7:00am PT by Kimberly Nordyke
'Survivor: Philippines': Sarah Dawson on Kissing Jeff Probst and Her Private Conversation With Jeff Kent
Sarah Dawson's exit from this week's episode of Survivor: Philippines was sealed with a kiss -- literally.
After Jeff Probst snuffed her torch, the 28-year-old insurance sales rep from Silver Spring, Md., paused, then leaned in to embrace the host, giving him a peck on the cheek and a brief hug, which stunned not only Probst and her tribemates but many viewers as well.
After her elimination episode aired, Dawson (who went by her last name on the CBS show) talked to The Hollywood Reporter about that embrace and also revealed a conversation with fellow tribemate Jeff Kent -- she was the only competitor to recognize the former pro baseball player -- that viewers didn't see.
THR: Were you surprised you were voted out?
Sarah Dawson: No, I knew it was going to be between me and Katie [Hanson], and I was the bigger threat. I was trying to make the right moves before I left, and Katie wasn't, and she was ready to go along [with the tribe], so she was definitely the best option to keep on the island.
THR: At tribal council, Jonathan Penner said he believed your tribe wouldn't have lost the challenge if Dana Lambert hadn't left the game due to illness. Do you agree?
Dawson: I think he was saying that if we hadn't lost Dana, then the other tribe wouldn't have been able to sit out their weak person. And if we had Dana, we would have definitely won the challenge hands down.
THR: So I have to ask, what was the hug and kiss all about?
Dawson: I am a huge fan of Survivor, and this may sound a little creepy. ... I watched Survivor every single Wednesday night. I had people over to watch Survivor, but several times when I have been watching by myself, I got extremely close to the television and put my hands on my screen when his face is right there. I'm a huge fan of Jeff Probst. I love what he adds to the game. He's an extremely appropriate host, and that's why it's been on the air for 25 seasons. He's a great host and has the most amazing fan base, aided by the fact that he's gorgeous and his dimples have little pots of gold in his cheeks. So yeah, absolutely, as soon as I got close to him and he snuffed my torch, gamewise, it couldn't hurt me at all. So I grabbed him and made eye contact ... and gave him a kiss on the cheek as a fan to say, "Thank you for being on the show, and you're hot, and I'm going to wrap my arms around you."
THR: What was his reaction?
Dawson: He looked a little scared at first because the look on my face went from a little intense to super intense to bedroom eyes, and then once I got the bedroom eyes, I think he got the picture, and he totally welcomed my affection. It was such a great moment for me. I went from the extreme low of being voted out to a pretty extreme high. I was the first person in history to kiss him after being torch-snuffed.
THR: Were you the only person on your tribe who recognized Jeff Kent?
Dawson: I'm the only one who's recognized him so far, and that's a little pat on the back because some of the guys out there were real athletes and avid sports lovers.
THR: Do you regret not revealing his true identity to your tribemates?
Dawson: No, I don't regret it at all. I was an ally of his, but he evidently was not one of mine. I wanted to give him a fair shot. Out of my own curiosity, I wanted to see him play as a normal person and not as a former baseball player, so he couldn't attribute his loss to the fact that he's a millionaire. If he loses the game, it won't be because of his money. I wanted him to have a fair shot.
THR: Was he aware you knew who he was? You teased him a lot with your talk about baseball and how "boring" it is.
Dawson: Oh, absolutely. I told him before that.
THR: You did? Viewers didn't see that.
Dawson: I tried to form an alliance with him over it, and he did not want to form an alliance with me. I'm not sure why. I guess I came off as one of the "young unmarried people" -- is that how he described us? And he didn't want an alliance with those people.
THR: What did he say?
Dawson: He tried to downplay it and ignore it. I could see the wheels turning in his head to deny, deny, deny. Look at me -- how could I be 100 percent sure who he was? I'm a "young unmarried girl" -- what could I know? So he was going with: Deny, deny, deny.
THR: What was your take on Dana?
Dawson: I thought she was extremely sick. I was worried about her. I wasn't even thinking about the game; I just wanted to hold her in my arms and try to keep her warm, but she was shaking. And you know, that's your humanity: When you're stripped down to nothing and someone is sick, it's horrible when there's nothing you can do. There is no comfort out there, and as a friend, it was frustrating that I couldn't help her.
THR: Would you play Survivor again if asked?
Dawson: If they asked me right now, I'm not even wearing shoes, I would walk out the front door and hail a cab and take it to the Philippines. I just loved to play the game. To do it again, that would be a dream.