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Survivor 41’s Evvie Explains Why She Didn’t Vote For Xander Despite Being Much Closer To Him

evvie and xander survivor 41
(Image credit: CBS)

Survivor 41 concluded in December with a flurry of shockers: Jeff Probst read the final vote at tribal, Erika Casupanan was crowned the winner, and the reunion was held live in that moment. But it was Casupanan’s achievement that was principally upsetting to many fans who'd assumed Xander Hastings was bound to take home the title of Sole Survivor. (One fan is even attempting to reimburse Hastings for the loss with a GoFundMe campaign.) As a result of all the debate, jury member Evvie Jagoda opened up and explained why she herself didn’t vote for Hastings, despite being much closer to him during the game.

Ultimately, the final vote came down to a 7-1-0 split, with Erika Casupanan taking the majority and Deshawn Radden receiving a lone vote from his friend Danny McCray. It was speculated prior to the vote that Evvie Jagoda might be torn because of past allegiances. She had a very close alliance with Xander Hastings on Survivor 41’s Yase tribe, which was complicated by her later decision to spill trade secrets to Radden in the hope of working with him. So, what factored into Jagoda’s decision-making on the jury? The Harvard graduate apparently considered two things, saying this on The Specialists podcast:

In general, my logic as a juror was, ‘I want to vote for the person who I think played the best game’ -- right? So I think [with] a lot of people @-ing me, ‘You and Xander went through everything together,’ I was never going to vote based on who is my best friend. I always wanted to vote for who I thought played the best game. So fundamentally, I thought Erika played the best game. It honestly, for me, ended up not being a hard decision at all over who to vote for.

This is what fans are still debating about to this day: who really had the better game, Xander Hastings or Erika Casupanan? A lot of criticism aimed at Casupanan posits that if she didn’t get that controversial hourglass twist, she would’ve most likely been eliminated that night. The Survivor 41 winner shared her own insight on that point, but Evvie Jagoda also had a different perspective while being on the jury. She continued:

I do also think there’s something to be said when you have seen someone’s whole game…you see a lot. So I think, especially for Xander, I saw a lot of the good and I saw a lot of the bad. Especially on Yase, I felt like there was so much of the time where he – from what I saw – didn’t know what was going on…I feel like there was an uphill battle that he had to achieve for me to think of him as a good player because for so long I felt like he didn’t know what was going on in the game.

Xander Hastings has in fact admitted to not being the best Survivor 41 jury manager, which is itself a crucial part of the game. Conversely, Evvie Jagoda added that she viewed Erika Casupanan as being “extremely intentional” in her strategy, saying there was “almost no error you could point to,” whereas Deshawn Radden and Hastings made “huge mistakes.” (To be fair, though, they also had to play bigger because the targets on them were much bigger.)

Evidently, Erika Casupanan’s game really shined through to the jury during Danny McCray’s vote-off. That was the night of Deshawn Radden’s “truth bomb” about Casupanan’s schemes, in a somewhat confusing effort to save himself. When Radden simultaneously said he didn’t view Casupanan as a threat and, later on finale night, when Xander Hastings also presumptively said that the jury didn’t respect Casupanan, it affected Evvie Jagoda. She said that each time a male shared that opinion, it made her respect Casupanan even more. Furthermore, by Casupanan not flipping the vote onto Radden as a result of his tirade, it showed the jury who was more in control. Jagoda said,

That’s what you’re looking for, who is the power player in the game? And even if it didn’t necessarily always show on TV, Erika was, for a lot of the game, really the deciding factor.

The debate over Survivor 41’s outcome will likely continue on for some time, like those from many previous seasons. (Simply ask Amber Mariano or Michele Fitzgerald for proof.) Season 42 is slated for a March premiere on CBS and will again have many of the new twists and advantages that complicated many players’ games last year. But fans now might want to keep a closer eye on the lambs disguised as lions when the time comes…

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.