sad for them. I appreciated the fact that they apologized to me. And they did genuinely feel bad about it. But that was too late. So those were the disappointing votes.”
To hear more from Wiglesworth — including how “for a lot of years I didn’t have any interest to come back” — and see exclusive in-game footage, watch the video at the top of this post. And for more Survivor scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.
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