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S.L. 'Survivor' castaway reflects on Koah Rong experience (+video)

When Salt Lake resident Jennifer Lanzetti first arrived on the Cambodian island to compete in "Survivor: Koah Rong," she said standing there with her "Survivor" buff in hand, surrounded by her tribemates, she was so overjoyed she had to keep telling herself, “Don’t cry, you just got here. Don’t cry.”

“I’m holding that buff and first of all it’s amazing to be holding it,” Lanzetti said in an interview with the Deseret News. “I was so overwhelmed.”

The 38-year-old contractor was voted off during the episode that aired on Feb. 24, after inadvertently making herself a target at tribal council on Day 6 of the 39-day show.

“It was short and humiliating. I got the double whammy,” Lanzetti said.

In addition to her experience at that final tribal council, she shared a little more about her experience and offered some advice to those who might be interested in applying for the show.

In "Survivor," castaways are divided into tribes, live in primitive condition and compete in challenges for rewards and immunity. The losing tribes go a tribal council where they vote out a tribe member. At about midway through the game, the tribes merge and it becomes an individual game. The voted out castaways are part of a jury who decide which of the final three win the $1 million prize.

Lanzetti says her greatest regret was not acting on her instinct to create an all-woman alliance earlier in the game.

“I kept ignoring it and kept ignoring it,” Lanzetti said. “On Day 6, I went, ‘Well, maybe I should do it. It’s what my gut is telling me to do,’ and it ended in disaster.”

Despite how things turned out, she believes that when decisions are made this way, it puts a person where they’re supposed to be.

“News flash everyone: following your gut doesn’t mean you’re going to be safe. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful or that you’re going to win,” Lanzetti said. “But I truly believe it brings you on the right path.”

Even though Lanzetti only had a six-day run on the island, she said each day was jam-packed with experiences she’ll never forget.

Things soon took a painful turn. On Day 2 and Day 3, she had a run-in with a flesh-eating worm lodged in her ear. She said she also had other injuries that the show didn’t mention, including getting bit on the face by a centipede six times and burning her eyelids while making a fire.

“Just horrific events (happened) in such a short time period,” she said. “Everyone thinks my tribe voted me out. I think the universe voted me out to save my life.”

Lanzetti also recommends that castaways stay humble, have a tough skin, and walk in without any expectations. She said it has been an extremely humbling experience for her.

“Regardless of what other people think, I know what I think about being there. And that’s what’s really important,” Lanzetti said. “What it looks like doesn’t matter.”

Ultimately, she said, the most important thing to do is just be yourself.

“They pick us because they like us,” she said. “They don’t want to see someone pretending to be someone else. They want to see the real you, and that’s who I was out there. When you’re true to yourself, that’s a feeling that lasts forever.”

"Survivor: Koah Rong" airs on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. MT on CBS.

Email: aramirez@deseretnews.com