updated 05/20/2014 AT 9:00 AM ET
•originally published 05/20/2014 AT 12:55 PM ET
At 48, Trish Hegarty was the oldest contestant to compete on Survivor: Cagayan. Initially banished from her tribe, the Massachusetts Pilates trainer managed to battle her way into the game’s most dominant power alliance. But it didn’t last.
Three days before the end of the game, her alliance turned on her, opting instead to keep caustic attorney Kass McQuillan.
The outspoken Hegarty pulled no punches when asked about her tribe. (Kass? Not a fan.) She tells PEOPLE what was behind her personal beef with two contestants, and what was in her own bag of tricks.
You played a subtle, social game. Were you a fan of Survivor before you played?
Oh, yeah. I tried out seven different times for the show. I was so excited to play.
So hindsight is 20/20, but what would you do differently?
To start with, I’d put on more weight. I was really skinny out there. I was 105 pounds by the time it was over.
You did look food-deprived. How did that affect your game?
I think being hungry brings out my real personality. I’ve got a very complicated personality. I can’t pretend if I don’t get along with people. I’m not a gossiper; I don’t talk behind your back. If I don’t like you, you know that. And I know I showed that on the show. I tell people I’m like a toasted marshmallow: I’m very hard on the outside, but inside, I’m soft and kind.
You made a lot of moves, but Tony got the credit for them. Was that frustrating?
I wasn’t out there on the island talking about all the moves I made; I was saving them in my own bag of tricks. If I had made it to the end, I would have stood up like a lawyer and told them what I had done. I convinced Kass to flip where Tony wasn’t able to do it. I talked Jefra out of flipping when she had made up her mind to do it.
Some of the other players say that you had cleaned up Tony’s messes.
There was some of that, but I think Tony was playing a very good game out there. I couldn’t believe that he voted me out! When they read the second vote, I knew it was me, and I went into shock mode. It wasn’t until later that I realized that Tony had voted me out, and I was shocked. He got me good.
You tried to vote out Kass, even though she’s the perfect person to sit next to in the finals. Why?
That was the wrong move, but I couldn’t spend another second with the woman. I was so hungry and thirsty and tired, and then there was Kass, who was so antagonistic. She was just awful to be around. So that was an emotional thing, which I shouldn’t have done. I should have targeted Woo; I could have gotten Spencer to flip with me. I don’t know if I could have gotten Tony.
But Woo was part of your alliance.
Yes. My alliance was with Tony and Woo. We had talked about it and thought we didn’t want to be those people who would sit next to Kass because she’s so annoying. I had wanted to go to the end with Tony and Kass, but once I got in a fight with her, I wanted to vote her off. I should have known better.
You had two people this season who you didn’t get along with: Kass and Lindsey. What was it about them?
Outside of being parents, we didn’t have that much in common. Lindsey was really, really rotten to me. She called me old, she called me a goat. She’d sit around camp and burp and fart and talk about just horrible things. She gave me a hard time about being 50. I was 48, and there’s a difference to me. Even so, after we blindsided Cliff, I went to her. I wanted to tell her that even though she was mad, we were still part of the same team. She didn’t let me finish; she just laid into me. I didn’t sit back and take it. We got into a huge argument.
And then there was Kass.
I don’t really have much good to say about her. I wish we had been able to flip Sarah to our side. I liked her. It killed me that she left the game so early, because she was someone I could work with. But, that’s Survivor. It doesn’t always go your way!
And now you’re gone.
I know! I held on as long as I could, but in the end, I was outplayed! It was still an awesome experience and I’m blessed I got to do it.