“We’re Planning a Wedding”: ‘Survivor’ Winner Hayley on How She’ll Spend Her Prize Money

hayley survivor 2021 winner

Welcome to the ‘Survivor Five’ — where we asked each contestant eliminated from Australian Survivor: Brains vs Brawn five questions about their time in one of the most gruelling reality competitions in the world.

After 48 gruelling days in the toughest conditions the game has seen, Hayley Leake successfully outwitted, outplayed and outlasted her rivals, and was crowned Sole Survivor of Australian Survivor: Brains V Brawn, taking home the $500,000 prize.

After winning the final, torturous Immunity Challenge, Hayley had to decide who she would take with her to the final Tribal Council. Believing that pro-surfer Flick Palmateer had secured more votes with the Jury, so George would be her safest bet, Hayley stuck to her guns and voted out Flick, leaving her to face George for the title. 

In her argument to the Jury, Hayley cited her exquisite gameplay, reminding the Jury that despite initially being in a majority alliance, she still knew what the minority were doing, having the power to swing the vote. Tribe Swap saw her in a minority, but then she found an Immunity Idol and played an Immunity Idol effectively over three Tribal Councils. 

The votes were then cast and counted and with votes for Hayley and 2 votes for George, Hayley was crowned Sole Survivor for 2021. 

“The first thing on my agenda is to buy high-quality bed sheets and really good pillows, and set up my bed,” who is now engaged to her partner Jimmy, told The Latch. “Because I slept in the dirt for 48 days and I deserve a good bed!

“After that, we probably want to buy a house. We’ve been renting for a long time so I want to buy the family home that you would usually take decades to achieve. So I think that’s going to kind of kickstart our plans in that way.”

Speaking further on her plans for the future, Leake said, “We actually got engaged after I came out of the show. It was probably about a month after I got back — you’re probably not supposed to make big life decisions after such a huge event but we missed each other a lot and we kind of thought, ‘what are we waiting for?’

“So we’re gonna we’re planning a wedding for next year and then, if all goes well, we’ll probably start trying to make a little tribe of our own.”

Which game move are you most proud of in the game?

“Probably my first and last, so the bookends are my favourite. So, the blindside against Joey was a big move at the start. And I had to kind of use all the social capital I’d built up to get everyone to decide to do that. That was so much fun because it was the first big move that I made.

“But I’m really proud of the move I made at final four — getting Cara and George to vote for each other when they had been the tightest duo in the whole season. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to pull it off. I was pitching really hard to both of them for the days leading up to that. I knew that, eventually, I wanted them to turn on each other and the fact that it worked out and I didn’t even have to make fire and I only had one vote on me was amazing.”

Having been a fan of the series for so long, what was something that surprised you about the game or filming of it?

“I focus on the strategy side of it when I’m watching the show and I actually fast forward the challenges because they’re not the part that I watch Survivor for. But I loved the challenges!

“It surprised me how much fun they were because you’re sitting around the camp having the same conversations for days and it can get pretty boring. So the highlight of the day is to go to these epic challenges that you can tell have just been months and years in the making. I think they were also fun because I had to do well. And I didn’t really know I was going to do so well. That surprised me the most how much I enjoyed the challenges.”

Which challenge did you find the most difficult?

“I study pain and I have a background in dance so anything with balance or endurance, I tended to do well.

“But I am not good at throwing at all and I grew up in the country where everyone plays basketball and netball and I never did. I did a lot of dance so I’ve always had a bit of a complex about throwing. I’m kind of scared of doing it because I’m no good at it. And anytime there was a throwing challenge — you saw it at the Final Four challenge. I was miles ahead of everyone, but I just couldn’t roll the balls into the holes and Flick ended up winning.

“So if I was ever going to give out any tips that would be like go to an arcade and play the game that can be your preparation.”

How else did you prepare for your time in the competition, aside from watching the series?

“I re-watched all of the seasons — all of the Australian ones and a lot of the American ones and I made spreadsheets and I tried to pinpoint where people seemed to be going wrong. Like, what were the patterns and why people were getting voted out at certain times so I can learn from them.

“I also asked my friends and family who know me really well, what my faults are because I just didn’t want to get on peoples’ bad side if there were these quirks about me that were really annoying that I wasn’t aware of. So I tried to get my loved ones to be really brutally honest with me so I could stay on top of anything that might annoy people.

“They said that sometimes I can over-talk and take over stories and that kind of thing. So just to spend a bit more time listening, and letting everyone else talk. Because people love talking about themselves.”

What’s your top tip for the Survivor 2022 Castaways?

“Really work on relationships and try to manage the threat level. Because you don’t have to be good at challenges and you don’t have to be the one making all the big moves. But as soon as your head is on the chopping block, it’s hard to get out of that situation.

“So always make sure you’ve got some sort of shield in front of you that everyone else is trying to vote off.”

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