Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas
Previous Season: Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X
Previous Placing: 14/20
Days Lasted: 20
Correctly Voted for Boot: 1
Votes Received: 4
Individual Immunity Challenge Wins: N/A
Most Memorable Moment: Removing top during reward challenge and her post-blindside reaction.
What happened in her previous season: Michaela is one of only three pre-merge contestants returning for Season 34 which is a testament to the impact she made during her 20 days on Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X. She was very outspoken and not afraid to tell the other players what she thought of them. Michaela started the game on the Millennials tribe and quickly butted heads with fellow tribe mate Jessica “Figgy” Figueroa. However, at the Millennials first tribal council, Michaela was able to momentarily put her differences with Figgy aside, and voted with the majority to blindside Mari Takahashi, with Michaela believing if Figgy left then she’d be the next target.
Michaela was a beast in challenges, becoming a clutch player in several immunity and reward challenges. She would do whatever it took to win, whether that meant going topless or shouting at Hannah Shapiro to get her to follow instructions. At the tribe swap, Michaela ended up on the newly formed Ikabula tribe. Despite having a Millennial majority on her new tribe, Michaela was upset about having to start from scratch on a new beach with no shelter and no fire. But she persevered, starting the camp fire and continuing to excel in challenges, helping Ikabula avoid the first two post-swap tribal councils. She was also super observant, sneaking up on Jay Starrett and Will Wahl when they discovered an immunity idol.
In terms of alliances, Michaela was committed to her Millennial tribe mates, and when Ikabula lost the immunity challenge on Day 20, Michaela further cemented her loyalty to Hannah, Jay, and Will. Presenting her plans with rocks and shells, she laid out a path to the merge and beyond, but Jay and Will became worried about how big of a threat she’d become at the merge. Michaela had already proven to be a formidable challenge competitor, and now she was showing to be strategic minded too, and so at tribal council, Jay and Will voted with the former Gen Xers, Bret LaBelle and Sunday Burquest, blindsiding Michaela in one of the season’s most shocking moments. Michaela was absolutely stunned to receive votes and let out an almighty “Whaaat?!” upon seeing her name come up for the third time. After an epic stare down with Jay, Michaela grabbed her torch (and her shoes) and left the game, punching a tree on her way out.
Throughout her 20 days on the island, Michaela proved to be tough, outspoken, and loyal. Those traits can be both a blessing and a curse in Survivor. Heading into Season 34, Michaela’s challenge strength should be a valuable asset to her tribe pre-merge, but she needs to be careful about coming on too strong as not to appear a merge threat. She will be an unknown entity to the rest of the cast (except for Zeke Smith), and while that can be a disadvantage in some respects, it also could prove beneficial in portraying a new version of Michaela.
Biggest Strength: Her challenge ability.
Biggest Weakness: Being too forthright.
What she considered her mistake: In post-show interviews, Michaela said that revealing her plans too early was what cost her the game. In reference to her rocks and shells talk, she told People: “Watching at home, I was sitting there thinking, “Michaela, you should have kept your brilliance to yourself! Everybody doesn’t need to know the plan. And just because you want to go to the end with someone, that doesn’t mean they want to go with you.” That was a huge mistake and a huge red flag I put on myself.” In an interview with Reality TV World, she further clarified that naming her target in front of Jay was detrimental to her game: “I think that it was because Michelle was going to be my first target after the merge, and I made the mistake of revealing that.” Michaela also told Josh Wigler at Parade: “I showed my strengths too early and made myself stick out.”
Michaela is one of twenty returning castaways who will compete on Survivor: Game Changers which premieres March 8 on CBS. Stay tuned to Inside Survivor for more cast retrospectives and other pre-season content.