Survivor’s Stephenie on Losing USA Network’s ‘Snake in the Grass’

Survivor’s Stephenie Kendrick (née LaGrossa) wasn’t exactly thrilled when she was chosen to be the saboteur on USA Network’s newest competition series Snake in the Grass – and that’s probably why she lost out on the money.

The three-time winner arrived in Costa Rica with fellow players SurvivorAlum Cirie FieldsAnd former Big BrotherPlayers Janelle PierzinaAnd Rachel ReillyShe was assigned to secretly try to block the group’s ability to find clues that would lead to her identity.

She would take home $100,000 if she succeeds after 36 hours. However, if she is uncovered as the snake, the other contestants will split the prize money. Unfortunately for Stephenie, she was identified as the snake quite early.

“I knew from the beginning,” Cirie, who played a season of SurvivorStephanie exclusively tells Us Weekly. They actually saw each other at the airport prior to filming began.

Rachel Reilly, Janelle Pierzina, Stephenie LaGrossa Kendrick, Cirie Fields Snake in the Grass

Rachel Reilly, Janelle Pierzina, Stephenie LaGrossa Kendrick, Cirie Fields
Chase Bjornson/USA Network

“I was so happy,” Stephanie recalls. “But then when they told me the game, then I was like, ‘Oh no, I’m dead.’ Cirie’s gonna know right away. She’s totally gonna be able to tell I’m lying. She knows a lot of things about me. I knew there would be clues and all that, so I knew the entire game. And I was like, ‘Oh, God, she knows everything about me.’ So I really was like a wreck from day one, even just when the game begun.”

Janelle took a little longer for Stephenie to understand her. “For Cirie, it was the beginning. For me, I kind of focused all my attention on Rachel because she was acting so weird,” the Minnesota native explains. “She was asking me where I lived and, like, we’ve done The Amazing Race together, on separate teams, but we still spent a ton of time together. Rachel is someone I know very well. So she was asking me these weird questions and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, she could be the snake because she’s asking me things that she already knows.’”

Cirie Fields, Janelle Pierzina, Stephenie LaGrossa Kendrick Snake in the Grass

Cirie Fields, Janelle Pierzina, Stephenie LaGrossa Kendrick
Chase Bjornson/USA Network

Stephenie successfully destroyed one of the clues before the group could find it, and that’s when all eyes were on Rachel. “I was convinced that Stephanie had thrown the clue somewhere in that swamp,” Rachel tells Use. “So I was gonna find the clue. So they didn’t think I was the snake, but it totally made me look like the snake.”

Janelle jokes, “Everything Rachel did made her look like the snake.”

Still, Cirie didn’t buy it. “She was so overzealous in being in that disgusting swamp,” the Survivor legend says. “There’s no way the snake would be doing all of this to find the clue about themselves. The swamp was really gross and she would’ve spent the night in there if we allowed her to.”

In the end, Stephenie, who was on the “hero” tribe during season 20 of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, couldn’t convince them she wasn’t the snake – and admits she’s not a natural liar. In fact, she found out “24 hours before filming began” that she was chosen to be the snake and wanted out: “I had a solid 24 to sit on it and, like, crap my pants about it. I didn’t wanna be the snake. So they tell me and I’m like, ‘OK, cool. I don’t wanna be it.’ They’re like, ‘Too bad.’ I’m like, ‘No, I don’t wanna be it. So now what?’ They’re like, ‘Nothing, we chose you. We told you the rules. You have to be it.’ So that was like a whole thing for me.”

Cirie Fields, Stephenie LaGrossa Kendrick, Janelle Pierzina, Rachel Reilly Snake in the Grass

Cirie Fields, Stephenie LaGrossa Kendrick, Janelle Pierzina, Rachel Reilly
Chase Bjornson/USA Network

During filming, she broke down crying. “You guys were on to me. Rachel’s yelling at me. We’re arguing. I’m gaslighting. I was trying to argue back and I’m like more of the peacemaker in my family,” Stephenie explains. “I’m not really the arguer, unless I’m really backed into a corner. I tried to be receptive and not defensive. Then, at one point, I felt like I had, and I walked away. It’s so freaking hard. I’m not really a good liar to begin with.”

Snake in the GrassAirs Mondays at 11:59 ET/PT on USA Network