In 2017, Sarah Lacina was crowned the winner of “Survivor: Game Changers,” scoring seven of the jury’s ten jury votes. She beat out former NFL player Brad Culpepper, who achieved three votes, and “Troyzan” Robertson, who got none. Recently, some “Game Changers” jury members have spoken out about what went on behind the scenes that caused them to question their vote to give Lacina a million dollars.
Here’s what you need to know.
Sarah’s Political Affiliations Rubbed Some People the Wrong Way
Ozzy Lusth, who is a longtime “Survivor” fan favorite, first appeared in “Survivor: Cook Islands” in 2006. He went on to make three more appearances on the show, with his fourth and final appearance being “Game Changers” in 2017. He placed 12th, and ended up voting for runner-up Brad Culpepper as a jury member.
In an August 2021 interview with Sean Ross and Evan Ross Katz on the Drop Your Buffs podcast, Lusth revealed that some of the “Game Changers” jurors who voted for Lacina ended up questioning, and possibly regretting, their votes after Lacina made her admiration for then-candidate Donald Trump clear. Lusth explained:
So, at the end of ‘Game Changers,’ after the votes have all been cast, and we all go to Ponderosa…Sarah shows up, puts on her Trump hat, and everyone’s like ‘[gasps] oh! Wait, we just…wait, we just did th– no! Can we– can we take that back?’ I was like, ‘Ah, you suckers!’
Lusth singled out Cirie Fields and Andrea Boehlke – both of whom voted for Lacina – in particular as being particularly shocked and dismayed by the revelation.
“Game Changers” was shot in the summer of 2016, meaning that this specific incident likely took place around mid-July 2016, before Trump had been elected, but after he had unofficially secured the Republican nomination and the primary campaign season had wrapped up.
The conversation Lusth was having took place in a larger context around three-time “Survivor” contestant Joe Anglim (who did not compete in “Game Changers”), who, despite being popular at one point, faced a backlash from the “Survivor” fanbase after spouting false and dangerous conspiracy theories about the 2020 election being stolen, as well as revealing his affiliation for the popular online conspiracy theory known as QAnon. Lusth said of Anglim:
I think the man is brainwashed…it’s really sad when people use their platform…when you’re spreading such obvious false narratives…when you start saying that the Democrats are a bunch of blood-sucking evil pedophiles, all that’s going to to is end up creating this violence that ends up happening.
He added that he believed public figures with large platforms like Anglim were “in some way shape or form” responsible for the violence that is perpetrated by such narratives. He later added: “I just feel bad for him. I pity the place he’s at that he can’t distinguish between truth and lies.”
Ozzy Says He Regrets His Own Vote
Although Lusth did not vote for Lacina, he said he regretted his own jury vote for Culpepper, due to his personal character during the game. In the podcast, he explained that his ideal scenario was to go to the end with Culpepper, because the former NFL star would be “egotistical enough to want to take me to the end.” However, Lusth said, “he ended up being a coward.” When one of the hosts pointed out that Lusth voted for him, Lusth responded, “I know, because I was an idiot! So stupid.”
He later added, “I just thought [Brad] had played such a great game in the physical only, he was such an a****** and so annoying the whole entire time– I regret that. I really do regret that, voting for him.”
Lusth did not say who he would have voted for instead, so it is unclear whether he would have voted for Lacina, despite their strong personal and political disagreements. He did not say much about the third place finisher, Troy “Troyzan” Robertson, and in fact even forgot he was in the final 3 at one point, requiring the hosts to prompt him that Robertson was the third member of the finals.
Another ‘Game Changers’ Contestant Corroborated the Story
Zeke Smith, another contestant in “Game Changers” who was one of Lacina’s most ardent supporters on the jury, corroborated the Lusth’s story in a July 2020 Las Culturistas podcast. He explained that Lacina’s ardent support for Trump was difficult for him, especially considering how supportive she was when he was outed earlier in the season as transgender, “I remember it being very perplexing, because I loved Sarah so much, I really lobbied hard for her to win, cause I was like ‘Oh we have this beautiful friendship even though our political beliefs don’t align and we have different backgrounds’.”
He went on to explain what happened after the Final Tribal Council, and how he believes he and Lacina were still able to maintain a friendship:
I remember she walked into dinner after the Final Tribal Council, after we voted to give her a million dollars, and she was wearing a MAGA hat, and I was just like, ‘Oh my God!’ But for her, and I think this is true for a lot of the police officers I know, is that like, they have this like cognitive dissonance…where they can have friends who are LGBT, they can have friends who are liberal, they can have friends who are Muslim, where they’re like ‘Oh, these are good people, but I’m still gonna vote for Trump because of these like external political beliefs that I have’.”
When one of the hosts suggested Lacina’s career as a police officer “runs deep,” Smith replied, “it does.”
Be sure to catch the season finale of “Survivor 41” on Wednesday, December 15 at 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS. Season 42 will premiere March 9, 2022.