8:18am PT by Kimberly Nordyke
'Survivor: Worlds Apart' Winner Reveals Plans for $1M Prize; Burning Finale Questions Answered
[Warning: Spoilers ahead for the finale of Survivor: Worlds Apart.]
There's a new Survivor champion.
Mike Holloway, a 38-year-old oil driller from North Richland Hills, Texas, was named the Season 30 champion during Wednesday night's live finale on CBS. This season, subtitled "Worlds Apart," found the castaways split into three tribes: white collar, blue collar and no collar. The three finalists came from all three tribes: Holloway was blue collar, Carolyn Rivera was white collar and Will Sims was no collar).
After the finale, The Hollywood Reporter talked to executive producer Mark Burnett and all five finalists — including Rodney Lavoie Jr. and Sierra Thomas (both blue collar) — to get answers to some burning questions.
What does Mike plan to do with his $1 million prize?
"I think I'm going to buy a Dr Pepper; sounds like a good plan," he joked. "No, I just started a T-shirt company called Sweet T's Designs with one of my best friends, and will probably siphon off some of that money into the company." The T-shirt he was wearing during the live finale, which featured a unique take on the Texas state flag, was one of their designs. "It's kind of the concept of, 'I bleed Texas,' " he said.
What was the final vote?
Mike got six votes, while Carolyn and Will got one apiece.
Was this the most controversial cast ever?
"No, no, no," Burnett said with a laugh. "We've had very controversial casts over and over. … If you think about Russell [Hantz], bringing Russell back was pretty controversial. But in the end it comes down to building a society with people you don't know and that's the beauty of the game. … You eliminate others and in the end the very people you eliminated get to give you the gift of $1 million. How amazing is that."
Are Mike and Dan really cool with each other now?
Yes, said Mike. "Dan and I have had multiple, multiple talks, and Dan understands that if some of those comments were said to his best friend in his house, nobody is ever going to say anything, but it was said on live TV. … I do believe that Dan is genuinely sorry and has learned certain things from his experience."
Rodney said he could have won if he made it to the final three, but an informal poll of the jury by Jeff Probst indicated otherwise. Does he still think he could have won?
"Did Rodney get voted out of the game? No, I got 'outfired' [after he and Carolyn got the same number of votes and they had to make fire to break the tie]," he said, adding that he believed Mike got a "hero edit" and that the jury likely changed their minds after having seen the show. "You can't say, 'What are you going to do?' after the show's over, because I may have talked about them in a bad manner and they didn't like that and not raise their hand on some bitter stuff. … So doing a poll after the show, seven months later, when people are not in the game … now they have time to think about their decision and switch it."
In the audience, Will's wife loudly expressed her displeasure with Shirin's response to Will's apology. But what was his reaction?
"All I can do is own up to my mistakes and apologize for it; the rest is on her. There's nothing I can do. You can't have it both ways; you can't say, 'You should apologize,' and then [I] apologize and you don't accept it." Does he regret what he said? "I still had the right to go off because I felt like my character was assassinated. But I did take it too far."
Does Sierra regret her comments at tribal council where she talked about what a strong player she was?
"I think the one thing that obviously cost me the game was saying that I was a strong competitor at that last tribal," she said. "It was hard to know what to say when Jeff was like, 'Why do you deserve to be in this game?' To an everyday person you'd be like, 'Because I try hard, because people like me, because I help out around camp.' But that's not what wins Survivor, and I was tired and exhausted and it was just what I fell back on, but it's not a beauty pageant. I think that's what cost me."
Would all of the final five play again if given the chance?
Without hesitation, they all say yes. "If they were like, 'Hey, somebody just quit, come to Cambodia' [where Season 31 will be shot], I would be on a plane," Mike said. "I think you'd see a much different game from me. I don't know; this strategy worked this time, maybe it would work a second time."
The cast of Season 31 was voted on by viewers and revealed during the live finale. What can Burnett reveal about the upcoming season?
"Tonight we went to a whole other place: Live on TV, 20 people got chosen by America to play the game again," Burnett said. "On a live TV show, with their bags, they got on a bus and are on their way right now to LAX to fly to an island to play a game. It's amazing." He added: "It's going to be be tough, and it's going to be great because we know these players. You got a second shot at something, you don't waste it. And some of them may have forgotten how tough it is."