Cassidy Clark was pretty confident that she had it in the bag when she made the final Survivor tribal council alongside Mike Gabler and Owen Knight. Cassidy won the last immunity challenge of the season and helped set up the ousting of the biggest threat, Jesse Lopez, by putting Gabler against him in a fire making challenge. Gabler wound up beating Jesse in just over four minutes, leaving Cassidy with exactly who she wanted to sit next to at the end. However, she wound up only receiving one vote at the final tribal council, with Gabler taking all of the others and ultimately winning the game.
“I was pretty shocked,” she admitted in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “I just felt like I had set myself up for the win. And I think even — between me and Owen — we were in awe. Good for Gabler. Obviously I never want to take away from somebody’s win. He really pulled that out. But I got to say, I was a little surprised.”
Cassidy was in good spirits as she celebrated with Gabler, Owen and the jury immediately following the vote. She sipped champagne, ate pizza and discussed the game with host Jeff Probst with a smile on her face. However, she said that that moment was “one of the hardest things” she had to go through. “Truly, I really felt very confident like I could win this,” Cassidy explained. “For a lot of the game, I wasn’t sure I was capable of that. So when it was right there in front of me, I felt like I had played the best game considering who I was sitting next to.”
Cassidy admittedly “drank way too much champagne” while trying to deal with the shock. The next day, once everything sunk in, she said she had a “really bad panic attack” over the situation. “It was just so much to go through within 24 hours and there was really no time to process it,” she said. “So it was difficult.” She also revealed that she still goes through “cycles” with her feelings about the loss. “I’m proud of the game I played, but to be that close and to really think you had it, and then for it so slip away like that, you start questioning every little thing you did,” she admitted.
Throughout the season, Cassidy was never on the wrong side of the vote. She also won three individual immunity challenges which helped her advance in the game. However, she received some criticism from the jury for not giving up her final four immunity to take on Jesse in the fire making challenge herself, which would’ve been an opportunity to build her resume even more.
“It was just offensive, honestly, because I earned that last challenge,” Cassidy said, of the jury backlash. “That was a crazy amount of pressure to work under and the biggest immunity of the season. I was so proud of myself and I didn’t feel like it was fair to say, ‘You have to give this up or you’re not getting my vote. You have to risk it.’” She added, “Obviously Gabler made the fire, but I was a huge part in getting the biggest threat out of the game.”
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