'Survivor 46's Liz Wilcox Says Her Applebee's Outburst "Garnered Respect" from the Other Players

Liz Wilcox

Survivor 46 is here! Every week, Parade.com's Mike Bloom will bring you interviews with the castaway most recently voted off of the island.

"So close. So pissed."

Those, fittingly, were the final words of Liz Wilcox in Survivor 46. The marketing strategist was one of the biggest personalities in this character-filled season, between her unique allergies and her ability to showcase every emotion she experienced on the island. But within those buns of emotion contained a patty as delicious as an Applebee's Bourbon Burger, as Liz was a force behind some of the biggest swings of the season. Liz went into the Final Four ready to market herself in the end like a carefully-crafted email. But her game was stopped by Ben Katzman who, believing she was the biggest threat, sent her into firemaking and out of the game, exasperated and frustrated.

Liz's tribemates and viewers alike had trouble figuring out what to make of her the first half of the game. Getting through on Nami's dominance, we discovered her list of food allergies that precluded her from eating most of the staples offered this season. But, by the time the merge hit, Liz wasn't just hungry for some nutrition, but to play the game. She worked with Tevin Davis to draw Nami blood with Soda Thompson's blindside. Then, seeing Tevin take the sole credit, she turned things back around on him, bringing nearly everyone together to send him packing. Her plans, though, got derailed and overshadowed when Q Burdette caused Tribal Council chaos, telling everyone to vote him off. Though she got what she wanted, a fury against Q began to boil.

That rage bubbled up in an incredibly memorable way on Day 18. Liz had a sudden rush of home teased in front of her face, as a prospective trip to Applebee's not only offered food she wasn't allergic to, but a weekly tradition with her daughter. Unfortunately, Q chose not to take her, prompting one of the biggest meltdowns in Survivor history. But Liz proved in her game that, even in her most emotional moments, she'll do what she feels is best to move her forward. And that was on full display when she became the swing vote to protect Q, a mere day after the Applebee's incident (though she eventually did get her revenge in due time). Self-proclaimed "cocky bitch" Liz was uncharacteristically nervous going into the Final Four. A medical condition made it tough for her to practice fire, which worried her prospects of making it to the end. And, unfortunately, her worst fears came true. Ben won the final Immunity Challenge and explicitly told Liz he was sending her in, seeing her as the biggest threat to win. Though it felt like walking uphill, Liz tried her hardest from the afternoon into the night to work past her ailment. But the fiery personality could not make a flame, extinguishing hers in the game.

The day after the finale, Liz talks with Parade.com about what her pitch would have been had she made it to final Tribal Council, her decision to turn on Tevin so early, and how her outburst at Q actually "garnered respect" from some of the players.

Related: Read our Survivor 46 pre-game interview with Liz Wilcox

We have to start with where things ended. I know a lot of jury votes were up in the air. What ultimately made you decide to vote for Charlie?
So I actually went into Tribal going to vote for Ben. Because Ben was the only one to say, "Oh, wait, Liz is actually playing the game. Maybe she's this, that, and the other." And so I thought, "Oh, snap. Ben has a really firm grasp on the game. Everyone else has been kind of [eh] to me, and so I can't wait to hear what he has to say." And I only changed my vote to Charlie, when Charlie was talking about the Final Seven vote.

Kenzie and I that morning had made a pact with Venus to go to the Final Three together, and Kenzie and I really believed that. We were like, "Yes, there's no way the boys are not going to vote Q. This is gonna be so epic. Everyone's so dumb." I mean, at least that's how I was. I'm not afraid to admit that. And Charlie would not budge. And in his final Tribal speech, he was talking about how he wouldn't budge because he knew he needed Q and Maria for six and five so he could guarantee Final Four. And even if he had to go to fire, he was willing to take that chance to have those two shields. And I thought, "My darling Liz, you just got played!" And I just had to vote for him for that reason.

So, of course, we have to get into your claim during your elimination that you were going to win had you made it to the end. And the edit led us to believe that the jury disagreed with that. Let's say you had made it to Day 26. Looking back, what do you think your chances would have been?
Yeah, of course, the jury was rolling their eyes at me. I have played such a good game of being an absolute moron. But I'm actually not! I actually have a master's degree in leadership with an expertise in servant leadership. I know how to get behind people and drive them to do things. And I wanted to share that with them. But I never got the chance. And that's where I was like, "Damn it. Now they just think I'm a clown. This really sucks." And so hopefully that makes more sense.

But during final Tribal, if I was there, I was going to tell them, "Spoiler alert. I'm not actually a millionaire! I've just been telling you that because there's no way you would not believe me. Who would go on Survivor bragging about their money? Well, hey, it disarmed you enough to keep me." And if you notice, I was the only person in Final Four who never got their name written down. It wasn't even a thought until the very end, when the three that made it to the finals were like, "Wait, Liz is actually wicked smart. We've been getting to know her." And so I think it's a testament to what could have happened. That Charlie, Ben, and Kenzie all said, "Yes, Liz, you've got to go to fire." And I know Charlie in final Tribal said, "Oh, I would have taken Liz." But if you go back and watch the final firemaking, Charlie is encouraging, if not coaching, Kenzie on how to make the fire. That's very obvious. Because I tell Charlie to STFU. [Laughs.] I think that Charlie was just saying that because he understood that the jury didn't take me seriously. And so he wanted to play into that, that he knew what was up. And so I think I could have swayed some people for sure. 

Something that led to your firemaking flameout was the issue you were having with your wrists, which impeded your practicing. And obviously, you talked about having a lot of food allergies, which starved you considerably. Can you talk about how much the game truly affected you physically?
What I want to say first and foremost is I believe that Ben suffered the most physically because of his emotional state. He was really unwell. So I just want to give him props for outlasting us all in that manner. And honestly, I say with love [for] Ben, him suffering so much helped keep me in perspective that "Everything is actually fine, Liz." And yes, of course, you guys saw me explode, right? And so it seemed like I was out of control. But if you watch it back, you can see I lost it. And then I got it back very quickly. [For] a lot of people, towards the end, it was a slow sort of demise of their physical being. Yeah, my wrists were hurting all the time. I actually sprained my knee before going on the show. So I was trying to hide it. [Laughs.] But, if you watch it back, you can see I'm always saying, "Yeah, but that's the game. I'm still in it." "I'm going down like no punk." That was my first confessional. I'm not gonna go down because of allergies. Yeah, I definitely fell down. But I got back up every time.

You just mentioned it, but let's get into everything around that Applebee's reward. It's clear your anger towards Q had been brewing for some time. Talk me through what led to that explosion. And did you feel you were looked at differently after that?
I think it actually garnered me some respect. Maybe not with everyone, but especially with the Final Four, I think with Venus, and maybe even a little of Tiff. Because she blew up on Q too. They just didn't really show it because of the explicit language. [Laughs.] And so people said, "You know what, Liz? I've been wanting to do that to Q for days. I've been suppressing my anger around him, and you just let 'er rip. And Isn't that remarkable, in a game for a million dollars, that you are not afraid to express yourself?" And I think because I was willing to talk about it and say, "Oh, my gosh, I've never done that before," I think it helped me gain some respect. But it also shows just how good of a social game I was playing. That people, despite me losing it, were like, "Oh, yeah, we're gonna hear this out. And that actually makes sense." So actually solidified a lot of relationships with me.

Is Applebee's included in that relationship? Do you have any brand deals yet?
Applebee's said they were sending me a package today! Fingers crossed. Applebee's, if you're watching, I would love to do a commercial for the premiere of 40-Several. I think that would be super epic. Don't miss out on the opportunity. Let's make some money magic baby!

[Laughs.] You're a hustler through and through! So I feel like your game and our perception of you really changed with the Tevin blindside. From what Hunter and Tevin both told me, you three were a tight group going into that vote. So what made you decide to turn on him in that moment?
Something that I said in the after show [was] everything I did was really intentional. I intentionally was bragging so you would think I was a little strange,. And I intentionally got rid of Tevin very early. Hunter actually told me, "Liz, it's too early." I listen to a lot of Tyson podcasts, and he says, "Don't cut your number one too early." And I love Tyson; he's my favorite player. But he doesn't know how to play a 26-day game. We only had 10 days left. And so he gotta go!

And so, looking back, I love that vote. I think it was very intentional. And, also during this new merge phase, I noticed that Tevin and Hunter were talking a lot to Charlie and Maria and Q. And anytime I'd say, "Oh, well, I'll go tell them," Tevin would say, "No, no, I got it, Liz. You just rest." So number one, I knew he was thinking of me as just a number. And number two, he, in my mind, [is] intentionally keeping me [away] so he's having closer relationships already. So he's got to go. So I actually went to the "Siga Three," and I went up to Tiff. And I said, "How about you help me drive this vote? If you let me be in the front of the bus, I'm gonna get in the back of the bus tomorrow. And I promise whatever you want to do, I will do." I will be--I think Ben said--a "goat for the vote. "And so that was something I wanted to bring to final Tribal and say, "Actually, I fulfilled all my promises. The only reason I wasn't trying to drive more votes was because I promised you, you, and you that I wouldn't. And I did that."

Finally, you ended up getting on Survivor because your daughter dared you to apply. What's been her response to seeing you? Are you going to dare her to go on the show when she turns 18?
Yeah, I would love to see Chelsea play! I think she would be similar but different. She's got a lot of spunk. She's really friendly. And she's very similar to Kenzie in that people are just very attracted to her. She just draws people in and they just love her. I very often hear, "I don't like kids, but I love Chelsea. Can Chelsea come and visit? Can you bring Chelsea?" I would love for her to apply one day. And I think the reception my family has given me is great. They know me as this very eccentric, "do whatever, say whatever, make no apologies, clean up no messes." You know "cool guys don't look at explosions"? I think that's how my family thinks of me. And so they've been super proud of me. It's been really really awesome to see all the support.

Next, check out our interview with Survivor 46 third-place finisher Ben Katzman.