'Survivor' 's Lindsey Cascaddan: I Spoke My Mind – and It Cost Me!

The feisty single mom tells PEOPLE what went wrong – and why she couldn't help herself

Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS

Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to hold your tongue while playing Survivor. There will always be outspoken people who will get on your nerves; the CBS casting department sees to that. It doesn’t pay to be lippy and confrontational. (That is, unless you’re two-time winner Sandra Diaz Twine, who can somehow get away with it.)

Lindsey Cascaddan learned that lesson the hard way while competing on Survivor: Worlds Apart. The tattooed Florida hairdresser clashed with a few other contestants – most notably 24-year-old Rodney Lavoie, who insisted that “women should hold themselves to a higher standard than men.” (He seemed genuinely flummoxed when the women pointed out that he was being sexist.)

Side note: PEOPLE predicted in January that Cascaddan and Lavoie would “get along famously.” How wrong we were.

Cascaddan, 24, talks to PEOPLE about the things she would change – and one thing that she wouldn’t.

Lindsey! What happened?
(Laughs) I went into the game thinking that I’d be a wallflower. I thought I’d hold my tongue and be polite. It worked for a little while. But after living with these people, they started getting under my skin. I was starving and exhausted. My true personality is standing up for my beliefs. I just couldn’t hold my tongue.

So it came down to personality?
I can be controlling and bossy. I want things to be done the right way. I think I could’ve gotten away with it more if I were a man. The men on my tribe didn’t want a girl running their tribe.

You clashed with Rodney, and previously had issues with Dan and Mike. Do you still like them?
I can respect and like things about all of them. As people, will we be best friends? Probably not. But I have a sense of pride for having worked with them. We had more cohesion and unity that any other tribe did. CBS can’t show every single thing that happened, but there were lighthearted times, too. We don’t hate each other; there was just a difference of opinion.

So did Survivor bring out the worst in you?
This is such a weird game. It brings out the worst in people, but it also brings out the best in people. I was able to live in a group of six people who I would never have met. We had some great moments.

You needed Mike to side with you, but had clashed with him a few days earlier. Why did you think he’d be loyal to you?
Mike is a man who is raised by women and he respects women in a big way. He’s a gentleman and a guy with morals. We had a lot of conversations leading up to tribal that were based on playing this game with people we’d want to be friends with outside the game. We said we wanted to show America that you don’t have to be nasty to get far. But he decided to flip.

You had yelled at him about his God not building the fire. It came off very harshly. Do you think that hurt you?
I am not anti-God, and I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful. That comment wasn’t meant to offend religious people, and if it did, I really am sorry. God can be part of someone’s game and strength, and he can be part of why a fire is there. But at the end of the day, on Day 9 of Survivor, if a fire is there providing you food and water, it’s not because God put it there. It’s because a someone worked hard to build it – I had worked hard to build it. That was my point.

That makes sense. Did you get a lot of backlash when it aired?
I got a note from someone who said, “I hope you’re ready for what’s going to happen next.” But other than that, no.

You and Sierra bonded, and it appears that she’s going to try to avenge you.
I’m team Sierra! She’s loyal, sweet, friendly, fierce and fearless. She looks like this all-American tall model, but she can get her hands dirty. I’m stockier, shorter, not looking like an all-American girl. We seem different, but we have the same morals. We worked really well as a team.

Do you think your closeness hurt you?
Yes. It was a threat to people, especially Kelly. She was like, ‘Why are they so close? How are they so close? Should we be afraid of what they’re going to do?’ We got along so well that we couldn’t hide our connection.

So would you change that?
I would have hidden my alliance with Sierra more than I did. I would have made Kelly feel like she was more a part of our alliance. I would’ve played the game a little bit quieter.

And what wouldn’t you change?
It’s important to play this game as who you are. It’s unfortunate when you see a good person go on Survivor and cave into a nasty creature. Even if I had gotten far, I knew that I’d come home and ultimately be a daughter to a mom, and a mom to a daughter. I didn’t want to have to explain myself, why I let go of my morals.

Last question: you predicted that a blue collar person would win the game. Do you want to amend that because they voted you out?
I stood by that, because that’s how I felt about our tribe. They’re hard workers. They’re just the right amount of crazy/stupid/smart to play this game. I’m glad I was one of them.

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