Monty Brinton/CBS/Landov
Patrick Gomez
March 19, 2011 08:30 PM

Among a tribe of “Rob’s zombies,” Survivor contestant Kristina Kell’s animated attempts to oust Boston Rob made her a target. After becoming the third person eliminated from Redemption Island, Kell, 46, tells PEOPLE how she ended up on the wrong side of the numbers, why she had the guts not to play the idol at the first tribal council and how sheer will is the only thing that kept her from not passing out during her duel.

You seemed really excited to play the game.
I’ve been waiting 10 years to play Survivor and I’ve watched every episode – some seasons more than once. I was beside myself with excitement when we got off that helicopter. Then I see the [second] helicopter come in and in it I see a shadow of a fedora and I’m like, “Holy crap, it’s Russell.”

Were you glad to see him and Boston Rob?
I was kind of bummed because they’ve played the game before and they know what to expect. That’s a giant advantage. So I was a little dubious about having them on my tribe, but I wasn’t going to say that like Francesca did. I was cautious but excited.

How did you end up on the wrong side of the numbers so early?
Well with Andrea, Ashley and Natalie, I have 20-plus years on those girls, so that was a barrier to start with. And then Rob came in as our “hero.” Those girls were star struck by him. And I include Grant in that group of girls. They would walk down the beach together singing and holding hands. The three girls would bound after Rob like three Bo Dereks in 10. It was a ridiculous situation. So I was stuck with the older folks in the tribe.

Speaking of the older folks, you really did not get along with Phillip.
He just had this frantic, insane, mental diarrhea that would just flow from his mouth and infect everyone there. He was paranoid. One day, his underwear flew off a clothesline while it was drying and he accused everyone of trying to steal his underwear. He’s just insane and paranoid and delusional … and an idiotic blowhard.

Why didn’t you play your idol at the first tribal council?
The last thing I wanted to do was play the idol right off the bat or even tell anyone I had it. But I had no choice. I figured Rob’s zombies were going to split the vote. But then Phillip and his big fat mouth said he was switching his vote to Francesca, so I thought I had a chance to not play the idol. At the second [tribal council], I thought Rob was too smart to do the same thing again and I thought he would have had everyone vote for me. But then Matt went home.

You looked ready to collapse when you dueled with Matt.
It was tough. I was at a disadvantage. I hadn’t eaten in a day and a half; I hadn’t had water. I hadn’t slept. And then I had to go move heavy blocks around. I almost fainted a few times but my ego just wouldn’t let me faint on TV. You think they could have given me the keys and the stick, but no, they give me the heavy blocks. And they put me up against this 22-year-old Adonis who had gotten a good night’s sleep and been on the island for a few days. Matt played hard and I unfortunately lost.

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