Exclusive: John Cochran talks 'Survivor: Caramoan -- Fans vs. Favorites' (Part 1)
By Reality TV World staff, 05/13/2013
John Cochran was revealed as the winner of Survivor: Caramoan -- Fans vs. Favorites' $1 million grand prize during the live portion of Sunday night's finale broadcast on CBS from CBS Studio Center in Studio City, CA.
Cochran, a 25-year-old law student from Washington, DC, beatDawn Meehan, a 42-year-old English professor from South Jordan, UT -- who, with Cochran, previously competed on Survivor: South Pacific and returned this season as "Favorites" -- and "Fan" and newbie player Sherri Biethman, a 41-year-old fast food franchisee from Boise, ID, in the season's final jury voting results, which Survivor host Jeff Probst revealed live during the reunion special.
Cochran received every single vote from the jury members comprised of previously-eliminated Survivor: Caramoan -- Fans vs. Favorites castaways.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Monday, Cochran talked about his Survivor experience and victory. Below is the first half of his interview. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion of Cochran's call and our interviews with the other Final 4 castaways.
Reality TV World: You won by a unanimous vote, which is I think only the third time in 26 seasons that's ever happened. Did you ever imagine that?
John Cochran: No, are you kidding me?! I mean, I've always imagined winning but certainly not in such like an overwhelming fashion. And not only was it -- not to toot my own horn and be obnoxious -- it was unanimous [that] nobody cast a single vote against me the entire season, which is only the second time that's happened [for a winner]. [James "J.T." Thomas] being the first.
Reality TV World: (Laughs)
John Cochran: Pretty cool right?! I geek out about that sort of thing.
Reality TV World: Oh, I didn't realize Earl Cole had a vote against him!
Reality TV World: So when you voted Edward "Eddie" Fox out, you said you were only doing it because you felt he was the only one who could beat you in the jury vote -- which obviously suggests you were confident you could beat both Dawn and Sherri going into that. Why had you been so confident you could beat both of them, and how had you expected the voting to break down?
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John Cochran: I definitely didn't expect it to be 8-0, but I felt like with -- and having talked to the jurors too, I don't think Eddie would have beaten me either. But he would've at least gotten [Reynold Toepfer]'s vote, which was enough of a deterrent for me.
So I thought that I could beat Sherri because even though she had a very compelling story and made some good strategic moves, people didn't respect her as a player for whatever reason.
I didn't fully understand it, but it was very apparent when you were out there that people just kind of viewed her as being dragged along. And when you're at Tribal Council -- and I'm not talking about the final Tribal but the one leading up to it -- I would watch the jury's reaction when people would talk. And people would kind of like, you know, cringe or giggle when she would talk -- kind of derisively.
And when Dawn would talk and say something emotional, they would all start rolling their eyes. So I was like, "Okay, the jury is clearly kind of like not that thrilled with these two people." And Dawn, she's a huge strategic player this season.
I decided to take her to the end -- and I didn't take [Dawn and] Sherri to the end as these goats I'm just going to destroy at the end. I went with them mainly because I trusted them the most because they were giving me the most information and we had the most open relationship in terms of sharing information. I wouldn't want to team up with somebody that could easily screw me over at the last second.
But with Dawn, I thought that I could convincingly argue that everything she did, I did better, which might've even been like inaccurate, but I thought I could argue that in a convincing way. With Eddie, his "game" was just so wildly different from mine, and I'm putting quotation marks around the word game for Eddie.
His "game" was so different from mine that I can't really rebutted. I could say he wasn't really responsible for voting anybody off, he didn't win any challenges -- but if you're voting for Eddie, those aren't the criteria you're going to be using to vote for somebody.
You're going to vote for him because you find him kind of like delightful in this goofy way and you like the fact that he wasn't really responsible for screwing anybody over.
Reality TV World: In the finale, you were shown calling Eddie a "a chauvinistic 23-year-old idiot." Do you still feel the same way about him, and can you elaborate on that a little? (Laughs)
John Cochran: I feel bad about that. I said a lot of nasty things this season and now I sort of feel like a jerk afterwards. I think what happens out there -- and I'd be interested to hear like the psychological reasons for it -- I think that it's a cathartic feeling to just bad-mouth people out there. You just exaggerate their flaws and kind of turn people -- it kind of helps justify voting them off, you know?
If you're like Dawn and you fall in love with everybody and then you have this emotional turmoil and moral dilemma about voting them off, that's when you break down and cry. But when you reduce people to these caricatures, "Yeah, [Julia Landauer], she's just this boring, bland girl. And Reynold, he's a masculine tomfoolery numskull. And Eddie, you're just a chauvinist idiot."
It makes it easier to vote them off. It's kind of, I don't know anything about sports, but I imagine that when you're a football player and you're moving at the other guy you have to tackle, you're not thinking like, "He is probably a good guy beneath that helmet." I guess you're thinking like, "Oh, he's a bastard and I'm going to take him down."
That's kind of what I think I was doing. Of course it comes across as rude, but I think it's more kind of me trying to convince myself that what I'm doing is okay.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised at how hostile the jury seemed to be towards Dawn? And during the jury questioning, you admitted you were enjoying it a little.
John Cochran: I was not, I mean, I was absolutely surprised by how hostile they were. I was actually planning on going in there and kind of tearing apart Dawn because I thought that the rest of the Tribal Council was going to be, "Okay, Dawn and Cochran are pretty similar and one's going to have to show why they're better than the other."
So I was ready to really kind of bad-mouth her. But when it became clear that the jury was doing it for me, I just kind of sat back. And when I said that I took pleasure in it, I just said that because if I -- and I wasn't really taking pleasure in it to be honest. There's a part of it that felt good, like, "Okay, this bodes well for me." I wasn't really taking pleasure in it, but I didn't want to seem disingenuous to the jury.
Nothing could be worse than if I said like, "You guys, I think this is inappropriate what you're doing to her right now because I support Dawn and we're close friends."
I just wanted to seem as ridiculously honest as possible. There's no point in trying to hide anything or try to seem suave or whatever during a final Tribal Council. They just wanted you to take ownership and be like proud of what you're doing. And that's what I was trying to do when I said that.
Reality TV World: Reynold kind of went along those lines when he told Dawn he thought she was a "fake character" during the game and basically suggested her emotional breakdowns and attempt at personal relationships were kind of insincere and disingenuous.
Reality TV World: What's your take on that? Do you agree or disagree with that?
John Cochran: As to whether her attempts were insincere and everything?
Reality TV World: Yeah. Do you think that's a fair criticism?
John Cochran: See, I don't think so. I know Dawn better than they did. I've played with her before, and especially after this season, I've talked with her a bunch. She is a person who, her way of connecting with people is through very strong emotionally-charged bonds or relationships. That's how she functions.
She talks about very personal, emotional stuff. She's personally vulnerable to you. I don't think it's her trying to be emotionally manipulative, I just think that's how she interacts with people. That's not something I'm really capable of, you know?
My way of interacting with people is joking around, kind of like razzing them a little bit, maybe being a little bit self-deprecating, disarming -- but nothing like Dawn. We just interact with people in different ways. I think it's inaccurate to say that she is disingenuous. I think she's genuine to a fault.
Reality TV World: When I talked to Corinne Kaplan earlier this season, she said she felt you had a bit of a crush on Andrea Boehlke while you guys were out there. Was she right, and if so, do you think that played any role in why you were allied with her as long as you were?
John Cochran: (Laughs) I think she's sweet and attractive. As I said -- at the Rite of Passage thing, I said like, "She's charming, beautiful and smart." She's a fantastic girl. I would not -- crushes, that's not how I play the game, you know? We'll have a lifetime after Survivorfor me to like try to have a crush on a girl and pursue that. It's all business for me out there.
Certainly I find her attractive and fun to be around. But actually, up to a certain point, she was more of a liability than anything else. She spent all her time with Eddie and Reynold and the amigos and everything. It became more of a source of anxiety for the alliance than anything that was good.
Reality TV World: How much of your decision to turn on Andrea was game strategy and how much of it then might've been a little bit of you being jealous or envious of her relationship with Eddie?
John Cochran: It's not, it's not -- I mean, I would be, I think I'm open enough to admit if I had been sincerely jealous about that sort of thing. What made me want to get rid of her was when she started saying stuff about, "Well if Eddie slips into the Final 3..." and that was never part of any gameplan I had ever discussed with Andrea before.
And that made me think that like she had her own plans. I said this on the show. She was one of the few really independent thinkers out there, who was willing to pitch things that were not the creation of somebody else. So I think it was just out of respect for her game and kind of a fear that maybe she was creating plans that didn't necessarily involve me.
I don't think it was jealousy. Maybe if she starts dating Eddie now I'll be jealous or something, but in the game, that wasn't something that really I cared about.
Reality TV World: Do you have any plans on what to do with your prize money yet and do you think there's any chance you might end up investing some of it in Eddie's dog park/bar business idea? (Laughs)
John Cochran: At least 70% percent of my money is going to the dog/bar thing. It sounds perfect. And it seems like Eddie is the sort of guy you'd want to get into a business partnership with. He seems like he probably thought this business plan through pretty in-depth. So I'm looking forward to it! You're going to see a good partnership between me and Eddie in the future. I can't say too much about the plan.
Above is the first half of Cochran's exclusive interview with Reality TV World. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion of his call and interviews with the finale's other castaways. 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.