Why Kelly Lostby David Bloomberg -- 07/10/2002
Kelly was the river guide who couldn't beat the non-swimmer in a rowing race. She was the alliance member who couldn't decide whether she wanted to be in an alliance. She was part of the more mature Tagi tribe who wanted to play with the Pagong. She was Susan's friend who ended up as her bitter enemy. In short, she could not easily be placed in a single category.
She lost for a number of reasons, not the least of which was her inability to stick with the alliance. She burned her bridges with them and it cost her the game. It would have cost her the game sooner, but she managed to win four immunity challenges in a row. The alliance had to vote off Colleen and Sean and eventually Susan instead of Kelly. Kelly then booted Rudy, which was a good move, but not good enough.
If she had put on a happy face, not complained so bitterly about the alliance, continued to vote with the alliance instead of on her own, kept up friendly interaction with Susan, and done all the other things that got her into the alliance, she probably would have come out as the winner. Earlier, Susan had said she would take Kelly into the final two, that she wouldn't stab her in the back. But that changed and Kelly made Susan so mad that she promised Kelly she'd keep her out of the finals. She went even further with an incredibly hateful speech at the final jury, pushing the game of Survivor into real life by saying that if Sue saw Kelly dying of thirst, she'd leave her for the vultures. From friendship to hatred. Kelly shot herself in the foot with that one, and tried to blame Susan for it, to boot.
That was the fatal wound. She lost by only one vote. Sean and Rudy were definitely voting for Richard. We'll never know what went through Greg's mind when he voted, but we might surmise that her two-faced nature played a part. She won over Colleen at the last minute, but it was not enough. Susan's vote cost Kelly $900,000.
If she had only kept her eyes on the prize, not worried about whether it was ethical to form an alliance, but whether she would win, she could have gotten the big money. But she blew her chances when she forgot that the aim of this contest was to win, not to worry about making new friends. She compounded this by later saying it was wrong to have been in the alliance -- that she should have stayed out of the very alliance that got her to second place.
Even after playing the game for 39 days, she still didn't really understand it. She played hard. She had the physical aspect down without a doubt (excepting the rowing competition she lost early on). But she never did fully grasp the psychology. At the "reunion" after the show, she said, "it was a mean game." Maybe it was, but maybe that's what it needed to be. That is why Kelly lost.
Be sure to check out Why Richard Won.