"Soda" Thompson and "Survivor" host Jeff Probst at Tribal Council on...

"Soda" Thompson and "Survivor" host Jeff Probst at Tribal Council on the April 10, 2024 episode on which she was voted off the show. Credit: CBS/Robert Voets

Bay Shore-raised Sodasia “Soda” Thompson, one of the 18 castaways vying for $1 million on “Survivor” season 46, saw her torch snuffed out on Wednesday’s episode of the reality-TV competition — and becoming the first member of the show’s finale jury that will ultimately name the winner.

The second of two eliminations that night, Thompson, a New Jersey special-education teacher who turned 28 on April 4, had strategized in the episode with her friend Charlie Davis, a 26-year-old Boston law student, and their fellow Nami tribe-member Tevin Davis, 24, no relation, an actor from Virginia.

She had urged that Charlie Davis, a likely elimination target, remain and that Venus Vafa, 24, a Canadian data analyst seen as playing a highly strategic game, be voted off. But Tevin Davis went behind Thompson’s back to rally votes to eliminate Thompson.

At Tribal Council, the vote came out two for Vafa and four for Thompson. The two hugged, and a smiling Thompson gave Vafa a playful punch in the arm. Thompson mused aloud of being voted off the island, “I did not see that coming at all.”

“Venus and I had a complicated relationship, and nobody really saw it because of the edit,” Thompson tells Newsday Thursday afternoon by phone. “We had been allies since Day One. I was the only person who really listened to her and would hear her out. I tried to help her build connections with other tribe-mates. … And then I started distancing myself and she didn’t like that. And these little spats you see on camera aren’t me starting any trouble. It’s her being upset or blaming me for something. So that’s where it starts to go downhill. But,” Thompson says, taking the long view during that moment after the vote, “I remember it’s just a game.”

Vafa acknowledged as much in the episode, telling Thompson, “You played an amazing game, Soda. … I love you.” Thompson, tearing up, responded, “I love all you guys. It’s really hard.” She was simultaneously laughing and crying as host Jeff Probst solemnly snuffed out her torch. Turning to the tribe, she received applause as she put her hands together like prayer and nodded at the group.

“It’s like taking a pill and suddenly you’re out of The Matrix,” Thompson told Newsday, describing her conflicting emotions. “I was sad because it was over. I was shocked in disbelief. I was happy to be there. I was filled with gratitude just to be with Jeff and the cast and the crew. You have no choice but to be present in such a pure, raw moment like that. So I was laughing and crying and shocked and laughing and crying again.”

Wednesday night, Thompson held a watch party at Tavern 29 in Manhattan, where a genial crowd collectively “awwwwww”ed in sympathy as the council vote played on of the bar’s several TV sets.

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