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[Warning: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the finale of Survivor: San Juan del Sur — Blood vs. Water.]
A new Survivor winner has been crowned.
Natalie Anderson was named the winner of the 29th season in a live finale that aired Wednesday night on CBS.
She competed alongside her twin sister Nadiya, who was the first castaway voted out this season. The duo previously competed twice on CBS’ The Amazing Race but never won.
Heading into the three-hour finale, the final five castaways were Anderson, Keith Nale, Jaclyn Schultz and mother-daughter duo Missy Payne and Baylor Wilson.
After the finale, Natalie talked to The Hollywood Reporter about her plans for the $1 million prize and explained some of her strategic moves.
I actually interviewed you when you got eliminated from The Amazing Race your first on the show.
Oh my god, don’t remind me [laughs].
I guess the third time’s the charm?
Apparently, yes, the third time’s the charm. I knew if I got voted off, then me and Nadiya have a reality TV curse, but luckily I made it to the end.
Do you think Nadiya would have made it as far as you if the outcome has been reversed and you had gone home first?
I don’t think Nadiya would have gone as far as me because the way Survivor works, every single decision has a crazy ripple effect. And I do think I’m a savvier player in the game because Nadiya is a little bit naïve and way more trusting than me. And she’s way more forgiving. If you cross me, I’m never going to trust you again. That seems to be the reason I lasted as long as I did.
Did you have a plan in place in the event you both made it to the final four or five? Would both of you have tried to make it to final three?
It’s very unlikely that either of us would have agreed to bow down. We’re both hotheaded, and neither of us would have bowed down. Maybe we would have played as individuals.
When did you start thinking you had a shot at winning?
I knew if I could get into the final three, those boys were voting for me. The guys really respected me out there for being as strong as I am, and I knew if I was in the final three, the check was in the bag.
Why did you decide to take Missy to the final three and not Baylor?
I made a pact back in the day with Missy, and I felt like she played a good game. I had more loyalty to Missy. I blindsided Missy, but my compensation to her was, “I blindsided your daughter, but you’re in the final three, so be happy” [laughs].
What are you planning to do with the $1 million?
I’m going to buy my parents something really nice. I’m going to give Nadiya a nice chunk of change. And I’m going to try to be smart with it. I’m not a big spender. When I went on The Amazing Race the first time, my goal was to go to physical therapy school, so this could pay for that. And we also have dreamed of opening up a cross-fit, so it’s totally possible now.
Would you play again?
Oh hell yeah, I would play again. There’s no doubt in my mind. When you’re out there, you’re suffering, but once you’re done — I would be in. You don’t have to ask me twice.
And would you play with Nadiya again?
I would. We didn’t really get to play with each other. I played a single game out there. I was by myself solo from the start, and it was me playing against a bunch of couples. I really didn’t get to play with Nadiya this time, so playing with her would be a new experience for me.
Read on for answers to more burning questions.
Has Baylor or her mother forgiven Reed for his “wicked stepmother” comments?
“I have forgiven Reed through a lot of prayer and solitude,” says Baylor. “I truly had to go inside myself to forgive him because I did not appreciate any of what he said, especially with him not being able to go through what we went through. I don’t think he understands how difficult that was to hear what he had to say. My mom went through [three] divorces, and it’s still fresh. It still hurts us when people say things like that. I don’t know if my mom has been able to forgive him, but I’m sure she will eventually because we both forgive everybody. We love people; it’s just who we are. I think she just needs a little more time and healing.”
Was Jaclyn surprised that Reed voted for her?
“I actually knew Reed was going to vote for me, and I think it was because he didn’t want Missy to come in second,” Jaclyn said. “And Reed and I really connected on a level with the whole surrogacy thing, and he was like, ‘I want you guys to have that.'”
Did Keith and Wes talk about the fact that Keith essentially got his son voted out? What was that conversation like?
Says Keith: “Yes, I wouldn’t say he was good with it. But he understands that I’m not the smartest Survivor player ever, but I did try to offer him my idol. He can run faster and jump higher, but he said, ‘You take it.’ He was slick with it.”
How is Missy’s ankle?
“My ankle is still injured,” she says. “I’m still in rehab, actually. I was told I’d have six full months of recovery. It’s not perfect. I’m a runner, and it’s very frustrating because that’s my exercise of choice. My doctor didn’t release me to run until the beginning of November. I’m still in quite a bit of pain.”
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