Monty Brinton/CBS
October 06, 2012 11:30 AM

She was young. She was cute. And she was the third person voted out of Survivor: Philippines. Angie Layton, a 20-year-old former Miss Teen Utah, tells PEOPLE about the ups and downs of Survivor stint – and that she’s not a dumb blonde.

You came into this game as the youngest contestant and with a background in beauty pageants. How do you think that affected the others’ perception of you?
They perceived me as a dumb blonde. You know, here’s the pageant girl from Utah. So I was stereotyped from the start. I knew I’d have to give it my all, to give 110-percent. I wanted to prove that I’m more than a pageant girl. I was there to win and to compete.

How so?
I worked really hard around the camp. I weaved the entire roof. I wanted my tribe to see me as an asset around camp; I would cut the coconuts for dinner. I was the one making food, preparing the rice. I know some people say we were working too much, but I don’t think so. There was always something to do.

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Last week, Roxanne mentioned the lack of food. How little were you eating?
We had a cup of rice a day, and it was the high point of the day! And then there were coconuts. That was it. So we were really depleted.

Your tribe lost three consecutive challenges. How hard was that?
When you lose three times in a row, you go into a panic. It’s heartbreaking, really. You want something so bad, and you just can’t get it. It sucked so bad.

What was wrong with the Matsing Tribe?
You know, I think the other tribes had a little more strength, but we also had some bad luck along the way. I’m usually a positive person; I try to make the best out of the worst, but I got really depressed. And then we got it in our heads that we couldn’t win.

You snuggled with Malcolm every night. What was that about?
Obviously, we were attracted to each other. He kept me warm at night, and I thank him for that. We were two young, attractive people trying to keep warm. It was never romantic, though. We weren’t a couple. That was overblown.

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Last week, you took some heat for saying your tribe needed cookies. Was that fair?
I was trying to lighten the mood; it was a joke. Roxanne said we worked too much, which was a worse answer.

During the challenge, you had trouble competing. What was wrong?
I just had trouble getting the first buoy. It wasn’t my challenge. But I was willing to give 100%, but it made more sense for Denise and Malcolm to do the swimming because they were so good at it. I was a good competitor. In last week’s challenge, I held my own; I pushed a heavy sled twice, and I was up against two huge guys. It was a hard challenge, and I proved myself. This challenge just wasn’t for me.

Did you know you were going to be voted out?
I was preparing for the worst, but I hoped for the best. Malcolm and Denise were very upfront with me; it was between me and Russell. I thought I had a shot, because I was part of that alliance, at least for a while.

So what did you do wrong in the game?
I should have stood up for myself more. I should have been more aware of what was going on around me. But I had fun. I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was the craziest, best learning experience of my entire life. I made a lot of friends; we’re all part of the Survivor family. I’ll keep in touch with all of them. Well, not all of them, but most of them.

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