By Dalton Ross
December 20, 2018 at 11:23 AM EST
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DAMN YOU, FIRE!!! Or, rather… DAMN YOU, LACK OF FIRE!!!

That must have been going through Kara Kay’s mind when she was eliminated during the Survivor: David vs. Goliath finale. Pitted against Mike in the final four fire-making competition, all Kara had to was make fire faster than him and she would have been on her way to the final three. But it was not meant to be, as the 30-year-old realtor was unable to sustain a flame.

How hard was it to not be voted out of the game but eliminated anyway? How does she think she would have done had she made it all the way to the end? And how was that awkward reunion with Dan at Ponderosa? We asked Kara all that and more after Wednesday’s finale/reunion and here’s what the fourth-place finisher had to say. (Also make sure to read our interviews with Survivor champ Nick Wilsonrunner-up Mike WhiteAngelina, Alison, and Davie.)

Robert Voets/CBS

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So how does it feel to get that close to the end, but just not close enough?
KARA KAY: It’s tough because it’s Day 38 and all you have to do is make it to Day 39, but I like the fire-making challenge part of it because I feel like I had two chances. It was the final four immunity challenge and then the fire-making challenge. So I truly solidified my fate with losing both of them. At that point, it was up to me, so as much as it sucks, I did it and I lost on my own accord.

How were you feeling going into that fire-making competition? Were you confident or feeling a little shaky?
Dude, I was confident, and this is the reason why. You kind of saw it on the episode, I had made probably five solid fires that would’ve burned through the rope. In my opinion, I had practiced, I’ve done it before with Dan, so we practiced the routine and I’ll just go out there, bang it out, it always works, and I thought that was gonna be the case. And this one, I was wrong. I got so nervous I started using the wrong side of the flint.

Well it’s nerve-wracking, it’s pressure. and Probst is just sitting there staring at you, it’s a lot.
Yeah, Jeff’s looking at me, he’s like narrating the whole thing, he’s like “Kara’s still in this.” I’m looking at Mike’s fire roaring to the right, I’m like, man I have to figure this out. I’ve been in worse situations and pulled things together but yeah, that was not fun to see his flag go up and my fire still not be there at all.

Yeah, because fire represents life, Kara. You know that.
It’s the game and when your fire is out…. Don’t even get me started.

How do you think you’d have done if you’d make it to the final three?
That’s a great question. I wanted to sit together at the end with Mike and Angelina. I feel like I knew that would be my best chance to win. The reason being, it was three Goliaths, it was just an even playing field all the way across — game-wise, idol-wise. So I really wanted to sit next to them and battle it out in social games.

Nick just played a really dynamic game, that’s why you saw me go after him, and in a couple episodes, he played a very different game than mine. So I feel like the outcome would’ve been the same just because Nick’s game really, truly was impressive. As was Mike’s, so it was just one of those things, so I don’t know how much the outcome would change. I have some friends on the jury, might have gotten a couple votes, but I don’t know. I can’t say confidently that I would have won.

You voted for Mike to win. Why did you vote for him?
I voted for Mike to win because he played the game that I set out to play. He made himself so likable and genuinely made everybody feel like he was their best friend, and I knew that that was going to be my goal, and it fell short in ways where it did show that it didn’t come through. But he just played a really impressive game overall and yeah, I had to give it to him.

Did anything happen at that final Tribal to sway your vote at all or did you go in thinking Mike and come out thinking Mike?
I truly went in open-minded. I had an idea but I wanted to be able to see every single part of the game up until the day before, so I kind of had an idea that I was gonna vote for Mike, but I was very open. You can see my face when Nick was talking. I was very enamored by his game, by his plans, by who he was close to, but at the end of it, I just felt like Mike’s game was more impressive in a sense where he did so many things that nobody really understood, and he’s a millionaire already. It’s just one of those things where you don’t expect him to get that far, so it was like an underdog story, like almost like a reverse Goliath-David thing, if that makes any sense.

If you could go back and change one thing about your game that maybe might have put you over the hump, what would it be?
Oh my gosh, winning immunity. Winning the immunity where the balls were going through the steel cage, I think that would have set the game in my hands and I truly think that would have been the one thing. I know it’s a stupid thing to change because it’s not really in your hands. But other than that, I was really proud of my game.

You and Dan were the big sort of island power couple there for a while early on, yet you broke away from him. How did he take that when you got to Ponderosa, Kara?
He respects the game enough to understand why, I think, but he wasn’t the happiest.

Yeah, was it a little awkward when you first got there?
A little awkward, I’ll definitely give you that, it was a little awkward when I first got to Ponderosa.

Did it get any less awkward?
No. It actually continued to get a little bit weirder every day.

What did you think of Angelina’s move with the fake idol that she made there with Allison. Did you think that was unnecessarily cruel?
So unnecessary, and it was hard to watch because Allison was supposed to be in the game and I don’t think that it phased Mike either way, but I thought it was super unnecessary and definitely really cruel.

Also make sure to read our interviews with winner NickMike White, AngelinaAlison, and Davie, our full episode recap as well as intel from the host and four returning players on NEXT season of Survivor. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

Jeff Probst leads adventures in the ultimate (and original) reality series.
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