John Cochran crowned winner of 'Survivor: Caramoan -- Fans vs. Favorites'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/13/2013
John Cochran was revealed as the winner of Survivor: Caramoan -- Fans vs. Favorites' $1 million grand prize during the live portion of Sunday night's finale broadcast on CBS from CBS Studio Center in Studio City, CA.
"It feels incredible. The first time, I went into [the game] so anxious that people are going to perceive me as a nerd, a socially awkward freak. And I'm formally still the same socially awkward, freaky, nerd guy. But the difference is that instead of those eccentricities and quirks being a source of embarrassment or anxiety for me, I've just accepted it as a reality of my existence," said Cochran, a 25-year-old law student from Washington, DC, during Survivor: Caramoan -- Fans vs. Favorites' reunion special.
"And that's immensely liberating because I got to focus on the game this time instead of how I'm perceived, which ruined my game the first time. Being able to focus on the game I've loved for half my life was a dream come true."
Cochran beat Dawn Meehan, a 42-year-old English professor from South Jordan, UT -- who, with Cochran, previously competed on Survivor: South Pacific and returned this season as "Favorites" -- and "Fan" and newbie player Sherri Biethman, a 41-year-old fast food franchisee from Boise, ID, in the season's final jury voting results, which Survivor host Jeff Probst revealed live during the broadcast.
Cochran received every single vote from the jury members comprised of previously-eliminated Survivor: Caramoan -- Fans vs. Favorites castaways.
During the live reunion show followingSurvivor's finale episode, Jeff also revealed that Malcolm Freberg had won $100,000 as the winner of the season's "Player of the Season" home viewer vote. A record number of votes were cast for the award and 71% percent of the vote went to two people -- Malcolm, who earned 36% percent of the vote and Brenda Lowe, who received 35% percent.
Survivor: Caramoan -- Fans vs. Favorites' special two-hour finale broadcast began on Night 36 with five castaways remaining -- Cochran; Dawn; Sherri; Erik Reichenbach, a 27-year-old comic book artist from Santa Clarita, CA; and Edward "Eddie" Fox, a 23-year-old fireman and EMT from East Brunswick, NJ.
Following the Tribal Council session in which Brenda was voted out, Erik was suffering from a terrible headache and said his head was spinning. Cochran noted that Erik appeared "dazed, disoriented and out of it." The show's medic then attended to Erik and was concerned he was in a "starvation state" in which his body could no longer compensate for the effects. The fact Erik was dizzy and almost passed out made the medic believed there wasn't enough blood going to his head and his pulse was also slow.
Therefore, the doctor gave Erik an IV on the island but quickly determined he needed to be pulled out of the game immediately and could no longer continue. The game was then automatically down to four players and Cochran told the cameras the turn of events confused his strategy. Everyone wished Erik well and told him they had become great friends with him.
"I didn't think you could do this game, but you can do this game," Erik told Sherri before he was medically evacuated.
Erik then told Cochran he had become a "challenge monster." With Erik gone, Eddie was really starting to believe he had a shot at winning the game and claiming the million dollars.
Later that night, the castaways were reminded how unpredictable the game was and couldn't believe they had a one-in-four chance to win. Cochran's plan was to bond with Eddie since he was the guy to potentially win the next Individual Immunity Challenge and therefore determine whom would go to the Final 3 with him. Eddie said it would be best for his own game to bring Sherri to the end and then he shook on a Final 3 deal with Cochran as well. They planned to vote out Dawn next.
On Day 37, the castaways received Tree Mail and discovered there was going to be a final Reward Challenge. The tribe members then met Jeff, who explained the rules. Each player was required to steady a balancing board using one hand while simultaneously building a house of cards with the other hand. The first castaway to build up his or her house of cards to reach a certain height would win the challenge and receive Reward in the form of a huge advantage in the final Immunity Challenge.
Cochran ended up winning the challenge in a close race against Sherri. He noted he was especially pleased to deny Dawn the advantage although they were close allies.
After the challenge, Sherri said she would like to sit next to Cochran and Eddie in the end because Dawn had an amazing story and would win the jury votes having six children and truly needing the money. Meanwhile, Dawn was worried and paranoid that Eddie and Sherri were going to try to take her out. Cochran and Dawn, however, agreed there was no scenario in which they'd vote each other out.
Despite his promise to Dawn, Cochran was wavering. He said Dawn believed she deserved a fast-pass to the end and he didn't really understand that perspective. Cochran said, if anything, Dawn should be paranoid because he was truly considering ditching her.
The next day, the remaining castaways went on a tour of their fallen comrades, reliving memories they had with each castaway who had been voted out of the game before them.
On Day 38, the castaways met Jeff again for their last Individual Immunity Challenge of the season. For the challenge, each tribemate was instructed to race up a three-story tower, untie a bag of puzzle pieces, launch him or herself down a slide, drop the bag, and then head up a staircase to retrieve another bag. Once the castaways collected all three of their bags, they had to solve a puzzle.
The winner of the challenge would receive immunity, earning the chance to plead his or her case to the jury at the final Tribal Council as to why he or she deserves to win a million dollars and the title of "Sole Survivor."
Cochran's advantage in the challenge was that he didn't have to untie his bag of puzzle pieces, saving him a lot of time. With the help of his Reward advantage, Cochran's won the challenge and automatically became a member of the Final 3. His victory was his fourth Individual Immunity win of the season, and Dawn yelled out in tears that he had earned it. Cochran then realized he had his pick in the litter of whom to take to the end, and he figured he should get rid of Dawn.
Following the Immunity Challenge, the tribemates returned to camp and Cochran was thrilled to have made it so far after 13 years of being such a huge fan of the show. Cochran discussed his strategy a bit with cameras, saying Sherri had no chance to win so she was a shoo-in for the finals and his decision ultimately came down to choosing Dawn or Eddie.
"It's not going to be Sherri. Sherri might be able to squeak out one vote, but she's not going to get enough to get second place. So now it's about, 'Do I want to bring Dawn with her constant emotional outbursts or Eddie, a chauvinistic 23-year-old idiot. The battle for second place is a really heated one. I can't wait to see what happens. It's so lonely at the top," Cochran explained.
"I have to determine who is less of a threat in terms of me bringing home the million dollars and the title. I know Sherri is going to the end with me and I can beat her. The question is, 'Can I beat Eddie or can I beat Dawn?' They are both people who bring a lot of pros and cons to the table."
Cochran then told Dawn she was "locked" with him in the Final 3. Dawn said there was a part of her that felt like she didn't deserve to do well. Afterward, Eddie was trying to logically convince Cochran to take himself to the end over Dawn. Eddie admitted he was basically an idiot and never talked strategy while Dawn was a mother who would play the emotional card.
Cochran noted Erik's absence helped get him to the Final 3 but the circumstances of Erik's departure was not anything to celebrate. Dawn and Eddie then argued their positions in the game for the chance to make it further. Dawn said Eddie was very likable because he never sent anyone home on the jury except for maybe one person. Eddie admitted he didn't do much strategically out there while Dawn made big moves. Cochran explained his vote was going to come down to the criteria the jury was going base their decisions on.
Sherri then told the group she didn't say a lot but she took in a lot. Cochran did give Sherri the benefit of the doubt, saying she probably did more in the game than was apparent to anyone, such as building alliances.
Jeff then revealed the votes. Eddie voted for Dawn, Dawn voted for Eddie, and Sherri and Cochran both voted for Eddie. Eddie was therefore eliminated from the game and only Dawn, Cochran and Sherri remained.
"I think Sherri has zero percent chance of winning which is why she is going to the Final 3. I feel like if I would've gone to the Final 3, first place was mine for the final taking. So as much as it sucks, I'm pretty happy with how I ended up. The fact it's a 'Fans versus Favorites' season and I made it to fourth really speaks large volumes at how I played. And I really wish I was going to be there in the morning, but I'm out tonight, and that's how it went today," Eddie said following his ouster.
On Day 39, the Final 3 enjoyed a big brunch. Dawn and Cochran had played the game 67 days together and were thrilled to have made it to the end with one another. Cochran was preparing himself for the worst. He was extremely nervous about pleading his case and said Harvard Law School didn't prepare him for addressing a jury.
That night, Cochran, Dawn and Sherri arrived for their final Tribal Council session and they were joined by all the jury members, including Eddie.
The eight people held the Final 3's fate in their hands and were asked to acquire all the information they needed in order to make a million-dollar decision. Each final castaway was given the opportunity to offer an opening statement, and then the jury would have a chance to address and/or confront them by asking questions or stating their opinions of the tribemates.
Dawn discussed her strategy throughout the game in her statement -- expressing how she had stayed true to one main ally in Cochran, took control of her own game and gave herself permission to actually play the game and deceive to win after building trust and friendships with people. She was proud of being a little cutthroat and said she made hard decisions when she had to.
Sherri explained how she was a mom and a successful businesswoman who played the game as so. Sherri said she was the only "Fan" who made it to the end and had to integrate herself into different tribes and alliances along the way. She cried and stumbled over her words, telling the jury she was very nervous.
Cochran then told the jury he had been passionate about and obsessed with Survivor for 13 years. He said that making it to the end was something he didn't even think he could fantasize about. Cochran explained he started out the game anxious but became a therapist. He said he became a calming force in the tribe and although he couldn't out-muscle, out-charm or really out-strategize anyone else, he beat people with his impeccable timing. Cochran said he made moves and changed his gameplan when it counted the most and he owned up to lying and deceiving many.
Afterward, the power shifted and the jury then had control of the game. They began asking the Final 3 questions to ease their own minds or seek a little revenge.
Malcolm asked Cochran to name a quality one of them had that the other didn't, and Cochran said his own heightened level of insecurity -- which he believed Malcolm lacked -- resulted in taking out threats with their own plans and ultimately his Final 3 position. Eddie asked Sherri to admit she was carried to the Final 3 and she wouldn't own up to that. Dawn then admitted she did exploit friendships and played a pretty cold-blooded game.
Erik pointed out that Sherri had done nothing in the entire game and was like a "seashell on the beach." Dawn then noted Cochran didn't have as much blood on his hands but that was because she was out there developing personal relationships in order to receive information to share with Cochran. Cochran said although Dawn gathered information, he had made the decisions and served as her therapist. Cochran suggested if he didn't help Dawn emotionally through the game, she never would've made it as far as she did.
Reynold told Dawn she was a "fake character" during the game but then she earned major points in his eyes after she told him he was vulgar and chauvinistic.
Lastly, Brenda asked Dawn to take her teeth out, which was symbolic of how Brenda held Dawn's fate in the game at one point in the season. When Dawn lost her retainer in the water, she threatened to pull herself from the game if she couldn't find them. To ensure Dawn -- her loyal ally and best friend in the game -- wouldn't quit, Brenda went diving for the retainer and ended up finding it.
So by asking Dawn to take her retainer out, Brenda was making Dawn experience a little bit of the heartbreak and humiliation she felt when Dawn had betrayed and voted her out. It also proved to Brenda that Dawn wouldn't have literally quit the game if her retainer had never been found. Dawn did reluctantly reveal her missing bottom teeth.
The jury then cast their votes for which person they believed should be the winner of Survivor: Caramoan -- Fans vs. Favorites. The only vote that was immediately shown was Phillip voting for Cochran.
During the live portion of Survivor's finale episode, the Final 3, the jury, Jeff, and the studio audience gathered in CBS Studio Center in Studio City, CA to discover who had won the million dollars.
Jeff then revealed five castaways had voted for Cochran and stopped there. Later in the broadcast, Dawn apologized to Brenda and she accepted. Brenda, who seemed willing to move forward as friends with Dawn from that point on, also showed the world she is pregnant and due any day now.