'Survivor' Winner Kenzie Fires Back At Critics After Backlash
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'Survivor' Winner Kenzie Fires Back At Critics After Backlash: "Much Harder Than It Looks'

Survivor winner Kenzie Petty is pushing back against backlash online. Some accused the show of playing favoritism in awarding her the win in the end.

However, speaking with PopCulture, Kenzie said that she's really proud of how she performed throughout the season. She said she managed identify threats and use her social skills to her advantage. According to Petty, Survivor viewers don't realize how difficult it actually is. "It's so much harder than it looks on TV," she admitted. "That reality hit me in the face like a ton of bricks. I knew it would be tough, but you don't know until you're out there. I'm just so proud of myself for sticking it out and the resilience that I managed to pull from my core."

Ultimately, Kenzie managed to outmaneuver Maria Shrime Gonzalez. The moment came as a shock to viewers as Maria seemed like a clear favorite to win. Kenzie partnered with Liz Wilcox to win the final five immunity challenge. It resulted in Maria getting kicked off the show.  "That was jaw-dropping for me," Kenzie said of Liz's aid during the challenge. "That wasn't planned, and I've seen a lot of discourse online that we cheated, but there's no rules in Survivor. ...And if it was against the rules, they would've told us we couldn't do it.  I think it speaks a lot to Liz's creative thinking, my social game, and how strong Maria was [that] to take her down, it took two of us. It was a beautiful moment I think. I'm grateful to be a part of it."

'Survivor' Winner Talks Show

Petty said that she was surprised to win Survivor. She didn't expect Maria to vote for her. "I think it just goes to show that you don't know what is going to speak to the jury," Kenzie told PopCulture. "Each person votes on what's important to them, and I think everyone just needs to play true to themselves. That's what worked out for me, and I'm just forever grateful for not only the people who voted for me but the whole cast for making such a wonderful season of television. We couldn't have done it without a single piece of this machine."

Now that she's won Survivor, Petty is looking forward to being a mother.
 "I love being pregnant," said Kenzie. "We're all healthy, happy - it's just beyond words. This is what I went out there to play for, so it's just very full circle that I got to feel him kick while I won last night. I could cry thinking about it. It's just very special."