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.
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, Gavin talked about his Survivor experience and heartbreaking loss. Below is the first portion of what he had to say.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised to not win the jury vote against Chris?
Gavin Whitson: It definitely wasn't what I had hoped for, you know, going into Final Tribal Council, I definitely thought I had the advantage just because Chris was voted out Day 12.
I thought these people were going to respect the fact I had played the entire game of Survivor. You know, I never received a single vote, I won [Individual] Immunities, and I thought I had the checklist for what a Survivor winner might entail.
So it sucked, but the thing about it was it was just a misread on my part. I thought I was going to have people who were going to vote for me, but they really didn't.
And you know, Chris played the Edge of Extinction perfectly. He played the cards he was dealt and he did a good job at it, but yeah, I was upset. I thought I was going to win.
Reality TV World: Do you think Chris still would have won without that move to give up immunity and face Rick in the firestarting challenge?
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Gavin Whitson: I would hope so. I think people ask the one thing you would change about your game and I wouldn't change a single thing because every decision I made got me to the end, and that's exactly what I had planned for. I think the only thing I would've done different is make fire instead [of Chris].
And if I made fire and beat Rick and still didn't win, then it was a losing battle anyways. There's nothing else, I don't think, I could have done -- outside of making fire to win the game. Because everything else, I still think I executed to the best of my ability.
Reality TV World: Breaking down the vote, were you surprised anyone in particular voted for or against you to win? It was interesting, for example, Victoria voted to give Chris the money when you two appeared to be so close.
Gavin Whitson: Yeah, that was No. 1 on my list. Whenever someone tells you they're voting for you [like Victoria did after her torch was snuffed], you kind of take that only one way -- and I took that as she was going to vote for me.
So that was a bit of a surprise, especially because I thought me and Victoria played the same kind of game. So I thought she would respect the game I played because, you know, if the script got flipped and Victoria's in my spot and I'm in Victoria's spot, I'm voting for Victoria hands down.
I know that she played a good game, so that sucked. But outside of that, I thought -- even though I had blindsided some of these people -- I thought they were going to respect the game that I played just because people like Aubry had been in my situation.
Aubry, you know, came in second place and she had made it 39 days. I thought she would respect the game that I played even though I did blindside her. So I was hoping to have her vote, and I really thought I had Eric's vote.
Outside of those two, I expected to have Julia and Ron because I was close with these people in the game, even though I did vote them out. You know, that's what we had signed up for. So if it were me, I would have respected the game.
So, I don't know. I'm torn on it. I went in more confident than I should have been. I believe I misread the scenario, and I think, you know, it helped Chris out because the people I thought were going to be voting for me ended up voting for Chris.
And those were people whom Chris never had to backstab or blindside. Those are the people he just got to know [on the Edge of Extinction]. There really wasn't any strategy to that.
Reality TV World: What do you think of the Edge of Extinction twist in general? It's been pretty controversial among viewers, as some argue Chris' time on Extinction Island was a liability because he had played so few days in the real game while others say people on the Edge might've felt a loyalty to him and wanted "one of their own" to win the game.
Gavin Whitson: Yeah, I think now, looking back on it, I was at a bit of a disadvantage with the Edge of Extinction just because Chris was able to build these super good bonds with people. You know, he might've been able to build bonds with people whom I voted out.
And those might've been people who were going to vote for me, and Chris played a great four days at the end. So, you have to give it to him. He did a great job. But me being a SurvivorSuper Fan, four days doesn't win you the game, and that's what I thought going into the Final Tribal Council.
I thought even though [he's done great], it was still just four days and this game of Survivor is 39 days. And that's it. You know? The first eight days were when he got voted out, so he didn't play those first eight days as great as he could have.
That's why I'm torn on it. I just looked at the whole scenario wrong, so that's on my end. That's nothing against Chris, because he played the hand that he was dealt and he played great. But it does, it sucks for me.
Me as a viewer, it might be different. But me being out there and playing it, I think my game was played for classic Survivor. It wasn't to have a second chance. And I didn't want these other people to necessarily have a second chance.
Like whenever Aubry and [Wendy Diaz] came into that merge challenge, those were the people I had just voted out! I don't want to see those people re-enter the game because that's going to be someone who knows my game and knows I can blindside people.
So I feel like it was a disadvantage to some and an advantage to others.
Be sure to check back with Reality TV World soon for more from our exclusive interview with the Survivor: Edge of Extinction runner-up Gavin Whitson, as well as for more interviews with the rest of the Final 6 castaways.