Drea Wheeler explains why she told Omar about her advantage on Survivor
Drea Wheeler was dominant when it came to collecting idols and advantages on Survivor 42. At one point, she had four different powers in the game (an immunity idol, an extra vote, the Amulet advantage, and Knowledge is Power advantage). The problem is, she kept telling people about them.
That practice almost burned her early in the season when she told Swati and Tori about her extra vote on day 4, but she managed to stay alive. However, once she shared with Omar her plan to steal Mike's immunity idol with her Knowledge is Power twist rather than just keeping the information secret and using it, her fate was sealed. Omar alerted Mike, who passed off the idol — leaving Drea vulnerable and sending her to the jury.
Why did Drea risk telling Omar? What did she mean with her final comments after getting voted out? And what was it like watching that emotional double Tribal play back on TV a few weeks back? We checked in with the 35-year-old fitness consultant the morning after her televised ouster and she shared plenty on intel on stuff we didn't see.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, what went wrong? Why are you here talking to me right now?
DREA WHEELER: I trusted Omar.
You're not the first person to make that mistake.
[Laughs] You know what, kudos to him. His strategic game is emotional. We related to him in very emotional ways; I guess ways that I thought were bigger than the game, and that we had each other's back. But, for him, it was just all gameplay. So that's how he got me.
I noticed a pattern with you this season where you kept telling people about your advantages. And I'm screaming at the TV screen as you're doing it. It goes back to day 4 when you told Swati and Tori about your extra vote. Knowing all too well that knowledge is power, why did you keep giving that power away?
So the reason I told Swati and Tori was because people were already talking about it at camp. So they knew that there was something that happened there. And in my mind, I just knew someone had gone through my bag. [Laughs] So I thought that they already knew about it. They probably did, but who knows? So, for me, it was just like, I need to tell them because it's gonna get out there anyways, because they were getting very suspicious about what happened at the summit.
So, for me, it was just like, "Well, I'm just gonna tell them so that it's just out there, because someone's gonna figure it out." And I genuinely wanted to do a girls alliance. I'm a girls girl to the heart. I really wanted to work with Tori and Swati. We were the three, in my opinion, strong players on our team. And I thought that we could go farther in the game together. So it was strategy. And it was also like, let's build this bond together, ladies. let's work together.
So tell me about the decision to tell Omar about the Knowledge is Power advantage. All you have to do is go to Tribal and use it and you're in great shape.
Omar was panicking. He was panicking. He was going everywhere, talking to everyone. And he was just getting a little sloppy. So people were starting to notice that he was talking to everyone. I think he was becoming a bit aware of the fact that people were watching him as well.
Omar, Hai and I had an alliance and people didn't see how close the three of us actually were. And after Hai went out, I was like, "Well, you're just as much as a threat as me." So it would not benefit him taking me out so soon because that's just how I thought. So that's why I told him we needed to work together. That's how I felt, like, help me help you! We can go after each other later in the game, but let's get the firefighter out.
Take me through your emotional rollercoaster as you ask Mike for his idol, and he tells you he doesn't have one.
[Laughs] So I say my riddle, I ask Mike for the idol, Mike says no, and I automatically know I'm playing everything I've got. I'm like, "I'm playing my extra vote." I honestly forgot about the Shot in the Dark because it was just so new to the game. And then I always knew that if I was ever in that position, I would never not vote. That's the one power you have in the game, right?
So I'm gonna just do my two votes. I'm gonna hope that other people realize that maybe taking a firefighter in a game isn't in their best interest. So we gotta get Mike out because Mike was relating to everyone. His social game was amazing in my opinion at that time. So I was just like, it's a game. I gotta go up and I gotta play. I gotta play everything I got. And I hope someone else believes in me.
How long did it take to hit you that Omar must be behind it once Mike told you he didn't have an idol?
Instantly. He was the only person I told, because I genuinely felt that he and I could go farther in the game together.
You obviously had a huge moment at that double Tribal we saw a few weeks back. First off, just tell me what was going through your mind and what you were processing as you walked in and saw Rocksroy there sitting next to Chanelle?
People didn't know that I was a part of the all-male alliance! [Laughs] I was the one girl in the all-male alliance. So I had ties in everything. So when I saw him there, I basically realized that something went down at that camp. I was very close to Rocks and we hid it so no one knew. We had this interaction at Ika where we just had a heart-to-heart that no one saw. And after that heart-to-heart, I was like, "Okay, Rocks has my back." I didn't think Rocks liked me. And then we talked and he was like, "I do like you!" I was like, "Oh, okay." [Laughs] Cause I was like, I wanna like you.
I knew that Rocks had my back and I had Rocks' back. So when Rocks was out, I was just like, I really can't trust anyone here because he was the only one that I could genuinely trust. And then I, I knew that I was up and I knew that they were telling me if it wasn't me, it was gonna be Maryanne. So I was just processing everything. And then, don't forget, I'm allergic to coconut and seaweed. So while everyone else is eating, I'm starving. So I wanted to really process what I was seeing and what I was saying so that it would come out the way I felt.
And then my emotions just took over and I just started crying. And there was one point where I did tell Maryanne, "If it's not me, it's you so use your idol." That was my way of telling her, I got you. And I did have her. That was my goal was to have Maryanne's back. But it was emotional. It was an out-of-game experience. It was hard.
Jonathan called you aggressive at that Tribal, and obviously a lot could be read into that. What did you read into that in the moment?
In the moment, I kind of just was like, he doesn't understand. Jonathan and I had very heart-to-heart conversations at camp. I had social connections with most people at camp. So, for me, it hurt when he said that, because it's just like, "Oh, you're my friend." And then I realized that I just don't think he understood. So when I said to him "No, it's not you. I love you. We're friends" — this was a genuine moment.
I just really wanted him to know that "I don't wanna be aggressive. I'm not trying to. I'm really just going through my own emotions right now and I adore you and we'll talk about this later, but right now I need to just process." And then I just started crying because I was like, "I can't believe this is happening on television." [Laughs] Because you forget about everything. And it was a real moment in my life that I just was like, "Oh my God, this is gonna be on television." I was in shock.
The crazy thing about Survivor is that you have this super intense life moment, and you really have it twice, because you have it out there, and then you you have to relive it months later on TV. So what was it like for you watching that entire Tribal play back on TV?
It was hard. It was hard because we have all gone through it with each other and not knowing how other people would relate or understand me was hard because it was a real vulnerable moment for me. I don't cry. My family, my friends, they were all shocked because I'm usually the rock, you know?
So for me to cry and then cry like that on television for millions of viewers… it was hard because people didn't understand that I was really hurting at that time. I can't explain it, but at that moment I was just like, "I think I might have just lost the game too." Because it was like such a powerful moment. I knew that no one will let me get to the end. It was a lot of emotions coming in and it was just like, but this is bigger than a game. And I needed to just speak my truth.
Obviously it depends on whom you're up against, but generally how do you think you do with votes if you make it to the final 3?
I think I would've won for sure. For sure. I was Drea in the game. If anyone who knows me saw me, they were like, you were yourself. I was myself. I played hard. I related to people. I told people how I truly felt. They knew where I stood. I would've given honest answers to the jury. I would have won. I genuinely feel like I would've won.
As you kept just piling up advantages and idols were you ever like, this is just way too easy?
[Laughs] Yeah! And then I would get scared. I came to Survivor to have zero regrets. When that challenge came, I hate peanut butter and jelly. And then I was weighing the benefits and the risk vs. benefit costs. So I was just like, "I don't like peanut butter. I'm going to be losing so much energy. And then I won't have anything for the immunity challenge. I feel like there's a clue over there because of previous seasons so I'm gonna do whatever I can to like convince Maryanne that it's in her best interest to come to this side so I could see what's over there and get another advantage." I thought about every move. I really weighed the pros and cons. What would benefit me? I really just didn't care. I was just like, if I'm gonna go out, I'm gonna go out playing hard.
With your final comments to all the players after you were voted out, were those just strictly personal moments or was there strategy behind what you were saying?
100% strategy. I felt like they were all just like playing kumbaya, like they were all at camp liking each other. So that was just like, come on! [Laughs] I said that to Lindsay because they should know: "She has something and you should probably figure out what she has. Jonathan, you're going for the wrong people. I would have taken you to the final three because I wanted to play with strong people. And then Omar, he can't keep a secret. And what he's telling you is probably a lie. So listen to that. Mike is playing a social game, but if he makes it to the end, he could be a likable person. Or maybe you're smart enough to get rid of him now. And then Romeo, start playing because you're always the decoy."
I love Romeo, but Romeo was just fading at the end. And I was just like, "Your name is always out there. Get out there, start making moves, Romeo, because eventually someone's actually gonna put your name down and you might be gone." So no, it was very intentional. And then Maryanne was just Maryanne.
What's something that happened out there that never made it to TV that you wish we had seen?
That's a good question. I wish that they had shown my interaction with Jonathan after the fish incident where he thought I was being aggressive. We literally had a heart-to-heart and a very adult conversation where I was just like, "Jonathan, I'm sorry if you felt that way, but you know, I need your help. You're the fisherman! [Laughs] I'm from Texas. I can go hunt and shoot and stuff like that. But you're our Aquaman. I need your help. I'm not trying to be aggressive, but I'm starving!"
I needed him to understand that as much as he hasn't eaten, I am starving. My body was going to ketosis. I need your help. And he was very receptive and was like, "I'm sorry too." And we hugged. They didn't show that, and I wish I had they had because that actually was a beautiful ending.
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