The Survivor 41 jury speaks!
The fate of a million dollars is in their hands. On Wednesday, Dec. 15, the Survivor 41 jury will choose which of the three finalists is deserving of their votes for the title of Sole Survivor and that big check that goes along with it. During that televised decision-making process, they will weighs the pros and cons of each candidate while peppering them with questions about why they should get the loot.
But before they do so, we thought it would be fun to pepper them with a few (non-spoilery) questions of our own. Such as: What is the best and worst thing about being at the Survivor jury lodging (known as Ponderosa)? Which pre-jury boot do they wish had been there with them? Which juror would they like as a permanent Ponderosa roommate? And who among the jury played the best game this season?
We hit up Tiffany Seely, Naseer Muttalif, Evvie Jagoda, Shantel Smith, Liana Wallace, and the recently ousted Danny McCray to get their takes on living that jury life. Some of their answers may surprise you.
What was the best thing about being at Ponderosa?
TIFFANY SEELY: I'll start by saying, BEING THE QUEEN! I felt very in charge for the first time all season. On a more serious note, I would be remiss if I didn't say the food and, of course, getting to know the players outside the game with no pressure. There was also an abundance of Starburst that we couldn't stop eating. It got us all!
NASEER MUTTALIF: The best thing about Ponderosa was the company. Not only my castmates, but all of the hard-working people behind the scenes. I work in hospitality, so I know all that goes into running a place like Ponderosa. Everyone I met was so kind and welcoming. I wish I could have stayed in the game longer, of course, but I appreciated experiencing that side of things too. So, a huge shout-out to everyone who made Ponderosa so great for us and to the wonderful Fijian people we met.
EVVIE JAGODA: Getting to connect with everyone as people rather than players in a cutthroat monster of a game. I'll never forget the very first night I was there — me, Tiff, and Naseer probably stayed up until 2 a.m., laughing, crying, peeing on the sand instead of the bathroom, swapping embarrassing Survivor poop stories, and on and on. I honestly think getting voted out of Survivor requires a process of grieving just like any other loss, and at Ponderosa, especially with Tiff and Naseer, we just were so able to be there for each other, process the grief, and then let loose under the care of the Fijian staff, who are literally the kindest and most wonderful people on Earth. It was also so special for me when Liana, who was the first person I felt truly close to in the game, came to Ponderosa — we got to reconnect, have a blast, and end our time in Fiji better than ever.
SHANTEL SMITH: The time I was given to reflect on the game before heading back home. All my feelings about being blindsided by my alliance came crashing in on me there, and I really felt like I was not my best self. I was able to process so many thoughts and emotions about how I played and what I felt killed my game, to make sense of and come to accept it.
LIANA WALLACE: Gorging myself with all the food I had been dreaming about for 21 days. You get to come out of this super-intense game and enjoy all the little things, so eating a ton of good food was definitely a plus.
DANNY McCRAY: Hanging out with my castmates! Everyone is much friendlier once they are off the island.
What was the worst thing about being at Ponderosa?
TIFFANY SEELY: The worst thing about being at Ponderosa was, of course, knowing it was over. I lost! Also, some of the cast members were very upset and still very emotional, which led to some uncomfortable moments and hurt feelings.
NASEER MUTTALIF: Not being able to talk to my family. It was tough being away for so long, especially with the quarantine period.
EVVIE JAGODA: The worst thing was not being able to talk to my partner, Carmel. That was hard on me the whole time, but in the game I was having so much fun, I was able to put it more in the back of my mind. At Ponderosa, with emotions being so raw, I just wanted more than anything to call her and tell her everything that happened, and have her tell me she was proud of me. Luckily, I had with me a book of pictures of us that she had made me for our three-year anniversary. I loved getting to show it to everyone.
SHANTEL SMITH: Ponderosa felt very toxic, but the worst thing about Ponderosa, honestly, was the slow, steady trickle of more information about what happened in the game. I felt like I was constantly being blindsided by the different angles, stories, and confessions presented by every new arrival. You think you know what happened and then you find out something new. Then another thing, and then another, only to discover that nothing you thought initially was true.
LIANA WALLACE: The worst thing about being at Ponderosa was that everyone is on their own individual emotional roller coasters. All everyone wants to do is go home and be with family. It's challenging because everyone is struggling with reflecting on their game, becoming anxious with how they will be portrayed and perceived on national television, and also dealing with a ton of hindsight bias.
DANNY McCRAY: Knowing that I was out of the game. It's a reminder that I had been voted out and didn't win.
Which person voted out pre-jury do you wish had been with you all at Ponderosa?
TIFFANY SEELY: I wish a few people pre-jury would have been at Ponderosa. First, I'd say Voce. We were really close on the island — he was like my island husband. It would have been fun to have him there when I got voted off. We are great at back-and-forth banter and don't take each other too seriously. Also, Sydney and I shared quite a few laughs, so that would have been refreshing as well.
NASEER MUTTALIF: I loved JD's enthusiasm for the game, and I think he would have been a very fun, positive person to be around. I tried to enjoy every minute in Ponderosa. I think JD would have a similar attitude. Brad and Voce also seemed like enjoyable people to be around, so I would have been happy to have them there as well.
EVVIE JAGODA: I would say either Sydney or Voce. Sydney because I truly think she deserved to be on the jury. I mean, she was literally at the merge, buff in hand for two days. Also, she would have probably been a riot at Ponderosa. And I had the deepest relationship with Voce of any of the pre-jurors. I really wish we had gotten that time to reconnect. Luckily, I'm happy to report we've gotten that time since the game. He's wonderful.
SHANTEL SMITH: Genie.
LIANA WALLACE: I really would have loved to have Genie with us during Ponderosa. From the few interactions I had with her, she just always seemed like an easygoing and loving person, so I think it would have been nice to have her energy.
DANNY McCRAY: Sydney. We were really close on Luvu, so I know if would've been fun!
If you had to live at Ponderosa permanently with one of your fellow jurors, who would it be and why?
TIFFANY SEELY: If I had to live with one person at Ponderosa permanently, I'd say it would be Evvie. We just worked together really well — we were always on the same page with strategy and laughter. Our senses of humor just gelled, and we really enjoyed being together. It's one of the gifts I take away with me from the season. Our forever friendship and the fun we have together is unmatched!
NASEER MUTTALIF: I guess I would say Evvie. They are a genuine person who I think would keep life interesting and happy. I enjoyed being around them.
EVVIE JAGODA: Hands down Tiff. Tiff is family for life. We were only separated for like 20 hours the entire time I was in Fiji, and I'm so so grateful for that. Tiff makes me laugh harder than anyone I know, builds me up when I'm down, and is just a wonderful person. Plus, if we lived together permanently, maybe one day I'd finally be able to explain to her how Xander's idol worked. (Just kidding, of course… mostly.)
SHANTEL SMITH: Liana.
LIANA WALLACE: I would have to pick Naseer. He is one of the sweetest people I know. He's easy to talk to and understanding, and has a really interesting life story. I feel like Naseer and I could thrive and have a great time.
DANNY McCRAY: Tiff. There would never be a dull moment. I love a good party, and Tiff definitely knows how to keep a party going.
Who among the jurors played the best game and why?
TIFFANY SEELY: I think the best player among the jury has to be me. How can I not be my biggest supporter? I really do believe I had the best social game, which may have hurt me a bit. But I had so much more strategy and game left in me that had yet to be seen, and just couldn't get my footing at merge, but had I made it to the final three I definitely had some friends! I flourish when it comes to playing people socially, but clearly not this season. Was that an obnoxious answer?
NASEER MUTTALIF: I'd have to say Danny since he lasted the longest out of us all and kept his name out of the votes all the way up until he got voted out. He did well compared to most professional athletes who played.
EVVIE JAGODA: I honestly think everyone on the jury was playing so hard and well — everyone would have had a case for themselves at the end. Obviously, Shan was in control for a lot of the game, especially coming from a tribe that had just two people. You gotta give her huge props for that. But as we saw with her, it's nearly impossible to be that out front and get all the way to the end. For that reason, I'd probably say Danny. I think it was hard for me to fully see his game while I was playing, especially since our games were just so different, but after, it became clear that he had a really good read on everything that was happening, was able to put logic before emotions in decision-making, and was just was so well-liked and respected by everyone. I think if he had gotten to the end, he'd have been able to explain his game really well, and those warm feelings we all had for him would have been translated into jury votes.
SHANTEL SMITH: Evvie. She was smart and savvy. I just got her before she could get me.
LIANA WALACE: You mean, besides me? Kidding! I'd have to say Shan played the strongest game amongst the jury. She came out of the gates paying hard and still managed to make it to the final eight, which is incredibly impressive. Typically, players who start out playing hard are immediately perceived as threats and voted out of the game. Shan managed to pull off four blindsides, if I am not mistaken, during the Sara, Brad, JD, and Genie votes. She also managed to form strong social relationships with almost everyone throughout her game, which is incredibly important. On top of that, she was a powerful strategic player but still managed to play with her heart and values. Give my big sis the credit she deserves
DANNY McCRAY: Evvie, who formed an all-women alliance on Yase, managed to survive the first merge vote, and followed that up with an incredible immunity win. If Evvie had more time, I think she would've been a contender to win it all.
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