Kellie Nalbandian Explains ‘Nail in the Coffin’ Moment Leading Up to Her ‘Survivor 45’ Blindside

It was all fun and games for Kellie Nalbandian until her game was laid to rest at the end of Survivor 45’s eighth episode, which premiered on Nov. 15.

Kellie joined the Jury as its second member after falling to a 5-3 vote courtesy of a classic Survivor blindside. Believing her fellow former Belo tribemate Jake O’Kane was heading off to Ponderosa instead, she and allies Kendra McQuarrie and Katurah Topps piled their votes onto the Bostonian. But, the “Reba 4” (Austin Li Coon, Drew Basile, Julie Alley, and Dee Valladares) and Emily Flippen flipped the script and wrote Kellie’s name down instead, and her torch was ceremoniously snuffed by host Jeff Probst.

During her media rounds after episode 8 aired, Kellie spoke with Parade‘s Mike Bloom about her shocking Survivor 45 exit. And according to the critical care nurse, “an absolute nail in the coffin” for her $1 million campaign was that Bruce Perreault lost his voting power for day 16’s Tribal Council.

Jake had already drawn the ire of several castaways after attempting to eliminate Julie the episode prior, and with Bruce winning the Individual Immunity Challenge, Kellie knew either she or Jake would be served their walking papers that night since their Belo squad was down one vote.

As part of the new-era Survivor auction, Bruce’s vote was stripped away as he was holding the most money when the Reward Challenge wrapped. Convinced he was the main target going into Tribal, Jake was adamant that he’d play his “Shot in the Dark” — a one-in-six chance at safety at the cost of his vote.

Kellie said that in reality, the former Belo squad only had three votes to work with, all of which came from the women. “I really kept Bruce around for this reason, so that I would have his vote,” Kellie said. “And then, when I need him the most, he’s not there. [Laughs.]”

She said that she spoke with Kendra and Emily ahead of Tribal, and the latter threw out Dee’s name as a possible target. She and Dee had a close relationship, Kellie revealed in the interview, but she was also willing to take her out to preserve her and her allies’ games. She also said she would’ve preferred to eliminate Austin instead. But, with two votes off the board, Kellie’s wiggle room was minimal.

And in the end, a move against Reba 4 wasn’t made. Knowing Bruce’s vote was gone, Emily stuck with the alliance. “So if we did have Bruce’s vote I think it’s a lot easier to convince Emily to vote with us,” Kellie continued. “Because she’s a financial analyst, right? She’s looking at the numbers, and the math is not working.”

Sadly for Kellie, her game came to a close that night, and she placed ninth overall on Survivor 45.

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