It was the first challenge — nerves were expected — but for Chrissy Hofbeck, a little more than nerves hit her.
The adrenaline mixed with the nerves, the competition and the concept of being on an island for nearly two months kicked in, and that’s when Hofbeck vomited midway through the first challenge.
“I was so sure that I was going to be a complete disaster,” Hofbeck said.
For those watching — and her fellow competitors and teammates — that moment certainly got Hofbeck started off on the wrong foot. Survivor is, arguably, the most grueling reality competition where the strong survive and the weak get sent packing in the early going.
Hofbeck appeared to be in the latter.
“I came into the game with absolutely no self-confidence,” Hofbeck said. “I learned I can do way more than I thought I could, especially physically.”
The New Jersey native wound up overcoming that early obstacle, eventually becoming one of the strongest players on her season.
She considers her first, and possibly biggest move, to be the fifth tribal council when she manufactured a fake all-girls alliance, using that to place a bigger target on someone else rather than herself, keeping her safe and ultimately putting herself in the driver’s seat.
“When this strategy worked, I realized that I might be able to make some real moves,” Hofbeck said. “It definitely gave me the confidence to play a strong game, and either direct the vote down the line, or turn the tables to get myself out of bad situations.”
Hofbeck grinded her way all the way to finale night where she came up just three votes shy of winning the entire show.
It was certainly an extraordinary turnaround for Hofbeck from that first challenge, and the experience has really benefited her back home.
Of course, there was another obstacle she had to deal with coming off the island. As viewers discovered at the reunion, Hofbeck lost the job she had held prior to filming, leaving her unemployed coming off the show.
“To be honest, I was really just having a blast with my family and friends and enjoying the season,” Hofbeck said. “I’m happy to share that I just signed an actuarial consulting contract, and I’ve also booked a number of speaking engagements throughout the year, including being the keynote speaker at the largest university TEDx conference in the US in April.”
It was an excruciating journey on Survivor for Hofbeck, who was and still remains a huge fan of the show, but it was an experience that truly bettered her and improved her confidence in the real world.
Although, she isn’t quite ready to hang up her reality competition shoes just yet. She’d consider doing another Survivor if the opportunity ever presented itself, but she has her eyes elsewhere.
“If I had a chance on the Amazing Race, I wouldn’t even need to think about it, just tell me when it starts,” Hofbeck said. “I’d love to race with one of my kids – they are way smarter than me and so fun and dynamic. That would be a super blast.”
Who would’ve guessed the woman who struggled through her first Survivor competition would not only finish runner-up on the season, but be itching to get back on another show?
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