Leaving the game before the tribes could merge and she could secure herself a spot on the Survivor jury was Ami Cusack of Golden, CO. Ami had a near meltdown in her final Tribal Council, begging her teammates to trust her – but her appeal fell on deaf ears. In person, she’s a lively and engaging interviewee who has a clear favorite she wants to see win the million buckaroos.
Q: Hi Ami – did you expect to align with the women right off the bat?
Ami: Well, after seeing Parv, she’s a flirt. A huge flirt. And usually huge flirts flirt with guys, not girls. I mean, I can hope and dream, but I had to see what I was playing with first. After seeing that wouldn’t work, I had to go with people I could trust – Yau-Man, Eliza, not so much Jonathan. But definitely Yau-Man and Eliza. Those are two people I very much trusted.
Q: Did you ever hook up with anybody?
Ami: Hook up with anybody? You perv. This is Ami, not Amanda, not Parvati!
Q: I mean in a strategic way.
Ami: Oh. Yes, I had an alliance from day two with Jonathan, Yau-Man, Eliza and Johnny Fairplay – as much as you can be in an alliance with him – and Cirie. We’d all talked about sticking together to the end. Well, that didn’t last very long as you well know. I did have an alliance from the beginning but it wasn’t that strong. I didn’t feel like I was part of the Favorites because they were a strong five, and I wasn’t a part of it; we never really talked about anything. With the Fans, they were struggling to stay above water so I was the first person they came to because they knew I was on the outside.
Q: Do you know anything more about Chet’s exit? Why didn’t he stay and vote out Ozzy?
Ami: I didn’t talk to him about it. I know Erik and Tracy were drilling him and drilling him, trying to get him to stay in the game, and he just wouldn’t do it. So I stayed out of it. If there was no way of him staying in the game anyway, what’s the point of me even conversating? He was very adamant about leaving, so I just stayed out of it. Chet didn’t have the cajones to last.
Q: What’s your opinion about him now?
Ami: Out of the game he’s a gift to mankind. In the game, he’s a mamby-pamby little princess. Well, he was in a serious condition so I should give him a little bit of flack. He had a huge blister on his foot that shot ooey gooey stuff across the room and onto the wall.
Q: What did you think of Cirie and Amanda?
Ami: Cirie? I just liked hanging out with her. She’s funny, she laughs a lot, she’s like hanging out with your kid sister. She’s just fun to hang out with. Amanda’s from Colorado as well, so she’s a cool outdoors girl. I wasn’t that tight with her.
Q: What about Ozzy?
Ami: In the game, before he voted me out, I absolutely loved and adored him. I just think he’s an amazing man. I loved being on the beach with him. He’s always going, going, going. I like that about him.
Q: Was that honest when you told Ozzy you wouldn’t have voted him out?
Ami: No, I wouldn’t have voted Ozzy out. I really absolutely think he deserves a million dollars.
Q: What do you think of Erik?
Ami: He came up to me after he totally sold me down the river, and he was like, “I’m so sorry Ami, you’re the only one who has been totally nice to me on this beach, all the other Favorites have been really mean to me, wah wah wah.” Whatever, he’s a nice kid from a small town who hasn’t seen much of the world. I can’t be angry about it, he’s playing the game, but do I want to be friends with him? At this point, nah. I’m not going out of my way to be friends with the guy.
Q: Were you truly that emotional during your final Tribal Council?
Ami: I was really upset that Ozzy didn’t feel how much I would support him and how much I thought he was a rock star. That super bums me out. I think a lot of that emotion came from stuff that was going on in my home life as well. When you’re dealing with sensitive issues and then you go out on an island and you’re put in a situation where you don’t feel like anyone genuinely loves you, it’s hard. You saw Kathy, she lost her mind out there. You really feel isolated and there’s nobody there to just give you a hug and say, “I love you, everything’s going to be okay.” I was sensitive, and that’s not the Ami you guys are used to, but we all have our moments.
Q: Were you prepared for that Tribal Council?
Ami: I knew about five minutes before we left for Tribal Council that that was going to go down, so I wasn’t really prepared. No. When I was leaving, they cleared out the contestants and when I was saying goodbye to the crew, I felt like Alice in Wonderland, or Dorothy with my headband on my dress with my bag under my arm with Toto. I was really going to miss everyone; it was such a great group of people, both the crew and the cast. But I was really sad to be leaving the excitement because it’s a really fun thing to be a part of Survivor. They’re really cool people, obviously some more than others. I had a great time. Micronesia is one of the greatest locations on the planet Earth.
Q: What did you find different about this Survivor experience compared to your first?
Ami: In Vanuatu, I was with a bunch of women. It’s not hard to rally up the ladies and say, “Let’s all go kick some ass.” It was just ladies. When you stick guys in there, the dynamics in there change. It becomes a completely different game. Can you imagine playing a game with all guys, then throw women in? It completely changes the dynamic. And I felt really at home with all women. I have no problems reminding women how amazing they are and how awesome they are, and let’s go kick some ass – but with guys it’s different, you have to play a completely different game.
Q: Did you feel like you were out of your element?
Ami: I was out of my element because my alliance was gone, not because it was guys being there.
Q: What happened to your knee?
Ami: It’s funny, when people on the street ask me what happened to my knee, I tell them I was tied to a woman running through the jungle behind men who were tied to each other, running through the mud, under logs. (laughing) I blew out my ACL when Amanda was tied to me.
Q: Would you do it again?
Ami: Definitely, yes. I would go right now with my brace and crutches and everything.
Q: What’s your take on Fairplay?
Ami: I really came to like that guy an awful lot; he’s a brilliant man.
Q: Who were your favorite players in the game?
Ami: I think Ozzy’s a stud! Ozzy’s just amazing out in nature, and to watch him is like watching a dolphin or something. And I knew I would like Alexis from the first moment I saw her. That girl and I are going to get along great and hope she does well in the game.
Q: What was your plan for after the merge? Were you going to stick with Ozzy, Amanda and Cirie?
Ami: Definitely. I would have loved to have been sitting on the log with Ozzy at the end.
Q: Even knowing that you would have lost against Ozzy.
Ami: That would be ok. I really honestly believe that Ozzy deserves to win this.
Q: So you wouldn’t have gone back with Eliza and that group.
Ami: I would have fought for Eliza as long as I could but by myself I don’t think I could have kept her around.
Q: Did you trust Erik to keep his mouth shut? Was that a mistake?
Ami: I didn’t trust Erik as far as I could throw him. When he told them all that stuff, it was not a shock at all. He cannot keep a secret. I was glad I talked to Cirie and Amanda before he got to them.
Q: So do you think that Cirie, Amanda and Ozzy trusted him more, or was it just that Ozzy was in love with him?
Ami: Ozzy was in love with him, and scared of me. I think he was nervous I was going to pull the “ooh girl’s alliance” thing with me Cirie and Amanda, and no Ozzy. I think he was worried about being the only guy left.
Q: Your crying at tribal council—it wasn’t an act? You had some true emotion?
Ami: Yes. When I was pleading to Ozzy—I was genuinely upset that he did not trust me.
Q: When do you think Ozzy became distrustful of you?
Ami: I think there were a few little things, like when I said at Tribal Council, “Well somebody’s got the immunity idol, you just gotta get them while they’re not looking.” He knew I knew he had the idol, so he was like, “Are you talking about me?”
Q: He’s a terrible actor with that immunity idol, isn’t he?
Ami: He’s horrible! He came up to me later and said, “I didn’t really find the immunity idol, I just wanted to say that to mess with you!”
Q: Did the rest of your tribe look to him as a leader?
Ami: He just was. In challenges and stuff, he knew where everybody would fit best.
Q: Who or what do you blame for you getting voted out?
Ami: Besides myself? Well, Ozzy was getting nervous; Amanda couldn’t make up her mind; Cirie was pretty much told that she was at the bottom rung of the alliance, and Erik was just…. a child! So I don’t blame anybody.
Q: What were your thoughts on the whole coupling thing, Ozzy and Amanda, Parvati and James?
Ami: Damn, I wish I was Parvati!
Q: Did you have a different strategy coming into the game the second time?
Ami: The first time it was men vs. women, and my strategy was just to keep those ladies powerful and fighting in the same direction; this time it was a completely different game—we were split down the middle from the first day.
Q: Was it harder this time?
Ami: I really felt a lot more alone this time.
Q: What was the hardest part the second time?
Ami: That there was a powerful alliance already formed. I was on the outside, and there was nothing I could do about it.
Q: Here’s a question I’ve always had—when Jeff extinguishes your flame, why don’t you just let those people who voted you out have it?
Ami: I was such a delicate flower at that point, I had nothing hateful to say. It just wasn’t in me at that point. Two days afterwards—then I could have laid into them pretty well.
Q: Who would you like to see in second place?
Ami: Um, Cirie? Actually, scratch that, I’d rather see Eliza in second place.
Q: What was the hardest challenge for you, and which challenge was the most fun?
Ami: The hardest challenge was when I blew my knee out, and had to finish it with a blown-out knee. You didn’t see it, but we had to do that challenge twice. My most fun challenge was the blindfold one, because it was challenging and it was hard, but we kicked butt on that one, and winning meant so much because we’d been losing and losing and losing.
Q: On the last episode’s challenge, was the rope too short on the bag?
Ami: Yeah, the rope was probably a little short, and the bags weren’t that heavy. So you couldn’t get like a real solid swing. It was like a big fluffy pillow. I think only one person went off on the whole challenge and that was when I hit Eliza. I said sorry!