On last week’s ”Survivor,” Sarah Jones definitely had something to smile about when Patricia Jackson (the truck assembler nicknamed Mama for her take-charge attitude) got the deadly tie-breaking vote at tribal council. For Patricia, a 49-year-old mother of two, being cast off the island ahead of sullen Sarah hurt, but it wasn’t half as painful as discovering TV cameras really DO pack on the pounds. EW.com caught up with Mama to discuss gulping stinky fish, Vecepia’s unexpected betrayal, and who was hooking up with whom among the Maraamu.
How nasty was the farafu, the fish you ate during the immunity challenge?
It was vile. I don’t like raw fish anyway, but it was rotten and stunk to high heaven. I can’t find one redeeming factor except that it was protein.
When you saw Rob puking, did your heart sink?
Oh yeah, because I knew I was gone. I figured it was going to be me or Sarah, and I sensed it would be one vote that would break the camel’s back.
Were you surprised at how quickly your teammates turned on you?
I never sensed any animosity about what I was doing in camp. But I wouldn’t have picked up on it anyway because I tend to do something then forget about it. I think I was really targeted as part of Rob’s effort to save Sarah.
Does it bug you that you got voted off just as you were getting the camp into shape?
I guess hard work doesn’t pay after all! But they’re going to starve to death this week because I’m gone, trust me. I guess my attitude could have worked for me if I had shown a softer side, but I saw a job that had to be done, and I didn’t back away from it.
Why has the Maraamu tribe been so divided compared to the Rotu?
You had a sexual attraction going on in my team, people pairing up. Look at Sarah. Rob’s a cute boy, and they were attracted. Hunter and Gina had so many similarities they certainly connected, and I was fortunate that they accepted me into that. But Sean and Vee bonded over the black issue, which shocked me to death when I saw the show. I really thought Vee and I had bonded better than that.
Hunter seems like a natural leader. Why can’t he bring the group together?
Sean did not want to take orders from anyone. Not that Hunter or I were giving orders. Well, I guess I gave some orders. But suggestions were made, and Sean didn’t even want to be suggested to. He really resented people going to Hunter for the leadership role.
Admit it. How much do you hate Sarah’s guts?
I really don’t think Sarah is lazy. I think she’s a cute girl, and she’s used to getting what she wants by being cute. But she’s sweet, and she’s had a lot of hard knocks in her life. She’s just using her best assets.
Do you think your tribemates were biased against you because of your weight and age?
I think they looked at me and saw a middle-aged, overweight woman, and, like the rest of America, they assumed that if you’re heavy you’re not fit, you don’t have willpower, and you’re stupid. That was one of the reasons I wanted to be on the show. I hoped to prove you can be agile, strong, smart, confident, and overweight, and I think I come across that way. But that couldn’t compete with Sarah’s body.
Did you lose weight on the island?
I did, but it came right back. Starvation is no way to lose weight. But I’m telling you, you’re not going to recognize me on the final show. I lost 68 pounds last year, and I have 20, 25 more to go. I’m going to L.A. looking anorexic so I can look normal on TV. I think the cameras add a lot more than 10 pounds. I looked like a swollen water balloon on TV. People didn’t even recognize me at home.
In addition to assembling trucks, you’re a cosmetologist. How desperate were you for lip gloss?
It was pretty rough, because even horsing around I have eye makeup on. Plus I let my hair go gray, because I couldn’t condition my hair on the island. But if people don’t recognize me, that’s probably a bonus.
Was Peter as nuts as he seemed?
Yes ma’am, he was truly weird. They kind of skimmed over his ”holy-holy” thing, but I had to walk away. I’m a Christian, and he and I butted heads on a spiritual plane. Let’s just say he was definitely thinking outside of the box.
What did you do after getting voted off?
I did some snorkeling, some SCUBA diving, some rock climbing, things I wouldn’t normally have done. It was exotic for me because it was centered just on what I wanted to do. I didn’t have to worry about keeping little children happy, or worrying about getting my husband dinner. It was the ”me” vacation I’d never had.
On the first episode you worried your family would be embarrassed if you were kicked off first. How did they feel about you getting the boot in week two?
My son C.J. met me at the airport. He’s a big boy — 6’3” — and he picked me up and twirled me around with tears streaming down his face. I said, ”You don’t even know if I won!” and he said, ”I don’t care, I missed you, and I’m glad you’re home.” I don’t know if he wants me to tell this, but he cried when I got voted off. I asked him why, because he knew it was coming, and he said, ”Because they’re dissing my mother, and I know what a terrific person you are.” So really, my whole family’s very proud, and CJ’s my No. 1 fan.