Ben, a 34-year-old former U.S. Marine from Boise, ID, was shown receiving four jury votes, while Chrissy received two and the third-place finisher, Ryan Ulrich, earned himself one vote. (One jury vote was not unveiled by Survivor host Jeff Probst during the reunion show).
Devon Pinto finished the season in fourth place, while Mike "Dr. Mike" Zahalsky claimed fifth.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Chrissy talked about her Survivor experience and coming so close to victory. Below is what she had to say.
Reality TV World: Congratulations you made it as far as you did, but I'm sorry you didn't win.
Chrissy Hofbeck: I mean, I'm very happy with how I played. I feel good. I feel proud of how I did.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised by the final jury votes? Were you surprised to receive Ashley Nolan's vote, and could you confirm whom the other vote for you was from?
Chrissy Hofbeck: Okay, so I'll say the jury votes could have gone either way. I think all three of us had a really good relationship with everyone on the jury.
I got my two votes from Ashley and Dr. Mike. I was not at all surprised that Ashley voted for me; I was not surprised that Mike voted for me. I think any of the jury votes really could have gone either way between us.
I think all three of us played very different games, and at the end of the day, it just came down to, "Which game did the jury like the best?" I think we all played awesome games. I think Ben and I both deserved to win and the jury gave Ben the votes, and that's okay. They preferred his gameplay.
Reality TV World: Do you know what gave Ben the edge?
Chrissy Hofbeck: You know, there's some talk that [hidden] Immunity Idols are more flashy than Individual Immunity wins, because the jury sees the Immunity Idol play, you know?
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They don't really see the immunity wins. So when they're thinking about who should be the winner, idols in their mind could weigh heavier than challenges. Ultimately, I think he had a great story. [Ben] is a Marine, he really pushed through.
I think all of that really helped Ben, but I don't want to diminish Ben's game either, right? Ben played an awesome game. I think I also played an awesome game and it could've gone either way. And I think it was a hard decision for the jury; I think it was a hard decision for them. I don't think this was a slam dunk for anyone on the jury.
Reality TV World: For a moment during the final jury questioning, I thought you had won. You seemed to win Lauren Rimmer over with your speech about being a mom, which she can totally relate to, so do you think anything went wrong or could have said anything else to help you win?
Chrissy Hofbeck: No, I swear I did my best. I'm not going to look back on my game and have regrets, because I did so much better than I thought I was going to do, and I'm really proud of what I did.
So I really thought -- I felt going into the Final Tribal Council that [Joe Mena] and [Cole Medders] were definitely going to vote for Ben because they all kind of played the same kind of game. So I thought those two would really respect Ben's game the most. And I really thought that I would get Dr. Mike and Ashley.
We all just had a really great relationship. The swing votes for me were Lauren, [JP Hilsabeck] and [Desi Williams], whom I thought could really go either way. Those were the three whom I said, "They could go either way." I was just waiting to hear how it played out.
Of course when I watched the episode last night, I felt that Ben won when I saw all of the personal content in the final episode, when Ben started talking about being a vet and having PTSD and sending his kids to college. And Ryan and I didn't have any of that content. I was pretty sure going into the vote that Ben had won this, and I probably said something to Ben as such.
Reality TV World: Whom do you think would have won the game if Ben hadn't been saved by the new fire-starting challenge and the Final 3 had been Ryan, Devon and yourself?
Chrissy Hofbeck: I'm sure Ryan probably has a different answer to this than I do, so I was genuinely heartbroken for Devon in the fire-making challenge. I feel Devon, Ryan and I definitely would have gone to the end as a strong Final 3.
I do think that in the end, I would have won the game because of my challenge performances while being so much older than everyone else. And I know there was some talk about me not having a good social game, but I actually had really good relationships with people out there.
I know they showed that scene at Final Tribal Council where I said that thing to [Joe Mena], but I did have some really good, solid conversations with everyone out there. So I think in that case, I would have won.
But I don't want to take away from Devon and Ryan's game. They both played awesome games; they were just both very different. And I think my challenge wins would have kind of sealed that.
Reality TV World: If you didn't win so many Individual Immunity necklaces, when do you think you would've gone home? Because castaways were definitely targeting you a couple of times.
Chrissy Hofbeck: Yeah, so, I actually think that I would've gone home after JP. I think that first [immunity victory] was the worst placement that I had in the game. I think I was probably next to go after JP but I won the clutch immunity, [spelling] "invulnerable."
I think there was actually a secret scene when they decided they were sending me home next. However, having survived that, I don't necessarily know that I would've gone home with the last three wins only because Ryan and I, I felt we were very tight.
He may tell a different story, but I also felt I was close with Devon, I don't know. I don't think I would've gone home at the last three [Tribals]. I think I would've gone home at the Joe vote out, but after that, I probably would have made Final 3 just based on the relationships I had built out there.
Reality TV World: Of all the seasons to have a huge twist at the end in which the immunity winner can only choose one person to take to Final 3, it was your season. It seems like if it hadn't been for that, you would've won. Is that especially frustrating for you or does the twist make your loss a little easier to take since things were out of your hands at that point?
Chrissy Hofbeck: Honestly, I would say neither. I love this game. There have always been twists in this game, and this particular one didn't benefit me. But I don't want to look on it and feel frustrated or think about what could've happened, because at the end of the day, I'm really proud of how I played.
I'm really proud of how I played. I think Ben also played an awesome game, and I don't want to take anything away from him. I think there's a little bit of backlash against Ben for how it played out, and I don't think that's fair to Ben either.
[The twist] sent him to three. I love him. It played out how it played out. So, neither. I mean, of course I would have liked to have won, but I want to come away feeling really proud of what I accomplished.
Reality TV World: Would you play Survivor again if given the chance?
Chrissy Hofbeck: You know, I don't know. At this point, probably not. I feel like a lot of people play again because they want to do better next time, but again, I feel really proud of how I did. I feel proud of how I played. I don't think I'd play again to try to win.
If I had won, then I would say yes, because I would have loved to play an all-winners season. One of the reasons of course that I wanted to win was because I would love to have played in an all-winners season. But now that I didn't win, I think I'm happy with how I did.
I would love to play The Amazing Race or something. I would love to go on The Amazing Race with one of my kids. That would be huge for me. That I would do in a second. But, you know, I say if Jeff Probst called me himself and say, "Chrissy, I need to have you play my game again," then I'd think about it strongly. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: Do you think hidden Immunity Idols are getting out of hand in this game? I mean, it almost seems to be at the point where strategy doesn't matter anymore and it's more about luck and whether you stumble across an idol clue or something.
Chrissy Hofbeck: Yeah, I mean, I think my issue with the Immunity Idols this time is it just seemed that they were very easy to find. And I feel like the edit appears that Ben was up all night searching for Immunity Idols, but I don't really think that was the case.
I seem to remember, especially after Mike went home, we came back to camp. And yes, Ben went to the well for water like he always did, and he came back to bed and he got up the next morning and found the idol in like 12 seconds at the raft that he always sat at in the morning.
So I think that -- maybe it's not a question of the number of idols -- but I do think they need to be maybe harder to find so that it's not a slam dunk that every single time an Immunity Idol is reintroduced to the game, that someone is necessarily going to find it.
And I know that the rest of us had gotten a lot of heat for not following Ben, but truly -- first of all, if we're going to follow him and he's going to find it, it's still going to be his first, right? And second of all, I just don't think that all of us were sitting around while Ben was searching for an idol for 12 hours. Because it didn't happen like that.