Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Ali Elliott begged not to play with Patrick Bolton
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.
It seemed like one of the biggest advantages the game of Survivor could ever offer. When Ali Elliott showed up to play on the Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers season, one of her tribemates was actually a neighbor from Auburn University, Patrick Bolton. That meant an instant alliance-mate with a connection that other tribe members would never suspect.
However, the advantage was anything but, as Patrick's loud demeanor and unpredictable nature put him on the outs of the tribe and threatened to drag Ali down with him - a fate Ali saw coming well before the game started. It turns out that after seeing Patrick in casting sessions, Ali made the connection clear to producers in the hopes that the two would not be grouped together. Alas, her hopes were dashed.
"I had begged to not have to play the game with him, and was shocked when they let it happen," Ali says. "I love Patrick, but I knew his character and thought it would be difficult to have to manage both my game and his unpredictability." She was right, although it was also a tribe swap that ultimately undid Ali, who was voted out on day 16 - eight days after Patrick.
An early fan favorite on the show, Ali never got the long run in the game that she and viewers were hoping for, but she doesn't regret the experience for a minute, as we learned in her Quarantine Questionnaire.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you've been up to since appearing on Survivor.
ALI ELLIOTT: Since Survivor, I have been surviving in this very thing we call life. Obviously, many of us have been dealing with this new world that COVID placed us into and still trying to work the dynamic of that. Sadly, I lost my father to colon cancer, so COVID was a lot different experience for me. My world was being changed in a whole different way. Very blessed to have had my family by my side or I am not sure how I would've been able to get through. Lately, I have putting a lot of my focus into health, fitness, and family. I recently got a new job working as a personal assistant. Not much more than I can say about that, but I am absolutely loving it.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
My proudest moment from playing Survivor is probably just actually getting out there and doing it. Survivor is a scary thing to do. You are pretty exposed in all areas of your life. Personally, socially, physically, even spiritually. It can take a serious toll on you. A lot of the game is played in your own head. Yes, you are competing against others, but when it comes down to it, you are actually pretty alone in this experience. I know you probably want a single answer, so I would say the very first challenge, being able to work with Devon to not have to go to Tribal the first night.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
My biggest regret was I think I played a little closed-minded. I was so focused on making the easy decisions just to make the merge, I never truly contemplated whether the easy thing was the right thing to do. I didn't expect things to be moving behind the scenes that I had zero clue about. I trusted my social game too much and trusted people too much.
What's something that will blow fans' minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
I mean, everyone knows this by now, but the fact that Patrick and I actually knew each other. We were sent to get mail a lot together, where we talked about college life and different personal experiences we had prior to the show. I had begged to not have to play the game with him, and was shocked when they let it happen. I love Patrick, but I knew his character and thought it would be difficult to have to manage both my game and his unpredictability.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
I feel like I got a pretty good edit. I knew going in (with some background in TV) that they can only use what you give them. I just wanted to go out there and completely be myself. I probably should've strategized more, but my game play was laid out there for everyone to see. I played as Ali and went home as Ali. No complaints about that.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
I think the more weird thing was being out there in a world that was separate from the one back home. Survivor becomes your life for however long you make it. I kept thinking about how my family was probably at my niece's soccer game or attending church, and I'm trying to figure out alliances and what to eat. It is such a crazy thought process.
I think after leaving the show, the most bizarre thing to me was looking at myself for the first time. I sure do love mirrors, and after not seeing myself for 16 days it almost made me break down. To regroup and think that this game that causes so much emotion and effort was just that, only a game, and now I could get back to my reality and what really matters.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
I would never regret it. We had great weather, I made great friends. I regret not getting to compete in individual challenges, LOL, but of course not. I had an amazing time.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
I talk mostly with Roark and Jessica. We went to Australia after being voted out, and they became MY GIRLS. Roark and I get together every so often both being in L.A. for lunch or hangouts. Jess and I have become pretty close due to our faith. We've cried together, encouraged each other, and just have a pretty great bond. I love those girls so much, they have been there for me in so many ways and I am grateful for them.
Do you still watch Survivor, and, if so, what's your favorite season you were not on and why?
Well, Survivor hasn't been on, but I did watch season 40. First season I watched since my season, probably because my competitive bitter heart can't take it. Ha! As for one of my favorite seasons, for some reason I vividly remember season 2. My family was obsessed with Survivor and did a Survivor pool. I just couldn't get over Colby. I may have been 9 years old, haha. I definitely loved Tina, but that Colby loss hit me in the heart.
Who's one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
Uhh, Colby. Haha, no. I would say I would've loved to play with Cirie. She is an absolute legend and knows the social/mind game so well. To be able to see how she manipulates and coerces the game firsthand would've made my life.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
I would say less freaking idols. Forty-five is too many. Which is what it seems like it is. Maybe three a whole game to see if people can actually make it on their own. I also hate these baby tribes. It should always be two teams. Getting voted out by three people grinds my gears when there 14 still left in the game. Just sayin'.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
It would have to be the right time in my life. I debate this all the time. Now, if I got asked to do Blood vs. Water with my sister, I'd make it the right time, haha. But I sure do love the show and it would be truly hard to say no.