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'Survivor 46' winner Kenzie Petty on shocking jury vote and her life 'remaining the same' after $1 million win

"I immediately felt very sad for Charlie and Ben," Petty said

 (L-R): Maria Gonzalez and Kenzie Veurink on Survivor 46 (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images)
(L-R): Maria Gonzalez and Kenzie Veurink on Survivor 46 (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images)

Survivor 46 came to a dramatic end with 29-year-old Kenzie Petty $1 million richer after being crowned the Sole Survivor. Petty beat out 26-year-old Charlie Davis by just one jury vote.

"I was just like, I'm just going to keep smiling because I either won a million dollars, or my friend did, and those are both reasons to smile," Petty told Yahoo Canada about the moment just before she found out she won Survivor 46. "Then I immediately felt very sad for Charlie and Ben [Katzman]."

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One of the biggest surprises of the night was Maria Shrime Gonzalez shockingly voting for Petty over Davis, the person she seemingly had an incredibly close connection with throughout much of the season.

For Gonzalez, she shared that watching Petty make a fire, stumbling but never giving up, really spoke to her. Additionally, as a 48-year-old mother, Petty's desire to use the money to support herself and start and family, having worked at a salon (now a salon owner) since she was 15, made Gonzalez want to vote for Petty to win.

"The pride that she had in herself spoke to me on a different level that transcended the game," Gonzalez explained to Yahoo Canada. "As a mother, I put so many of my dreams and goals on the shelf to unselfishly give to my family, and coming on this show was 100 per cent the most selfish choice I was going to make, and I had my family's support to do it."

"It was a time to say, this is about me and I'm going to fight for something that I have wanted to do for a long time. So when Kenzie said, I've been working since the age of 15, I didn't have the luxury to be the teenager that everybody else was, I want this money for me, ... I'm like, she's reading my mind as to why I'm here. ... I was just so proud of her for doing that. As a woman in my 40s, it took me 47 years to make that choice, and she's in her 20s, and I was just so proud of her for owning that."

Looking back at what she said to the jury, Petty stressed she just "spoke from [her] heart." Petty has also announced that she is pregnant, now starting a family.

"I didn't know what was going to resinate," Petty said in a separate interview. "The only reason I secured [Maria's] vote was, I was just true to myself and honest."

"I have worked my whole life. I literally am investing the money. Everyone's like, 'Are you going to not work?' I'm like, no I will be back at work full-time on Tuesday. My life is remaining the same. This is just my financial security and I can take a longer maternity leave. I'm glad to know that my truth resonated with someone on the jury."

In terms of her strategy throughout the game, Petty is particularly open about the fact that she made it to the end without making any massive moves.

"It was difficult, really, to make moves with such a big group of people," Petty said. "I did convince Hunter [McKnight] not to play his idol, but that wasn't a big flashy move."

"I was very social, that was my move. I'm not going to try and claim that I made any big moves because at the end of the day, I didn't. I made friends."

(L-R): Kenzie Veurink and Jeff Probst on Survivor 46 (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images)
(L-R): Kenzie Veurink and Jeff Probst on Survivor 46 (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images)

In terms of what the transition off the island looked like, there were a lot of different feelings that came up for Petty.

"I had guilt for voting out my friends and beating Charlie and Ben, and Liz at fire, all these people that I love and care about," she explained. "And then you have this weird [feeling] like, I wanted to go back."

"It was so simple on the island. No bills. ... We got home on a Friday and I went back to work that Tuesday. I was like, I'm going to have to work after five weeks, so I didn't really take any time to acclimate or adjust back to regular life."

Right after Petty was crowned the winner, she rode a boat back with Davis and Ben Katzman, and the three finalists spent some time together.

"The three of us just ended up hanging out in like a tub in one of our rooms, ... and then we all had a slumber party and the three of us really took some time to calm down together," she shared.

With her Survivor journey ending in victory, if Petty was asked to return, she's not particularly confident she'd be rushing towards another opportunity to be on the island.

"I am never going to say never, but I also am so grateful for having a very full Survivor experience," Petty said. "I crossed everything off of my bucket list except for finding an idol, ... on 46 you didn't want an idol anyway."

"I am very at peace with my Survivor journey. But at the same time if they called, how do you say no to Jeff [Probst]?"