Samantha Woods and Mike Spiro were crowned the first-season champions of Love in the Wild after beating out Heather Pond and Miles Haefner during Wednesday night's finale episode of the new NBC reality dating series, which featured singles attempting to find love in the Costa Rican jungle.

During a Thursday conference call with reporters, Samantha, a 23-year-old wedding planner from Huntington Beach, CA, and Mike, a 29-year-old commercial real estate broker from San Francisco, CA, talked to Reality TV World about their Love in the Wild experience, their victory and some of the most memorable events to-date -- including confirming the status of their relationship, how they were contractually obligated to keep the fact they were dating a secret and if they actually abided by the rules, and what exactly their trip around the world will entail.

Reality TV World: I know you're still together, but a lot of contestants on other dating shows like The Bachelor have said that keeping the ending secret and not being able to spend much time with the person they met on the show between the end of filming and the finale is really hard on their relationship.  So, how did that work on Love in the Wild -- could you tell your friends or families you were in a relationship with each other but not that you had won, or what were the restrictions on your ability to see each other and be open about your relationship since filming ended in April?

Samantha Woods: Yeah, we definitely weren't able to tell anybody about the status of our relationship, and that was definitely one of the hardest things for us. We were -- him and I had it really good.

We were trying to Skype at least two to three times a week and we were very good at keeping open communication with each other. We did sneak to see each other a few times in hiding, which we were allowed, but as long as we were very stealth -- and we were.  

Mike Spiro: The people that were really close to us knew that we were having kind of a secret relationship and they had to keep it close to them. Otherwise, there's big penalties for us. So, our parents and some close friends, we were able to tell them.

But other than that, yeah. We just kind of got into a rhythm of keeping in touch with each other in order to make that work. And actually, today is a big relief because now we can finally tell people that we're dating, and we don't have to do that anymore.

Samantha Woods: And we're both long-distance as well so that's a challenge we were facing along with having to keep everything a secret. So I just think that since we got through all of that, we can definitely deal with a long-distance thing.

Reality TV World: So just to clarify, since you were supposed to keep your relationship a secret, did you guys kind of break the rules when you met each other's parents or what's the story behind that? Because at the end of the finale Wednesday night, the update said Heather and Miles hadn't met each other's parents yet and I didn't know if there was a disconnect there.

Mike Spiro: Well, I'd say we didn't break the rules. I'd say we bent the rules a little bit, but we made sure that NBC was aware of everything we were doing when we kept in touch. It gets too hard when you come out of Costa Rica and you found this great new person.

You want to start spending time with them and get to know them further and you've got these contract limitations, so NBC was pretty accommodating with that respect and we were able to make it through -- between -- the lines of the contract.

Reality TV World: When is your trip around the world, how long will it be, and do you know any more details than what the show supplied?

Mike Spiro: Yeah. There was sort of a contract revision that we signed at the end that specified the details of the trip. Actually, we don't know where we're going yet, but we get to pick wherever we want to go up to 10 cities. The time that we plan on leaving is probably some time at the end of September.
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Samantha Woods: It's roughly a month.

Reality TV World: During one of the episodes, Benjamin Hooker told a couple of the guys that dating on Love in the Wild after a few short weeks was like being in a relationship already for about five months. Do you guys agree with that and did you feel that was actually the case? Do you think your relationship moved a lot faster than you had expected or intended?

Mike Spiro: I think Ben was wise beyond his years. It was a very accurate statement.

Samantha Woods: (Laughs) We actually said too while we were there that every adventure felt like it was at least one month of dating. It was dating on crack and it was very just fast and it accelerated the whole process a lot.

Mike Spiro: When you think about it, like a normal dating process is you'll go on a date and maybe see each other a couple of days later, go on another date with maybe a few days in between. So, it's just spread out over a longer period of time.

Here, everyday, you're completely saturated with the presence of that one person, and you've got physically and mentally challenging adventures that you're going on. So, Ben, I couldn't agree with you more buddy.

Reality TV World: Samantha, you rolled your ankle while running to the finish line. How did that happen and how serious was the injury? Because it was only briefly mentioned during the show. Were you in a lot of pain and running on pure adrenaline or was it really not that bad?

Samantha Woods: Yeah, I rolled it when we were coming down the stairs. We were really excited to get down there and get first place, and then like he said, every step we took we were thinking of another place where we could travel around the world because it was that close we could taste it.

But yeah, I rolled my ankle a little bit and so he was just saying, "Go a little bit slower. Make sure we don't injure it too badly." We made it through, but I was definitely in a little bit of pain towards the end of that. It was a long two days.

Reality TV World: Why did you both originally go on Love in the Wild? Were you looking for a lasting relationship from the beginning or were you just looking for a fun dating experience but then changed your mind when you got to know each other? Because when I interviewed Darren McMullen, he said most of the contestants went on the show because they tried all types of dating and nothing worked out for them. Was that your situation or were things different for you?

Mike Spiro: He is a very good liar.

Samantha Woods: For me, I was actually working part-time at a restaurant and I got approached by a few casting directors. They asked if I was single and the conversation started from there. They told me a little bit about the show and they said it was NBC. I was intrigued and so you know, then I went on my on-camera interview and the whole thing started from there.

I was on a plane five weeks later. Basically I think that -- my New Year's resolution was to be more spontaneous. I'm a wedding planner and I tend to go by the book and if it's not written in my agenda, it usually doesn't happen. And so my New Year's resolution was to be a little bit more spontaneous and the casting director found me in February.

So, it was a little bit too early in the year to give up on my resolution. So, I said, "You know what? I have to do this. I'm going to go and put myself out there and I dedicated a lot of my time to work, and I'm just going to let myself have this experience."

Mike Spiro: Yeah for me, it's a lot like Samantha. I didn't think this out. I came home from late from work one night and the only place that was open was the place that we were having casting calls. So, I'm sitting by myself having a beer and eating a burger and a girl comes up to me and asks if I like wild adventures, beautiful women and exotic locations.

So, it was a pretty easy sell in my book. I went back and met the casting director and that was it.

Also in the call, Samantha and Mike told reporters who they will continue to keep in touch with now that the show has ended, how they felt they grew closer from competing in the stressful challenges together despite their arguing, and what their big plans are as a couple for the near future.

What's the status of your relationship now and do you have any plans for the future?

Samantha Woods: Yeah, we are actually together right now and we were in Orange County for the finale and today's my birthday, so we're actually going to Disneyland once we get off this call. So, yeah, the status of our relationship is that we're very much together and we can actually say that we're in love.

Besides the obvious physical aspect to the adventures, how did competing affect you mentally?

Mike Spiro: There was a little bit of both in there. Sam is -- we were told by everyone that I had one thing -- the secret weapon that none of the other guys had, and it was Sam. She's just so tough mentally and physically that she was able to do a lot of the things that the other girls couldn't do.

So, I think that the mental and the physical aspects really played an element in how you performed in the adventures, and they really push to the limit of how you finish in these things.

Samantha Woods: On the very last adventure, when we actually went through the argument about camping and we couldn't -- we were having such a hard time with the tent and the food and we faced all these difficulties that night.

We both have said since then that that was really like a breakthrough moment for us, and that was something that we were actually really glad had happened, because we went in the next day with an open mind.

Because that night, we were able to sit there and talk about everything that had happened through the camping and all that, and we went through that with an open mind the next day. I really do think that it helped us in the end.

Mike Spiro: If you're not mentally prepared to go on one of these adventures for the challenges that face you that day, you're going to falter and you're not going to finish strong. Sam and I had a really good system where we would talk to each other before each adventure and get comfortable and get in that mindset to get ready to tackle it.

Who are you still in touch with from the show?

Mike Spiro: We were closest with the guys who stayed there the longest, I feel like. [Skip Sullivan] and Miles, I consider to be close friends and we've got kind of a buddy buddy -- we're constantly jabbing at each other but we respect each other, because not only were they pretty formidable opponents out there, but they're also funny, honest, true people.

So yeah. There's friendships in my mind and if I can help it, they'll last a pretty long time.

Samantha Woods: This is one of those things where there's a bond that no one else can really understand. It's a bond in that we all went there and had nothing. We didn't have our cell phones, our TV.

Nothing from what we considered a normal life did we have when we went there. It was like we all relied on each other a lot and we were all in a very vulnerable state to put ourselves in that situation. And I think we all connected on that level a lot. It's like a bond that we can't really replace -- ever.

Samantha, why did you choose Mike when you were given the option to choose amongst all the men? What attracted you to him?

Samantha Woods: Well at the very beginning, actually, they didn't show in episode one, but all of the guys actually said a "one-liner" and the "one-liner" that Mike said was, "I may not be the biggest guy here, but I think this competition is going to involve brains and brawn." And then he claims that he said something cute. What was it?

Mike Spiro: When I told Samantha, or when I told everybody, that the competition would luckily involve both brains and brawn, what I didn't tell her was that I had neither of those qualities. But then that came out later. (Laughs)

Samantha Woods: Not funny. (Laughs)

Did winning this trip feel like a bonus after you both had found someone special?

Mike Spiro: You know, we actually said that before the second half of the final adventure. Whether or not we won, we still felt like we won. It's true.

We were kind of in the zone where we were really affectionate for each other and we were going to continue seeing each other after the show whether or not we won. So, the fact that we get to share this experience along with what we found out there -- each other -- is pretty cool.

What did you learn about each other when you were in stressful situations and normal ones as well?

Samantha Woods: You can ask Mike about how I deal with stressful situations.

Mike Spiro: Not well.

Samantha Woods: Not true, (laughs) but I feel like I got to learn very quickly about how he would deal with things in very stressful situations and things that would actually happen in everyday life outside of the jungle. So we were really able to connect on that level very early on.

Mike Spiro: It's like dating on steroids because every single waking moment, you're with that person and you're competing on these adventures with that person. It's a way to really cut to the core about who that person is and how they're going to function in a normal relationship. So yeah, it definitely was kind of a slingshot to get to that point.

Samantha Woods: Mike saw me without makeup on the first night that we hung out. That was just the nature of being there and being in like a "lived-in" situation. That's not something you would really do on the first night that you're dating someone.

Mike Spiro: A lot of times when you're dating, maybe some people put on a front. They try to impress the other person, and we didn't have time for that because of these adventures. You're trying to win and you're trying to get it going, so all in all, yeah. You just kind of take the dirt and the grime and you present yourself, and if they don't like it, then I think that's why a lot of people quit.

Do you have any big plans in your future like marriage or moving somewhere?

Samantha Woods: We definitely have entertained the fact that with him being in San Francisco and me being in Orange County, and his job being quite secure, that it would be most realistic for me to move to San Francisco.

We have definitely entertained that idea. There's no specific date set in stone, but it's definitely something we're looking forward to happening.

Mike Spiro: We're taking it one day at a time. Today is Samantha's birthday and the future of today is going to Disneyland. We're planning a trip around the world soon, so we have to do that. We have to pick out those spots, so yeah. At this point, we're just kind of enjoying the fact that we get to tell people that we're in a relationship with each other.

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.