Gavin Whitson finished as the runner-up of Survivor: Edge of Extinction behind winner Chris Underwood during Wednesday night's three-hour finale event of Survivor Season 38 on CBS.

Gavin, a 23-year-old YMCA program director from Erwin, TN, lost in a 9-4 jury vote to Chris, a 25-year-old district sales manager from Myrtle Beach, SC, who currently resides in Greenville, SC, after Chris had returned from the Edge of Extinction.

Chris received the following jury votes to win: Reem Daly, Julia Carter, Eric Hafemann, Aubry Bracco, David Wright, Joe Anglim, Dan "The Wardog" DaSilva, Victoria Baamonde, and Ron Clark.

And Gavin earned votes from Aurora McCreary, Lauren O'Connell, Kelley Wentworth, and Rick Devens.

Julie Rosenberg also made the Final 3 but did not receive a single vote. Rick finished in fourth place, Lauren placed fifth, and Victoria claimed sixth place.

During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World following the finale broadcast on Thursday, Gavin talked about his Survivor experience and heartbreaking loss. Below is the concluding portion of what he had to say.


Reality TV World: How do you think the endgame would have played out in your mind if everything had gone according to plan and you guys had been able to vote Rick out at the Final 6, and who did you see as your ideal Final 3?

Gavin Whitson: I personally think in my Final 3, it would have been Julie and Lauren. I know I was super close with Victoria, but I think we played too similar of games to go into Final Tribal Council together.

And you know, she might be a better talker than me and she might be a little bit more persuasive. So that was someone eventually I knew I didn't want to sit next to because she just had too similar of a story to me. If that makes sense.

I would have liked to go to the end with Lauren and Julie because they both played a great game. Lauren went to the most Tribal Councils in Survivor and she had a great story, you know? Julie has a great story too.

So those were the two I had envisioned sitting with because I really trusted Lauren also. I trusted Lauren and Victoria both, but I think moving forward, I was ready to go with Lauren.

Reality TV World: When Chris asked you at Final Tribal if you got to the end as a goat, Kelley and Lauren called him out for being offensive and rude and to let the jury ask the questions. Did you think in that moment Chris might have just lost the jury vote?
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Gavin Whitson: I'm sure Chris' comment didn't hurt my chances, but I think I built trust with Kelley and Lauren, and they knew the game I was playing... But yeah, I think it's the jury's decision to call people out on stuff like that.


Reality TV World: Given both Kelley and Lauren voted for you to win, do you think they basically entered Final Tribal already knowing they were going to vote for you, or do you think Chris' comment had some type of impact on their decision?

Gavin Whitson: Those were two people I had hoped were going to be in my corner going into Final Tribal Council. You have all these people whom you think are going to vote for you, as they saw the game you were playing.

And I thought Kelley and Lauren would respect the game I played because I was willing to work with them. I was something they could trust.

Reality TV World: Do you think there really was a perception of you being a goat among the cast and that you basically made it to the end because everyone viewed you that way and that's why you never received a single vote during the game? Or do you think this opinion just belonged to Chris?

Gavin Whitson: I mean, the reality is people are going to believe whatever they want to believe, you know? But in my head, that's definitely not the case because I think the reason I believed zero votes is because I had such a good social game.

You know, I can say, for example, Victoria and Lauren. At the end, they both wanted to work with me and they wanted me to pick a side. They were both coming to me with, "We've got to take Victoria out now," or, "We've got to take Lauren out now."

This was something where I knew I needed to wait on one of them because I knew I had them both in my corner. If I'm close to them and they're backing me up, then I'm not in danger of being voted out if that makes sense.

Stuff like that, the jury doesn't know about. It's the stuff that might not be flashy but it's the stuff that keeps you in the game. So it just depends on what people are looking for, I guess.


Reality TV World: So whom did you vote for at the Tribal Council when Victoria got voted off then? The episode didn't show who voted for whom, except for that Rick received three votes, Victoria received two and Chris earned one vote.

Gavin Whitson: I'm trying to think. I honestly can't remember at the top of my head, it's been a long time. But I knew going in that I wanted Chris to go home that night, but if Chris somehow had an idol, I knew that Victoria would be the one to go home. But I cannot remember. 

To read the first half of Gavin's exclusive Survivor interview with Reality TV World, click here. And to read more interviews with this season's Final 6 castaways, click here for our Survivor: Edge of Extinction show page.

About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.