‘Survivor’ Winner Sophie Clarke: Coach Was ‘So Unaware…He Can’t Help Himself’

Coach Wade and Sophie Clarke

Getty Benjamin "Coach" Wade and Sophie Clarke at the "Survivor: South Pacific" reunion show in 2011.

Sophie Clarke, the winner of “Survivor: South Pacific,” first played “Survivor” back in 2011 alongside a number of recognizable faces. The most noteworthy of whom may have been Benjamin “Coach” Wade, who dominated the season’s post-merge game with her; both made it to the final three, but Sophie beat out Coach in a 6-3-0 vote.

In a recent interview, Sophie shared some insights about what it was like being with the iconic “Survivor” star for 39 days, and why he never had what it took to win. She also compared him to a certain contestant this season, and made a prediction as to how that will play out.

Here’s what you need to know:

Sophie Explains What Was Coach’s Downfall in ‘South Pacific’

Coach Wade

GettyCoach at the “Survivor: South Pacific” reunion show.

On Thursday, Sophie sat down with Riley McAtee and Juliet Litman on their podcast The Ringer, where they discussed the ongoing season of “Survivor.” When discussing Daniel Strunk, Sophie drew parallels with Coach, who she believed was playing a similar game as him – one which prioritized how things will appear on TV over good gameplay.

“Coach for everything was so unaware of what was going on around him,” Sophie explained, “because he was too focused on, ‘How do I build up this persona?’ And it was always to his own detriment, because he was so committed to being Coach.” She added, “He can’t help himself. I think he is like that.”

Coach, despite never winning, has been a popular “Survivor” fan favorite in the many years since his first appearance in 2009, largely due to his dynamic and highly entertaining character. This is what led him to returning to the show twice. As Sophie explained, Coach’s dedication to upholding his image on TV – an image which he had crafted as an embodiment of “honor, loyalty, and integrity” – is what led to his own downfall in the end.

In “South Pacific,” despite dominating the season’s post-merge “Pagonging” (systemic elimination) of the opposing tribe, Savaii, and leading his alliance to the final 5, Coach refused to take ownership of his duplicity and lies in the end, resulting in the jury favoring Sophie, a more under-the-radar player. As John Cochran, one of the jurors who voted for him in the end, said in his jury voting confessional, “You know, if you wipe out all the garbage about honor, integrity, and love and compassion, you played a great game … You have nothing to apologize for.”

Several jurors who voted for Sophie, including Ozzy Lusth, have said after the fact that had Coach simply taken ownership of his game, he would have secured their votes and won.

Sophie Predicts Who Will Go Home Next in ‘Survivor 42’

When it came to Daniel, Sophie said she believed the way he handled Vati’s first Tribal Council and its aftermath was poor, despite being a superfan of the game. She then noted how she believed Daniel likely views everything that happens around him the way it will be viewed on television, rather than playing in the present moment, like Coach. Also like Coach, she predicted this will be his downfall.

“Daniel is not present,” she said. “He’s viewing every moment as it will be viewed on TV, thinking about every moment as he will be seen on TV.” As a result, she explained, “he can’t play the game.”

Sophie added that this habit of seeing the game through the lens of how it will be seen on TV will not only be his downfall, but predicted even that it will come the next episode, while also expressing sympathy for his poor position in Vati. “I’m going to go with [Vati] going to Tribal,” Sophie said when asked to make a prediction for who will be voted out next episode. “And then I’ll do Daniel. Which is sad, because I want to see him continue to try.”

“Survivor 42” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS.

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