Because of Pat Cusack's unexpected exit from the game in the show's season premiere, the David tribe didn't have to vote out their first member until day six of the competition. Still, it "stings" for Jessica, who thought she was going to get a chance to play Survivor during the series' previous two seasons.
"I was originally going to be considered for 35 [Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers]. Going through the process of 35, not getting it, and going through 36 [Ghost Island], chosen to be an alternate, I was kind of more on fire to make sure that this happened," Jessica told ET on Thursday, after watching her elimination the night before. "So for it to finally happen for me, I was very excited and I'm obviously upset that it ended early after so much going into the whole experience."
"I got a lot of different puzzles, I downloaded a lot of apps on my phone for the puzzles. I learned how to make a fire with flint, I bought coconuts and bought a machete and tried to chop them open. There was a lot of preparation that went into it," she continued. "But overall, I don't really think there's much prep that you can do for a game like Survivor. Like, you think that you know what you're getting yourself into, but until you actually play, I don't think there's any way that you actually know what you can do to help yourself."
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Still, Jessica says she's "grateful" for the experience, despite what some of her tribemates called an unfair advantage for the Goliath tribe. "I think while you're out there, it's really easy to think that the odds were stacked against us, just visually, looking at the Goliath tribe. But overall, whenever you watch back the challenges, it's not like the Goliath tribe is blowing us out of the water," she reasoned, noting that Pat's medical evacuation and the intense weather also had a big effect on the David tribe.
"I don't think you go in expecting weather that was that severe, or conditions that are that bad or losing a player in the way that we did. So there was a lot of mixed emotions, but overall, with morale at camp, it's not what you'd get from a traditional season, like if you compare it to 35, where they're all warm and fun and flirty," she shared. "It just wasn't like that."
"There's so many things that go into the game that are just complete unknowns. Like, what the game's going to be, what type of dynamic you're going to have with the people, what the people are going to be like. There's just so many questions going into it, that the strategy you had before you entered the game isn't always going to be the most successful," Jessica said.
The Florida native was blindsided by the vote, with Gabby, Christian and Nick joining the expected votes for her from Lyrsa and Elizabeth. "I didn't anticipate being voted out so soon," she confessed. "I don't think it really sunk in until I was sitting there while Jeff [Probst] was tallying the votes."
"But they could call me right now and say, 'Hey, Jess, we want you to come back out and play another season. We need you to leave today.' I would do it in a heartbeat because even though it was short-lived, it was the best experience I've ever had," she continued. "Fingers crossed you'll see me out there again soon."