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The latest castoff explains her game plan

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Kim Powers, Survivor: Africa
Survivor Africa: Robert Voets/CBS

Though grumbling about the increasingly creepy Lex reached a fever pitch on this week’s episode of ”Survivor,” it was Kim Powers, the cheerful freelance marketer from Conshohocken, Pa, whose tribal flame was extinguished. EW.com talked to the 29-year-old about Chunky Monkey ice cream, dining corn-free, and Big Tom’s smelly feet.

Wait a minute, wasn’t Lex supposed to get the boot? What happened to the girl power alliance?
I was expecting to go, I really was. Big Tom never really showed me that he was wavering against Lex. I think he did that more in the private interviews. So as far as I could tell, they were real tight, and I knew that because I was the last original Samburu, I had been hanging on by just a little bit for the last three or four episodes. Even though Teresa and I tried to get Kim Johnson to change her vote, I had the feeling she wasn’t going to help us, even though she said it would be great for the girls to band together. I’m sure she thought that her alliance with Tom, Lex, and Ethan had taken her this far, so she didn’t want to chance it by making a change.

Once the teams merged, did you have to do any groveling to get back into Teresa’s good graces?
The funny thing is, there was never anything to patch up between us. T-Bird and I liked each other from day one, and then we had that unfortunate break down in our tribe, which was so stupid on all of our parts. But even so, when it came to the merge, we were fine. We were just excited to see each other again.

Have you changed your strict anti-corn policy yet?
I didn’t even remember saying that, so I was dying when I saw that on the show. I occasionally will eat popcorn at movies, and I do eat caramel corn, because I love it, but I still don’t want corn on the cob or corn out of a can or cornmeal or grits or anything like that. I’m not even sure I’ve had mashed potatoes since I’ve been home because the consistency is so similar.

You got pretty emotional when you got the ice cream sundae as a food reward. Did you have a hard time giving up sugar in Africa?
I lost 12 pounds out there. I felt good playing the game; I didn’t have any major ailments other than feeling really lethargic and weak and dehydrated. But I’m so obsessed with food it’s scary. Right after I got voted off I ate all of this ice cream and chocolate and peanut butter. And of course I got sick, then went right back to eating chocolate and peanut butter and ice cream. I live for ice cream, and my favorite is Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. So I went in this vicious cycle for four days before I calmed myself down. But I would seriously eat myself into sickness. It was gross. I was thinking, I am Karen Carpenter reincarnated! I’ve gained back all the weight, but I had so much fun putting it back on. It was gravy.

Speaking of emotional, how tough was it to see your mom on video? And did you ask her why she thought you didn’t like your arms?
Oh yeah. It was like, we need to have a little chat, mom. But when I heard her answers, I’d think, well, that really wasn’t an awful answer, it just wasn’t the one I thought of at the time. Still, it was hard for me to see her, I have to say. I was so mentally beat, and then to sit there and see my sense of support in my life, it hit me I’d been out there a really long time and, man, it was tough.

Do you have any regrets about teaming up with Brandon, Silas, and Lindsey early on?
It was the only thing I could think to do. The members of the older alliance said to me, ”We never thought of you like the other ones, and if there was anyone we would have brought over to our side it was probably you.” Looking back I wish I had tried harder to get our team aligned together, but I didn’t really have any other option because the older members aligned themselves together so fast. But one thing I did was when everyone got combative I just kept my mouth shut and walked away.

You mentioned having some other regrets in your final statement. What were they?
Watching the game now, it’s so easy to sit in your living room and see the big picture. I played the game very emotionally. I didn’t play it strategically. When Brandon voted for Kelly instead of Lex and really betrayed me, I was so hurt by that I let my emotions lead me into voting him off, and I should have given him a second chance. Maybe we could have gotten together with Teresa and Frank and voted Ethan out, which would have changed the game.

So what’s the deal with skipping out on your own wedding?
I think people can easily take that out of context and run with it. But what I’m saying is that I’m proud of the fact that I made that decision even though it was very difficult and no one was backing it. Everyone said I had cold feet, and it was normal. But I knew myself, and I knew something was wrong. It would have been wrong to go ahead, even though it would have been easier.

How has being on ”Survivor” changed your life? Any hot dates?
I have so much more faith in myself. There were days out there when I really wanted to go home, but somehow I persevered. Taking that back to my life is a great thing. And every once in a while I’ll turn a water faucet on and go, ”Mmm, that’s nice.” The other great thing is people are so interested to talk to me now! I had to go to a couple of parties by myself right after the show started airing, and I didn’t have to feel bad about being on my own. But no, I don’t have guys knocking down my door. We can only hope I get a date out of this.

Your luxury item was a necklace. Why?
It was given to me by my brother before he was killed. He died while walking with his wife and daughter in Boston. These teenage girls had stolen a car and didn’t know how to drive it and hit him. I had actually lost it right after he gave it to me years and years ago, and then I found it right after he was killed, eight years later. It was special to me and I wanted it to be with me.

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