When it comes to the game of Survivor, no one wants to be the first to have their torch extinguished, but that distinction went to 48-year-old Wendy DeSmidt-Kohlhoff last night as season 21 of the hit show began.
Wendy, a goat farmer from Fromberg, Mont., played a quiet game for the three days she survived in Nicaragua after taking her husband's advice to not annoy people. "I stopped being myself," Wendy tells In Touch. "I listened to what he said, and he was totally shocked watching the first episode. I don't think he thought I'd take it to heart and was devastated at the result. That hurt."
With the two tribes this season split into the over-40 crowd and the under-40s, Wendy found herself singled out by fellow contestant (and former NFL coach) Jimmy Johnson as being one of the tribe's weakest links. She might have played it quiet at first, but after her Espada tribe lost their first challenge to the La Flor tribe, Wendy became very vocal at Tribal Council, telling her tribe why she might be an asset in the future: a move that ultimately may have led to her demise. With her torch extinguished, Wendy began the trek through Survivor's first graveyard. "Oh my God, how horrible!" admits Wendy. "I totally got lost in it and ended up wandering for some time. I wished one of the graves had been open so I could have laid down and rested. It was eerie."
For more with Wendy click here.
Name: Wendy DeSmidt-Kohlhoff
Current Residence: Fromberg, Mont.
Occupation: Goat rancher
Eliminated: September 15
What was your most surprising moment watching the show?
Wendy: Only one thing surprised me. That was when Marty talked about Jimmy Johnson and what he was doing out there. I really thought he was all for him being there so that was shocking - I thought he really liked him being there. With everyone else, I had no shocks. But I did laugh my head off when Marty called me "weird." That was so funny.
What didn't we get to know about you that might have helped your tribe?
Wendy: Well, I didn't feel Tribal Council was the place to start telling them everything they didn't know about me. Like I have 22 years of military experience, I was offered the job of going to lead the East Coast and Virgin Islands prior to my retirement. I am a good leader and fair. I'm astute and can read people very well. I didn't want to give too much away in the beginning, as later on you become a threat. Like I couldn't say I was a nurse because someone else was an LPN and being a RN, we'd butt heads and she might have been threatened. It was difficult.
What did you think of Jimmy Johnson calling you out as one of the weakest links on the tribe?
Wendy: I practiced a lot of stuff prior to the show, like trying to build up my balance skills. I ride motorcycles, too, so I was surprised that in his eyes I was considered weak. I don't believe I was. I was just someone he didn't like very well. But he said he was a weak link, too. Jimmy was very political and had a lot of plans. He says he was not there to win, but then when interviewed says something different, so there was a lot of contradiction there.
How was the Survivor experience overall?
Wendy: It was the best experience of my life. I could get goose bumps talking about it - I loved it so much. I just wish it was longer. I would have loved to have had "the Survivor" experience, to have been hungry! I eat all the time, I was never hungry there. I was thirsty, but I wanted that feeling of really surviving. I was looking forward to the individual challenges as I am such a competitor and thrive on it. I did lose 16 pounds in three days, though. My pants were loose when I got back and that surprised me.
Do you regret not being more vocal to your tribe as a whole?
Wendy: It didn't occur to me in the beginning as everyone is going their own way and when I did get the chance to get a group together it was clearly the people that didn't like me - like Marty and Jimmy. I tried to make a connection with Danny but there was a man-click. I tried to get a women alliance going, but was told we needed a man for strength. So that didn't work. I wish I had tooted my horn a little more.
Why did your husband say you might be the first to go?
Wendy: Well, I love to sing and dance and I talk a lot. I don't do well with quiet. He said I needed not to annoy people so I stopped being myself. I listened to what he said, and he was totally shocked watching the first episode. I don't think he thought I'd take it to heart and was devastated at the result. That hurt.
What's next for you?
Wendy: I am still goat farming and teaching nursing part time. Being in Nicaragua so long I came back to a lot of stuff that needed to be done. I also started selling Avon recently, so I am busy. I'm also getting a lot of e-mails from people saying how sad it is that they didn't get to see my strengths on the show.