Exclusive: 'Survivor: Worlds Apart' winner Mike Holloway talks (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/21/2015
Survivor: Worlds Apart declared Mike Holloway the winner of its $1 million grand prize during the live portion of Wednesday night's finale broadcast on CBS.
Mike, a 38-year-old oil driller from North Richland Hills, TX, beat runner-up Carolyn Rivera, a 52-year-old corporate executive from Tampa, FL, and third-place finisher Will Sims II, a 41-year-old YouTube sensation from Sherman Oaks, CA, in the 30th season's final jury voting results, which Survivor host Jeff Probst revealed during the live broadcast.
Jeff revealed six votes during the live reunion show. One person voted for Will, one person voted for Carolyn, and four people voted for Mike. Because Jeff did not show whom the two additional votes were for, Mike likely got them. Rodney Lavoie Jr. finished in fourth place, while Sierra Dawn Thomas claimed fifth place.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Mike talked about his Survivor experience and victory. Below is the first half. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion.
Reality TV World: Some of the jury votes weren't shown. Could you confirm if those were also cast for you?
Mike Holloway: Yeah! I'll tell you whatever you want seeing it's over. It was 6-1-1.
Reality TV World: What votes did you think you had before jury questioning and how did that change -- if at all -- after hearing everyone talk at the final Tribal?
Mike Holloway: Going into the final Tribal, I was pretty sure that I could carry the vote just because I felt like I kind of had the No Collars and [Shirin Oskooi]. So, yeah, I knew that I possibly had four votes sitting there, or a good chance at four votes sitting there. So at that point, all I really need is for one person to vote for Will and one person to vote for Carolyn. Just the four votes alone would carry the day.
Reality TV World: So when Shirin told Carolyn flat out at the jury questioning she was going to vote for her, what was going on there? Because the only person who voted for Carolyn was Sierra Dawn Thomas.
Mike Holloway: That was editing. I mean, like, don't get me wrong. She did say a lot of that, or all of that stuff, and to be honest with you, I haven't re-watched the episode to have a better grip on this. Because this final Tribal is an important part of this conversation, but no, I mean, I think it was more -- and maybe it wasn't. Maybe she did just say that.
But I think it was more along the lines of a story leading us to where the story wants to take us. Yeah, obviously there was nobody in the world that [Shirin] was voting for other than me. There's no way. I mean, you listen to all of her exit interviews and everything, you know what I mean? We were really, really tight.
Reality TV World: You told your mom you went a couple days when no one talked to you. Was that really true or an exaggeration? You really felt victimized? And therefore, is it tough to say you had a great time out there like everyone else said considering you were such an outcast for a while?
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Mike Holloway: I'll tell you like this. I don't like that word. I don't like the "victimized" word. I don't like any of that. It was true. For two days, maybe even more, but I mean, I know for a fact it was over 36 hours, and I'm pretty sure it was more along the lines of 56.
But yeah, they came up with a plan that they weren't going to talk to me, so yeah, I was good for the chores around camp and I was to be seen and not heard basically.
Reality TV World: Were you afraid you'd be pulling a [Yung "Woo" Hwang] and [Tony Vlachos] by choosing to take Carolyn to the end after you won final immunity? I know you told the cameras you'd "rather lose to Carolyn than take two goats to the end," but that could've hurt -- or even ruined -- your chances of winning the $1 million when that's what you worked so hard for all season long.
Mike Holloway: Well, at the end of the day, when you lay your head down on your pillow, I think you have to be happy with the choices you've made in life. And that was -- in that moment, that was a choice that I thought through and that I thought in future tense.
I went through both scenarios of Rodney and Carolyn, and I was like, "Carolyn is what I feel like my gut and my conscience is telling me to do. If it works out, great. If it doesn't, then you know what? At least I know I can sleep at night and not have a bunch of regrets."
Reality TV World: How much of a role do you think your apology to Dan Foley played in the jury voting for you? And when thinking about Dan's vote by itself, do you think you had it before you apologized?
Mike Holloway: I definitely didn't have it. I don't know how much it swayed anybody else. But I know it meant a lot to Dan and, you know, the apology, really and truly, was for me breaking my word and not for the action -- not for the strategy of it. It was actually because I was standing right there saying, "No, I'll do it, if you guys do it."
And when I really do give people my word, it's something I don't go back on, even though I did turn it around and ultimately still bought the letter. Ultimately, we all still drew rocks for the advantage, but yeah, I'm a bad guy at that point.
Reality TV World: I was confused by something. At the final Tribal Council, you told the group your social game sucked, that the fact you sucked was your only redeeming quality. But you were Blue strong all the way until you caught Rodney and his little group turning on you and then Rodney convinced your allies you were crazy. You never lied to Dan after the auction. You also took Carolyn to the end because you promised her you would. Why not make any of those arguments? Did you just not think of them under pressure or something?
Mike Holloway: I think I said those things in self-deprecating mode, where it was more along the lines of, "I'm giving you what you want to hear by putting myself down a little bit." And again, there are pieces that were pieced together, and there was way more to that speech than me just saying, "Well, yeah, I suck." If you're trying to plead your case for a million dollars...
Reality TV World: It probably wasn't the best thing to say. (Laughs)
Mike Holloway: Yeah, it probably was not the best thing to say. But I believe -- apparently if you make a statement like last night, check tape! Jeff Probst is going to check tape and show it to you. So, yeah, maybe I'm wrong there. But I'm pretty sure there was more to that than just that little clip.
Reality TV World: I was just waiting for someone to tell Dan that you weren't lying to him. Because besides theSurvivor auction, that's why he turned his back on you. He believed Rodney's claim you threw your alliance under the bus just because you were paranoid and losing your mind.
Mike Holloway: You know, it's one of those things that with [Joe Anglim] left in the game, there had to be a new common enemy. And the next biggest physical threat was me. And I knew that they were coming whenever I got rid of Joe. But I had to get rid of Joe in order to be able to go on a run like I did, because if he's there, I don't go on that run.
And if he's there winning Immunity, at some point, these people are going to wisen up and be like, "Yo, we can get Mike, so let's get him." So yeah, that's pretty much the whole reason why Joe had to go. I loved playing with Joe. I love the kid. I hope that he does so well on [Season] 31.
Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion of our exclusive interview with Mike Holloway. Also, continue checking our Survivor page for more interviews with the season's Final 5 castaways.