Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Morgan Ricke on getting 'screwed' by the tribe swap
With season 41 of Survivor delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EW is reaching back into the reality show's past. We sent a Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire to a batch of former players to fill out with their thoughts about their time on the show as well as updates on what they've been up to since. Each weekday, EW will post the answers from a different player.
At first blush, Morgan Ricke appeared to come out of a day 7 Survivor: Ghost Island tribe swap in pretty great shape. After all, she and her fellow original Naviti tribe members still had the numbers advantage with five of theirs versus four original Malolo. But then everything fell apart. A rift between Domenick Abbate and Chris Noble gave the undermanned Malolos just the crack they needed.
So once Chris was sent to Ghost Island (therefore depriving the Navitis a vote) and Dominick and Co. decided to target his partner Angela Perkins instead, that gave the Malolos all the advantage they needed, and they struck, blindsiding the popular Morgan instead. Had the tribe swap never occurred, Morgan would have been protected as a core member or the majority alliance. Alas, the Survivor gods had other plans for her. No wonder she now says "Unfortunately for me, the tribe swap happened pretty early, and I got screwed. I made friendships quickly (which is something the producers thought I might struggle with, the social aspect) and it's what ultimately got me voted out of the game."
We'll never know how Morgan would have done had that fateful twist never taken place, but we know now how she feels about her season 36 journey. In her Quarantine Questionnaire, Morgan looks back at both her Survivor legacy… and her unused Legacy Advantage.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you've been up to since appearing on Survivor.
MORGAN RICKE: Since appearing on Survivor, I got engaged, bought a new house, got married, and rescued the cutest little pup ever! Survivor did not change my life, but only enhanced the life I was already living by giving me invaluable friendships with people I would have never met otherwise.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
Hmmm… it's hard to pick a specific moment but I think just getting on the show, in general, is a huge accomplishment and something I've very proud of and can say I did on my first try (at an open casting call).
Also, I am proud of not only surviving outdoors, but thriving! I felt amazing, both mentally and physically. I know I wasn't out there very long (nine days) but my body adjusted great, my mind was sharp, and I was physically so strong despite the ginormous lack of food.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
You know, I honestly don't have any! I went out wanting to play and that's what I did. Unfortunately for me, the tribe swap happened pretty early, and I got screwed. I made friendships quickly (which is something the producers thought I might struggle with, the social aspect) and it's what ultimately got me voted out of the game.
There's not a whole lot I could have done differently besides maybe talking to Libby one more time before Tribal Council, but I'm not sure it would have changed anything. Our season was tough in the sense that a whole lot of luck was involved due to Ghost Island. I hate leaving my fate in the hands of rocks, and there was plenty of that during Survivor 36.
What's something that will blow fans' minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
I just wish fans got to see more camp life. From trying to start a fire, to building a "bed," Dom's hilarious stories to Noble's nighttime raps, there were just so many great, team bonding moments! You really do form amazing connections with people because you have zero distractions... all you have is each other!
Oh, and I totally lost the advantage Jacob gave me! Well, technically I didn't lose it. I buried it and was a few inches off from where I thought I put it when trying to dig it up. I won't go into detail, but let's just say it was a super crazy 10-15 mins trying to find it.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
I actually loved my edit. I feel like it was fair. I wasn't on for long, but I got a lot of air-time. Even after I got voted out, my name was mentioned episode after episode, which made me feel really good. I'm loud, outgoing, extremely competitive, and fun, and I felt like you got to see all of that.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
There was 1000% an adjustment period -not just for me, but gor my boyfriend (now husband) as well. Immediately upon receiving my cellphone in L.A., I wanted to toss it in the trash. My phone was dinging non-stop! I was receiving notifications from the past 50 days plus constant calls from my boyfriend and family while trying to say goodbye to complete strangers that turned into lifelong friends. It was weird.
I was very fortunate, though, to have my dream job to return to only a mere two days after arriving home. A job that wasn't much different than life on the islands. A job where I was outdoors all day, no cell phone present, fishy, smelly, no makeup... it was perfect, my happy place! Needless to say, my transition back to "normal" life was much easier than most. However, there were most definitely a few bumps in the road.
Coming home with a whole new set of friends and an experience that is hard to put into words made for some tough times in the relationship. However, I was extremely fortunate that most of the cast came to visit me within a few weeks/months of filming and that allowed my significant other to not only put names with faces, but start building relationships with my new, lifelong friends as well. Some definitely took more time than others, but by the finale in L.A., my husband had realized what a cool and unique experience it was for all involved.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
Absolutely not! Being on Survivor was a dream of mine and something I'm so proud I accomplished. It was almost a sense of relief to get to experience the realness of it all.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
I text with Bradley, Brendan, James, and (Steph) Gonzalez almost every single day. We've had a group chat going since the moment we left the islands in 2017. Some days it's only a single message or two, and other days it's 12 p.m. on a Thursday and we've sent over 200 messages to each other! We usually try to get together once a year, but with Covid, that obviously didn't happen in 2020.
I typically see most people in August at the Hearts of Reality event here in Orlando. Libby, Donathon, Wendell, Jenna, and Sebastian are all usually in attendance. Every once in a while, I'll see Noble when he is visiting his mom here in Florida. I've also had two thirds of the cast visit me at my job, which is super fun for them and me.
Do you still watch Survivor, and, if so, what's your favorite season you were not on and why?
Yes, I most definitely still watch. My favorite seasons are 2 and 3 (Australian Outback and Africa). I didn't start watching Survivor until season 2, so obviously the first season I watched will forever be etched as epic in my mind. The cast of The Australian Outback was just phenomenal... what a group of super stars. Africa was insane when it came to just pure survival - limited water, super high temperatures, lions right outside of camp... oh my!
Who's one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
Okay, this is the hardest question you've asked. I've met so many wonderful people that it is so hard to pick just one, but I'm going to have to go with Troyzan. He was the first Survivor contestant to reach out to me after I got voted off, and since then we have hung out numerous times. He is just such a joy to be around. We both love our lives and are such truly happy people and view the world in such a positive, appreciate light that I think it would have been a great experience to be on the islands with him.
However, I can't leave out my charades alliance of Figgy and Mama C. Since the moment I met those two ladies, we have had so much fun together. They welcomed me into the Survivor community with open arms and took me in as one of their own and for that I am forever grateful. Some of the nicest people you will ever meet. I love those ladies.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
I don't know how to word or say this nicely, so I'm just going to say it: Stop recruiting! I want to play against people that want to play, that know how to play, rather than people who want to up their Insta followers. There are so many fans that would do anything to get a chance to play. The audience relates more to real people. They can find someone like them and root for them. I also feel (just my opinion) that fans come out swinging. They would rather try to make a move and strike out then hide in the shadows and make it to the end. I personally want to watch people that are dying to play.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
Absolutely, no questions asked. I would drop whatever I was doing, in the clothes I had on, and be on that plane in a heartbeat. For me, it isn't about the money, it's about the experience of a lifetime and the friendships I made both during and after my season of Survivor.
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