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.
Julie Rosenberg also made the Final 3 but did not receive a single vote. Rick finished in fourth place, Lauren O'Connell placed fifth, and Victoria claimed sixth place.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World following the finale broadcast on Thursday, Chris talked about his Survivor experience and victory. Below is the first portion of what he had to say.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised to win the jury vote against Gavin and Julie? And did any of the votes surprise you -- like maybe Rick's vote for Gavin, or the fact Victoria voted for you to win?
Chris Underwood: Yeah, I mean, that was surprising. I was not confident at all going into that Final Tribal. I mean, I knew I had my work cut out for me and I had to articulate my motives and the reason why I made certain moves.
And once I started articulating that -- not just that, but, you know, I trusted my gut and went with it and in a succinct way articulated the ways I leveraged those relationships -- the tide started to turn. I knew I might get seven out of the 13 or eight out of the 13, so right around the 60th percentile.
So, coming out of it, I felt like it was good, and then last night was kind of right in line with what I was thinking -- about 70 percent of the votes. So all in all, I definitely wasn't 100 percent confident, but I did have a feeling it was going to happen.
Reality TV World: Why do you think the jury ultimately voted for you to win, and how much of a liability do you think the jury considered your short time in the actual game to be? And do you think you still would have won had you not given up immunity and faced Rick in the firestarting challenge?
Chris Underwood: Yeah, me not being in the game was a huge, huge liability. There was a really strong pack of players this season, and they were all very aggressive in their gameplay. This wasn't a passive season. This wasn't a "passenger" season if you will; this was a "pilot" season.
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And so, I knew that going into it, that if I had a shot, I couldn't just make contact. Like if I took a swing, I couldn't just make contact -- I had to hit a home run. I was either going to strike out or hit a home run every single time I swung.
And I had to continue to do that each day, really. So by continuing to do that, it worked out in my favor. But there was really nothing less that could've happened; it had to happen the way that it did for me to remotely have a shot.
Reality TV World: The editing made it look like your plan was to just teach Gavin and Julie how to start fire and then pick the better firestarter to compete against Rick. So what happened -- when did you decide to face Rick yourself, and why? Were Gavin and Julie just both terrible at the task (laughs) or was your reasoning at Tribal the real reason?
Chris Underwood: No, I mean, I spent a lot of time on the Edge of Extinction thinking about the game I wanted to play, and I had made the decision weeks beforehand that I had to win the Final Immunity [Challenge] and I had to take the necklace off and beat the top competitor.
So knowing that going into it, once I did win final Immunity that final day, we had limited resources in terms of our flint. (Laughs) There were only two of them and so by teaching Gavin and Julie how to make fire, I was actually practicing making fire.
And I was using their materials to do it. (Laughs) So, that was a strategic move for me. I had already made the decision in my mind I was going to fire with Rick.
Reality TV World: Had you told Julie or Gavin what you were going to do ahead of time or that you were at least considering it, or was Tribal the first time you'd even mentioned it out loud?
Reality TV World: Do you think your Extinction Island time may have actually been an advantage because some of the [10 jurors who had been on Extinction] felt some loyalty to you and wanted "one of their own" to win? You also had time to mend relationships with people you had betrayed or didn't get along great with.
Chris Underwood: Yeah, it definitely was an advantage. It was a huge advantage. It gave me the opportunity to gather information. Whoever was getting back into the game -- mind you, on Day 35, there were 11 possible people getting back into the game, and there were a ton of good competitors out there.
There were very strategically-sound players, and so there was never a pact that was made, like, "Whoever gets back in will earn votes." There was none of that.
It was about what you're going to do with the game that you have and how you're going to do it -- and you better be a good representative for this season.
I think there were so many aggressive players this season, they wanted to reward aggressive gameplay. And so, I had the advantage of mending relationships, like you said, and having that social capital, but that was definitely not enough to get any votes.
I mean, I had to deliver it at the Final Tribal and plead my case better than Gavin and Julie if I was going to have a shot.
Be sure to check back with Reality TV World soon for more from our exclusive interview with the Survivor: Edge of Extinction winner Chris Underwood, as well as for more interviews with the rest of the Final 6 castaways.