KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) — A Kokomo woman’s decision to quit “Survivor: Cagayan” during last week’s episode left millions of viewers outraged, some even taking to social media afterward to call her “a loser,” “pathetic” and not even worthy of being part of the reunion show at the end.
Lindsey Ogle just laughs at those people. Only one person’s opinion matters to her — her 7-year-old daughter Laney’s.
“When she saw the episode, she said, ‘Mom, I’m really proud of you,”’ Ogle said Saturday afternoon, choking up as she did. “The millions of people who say otherwise don’t mean anything.”
She knew right then she’d made the right decision, she told the Kokomo Tribune.
Some question her sincerity. They say she used her daughter as an excuse to leave.
Only she and tribe mate Trish know just how toxic their relationship was on the island, though, Ogle said. It was far worse than the cameras let on.
In the first five minutes of Wednesday night’s episode, and minutes after a brief feud with tribe mate Trish, Ogle walked away from her camp and called host Jeff Probst over to talk.
She was done. She couldn’t stay on the island without hurting Trish, Ogle told him. And she didn’t want her daughter to see that.
“I need a million dollars more than anyone out here,” she told the host, fighting off tears.
Setting an example for Laney proved to be more important, though.
Saturday, Ogle said she couldn’t calm herself down that night. She tried, but no matter what she did, she still wanted to hurt Trish.
They’d been arguing since their first day on the island. It was constant — from the time they woke up to the time they went to bed. Because this season is so dramatic, CBS didn’t show much footage of the disagreements, Ogle said. But it was hard to live with.
“It was the most badgering, bullying situation I’ve ever been in,” she said.
Even after Ogle left, Trish wrote “Shame on you Lindsey” in the sand.
“I don’t even understand that,” Ogle said.
Ogle owns up to her own mistakes. She knows she said some pretty nasty things to Trish. She didn’t want to let it escalate further.
Before Ogle left to film “Survivor,” Laney came to her for advice on how to handle the boy who was picking on her at school.
“I told her to walk away,” she said. “Don’t let him have your power. Don’t stoop to his level.”
What kind of mom would she be if she didn’t follow her own advice?
So before she threw a punch at Trish, she removed herself from the situation. She bowed out after 15 days on the island.
“Anyone who knows me and knows my right hook knows it was a good decision,” she said.
Ogle laughs at the people who suggest she quit because she was in love with tribe mate and former NBA All-Star Cliff Robinson. He was voted off just hours before she left.
CBS made it look like they were chummier than they actually were, she said. She liked Cliff because he was calming. When something upset her, he’d tell her to cool off.
But they didn’t actually have as many interactions as people suspected.
“He was a lone wolf,” Ogle said.
He’d leave camp for hours at a time, and no one knew what he was doing, she said.
Others think Ogle couldn’t handle the elements. If that were the case, she said, she’d have quit on her seventh day.
That was right in the middle of the typhoon that hit. It was cold and wet, and everyone was miserable.
Ogle said her toenails fell off. She had already been dealing with ear problems. Her eardrum busted in three places on the flight over to the Philippines.
“That put me in a miserable spot from the get go,” she said.
Her balance was off the whole game, and water challenges gave her severe earaches for days.
She remembers it being 120 degrees and then raining for five days. Nothing at camp was dry.
That did affect her, she said. She didn’t spend as much time strategizing as she thought she would.
“You have to face the elements first and fit the strategy in later,” she said.
None of that made her quit, though, no matter what the masses say, she said.
These days Ogle tries to avoid reading all of the negative comments. Instead, she clings to the fan mail she gets from people who say her time on “Survivor” made a difference.
She got a letter from an Australian woman who said, “In a narcissistic world, it’s becoming more and more difficult for us to make selfless decisions. As a single mum, in Australia, as a feminist and a teacher and an advocate for making ‘right’ decisions, not ‘popular’ ones. ... I thank you.
“I’m going to show my girls your choice to leave the show as a positive, empowered decision,” she wrote. “Any mother or parent worth their salt would agree that there is more wealth in fostering the emotional and mental health of our kids than there is in allowing them to think that a TV show can solve or fix things for them.”
That’s all Ogle wants to do now, empower women.
She’s already working on a fundraiser to help the women’s shelter here in Kokomo. Some special guests have told her they’re willing to help out. She’s not ready to say who yet.
And she tweeted a message saying she’d let CBS shave her head if the network agreed to donate $50,000 to the women’s shelter here.
That’s exactly like her. She said she’s an alternative thinker. Ogle said she’d even love to organize a “Tough Chicks” obstacle course to get women in the community moving.
In the meantime, though, she said she’ll try to remain a role model for her daughter.
“We’re best friends,” Ogle said. “She thinks I hung the moon.”
Ogle doesn’t want that to change. Her daughter is the best thing in her life, she said. Ogle admitted to being wild and reckless before getting pregnant with Laney.
The sweet 7-year-old has helped her grow up.
“She saved me,” Ogle said.