As a contestant on Survivor: Philippines, Sarah Dawson knew that one of her fellow competitors was a rich baseball player – but she kept her mouth shut. It may have cost her the game, but she got a consolation prize: she’s the first contestant in 25 seasons to host kiss Jeff Probst at Tribal Council.
The insurance sales rep, 28, spoke with PEOPLE about her game – and that kiss.
You dreamed of getting on Survivor for years. What was it like when you got to the Philippines?
I don’t do drugs, but I got out there and I was naturally high. Seeing the challenges, seeing Jeff Probst, wearing a buff, getting treemail! It was just an amazing experience for me! I never even got hungry.
In 25 seasons, you may be the first contestant to say you weren’t hungry.
My sustenance was being on the show. I can say that with 100 percent honesty. I was having a spiritual experience out there. I couldn’t think of pizza. You know you’re not going to get food out there. So I was going to take in the entire experience and not focus on other things.
But when you go for the experience, you’re not playing the game.
Oh, I played it. I formed an alliance with the women. We knew that the men were going off to form an alliance, so I formed one with the other girls. But when Dana left, we lost our numbers.
Was there any part of you that wanted to tell her to stay in the game?
My priority was worrying about my friend who was hurting. But we thought she was being evacuated because she was sick; we didn’t know that they gave her the option to stay in the game. If I had known that, I would have asked her to stay.
You got some criticism for your performance in the last challenge. Is that why you were voted out?
Well, they made a big deal of the girls messing things up, but Jeff Kent messed up his part, too. He was supposed to chop through some wood. He couldn’t do it. We were cheering and cheering and cheering. We cheered until our voices got tired. So he cost us a lot of time, too. I thought, ‘You’re supposed to be some big baseball player, and you can’t even chop a little bit of wood.’
Speaking of Jeff Kent, why didn’t you tell your tribe that he was a rich baseball player?
I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of having him say that he was voted off because I outed him. I wanted to see him go down in flames by his own doing. That would have been more satisfying. And I really did like the guy. I wanted to let him play his game.
But isn’t the whole point of Survivor to ruin everyone else’s game so you can advance?
Maybe, but I would still have been voted out – that decision was firm. And that’s now how I wanted to play it.
So do you regret it?
No, I really don’t. I like the game I played. And I wanted Jeff to have a fair shot at the game.
And then you kissed Jeff Probst after you were voted out!
I like Jeff Probst a lot. I’m a big fan. He’s a great host, and he’s cute. And I just thought, ‘Well, it can’t hurt me now. I’m going to give him a hug and a kiss.’ No one else has ever done that!
Did it make you feel better after being voted out?
Oh, yes. Definitely. It made everything totally worth it!