Chris, a 25-year-old district sales manager from Myrtle Beach, SC, who currently resides in Greenville, SC, won the game with a 9-4 jury vote over Gavin, a 23-year-old YMCA program director from Erwin, TN.
Reality TV World: Gavin tried to suggest the win was handed to you because you would've gone home immediately without that idol you automatically got upon returning the Edge. What do you think about his argument you wouldn't have gotten to the end of the game without that idol you never actually found yourself?
Chris Underwood: I knew that I had to be vulnerable for at least one vote. The mistake that Gavin and Lauren made is they needed to get rid of Victoria before getting rid of me.
The reality is, I was the biggest threat. They didn't think they could use me because I had no strategic gameplay, and that was a mistake in their game unfortunately.
I mean, Victoria was on point. She stuck it out and was trying to lobby for them to vote me out. The other idol, you know, that's part of the game. That was part of my strategy.
I had to give it to Rick and Rick could have very easily withheld it from me. It was a matter of that social capital I had built with him, and that's a really important part of Survivor that normally goes untalked about.
But having him hold onto that other piece was really important, and when he played his idol and then Lauren played her idol, we woke up at 4AM that next morning to find the next idol. And we had already searched about 75 percent of that beach; we cleared out that area.
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And so we had narrowed it down to a spot where Rick found out. We were within 10 feet of each other, and I had already told Rick, "If you don't find another idol and either of us win immunity, this other half is yours. But we're going to try to find you an idol."
So even in that, I was giving him confidence, and that's a really important part of the gameplay, you know?
Reality TV World: What did you think of the Edge of Extinction twist in general and the idea that someone that spent so little time in the actual game could win? It's been pretty controversial among viewers and Wardog even mentioned at Final Tribal the theme was not on trial but the Final 3 castaways were.
Chris Underwood: Yeah, Wardog said it really well. In that dialogue, someone had brought that up again and I started to realize the theme was starting to be under scrutiny more than the players.
I just kind of told the jury, "You know, if that's what you think, then are you implying that [Jeff Probst and the producers] did a bad job? Are you implying that this was a worthless theme and it was overall such a failure?"
I was kind of pleading the witness and then Wardog stepped up and said it's not the theme on trial, it's these people. And that's really the essence ofSurvivor, is you never know what is going to be thrown at you.
You have to be adaptable and you have to be able to use what you have and play inside the boundaries of the game, and it wasn't a sure-fire win. I had to really play a great game when I got back in.
So the theme was something I used, but it wasn't why I won. It was a part of the overall strategy, but there was a lot I had to do to get from Point A to Point B.
Reality TV World: During the Final 6 immunity challenge, Victoria, Gavin and Lauren all were openly cheering Julie on and then you basically seemed to quit the challenge in attempt to coach Julie and help her win. Can you talk about why you did that? Were you trying to keep Rick from winning -- like Rick seemed to think -- or were you trying to build a connection with Victoria, Gavin and Lauren?
Chris Underwood: Well, yeah, Gavin and Lauren and Victoria were definitely trying to win. Rick was trying to win as well. I was behind and then once I started to see that there was going to be a smaller chance of me winning, I started helping Julie.
That was a way for me to earn favor from her, because if she won, I was just at that point trying to get into that Reward lunch with her to extract more information and figure out what we were going to do to use Rick Devens' idol.
Because I already knew that Rick had that idol, and I knew I needed to lose an Immunity Challenge [to prove myself], so I knew by giving Julie support that came at that time, it was me kind of showing her I was willing to work with her and wanted her success.
And as a result, she took me on the Reward and it gave me an opportunity to get into the heads of Lauren and Julie.
To read the first part of Reality TV World's exclusive Survivor interview with Chris Underwood, click here. Be sure to check back with us soon for the concluding portion, and click here to read more interviews with the Final 6 castaways from this season.