Maria Shrime Gonzalez defends her controversial 'Survivor 46' jury vote (2024)

Maria Shrime Gonzalez did not win Survivor, but she is the one that will have everyone talking well into the off-season. That’s because Maria dropped the biggest bomb of the season on Wednesday’s Survivor 46 finale, and she did it at the last possible second when she was no longer even still in the game.

Maria’s quest for the million dollars came to end when Kenzie Petty and Liz Wilcox teamed up in an immunity competition to take out the challenge beast at the final five. But Maria would continue to make her mark in a huge way. After Kenzie,Ben Katzman, and Charlie Davis advanced to the final 3, it was up to the jury to pick the winner. Some may have been surprised to see Kenzie emerge victorious with a 5-3-0 win over Charlie and Ben, but everybody was stunned that one of Kenzie’s five votes came from Charlie’s biggest ally in the game —Maria.

Why did Maria turn her back on Uncle Charlie —a vote that ultimately cost her island BFF the million dollars? Have the two discussed it together and would she still make the same vote today? We asked Maria all that and more, and also got her reaction to the Kenzie and Liz team-up that took her out.

Maria Shrime Gonzalez defends her controversial 'Survivor 46' jury vote (1)

ENTERTAINMENT WEKELY: We have to start right here. Tell me about the choice to not vote for your number one in the game, Charlie, to win Survivor and instead giving your vote and, the way it worked out with the numbers, a million dollars to Kenzie?

MARIA SHRIME GONZALEZ: In this game, I feel like there were many times where I was torn between my heart and my head, my heart and my head. And I think that was never more clear than in the pizza reward. When I was trying to decide where my heart said pick Liz, my head said pick Q. Q's been a very loyal ally to me. What am I supposed to do? And I went with my head. When it came to that final Tribal Council, actually starting back at the fire, when I watched Kenzie make fire, there was a look in her eyes — a fierceness in her eyes of a powerful woman who overcame something. And that spoke to me so deeply in my core.

She also said, “I'm doing this for me.” And if you know anything about my story, my story of coming on the show was choosing me. My story was saying: I've put everybody ahead of me, as in motherhood, being a mom, and coming on the show is finally doing something for me. And so when those words came out of her mouth, I was stunned. And so I was going up the steps at Tribal… Charlie, Kenzie, Charlie Kenzie, head, heart, head, heart. And ultimately I chose my heart. And I feel really proud. I was one of five votes, so it wasn't just me. And it killed me to not vote for Charlie. I adore Charlie. I have the utmost respect for Charlie, but I chose my heart.

So how have those discussions been with Charlie over the past 11 months? Because I'm sure they have not been easy.

They haven't been easy, and we, I think, have a mutual respect for each other. We've had lots of moments. We've seen each other, we've visited each other. The children have met Uncle Charlie. I don't doubt that we won't be able to get past this. It's hard to watch. It's hurtful. I have been so upset just thinking about how hard this decision was for me, but I stand 10 toes down on the choice that I chose somebody who was about to start her family, who wanted to have a baby. And it spoke to me as a woman on a personal level that this is what I faced so many times in my life and I chose me, and she chose her. and that's why I chose her.

Maria Shrime Gonzalez defends her controversial 'Survivor 46' jury vote (2)

Charlie Davis reveals conversations with Maria after controversial Survivor vote

Charlie said you told him “Get to the final three so I can vote for you.”

I told him, you can see it in the water, I said, “If you get there, you've got my vote.” The thing changed when I saw that fire. It was nothing I saw coming. It triggered me on an emotional level. It triggered me on a personal level. It went beyond the game. And so like I said, there is a very fine line between choosing between your heart and choosing between your head. And I could have voted strategically. I could have voted with my heart, and I chose to vote with my heart for a woman who wanted to do something for herself for once.

We always see people deliberating with the vote. We saw it with Tevin last night up to the last second not knowing who to vote for and what to do. What about after the fact, Maria? What's it been like for you? Have you been sort of rethinking and having an internal debate? I know you had one before the vote. Have you had one after the vote?

I’ve constantly been thinking what could have been, what could have been, what could have been, but I can't live my life with regret. I can't live my life thinking I should have done this. I feel very proud that I was one of five people to give her a chance to start her family. And so when you're there in the moment —and believe me, it is not a place that I want anybody to have to sit — to sit there and have to make that choice, I think it just is such a beautiful gesture from a woman to a woman to give her this chance to start her life.

So if you had to revote today, you would still vote Kenzie?

I would still vote Kenzie.

Maria Shrime Gonzalez defends her controversial 'Survivor 46' jury vote (3)

Kenzie Petty was shocked to get Maria's vote to win Survivor 46

Speaking of Kenzie, let's go back to the Final Five immunity challenge. Do you think it was fair for Liz to be allowed to help Kenzie beat you in that challenge? Tell me the truth: What did you think?

I am going to plead this fifth. [Laughs] It didn't feel fair. It did not feel fair. It wrecked me. It felt like it took a lot away from me, who is a competitor and believes in competing fairly. That being said, it's an honor to be taken out that way. It's an honor to know that they needed two people to take me out. And so yeah, it sucked. It sucked to watch back. I cried the same tears I cried that day. But I think walking out knowing that that's what it took to take me down, I feel super honored.

We'll never know. Kenzie finished the puzzle first, but then she can't figure out what the plank is. So if she doesn't have Liz help her figure that out and go back, what do you think happens?

Of course I'm going to say I could have won. I should have won, right? Who knows? I've woken up so many nights thinking what could have happened? What would've happened? Could I have done it? Could I have really gotten to the end? I feel like I could have, but you never know.

How much did you want to get that challenge winning record?

I think more than Soul Survivor, it was getting that record. And I think I spoke that out loud. I think that's the part that hurts the most is I felt like I could be one of those elite group of women, and maybe even had the chance to surpass them. Who knows?

Survivor 46 finale recap: A stunning vote from a juror tips the scales

Everyone said, “We can't let Maria get to the end. She's going to win.” Again, we'll never know, but what's your sense having talked to the jury? Had you made it to the final three, are you the Sole Survivor?

I had the most beautiful reception at Ponderosa. Honestly, it was so beautiful the way that they welcomed me and what they said to me, I was like, “Oh crap, I could have won this game!” We all think we can win, right? We're not going to be playing if we don't think we could win. But I really left there thinking this game could have been mine. And that's obviously been hard, but my hat's off to the final three. They were there for a reason and I'm proud of all of them.

I don't know how much he told you before voting you out at final five or if it came to you later at Ponderosa, but what was your reaction when you heard that Charlie was coming for you at the same time you were gunning for Charlie?

I mean, I loved it, the competitor in me. When we had made our Malcolm and Denise alliance, I think we both knew that at some point we were going to have to come for each other. I didn't know until after the game that he was coming for me even before I was thinking of coming for him, which is amazing. That's what should happen. You play the game together as long as you can, and then you have to find your own way to the end. So I love that he did that. I love that. I took a shot and it missed. The whole thing was poetic.

What’s something that never made it to TV that you wish we had a chance to see?

I think I said it in the other interview with you is that on Siga Beach, Mo and Jem and I had just the most beautiful moments together. And I'm actually really glad it didn't make the edit because we shared some personal stuff that have bonded us for life. And I guess those were conversations that were really just meant for us to have. And so the bond that we had together was really beautiful.

Maria Shrime Gonzalez defends her controversial 'Survivor 46' jury vote (5)

The Survivor 46 final 5 speak!

Let's go all the way back there because we haven't had a chance to discuss it. How close was the decision between going with Mo and Jem or Tim and Ben?

It was close. I mean, Mo and Jem and I were really close. And we really truly did have a Charlie's Angels alliance. I think unfortunately, the day that Jem got voted out, chaos ensued at camp. It was super, super chaotic. We didn't know Jem had the idol. We just knew she was acting differently. So if you've been kind of playing the same way and then suddenly something changes, that's like a red alert.

And I think this kind of speaks into the background behind the secret scene of me and Ben is there was no context given for why I approached him the way that I approached him. Charlie and I found an envelope stuffed in a tree. That envelope was a journey envelope. I was the only other person that had an envelope that day. And so finding that envelope made me think: What's he hiding? Why is he hiding that? There were multiple moments where Ben and Tim were stuffing things in their pockets and saying, “Well, this item is in his bag,” and there was just a lot of shadiness.

But it kind of felt to us they were better shields for us going into the merge. Jem was a little bit unpredictable at that moment, so it kind of felt like we had to get her out, but knowing that there was a little bit of distrust with them ahead of us. So I think not knowing the context of why there was distrust, there was definitely a planted envelope to make us think: Okay, somebody wants us to think that they have something.

Anytime anyone doesn't win, they might look back on the experience and be like, “Oh, if I just zigged instead of zagged.” Have you thought at all about that and pinpointed anything you could have done differently, or was it just win the damn challenges to get yourself to the end?

Obviously I peaked my head out at a point where I couldn't go back, and that was okay. I believed in myself enough to feel like I could make it to the end. Obviously, if I had made those better connections or maybe dropped down my threat level, but I'm okay being seen as a threat, I'm okay feeling that I was so powerful in this game that they had to take me out. That's okay with me. Yeah, I feel super, super proud of my game and I feel like if I had maybe made a couple other alliances on the side or maybe not been as strong… but I am strong, so I'm proud of that.

Maria Shrime Gonzalez defends her controversial 'Survivor 46' jury vote (6)

Survivor 47 host Jeff Probst shares intel on next season of the show

What was the experience like watching it play back on TV every week? The highs, the lows, and everything in between?

Definitely a roller coaster of emotions watching and sort of being nervous beforehand. “What are they going to show? How are they going to show it? What will people say?” We all get super nervous, but I think watching my edit in particular, I felt like it spoke so much to who I am as a person, is that I'm not in your face. I'm not sort of the loudest voice in the room. I am behind the scenes. I am the one that's in the corner. And to feel that I had a lot of agency in the game and didn't have to be “Hey, look at me, look at me” —I felt like it really represented who I was.

Were you nervous about your vote for Kenzie, knowing that was going to air and there was going to be a huge reaction to that?

Listen, I have had an immense amount of hate come at me this season, which is just crazy. Not something I could have anticipated. I think I did anticipate people would be upset about me choosing Kenzie, but I think you have to feel pride in what your decisions are. And I'm not going to take it back. I'm not going to go back on it.

Would you play again if they asked you to come back?

Absolutely.

Check out the rest our otherSurvivor 46finale coverage including 1-on-1 chats with Kenzie,Charlie,Ben, andLiz, anexclusive deleted scene, group interviews withthe final fiveandthe juryas well as ourfull episode recapandlook ahead to next season.


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Maria Shrime Gonzalez defends her controversial 'Survivor 46' jury vote (2024)

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