Shan Smith Explains Why She Was ‘Deeply Triggered’ by Deshawn Radden’s Betrayal

Shan Smith and Deshawn Radden in Survivor 41

YouTube Shan Smith and Deshawn Radden in episode 10 of "Survivor 41."

Shan Smith’s iconic blindside in “Survivor 41” has gone down in “Survivor” history as the culmination to what has been praised as one of the show’s greatest episodes. After Shan’s ally Ricard Foyé orchestrated a blindside against her, Shan famously announced that Ricard “has my vote for $1 million,” and that her ally Deshawn Radden was a “snake.”

In exit interviews, Shan was open about the fact that she felt betrayed by Deshawn considering how their alliance had been built on factors external from the game, such as their shared cultural and racial background.

During the questioning period of the Final Tribal Council, Shan asked Deshawn if he had been honest about bonding with Shan based on these real-life connections, or whether he had simply been using them as leverage and manipulation tactics within the game. This resulted in quite a bit of backlash within the “Survivor” community, causing Shan and her fellow contestant Liana Wallace to address some of their statements and feelings during the game in a recent interview. Here’s what you need to know:


Shan: ‘I Was Very Aware of the Question I Was Asking’

Survivor 41 Final Tribal Council final 3

YouTubeThe final 3 of “Survivor 41,” Deshawn Radden, Erika Casupanan, and Xander Hastings, at the season’s Final Tribal Council.

In an interview Thursday with “Survivor: Island of the Idols” contestant Lauren Ashley Beck, Shan reiterated how heavily real-world events weighed on her during the course of the game; filming began in April 2021, not long after the climax of nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice in which she took part. This is part of the reason why her “All-Black Alliance” with Deshawn, Liana, and Danny McCray was so important to her, and why the betrayal from Danny and Deshawn hurt so much.

As a result, by the time Final Tribal Council rolled around, Shan explained, “I think [Liana] and I had enough information to figure, ‘Was this for capital? Did you [Deshawn] just play us, kind of thing? Did you just say you were about something but it wasn’t really what you were locked into?’ It was really jarring.”

Shan went on to say that she was “very aware of the question I was asking,” referring to the aforementioned controversial questions she asked of Deshawn, not only because a largely white audience was bearing witness to the episode, but also because people of color would be. As she explained, “Bigger in my mind was…I want to give you an opportunity to speak to America about really why you decided to do this, because I think a lot of people of color watching will have questions about it.”

She added that on top of all that, the vote simply didn’t make sense to her, given that they had the numbers and Shan was committed to staying loyal to them. Liana, who was left out of the Shan vote, echoed this in the same interview, saying she had the “strongest resistance” to voting Deshawn of the three finalists, given that his game was “emotional and just sporadic.”


Shan and Liana on How Deshawn’s Betrayal Was Reflective of Black Women Being Left Behind

George Floyd and Breonna Taylor protests

GettyProtestors march against police brutality in Brooklyn in 2020, holding signs with portraits of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Shan Smith and Liana Wallace noted the disparity between the crowds of protestors against the killings of Black men vs. Black women as part of why they were so upset at Deshawn Radden and Danny McCray’s betrayal of Shan.

Liana said for her part that part of the reason why the blindside hurt so badly was because of the dynamic of Black women often being left behind in the struggle for racial equality in the real world. As she explained:

What I was actually thinking [while interrogating Deshawn during Final Tribal Council] was this dynamic of Black women sticking it out for y’all and y’all not pulling it out. But I couldn’t go ahead and say that in front of white America, so I had to default to explaining what a Black alliance is, right?

Shan echoed these comments, mentioning the “disparity” between the protests against the murder of George Floyd, versus those of Breonna Taylor. She added how there were “so many” Black women who showed up for the protests against the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Floyd, and countless others, versus women like Taylor, where much of the Black community was “not there for us.” Shan explained that, because of this, she was “deeply triggered on a whole other level” after being voted out, adding that “Liana heard I think a lot of it at Ponderosa, unfortunately.”

Liana reiterated that Deshawn couldn’t explain his move after they returned to camp that night (describing his explanation as “BS”), nor could he answer how the move benefited his game when she asked him at the Final Tribal Council, saying it simply “[didn’t] make sense.”

Although she came into the Final Tribal open-minded, Deshawn could not overcome the disadvantage he had already put himself in. And that, combined with the Final Tribal Council performance of Erika Casupanan which several contestants and fans alike have praised, was good enough for both of them to vote for Erika.

“Survivor” airs Wednesdays 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS. Be sure to catch season 42 when it premieres March 9, 2022.