'Survivor 43's' Noelle Lambert Says She Would Have "Jumped Off a Cliff" for Jesse

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The Paralympian also comes within the overwhelmingly positive response to her representation for the disability community.
Survivor 43 is finally here! Parade.com's Mike Bloom brings you weekly interviews with the shipwrecked man most recently voted off the island.

Noelle Lambert knew how to win by losing at Survivor. The Paralympic track and field athlete had anything but a smooth run for 19 days, constantly losing close allies and finding himself on the backfoot. But by channeling the stamina brought by losing her leg, she triumphed every time. Unfortunately for Noelle, this made her the latest threat to take everything in everyone's eyes. And so, after a couple of impressive episodes that included one of the best Challenge comebacks of all time, Noelle took the biggest "L" when caught unawares by her fellow tribesmen.

Noelle's fights begin and end with Jesse Lopez and Cody Assenmacher. It begins in the first week of the game as the three faced their first vote on Vesi. Noelle thought it would be an open and closed vote against Nneka Ejere, only that Jesse and Cody would get the better of her and her closest ally, Justine Brennan. Noelle was understandably concerned about her position in the game and displayed a momentum that made her such a huge threat across the board. Being left in the dark brought her closer to Dwight Moore. With her awe-inspiring feats of challenge, she erased all talk of it from the minds of her tribe. And a trip away got her a ballot to use should the going get tough. Unfortunately for Noelle, they did. While Vesi dominated the challenges for the remainder of the premerge, she fell behind again when Jesse and Cody turned on her again to blindly outsmart Dwight.

Noelle was another close ally, but an imminent schism drove her away from the Vesi men. And then she started her wave. Seeing the tide turn against Owen Knight, she offered to use her advantage to take his vote and prevented him from playing his shot in the dark. But in reality she fed James Jones a false plan like an unripe papaya. The steal-a-vote was merely a smokescreen to prevent James from playing out one of his own advantages, setting him up perfectly for his own blindside. It took the perfect configuration, but Noelle pulled off the biggest move of the season so far. And the wins became literal the next day as she pulled off a stunning win after seemingly being knocked out of the Reward Challenge. Filled with pizza and love from home, Noelle was ready to ride that swing to the end to take out Karla Cruz Godoy next. But Jesse once again had other plans. Seeing the case building up for her to win, he turned back and ran a literal checklist to leave her guessing. And so Noelle left that night, stunned, defeated but ultimately hopeful that she had forever changed the path of contestants of varying abilities on Survivor.

Noelle, who is now out of the game, speaks to Parade.com about why Jesse and Cody were her closest allies that led to her blindside, her regrets with her Reward Challenge picks, and the love she received from received from the disabled community.

Also see: Read our pre-game interview with Noelle Lambert on Survivor 43
On the way out, Jesse and Gabler hugged you and complimented you. But to say you looked disappointed with your last words would be an understatement. What went through your mind after you realized you were blind?
I mean, I think it just happened so quickly. And I'm so happy I didn't cry in front of them. I could hug everyone. But when you walk this path, everything hits you. And so I really couldn't just not cry. But I wasn't sad. I mean I was proud of myself. I did everything to play the game I wanted. I do not regret it.

And I wanted to play the game a certain way. And I think I definitely lived up to my expectations. Obviously, your biggest goal is to make it to the end. But I mean, I have to play the Survivor game; I have to play one of my favorite games. I mean I was just, it was all really bittersweet. But then when I have the exit interview, I'm like, "Don't cry, don't cry." That's why I couldn't even look at the camera. I thought, "When I look at this movie, I just want to cry." But I mean, I have nothing but love and appreciation for everyone who played the game. And I mean, being voted out and being hugged by everyone, that's respect. And that's the best way to get out. So I was just lucky enough to have at least that.

It seemed like you've had a really hot streak over the past few days between using your steal-a-vote to dominate James Blindside and coming back to win the Reward Challenge. Did you know that people perceive you as the newest biggest threat?
I mean, I remember thinking before I voted, 'Okay, if the next vote goes the way I want it to go and I can get the player that I want to vote out, I'm starting to get a really big case of why I should win this game." And so I was like, 'I just have to make it through this next vote.' I knew there were going to be a few votes that were going to be on me from the girls. But I mean what they are not showing is jesse is doing an amazing job he went to me and then to karla and he literally told us what we both said he didn't lie to us but he had a great relationship with me and he had a great relationship to her that we're both very comfortable in. And we don't think he's going to betray us. I mean, when I gave him a special hug and he said, "I had to do it," I mean, I totally respected it .I wasn't mad.

Aside from Owen, of course, Jesse and Cody were my number ones out there. But I thought we would make Vesti strong. And I mean, I've had great relationships with them. So I would never in a million years think that if they did, they would betray me. But hats off to them. I mean, I guess Cody just never really trusted me. But I think if Jesse had said to me, "Okay, Noelle, jump off a cliff," I would have jumped off a cliff for Jesse. I would do everything. I do not know what it is. it's his face It's everything. He's just so trustworthy. And this guy literally betrayed me twice before voting out both of my number ones. But I'm still thinking, "Jesse, what should I do?" So it's just a matter of showing you how well he plays the game.

But I mean you have great relationships with everyone. I mean the conversations I had with Karla just about life and family. I had a really unique bond with her. We got along really well; We just never worked together. Probably my biggest regret is not working with Karla because I think she could have shown me how well Jesse and Cody play the game.

I have to admit I'm surprised you were so close to Jesse and Cody since, as you mentioned, they got rid of your closest allies not once, but twice! What has kept you true to them anyway?
I think it might just bleed red for Vesi. i am a loyal person But every explanation they had, like when they voted Justine out, like Jesse, they immediately pull me aside and he said, 'Listen, this has nothing to do with you. I didn't trust her. And she showed me that I couldn't trust her." So I was like, 'Okay, nothing to do with me, I could still work with Jesse.' When the Dwight vote came up. I mean, I remember that I came back from the Tribal Council and I looked at them and I was like, 'Okay, time to talk.' They've just done a great job of just doing it to get the word out that it has nothing to do with me. Me honestly forgot the reason they voted dwight out because he was a really great player in the game and he was really smart he was going to be a challenging beast because he was going to be someone who was going to be really difficult to to be in relation to individual immunity.

But when they came back after that, I didn't break up. I mean that was my only mistake. I should have seen that coming. But I still saw myself on the minority side of the vote. I still wasn't in the majority of the seven. When I was chasing James, I wanted to get James out because he was such a great player and he had knowledge is power and I didn't want to deal with that. And when I got back to camp, I went to James. He was the first conversation I had and I said, 'Listen, whatever name you want me to write down tribal next, I'll do it to gain your trust. I will give you information."

Voting Jeanine probably hurt my game a lot. Because she was also one of my number ones. We were very close. I mean, literally at the Tribe stage, Jeanine and I made eye contact. I don't know what it was, it was like instantaneous. So we fought to merge, but I had to use what was beneficial for my game to move forward. I had to choose Jeanine so that James could trust me a little. Because I had a hunch when we got to Final 10 it was going to split. And everyone knew I had my edge. So I really wanted to get rid of it. I wanted to do it in a cool way. With James on my five, I thought, 'This is it. This is the moment I need. I only need one person.” But then I came up with the idea of ​​stealing Owen's voice so Knowledge is Power wouldn't be played and so Karla wouldn't idol for James. That was all that went through my mind.

Yes, let's go to the gambit to steal the vote. What was everyone's reaction after this happened? Did you appreciate the move the way we perceived it at home?
In my opinion no. What I thought was, "It was unanimously against James. I couldn't even really use it." But the reason I used it was because I wanted to get rid of it because everyone knew I had it. And if I felt like getting rid of it, it would lower my threat level. And then I also thought, "I tried to take this big step, but it didn't work." Because everyone voted for him. But if I watch it again and like to see the conversations that I couldn't see on the island, it made sense. I was trying to make big and loud moves out there. That's how I wanted to play the game. And it's really tough because everyone else is playing a quiet and really strategic and really smart game and I'm just a loud person. So I want things to be made loud.

And I mean, I just wanted to use my advantage in a way that no one has ever used before. But also that everyone had realized I wasn't really using as I didn't want people to know. So I tried to downplay it a bit. I went back to Jesse and said, "Yeah, I was trying to play a big move. It kind of worked because he got voted out, but it didn't really work that well.” So I tried to dumb down my great move. But yes, I think it didn't work. And it was so funny when James got his flashlight and he said, "See how far you can get with that." And I was voted out next.

Yes, the ominous words of James! I want to talk about your reward challenge choices. In a secret scene we see you trying to explain to Gabler why you chose Jesse, Owen and Sami for the reward. But in the confessional you talk about doing it strategically. What was the reason for your selection? Considering there's a world where if Jesse doesn't get picked, he won't be told to "get the money baby" and vote you out?
Yes, Jesse's son Gio is the reason I've now been voted out. It's so funny because when I went into the challenge and saw a balance beam, I thought, "There's no way I can win this, I'm not going to do it fastest." So I didn't even think about who I was going to pick . When that punching bag landed on that beam and I fell and I had that moment, I was like, "Oh my god, I have to make this decision now." And I don't want to do it because it's one of the hardest things to do out there. And I didn't expect that. Everyone stares at you. And they want to eat, and they want the loved one's letters. I couldn't even make eye contact with people. I wanted to give up my seat. I mean, if it wasn't for the letters, I would have said, "I don't want pizza."

So my strategy was that Owen and Sami were the only ones who didn't get a food reward challenge. They were the only ones who hadn't eaten anything other than what we had in camp. And the reason I chose Sami first is because he wasn't my strongest ally. And I had the strategy that he was kind of a flip-flop. I can show him: "Listen, use me, I will be faithful to you." And of course I chose Jesse because of his family with his young children. And I thought he was my number one back then. I really thought Jesse was my ride or die. And I love Owen to death. He was definitely like my strongest ally out there. And he even told me afterwards, "If you hadn't picked me, I would have been fine because we're solid." But I felt like I couldn't use the "yeah, I'm bringing people who haven't eaten" excuse and not bring Owen because then people would think it was strategic.

If I had to choose it again, I would have chosen Karla 100%. Like I said, I would have done anything Jesse said. So. I mean, I probably would have raised him anyway. But I remember going to the Sanctuary, and I remember asking Jesie, "Do you think I should have brought Karla?" Because I really wanted to separate her and Cass. I thought they were really strong allies. So I wanted to split them up anyway and picked one of them out. But I think that was probably one of my biggest regrets, not bringing Karla. I mean, even with Gabler. Gabler is a very, very loyal guy. And he also has a family. So I just thought about Jesse's little kids. But if I had picked Gablre I could have really gained trust and I don't think he would have betrayed me.

You spoke in your closing remarks about being the first transfemoral amputee to play Survivor and hoping to change the game for participants in the disability community. What was the reaction from your representatives, especially after that incredible one-handed win last week?
I mean it was incredible. So many nice and kind messages. So many people have come up to me and said, “I'm a transfemoral amputee too. I'm disabled, I have cerebral palsy" or something. And they just say, "I think I can do it now." And one of the best things is that parents with disabled children turn to me. And they watch and they say, "Mom, this person looks like me. And look, I can do it." I have received many amazing messages throughout this season.

But after last week's episode, I mean, my phone exploded in such an amazing way. I'm literally on the phone for hours just reading messages. I mean it's incredible. That was a big reason why I wanted to play this game. It was because I was working to represent that type of community in a positive way. And so to be able to have that moment that I had on the show with the reward challenge and then play a pretty good game too. I mean, that's something I'm grateful for.

The love and support I have no words. I'm speechless when I talk about it, but it's just something to be thankful for. Because I know a lot of people get voted out of Survivor. I mean they have critics everywhere. But of what I get, 99% are positive things. And I can't complain about that; i must be happy I mean I could have gone a better way. If I had to do it again, I wouldn't do it, I wouldn't change a thing. Even though I didn't win, I was able to do whatever I wanted in this game and I was still able to play the best game on TV.

Next, read our interview with Ryan Medrano, who was also voted out of Survivor 43 Episode 10.

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