Like many Survivor fans, Kenzie Petty was surprised she received a vote from Maria Shrime Gonzalez at the final tribal council. With Maria’s closest ally, Charlie Davis, in the seat right next to her, Kenzie was certain that Maria would vote in his favor during the Wednesday, May 22, finale.

“I literally said, ‘There’s no way I am getting Maria, so that’s out,’” Kenzie, 29, told Entertainment Weekly on Thursday, May 23. “I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll get seven [votes], but there’s no way I’m getting Maria.’ When I figured out she had voted for me, I was very shocked.”

Kenzie beat Charlie, 26, and Ben Katzman in a 5-3-0 vote to win season 46. She credited her social game and ability to form close relationships with the jury members, including Maria, 48, for her win.

“I really did work hard at connecting with everyone as hard as I could, especially post-merge,” Kenzie explained. “I’m just a people person and I wanted to build bridges with everybody. And so I did spend a lot of time getting to know Maria. Obviously not as much [time] as Charlie, but at the end of the day, you never know what people are going to vote for or what speaks to them. So I think my strategy was just to be authentically myself and hope that that showed through to the jury.”

Maria and Charlie were on the same tribe from day one and formed an alliance right away. However, the mom of three said she was moved by the story Kenzie told at the final tribal council about wanting to win the $1 million to invest in her future family. She also praised the salon owner for beating Liz Wilcox in the final four fire making challenge.

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“I’m a competitor,” Maria told Jeff Probst during the finale after show. “The fire in [Kenzie]’s eyes when she made fire last night, that, to me, clinched it for me. She owned her game and her story just really moved me. This woman deserves to have this money to start her life, to start her family, and I’m so proud of [her].”

Charlie handled the loss extremely well at the after show, which was filmed immediately after he came in second place. He applauded Kenzie and called her a “deserving” winner, but also admitted to being “surprised” by Maria’s vote. “One of the last things [me and Maria] talked about was how she literally told me, ‘You better get to the end. My jury vote is going for you,’” the Massachusetts native explained.

Now that he’s had some time to reflect on what happened, Charlie appears to have some resentment toward Maria. After the finale aired, he shared a shady post on X directed at his former ally.

Survivors Kenzie Admits She Was Shocked Maria Voted for Her Over Charlie to Win Season 46
Chuck Snyder/CBS

(L-R): Charlie Davis, Kenzie Veurink, and Ben Katzman

“thank you aMARIAmee,” Charlie wrote, which was a reference to the Taylor Swift diss song “thanK you aIMee,” where the singer specifically capitalized the letters “KIM” in the title as an apparent nod to Kim Kardashian. The song features Taylor, 34, reflecting on being bullied by another woman, but ultimately thanking that person for helping shape what her life has become.

“I built a legacy that you can’t undo,” Taylor sings. “But when I count the scars, there’s a moment of truth, that there wouldn’t be this if there hadn’t been you.” Charlie’s X post hints that he feels the same way about Maria.

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