‘Survivor’ Sarah: “I Got So Much Grief for Not Playing a Vicious Game”


QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Name: Sarah Lacina
Age: 32
Hometown: Marion, Iowa
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Cagayan” – Finished 11th and Jury Member
Best Known For: Figuring out that Tony was a police officer before they had ever spoken.

Gordon Holmes: One thing I noticed about your bio is you’re like, “I’m going to lie my face off!”
Sarah Lacina: (Laughs)
Holmes: How does that differ from your game in Cagayan?
Lacina: When you enter the game of “Survivor” you know that you have to lie. Some people can get away with not, the lucky few where everything goes their way, but the majority of people will have to lie. Going in and not having played before, I thought I could go in and do whatever. But then when I thought that I’m representing police officers, I didn’t want to give anyone a bad name. I felt like Tony was going to uphold the profession too, so I really don’t want to be the bad cop out of this. All of that played a factor and look where it got me. So, now I realize that in order to win, I may have to lie. And I’m definitely OK with that.
Holmes: One of the things that stuck with me was how you felt when Tony lied on his badge. If someone said, “Do you swear on your badge?” would you lie?
Lacina: Absolutely. When I got back home and people saw it air everyone was like, “What’s wrong with you? Who cares?” I really saw that I got so much grief for not playing a vicious game. So, I feel like I’ve been freed to play however I have to play.
Holmes: My wife doesn’t watch “Survivor.” She doesn’t like the lying.
Lacina: Oh, I hate lying.
Holmes: As do I.
Lacina: As a police officer, people lie to me every single day. And it gets old. It’s disrespectful. When I have a picture of you committing a crime and you say, “That’s not me.” Do you really think I’m stupid? You’re insulting me. That’s clearly you, I’m not an idiot. That’s why I can’t stand lying.
Holmes: Well, what I was getting to was we played poker with her parents and she totally bluffed out her dad.
Lacina: Yeah, this is all just a big game of poker.

Holmes: What was your reaction when Jeff told you this season was about game changers?
Lacina: When we arrived I saw these big names here. And then here’s me. (Laughs) So, when Jeff told us that I thought, “How do I fit in as a game changer?” I think other people are wondering that about me too. But, I know how I played. And people that didn’t play with me didn’t get to see how I played. I actually had my hand in everything until I went out. That’s why I went out. So, when he says game changers, I think that people don’t know what I can do. But, the right people know what I can do and that’s why I was brought back. People are going to look foolish if they think someone’s not a game changer. The people who know everything brought them back for a reason. I may not know why, but if you think they’re just a filler…I don’t think that’s the case.

Holmes: Is there anyone you’re looking forward to working with?
Lacina: The generic answer is; I’m willing to work with anyone. But, that’s the truth. Even people you don’t like. And I wouldn’t say I dislike people. You get vibes from people. And that’s what I hate from the pre-gaming is that I have a real serious face. I think that people think I’m intimidating or abrasive, and that’s not me at all. I love to joke and laugh. I hope people don’t get an impression of me too soon. I wouldn’t mind working with JT. He seems loyal. Caleb, I watched him on “Big Brother.” Very loyal for all 90-some days he was in the house. I’m not opposed to working with Tony. Tony knows this game like the back of his hand. I’d be open to that.
Holmes: What’s your relationship like Tony like now?
Lacina: In real life, he’s like Uncle Tony and I’m Aunt Sarah. As far as “Survivor,” your guess is as good as mine. And I really mean that in all honesty. People are tight with other people, I don’t do a lot of the social media. Tony’s the only person I know as a person. So, I don’t know how that will come into play.

Holmes: Is there anyone you’re wary of at this point?
Lacina: Sandra…she doesn’t come off as super friendly. But, I probably don’t either, so I’m not going to hold that against her. She’s won twice, she’s doing something right. Cirie…she’s not really good at anything. This is her fourth time playing. What is she doing right? Those two I’m keeping an eye on.

Holmes: You’re playing with seventeen people you’ve seen and two you haven’t. What is your approach with Zeke and Michaela?
Lacina: The only thing you can do is watch them and their body language. Michaela seems like a J’Tia. I watched J’Tia in pre-game and I watched Michaela in pre-game and they act the same. I really think just by watching Michaela…she’s not going to fit in very well. I could be wrong. She’s just laying everywhere, she doesn’t sit up. And I see Zeke being like a Michael Snow.
Holmes: You famously in your last pre-game looked at Tony and said, “That dude’s a cop.”
Lacina: I’ve been a cop for ten years, even when you’re not working you’re still a cop. I’ve arrested people off duty. You’re always paying attention to who’s doing what. I could tell you whose toenails are painted what color. And body language is a big tell for how people behave. I can really figure people out pretty quickly.
Holmes: Don’t look down. What color are my toenails?
Lacina: (Laughs) You don’t have any toenail polish on.
Holmes: Wow, you’re good.

Holmes: You’re on lockdown, but that doesn’t stop people from winking and smiling. Who’s doing that?
Lacina: JT is extremely social. Brad Culpepper is extremely social. You know, I wouldn’t mind working with Brad, but he might have too many irons in the fire. You can do too much. You see Debbie, Caleb, Aubry, and Tai sticking together. I think not on purpose, but you’re drawn to the people you know. And then there are people like Sandra who keep to themselves.
Holmes: You mentioned the foursome from Kaoh Rong. How do you deal with them?
Lacina: Caleb and Tai are tight. Caleb just got married and Tai was at his wedding. Aubry and Tai went to the end together. Debbie was working with them too. You’d be foolish to not work with the people you know. That’s like when people ask if I’ll work with Tony. Do I want to? No. May I have to? Yes. But again, it’s a comfort thing. I know him outside of the game. That doesn’t mean I’ll trust him inside the game. It’s human nature. You’re drawn to things you’re familiar with.

Holmes: There’s always talk of pre-game alliances in returnee seasons. Are you participating in any? Have you heard rumors of any?
Lacina: No. I only know Tony. And even if he said, “It’s me and you to the end” I wouldn’t believe him.
Holmes: Even if Tony said, “Water is wet.”
Lacina: (Laughs) Right? He’s the last person you’d want to have a pre-game alliance with. You can’t even have an in-game alliance with that guy. But yeah, it makes me scared that I could be in trouble for not being popular outside of the game. Like Sierra? She travels with that Dirty 30 crew and they know everyone. Malcolm used to date one of their cast members. Hali’s in that mix too. They all live out there together. And I want to see fair game, but I know that’s impossible.

Holmes: Alright, I’m going to give you a reason someone might use to get rid of you. I’d like you to counter that argument.
Lacina: OK.
Holmes: Sarah is too good at challenges. I watched her destroy a puzzle. Remember when she was like, “Why am I on the brawn tribe?”
Lacina: (Laughs)
Holmes: I don’t want her cruising after the merge. Let’s get her tonight.
Lacina: Look, I got lucky on a puzzle. Did you see me lose the challenges where I didn’t figure it out? And right now we need to win challenges, we don’t want to go to Tribal Council. So, at this point, I understand your fear, but there are tons of other people who are good at puzzles. Ozzy won five out of six challenges after the merge.

Holmes: Sarah became a swing vote. I don’t want a swing vote. I want someone’s who’s on my side.
Lacina: I was a swing vote, but I stuck with my crew. I was completely loyal. Never once did you see me lie, cheat, steal nothing. I’ll swear to you on my badge.
Holmes: Hilarious.

Holmes: Sarah’s a cop. It’s a pretty noble profession. I don’t want to have to face her at a final Tribal.
Lacina: Being a cop doesn’t have anything to do with how you’re going to do. We have a two-time winner. My job doesn’t set me apart. You have Tai who loves animals.
Holmes: In Nicaragua on day two they wanted to get rid of Kelly Bruno because she had one leg.
Lacina: Oh yeah. Did she wear pants in the pre-game so they wouldn’t know?
Holmes: Yes, I was out there.
Lacina: So, they didn’t know?
Holmes: Some people who were perceptive like you figured it out.
Lacina: Wow, so some people are thinking that far ahead. That’s too early. That’s why I tell people, now is not the time. You don’t want to vote out strong players early on.

Holmes: Any guesses for twists?
Lacina: Oh (expletive deleted). I haven’t been thinking of that. I really don’t want Exile Island or Redemption Island. I don’t want to see a (expletive deleted) super idol. Well, unless I get it. (Laughs)
Holmes: Oh, now you’re into it.
Lacina: Yes.
Holmes: Give me the super, duper idol.

Holmes: Alright, I have a deck of cards that features your seventeen opponents. Michaela and Zeke have been left out because we don’t know anything about them. I’ll hand you three cards at random. You tell me who you’ll vote out first, who you’ll work with and eventually eliminate, and who you’ll take to the end.
Lacina: This is like (expletive deleted), marry, kill?
Holmes: Yes. If we have time we can play that next.
Lacina: (Laughs)

Round One: Brad, Jeff, and Caleb
Lacina: Jeff out first. I wouldn’t normally, but out of these three. I want to work with Caleb because he’s super loyal. He’s an army veteran. He seems like a nice guy. I’ll take Brad to the end because he already has a bunch of money and he’s abrasive.

Round Two: Troyzan, Debbie, and Sandra
Lacina: Sandra out first. She’s won twice. Hmmm…I’ll work with Debbie. She reminds me of Trish and we get along great. I think we’ll click. I’ll take Troy to the end because I think I can beat him in the end. This is fun. Is it fun to play with other people?
Holmes: It is. I know how I’d play, but it helps me get a feel for how you’ll play.

Round Three: Hali, Sierra, and Malcolm
Lacina: I’m going to vote out Malcolm. He’s good at challenges, he’s popular with the other two. I want to work with Hali. I think she’ll listen to whatever I tell her. And I’ll take Sierra to the end because she’s probably easier to beat than Hali.

Round Four: Ozzy, Aubry, and Tai
Lacina: Man, you’re giving me hard ones.
Holmes: Random.
Lacina: Alright, vote out Tai. Tai made it to the end. He’s likable. He needs to go. Work with Aubry, she’s super smart and I think we would complement each other very well. I’ll take Ozzy to the end. This is his fourth time and I don’t think he has the social game.

Round Five: Andrea, Cirie, and Tony
Lacina: (Expletive deleted). Jeez Louise, this is like the worst three. Cirie is out first. I don’t think we’re going to get along. I want to get along with everybody, but the reality of it is I think we won’t get along. Work with Tony, it’d be fun. We’d have a good time. I’ll take Andrea to the end because other than a social game I don’t think she has a ton to offer.

Holmes: We’ve got two left. Work with one and boot the other.

Round Six: JT and Ciera
Lacina: Work with JT and vote out Ciera. Again, I think me and JT are going to be like brother and sister. We seem really similar. And Ciera…she seems dramatic to me. The last season she was crying about, “I just need someone to play the game.” Well, you weren’t in the numbers. Stop crying. That’s “Survivor.”

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

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