Exclusive: Sandra Diaz-Twine talks 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains' win
By Christopher Rocchio, 05/17/2010
Sandra Diaz-Twine knew she had a good chance at winning Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains after the final Tribal Council, but she was still surprised when a majority of the votes were cast in her favor.
The former Survivor: Pearl Islands winner claimed Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains' $1 million grand prize during the live portion of last night's finale broadcast from the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City.
On Monday, Sandra talked to Reality TV World about why Russell underestimated her strategic and social game play so much; how she thought the final Tribal Council vote would shake out; what thwarted Rupert Boneham's chances of aligning with her; and if she'd ever play the game again.
Check back with Reality TV World on Tuesday and Wednesday for our additional interviews with fellow Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains finale castaways Parvati, Russell, Jerri Manthey and Colby Donaldson.
Reality TV World: Why do you think Russell underestimated your strategic and social game play so much?
Sandra Diaz-Twine: Oh my god, we've been fighting all morning. I'm glad our interviews are separate now because he keeps saying just because I won that means the system is flawed. I tell him, "You know what Russell? I was a fan first before I was a Survivor. I take bits and pieces of everybody's season and every winner's strategy and I have dos and don'ts and I just have a winning combination."
He thinks because he saw Micronesia and he played in Samoa that he's an expert. He's not. He doesn't understand this game. He can play a thousand times and he'll never win.
Reality TV World: It seemed like you could have sided with [Jerri Manthey] and forced a 2-2 tie between her and Parvati at the Final 4 Tribal Council but you didn't, obviously. Does that mean you also preferred to go to the Final 3 with Parvati instead of Jerri, and if so why?
Sandra Diaz-Twine: Yup. After a certain time of trying to get rid of Russell for so long, everyone wanted to go with him to the end. I said, "I've got to put my vendetta aside and I've got to take this goat to the end because anyone who plays against him will automatically win."
Parvati being aligned with him and never disassociating herself from him, she was just as bad. [The jury] looked at them like a snake with two heads -- one in the same. So I was like, "Damn! These two are awesome to go to the end with."
Reality TV World: Heading into that final Tribal Council, how confident were you that you could secure enough jury votes to win? Which members of the jury did you specifically think would vote for you and why?
Sandra Diaz-Twine: I thought at that point that I had four out the five [needed to win]. Parvati in all her interviews, which you'll talk to her later, won't you?
I thought I had at least four out of the five. I knew I had [Courtney Yates'] vote because she was my friend. [Candice Woodcock], I know her from Fayetteville. Candice went home because of what she did. [Amanda Kimmel] because I tried to save Amanda and Rupert because he had been my friend before. Although I voted him out, when I went to the end with Russell and Parvati I knew he would give me his vote.
Everyone else was applauding Parvati about her strategic game and thought she was a very physical player, so I figured, "Okay I'll get four and she'll get five." But when I got six and she got three I was like, "What!?!"
Reality TV World: Okay, so you know you got six votes -- who cast the other two votes for you?
Reality TV World: Based on what they showed on the episode, you seemed to be one of the main people that was pushing to keep Parvati when [Tyson Apostol], Coach and some of the other Villains were trying to get [Rob "Boston Rob" Mariano] to agree to vote Parvati instead of [Randy Bailey] off at the Villains' first Tribal Council. And when we talked to Randy a few months ago, he insisted it was because you had actually wanted to keep another former winner in the game to help keep the target off you -- was that true or was there some other reason you didn't seem to want Parvati gone?
Sandra Diaz-Twine: You know what happened, when we landed on the beach it was like second number one or second number two -- it wasn't even a minute in -- Randy comes up to me and says, "We've decided Parvati has to go because she's already won." I'm thinking like, "Dude, do you not know who I am? How do you say that to me?" I'm like, "Wait a minute Randy, who is the 'we' that decided it." Because in my game, I need to be in the majority and if he's coming up to me and telling me "we've decided," I'm not part of "we've decided." So I'm already screwed.
You don't tell me those two kind of things. So I went back and I told Parvarti but by then she already knew. So I figured as long as she stayed in the game they wouldn't come after me. So a lot of the times, although my alliance wanted her out, I don't want to put her name down because it's not convenient for Sandra. That's strategy.
Reality TV World: Before the Tribal Council where Rupert ended up going home, you approached him and started to tell him how much you wanted Russell gone. Was that because you were planning to give Rupert your Hidden Immunity Idol and have him use it so that you guys could vote Russell off...
Sandra Diaz-Twine: Yes. I was expecting there to be a lot of secret scenes. At final Tribal Council -- then I'll go back -- me and Rupert actually talked for 10 minutes. That's why he was crying. But they cut that out because they didn't show those scenes leading up to there. It would have messed everything up.
But when Danielle... Before we went to Tribal Council I told Rupert I would never vote your name. But when Danielle and Russell started fighting and he told Jerri, "Danielle," I switched my vote from [Colby Donaldson] to Rupert. When we got back, he was like, "Sandra, what was that?" Because he knew all the votes were either Danielle or Rupert. So it was obvious what I did.
Reality TV World: What was your reason for changing your vote there?
Sandra Diaz-Twine: Because I panicked. I was like, "Oh my god, Russell is going to send Danielle home. Although I want revenge against Danielle, right now for Sandra's game, she does not need to go home."
So the next morning I wake up and I'm like, "Listen Rupert, there's still hope. We can still get rid of Russell." He's like, "Me, you and Colby?" I'm like, "No! Me and you!" I guess it didn't add up for him and that's all I could say because Russell was coming up. So just that quick he turns around and tells Russell. Then I'm telling the cameras, "I still want to give [Rupert] my idol, but I don't want to look like [former Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites castaway Erik Reichenbach] and give away my idol. [Rupert] saves himself and I still go home."
Reality TV World: You had seemed to be in a pretty tight alliance with Boston Rob until he got voted off, but I think we had also seen you make a comment about being willing to "cut his throat" when the time came. So about how long were you planning to have stay loyal to him if Russell had been voted out of the game at that Tribal Council where Tyson ended up voting himself off instead?
Sandra Diaz-Twine: Up until the merge. If the merge came and Boston Rob was there. I had planned on having an alliance with Candice, so for me, I would have went over to the Heroes and we would have taken a couple of people from Candice's group and a couple of people from my group.
If there's five of us, I want to be with the Top 3. If there's seven of us, I need to be with the Top 5. So I always put myself in that position. It all depends, really. I can't say what it would have been, but eventually -- once it became an individual game -- I know what Boston Rob is like. I mimic a lot of his stuff. I was a fan of Boston Rob. I knew he was a dangerous player.
Reality TV World: Do you think the way you stood up to Russell on more than one occasion played any factor in the jury's decision?
Sandra Diaz-Twine: Of course. Why do you think I got all five Hero votes -- because I told Rupert on Day 1 [after the merge], "This is what's going down." He went and told [James "J.T." Thomas] and J.T. was like, "No, Sandra's a liar. Don't worry about it. We've got this." What ended up happening? He went home. The minute we came back from Tribal Council that night it was a different tune. Then Candice went and told on me when Russell offered her Final 2.
Reality TV World: Since you were both his enemy and his ally, what do you think prevents Russell from winning the final jury vote once he makes it all the way to the end? Is his abrasive personality and kind of taunting gameplay why don't jury members respect his strategic game play more or is there more to it?
Sandra Diaz-Twine: He's a bully. You can't bully people around and expect them to give you votes. Let me tell you this, when I saw the finale in Samoa I knew he didn't win. I knew -- with everyone's tone -- what was going down. I don't see how he didn't understand that, how he could go back two weeks later and repeat the same game. How is he a strategic player if he didn't change anything -- and that was a crappy game.
Reality TV World: There's been a lot of talk about whether it was fair or not for Russell to get to play the game without anyone having gotten to seen his season first. What's your thoughts on that?
Sandra Diaz-Twine: Well, it could go both ways. Had we seen his season we would have targeted him and he might have been forced to change his game. He would have probably changed his game, but we would have known what kind of person he was and he wouldn't as lasted as long as he did. So it's a pro and a con.
Reality TV World: During her exit interviews, [Jessica "Sugar" Kiper] made some comments that have sparked a lot of speculation and rumors that Parvati somehow knew about Russell or had some contact with him before the game started. Were you aware of anything like that?
Reality TV World: Seeing as how you crowned yourself the queen of Survivor last night, is there any way you would ever consider putting your crown on the line and going back out there and playing again?
Sandra Diaz-Twine: I would in a couple of years, but right now it's too fresh in my mind to say I'm going to go back tomorrow.
Reality TV World: Last night J.T. won the "dumbest move" award. Do you agree that's the dumbest move in Survivor history and do you think the game would have turned out differently had you intercepted the Hidden Immunity Idol J.T. gave to Russell?
Sandra Diaz-Twine: Yeah because the minute we had gotten over there I would have flipped so quick it wouldn't have been funny. I would have flipped so quick. Like I said -- I had Candice over there. Different things would have happened. Rupert would have eventually been my friend. I could have moved in there, I could have muscled my way to the top. I'm not scared.