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Interview With Sandra Diaz-Twine of Survivor: Pearl Islands


by Carrie Grosvenor

Sandra Diaz-Twine, winner of Survivor: Pearl Islands, had a lot to say while she was in Panama. She got through the entire game without a single vote against her, and flip-flopped her way to the million. She was sneaky, she was outspoken, and her fans just adored her. She still has lots to say about her experience!

[b]You had a very forward, tell it like it is style, especially during tribal councils. Jeff must have loved your honesty![/b]

Oh yeah! Jeff kept saying “That was a good tribal council!”

[b]Did anyone ever react badly to something you said at tribal council?[/b]

You know, last weekend at the People’s Choice Awards, we were all out for dinner together, and I said to Trish “How’d you like my spiel when you thought Rupert was going home?” – remember, when I said that the person who was leaving tonight is the person who least expects it? She turns and says to me “You f*cking b*tch!”. She just needed to get that off her chest, you know? And she said that her kids were crying when they watched it, so I had to apologize to them over the phone. But she was just dying to get that off her chest, and things are fine now.

[b]So how do you feel about Jon now?[/b]

It’s cool. Jon and I went out to dinner together, and people were looking at us like “what are you two doing together?”, you know? And Jon was telling everyone that we’re lovers now, he says “We’re lovers, I swear on my grandma!” It’s all good, you know, that’s just Jon. If he wants to do that stuff it’s okay by me, ‘cause I’m right where I wanted to be!

[b]You and Christa discussed taking Rupert out of the game pretty early on.[/b]

Had I not seen myself on TV saying that I would have sworn that it never even crossed my mind. After Christa and I talked about it, other stuff came up and we had to break up Trish and Jon. They were after Rupert and we just wanted to protect him and save ourselves.

[b]If Rupert had gone on further in the game, would you have stuck by him or would you have still wanted him out closer to the finals?[/b]

I would have stuck by him, no question. But the others – there’s no way they would have kept him around, and I’d have to vote with them, you know? He was a big threat to everyone else.

[b]What do you think of the All Star cast? Who will you be cheering for?[/b]

I think it’s fascinating! I’ll be rootin’ for Rupert of course! I told him, I said “I hope you did better than last time!” He’s very skinny now, I think he did well. I told him to stick with the ladies, because you know how far we got with Christa and I backing him up. He needs to stick with the ladies. Of course it’s all done now and all we can do is watch!

He told me that they found him to be an asset, since he’d been in Panama before. He knew what to eat and where to find food and of course the fishing.

[b]You were asked to do All Star as well, weren’t you?[/b]

Yes I sure was. I declined when I found out it was back in Panama though. You know, in the pool I’m an Olympic swimmer, but the ocean just scares me. All that wildlife and you don’t know how deep it’s going to be. You can be standing up one minute and the next it’s like 20 feet deep.

Some of those people, they’ve had like 3 or 4 years to recover from it. My hair was still falling out, and I had some kind of parasites too, probably from not boiling the water well enough or not cooking things well enough. Who knows. I told them to keep me in mind for the future – I’d do it again. I told them I’d rather be in Africa or something though. They said “No, you don’t want Africa!” and I was like “Oh yes I do!”

I would love to go at it again with the same two tribes, you know, after we’ve watched all the crap that went on the first time. Just see how the dynamics would be after knowing what really happened. That would be fun. I’d be the first target though ‘cause I’ve already won. I’d want to take out the winner right away.

I also want to see more normal people, you know? I want to see more chunky people, more short people, that kind of thing. Not all lawyers and doctors and whatever. And I want to see some chunky people on Fear Factor!

[b]Were you surprised that Darrah won so many immunity challenges?[/b]

Yeah! She said it was all luck, but it didn’t matter to me. Skill, luck, whatever, you’re still winning them and you’re still a threat. But then she saved me when I was most vulnerable. If Christa had won that musket challenge and not hit the post like she did, I would have been gone. You know, Rupert had just left and Christa and I – one of us was gonna follow him. If Christa had won immunity I would have been gone. So Darrah did me a favour. I think it was the Lord lookin’ out for me, I really do.

[b]What was the reasoning behind voting Michelle out when you did?[/b]

Because I didn’t want to go home! Again, I felt vulnerable because I couldn’t win the gross food challenge for us, and Michelle screwed it up for us. She volunteered, said she had practiced at home drinking and eating gross stuff, and she said she could do it. So she was supposed to act like she couldn’t, then she goes and chugs that thing down with no trouble. Savage even told me that he picked me to go up against Trish because I was holding my nose. If they had picked Michelle we would have won.

So yeah, we just got rid of Burton, and Michelle was part of that whole alliance, and she needed to go. Remember the whole coconut juice thing, and they didn’t offer us any?

[b]Before you left, did you know you would be sneaking around and eavesdropping on people, or did you just discover that you could?[/b]

Oh, there were so many times that I snuck around listening to people! They didn’t show very many. Let me tell you, the first time was during a trip to the lime tree. I saw one that was kind of orange, you know, so I thought maybe it would taste better than the green ones. Man, it was awful, it was so sour! But these clowns, they’re over there talking strategy! It was an area that was mostly used for interviews, you know, not somewhere that we went often. And I didn’t have to worry about the noise of stepping on twigs or whatever, because there were so many creatures living around us makin’ noise, and the production people were all milling around there.

If I see them takin’ off, then bam, I need to hear what they’re sayin’ right from the horses’ mouth. I started to get paranoid, you know, like they might be talking about me and trying to get me out. So I followed them around all the time.

Tijuana, she found out what was going on by listening to them. Christa and T, they were threats, you know, Christa did so well in that weight challenge, and T was always talking about how she does track and all that. I don’t do none of that, I’m no threat!

[b]What were your first impressions of your tribe?[/b]

I just felt like I didn’t fit in.

[b]Really? Why not?[/b]

Well, when 3 days go by and no one even asks you your name, you know you don’t fit in. Shawn and Burton, they were always making fun of Rupert. They said he looked like a little kid in the water, and of course the skirt thing. They just didn’t let up. They’d say that they bet he couldn’t even spell “Survivor”, and they’d say “Go ask him! Go ask him if he can spell Survivor!”. They were just really mean. So I knew I had to get with Rupert.

And then Christa, she didn’t fit in either because they didn’t like her voice. So I got with Christa and Rupert, and it turned out to be the best thing for all of us.

[b]Were you surprised that Lill chose you to go to the final two with her?[/b]

I was shocked! I was shocked because Lill was up there forever writing, and I was thinking “Jon is only three letters…”. She had told me that she didn’t like Jon, and that she didn’t like his lifestyle, and that we had more in common having husbands and kids and all that. I was really surprised she didn’t take Jon – I sure would have! He was such a jerk, and even though he had a strategy, he still got on everyone’s nerves.

I didn’t share my ideas with anyone, because every time I had an idea it was dumb, and someone always came along with a better one. So everyone thought I was just following along and riding on coattails, and to actually have won was a huge shock. I knew I had two votes – Christa and Rupert. But Lill was a Morgan, and I thought the Morgans on the jury would have wanted one of their own to win.

[b]Yes, but Lill was considered an Outcast by then. She even jumped ship to vote with the Drakes.[/b]

That’s right, but I still thought they would have wanted a Morgan to win in that position, you know? I thought they would have stuck with her. It sure helped us when she helped us vote Savage out, but you don’t know what’s going to happen at the next tribal council – she could have done whatever she wanted to. We just didn’t know. But we sure treated Burton better than they treated Lill when they came back!

To win by a vote of 6-1, that was just amazing to me. And then Tijuana, she said to me on the red carpet that if she had known what was really going on in the game, she would have voted for me too!

By the end though I was cussin’ Lill out every morning!

[b]Why?!?![/b]

Well because every morning I woke up and I was alone, you know? Before I’d wake up with Christa on one side of me and Rupert on the other, but then they were gone and I blamed Lill. I’d wake up and they’d all be over somewhere talking, and I’d be by myself.

One thing I want everyone to know – in everyday life when I talk to regular people, I don’t cuss like this! They made me this way! It was so hard being with the same people every single day and your nerves take a beating. I was cussing at everyone there. You know, I’d wake up and yell, “Lill, you b*tch!” and she’d yell back “Shut your mouth!”. But I’m not like that in real life.

Then I was tossing stuff out, and no one noticed! I tossed the fishing net and all kinds of other stuff, and no one ever noticed it was missing. No one ever found it. They’d vote off someone, and I’d come back and just throw stuff away.

[b]How did you feel about the Outcast twist?[/b]

Well at first I thought this Outcast tribe was coming back into the game and would be competing in all the challenges! Then when I realized what was going on, it felt like a slap in the face because of all the stuff I’d said about all of them. I said awful things about them! Then after we found out that two of them were coming back, I was saying to myself “Anyone but Burton!”, because I really said some nasty stuff. But then again, we needed him, his strength, for the challenges. We needed to get to the merge even.

[b]And how about having to jump in the ocean with just the clothes on your back? Was that overwhelming to you?[/b]

We kept thinking “Okay, they’ll give us our clothes tomorrow”, then the next day, then the next day, but they just never did! If I had the chance to do that all over again I’d plug my nose. I just took a deep breath and jumped, and when I hit the water I got it right up my nose and I had a hard time catching my breath. So I come up to the surface and what’s right in front of me? The big orange buoy, that’s what! So I grabbed that buoy and pretended like I was swimming!

And you know, Jon, he wasn’t doing too much better than I was, but I had lost my buff when I jumped in and he offered to go get it for me. I was like “Oh, okay!”, and then he had to catch up. So that argument we had about swimming, he was like “But I had to go back and get your buff” and I was saying “No you didn’t!”

[b]Who will you stay in contact with from the show?[/b]

All of them! We all have each others’ e-mail addresses and we’ll stay in touch. I’m still really close to Christa, and Burton – we have the Envoy in common and talk about that. And of course Rupert. When we went to the People’s Choice Awards they all had their digital cameras, but I had a real one and snapped all kinds of pictures, so they all want copies of those.

Oh, and Skinny Ryan – I love him! I kept telling him that I wished we could have traded Shawn or Jon for him. He’s a great guy. We’ll all stay in touch – after going through something like that together, you have a bond.

[b]Finally Sandra, what are you going to do with your money?[/b]

The money. Well, they took $340,000 in taxes from me right off the bat. You’re only a millionaire when they hand you the check! So I got that check on The Early Show, and that’s the real check, by the way. You’d better not lose that, because it’s the real thing. So after that I had to go all over the place for interviews and stuff, so I didn’t get to the bank right away. And they look at you funny at the bank when you walk in with a check for a million bucks and you’re dressed in jeans!

So I have the Envoy, which I’ve already received, and I bought a van because my other car was just so old! Then we went to a planner and he told us how much to put away for the kids’ education, and for our retirement, which we’ve done. And that’s about it.

I have a nice home. I have nice things. I take care of my stuff and I have good furniture and all that. So I’m not just going to go out and blow my cash on stuff, you know? I still shop for bargains. It hasn’t changed me that way. I’m happy with what I have. We could just live off the interest now and keep that money in the bank.

[b]Well congratulations to you Sandra! And thanks for taking the time to talk to us![/b]

Oh, you’re very welcome! It was fun!


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