It was a long time coming, but “Boston” Rob Mariano finally won the game of Survivor after four tries and an 11-year time span. He came close during the All-Stars game, but his now-wife Amber walked away with the cool $1 million instead. But now, Rob has done what he set out to do.
“I played the game the best I could,” he tells reporters the morning after his big win. “Having said that, hundreds of people have played Survivor and 21 people have won the game up until this point. Different people have had different strategies. There is no clear-cut strategy that works for everyone. I feel like the strategy I employed worked best for me. That is the only way I could play the game.”
When Rob first played Survivor, he was 24 years old and a single guy. Today, he is 35 years old and married with two daughters. He went from being one of the show’s “villains” to now being a winner and he says it is the changes in his life that made the difference.
“I think the one thing I have learned is Survivor is first and foremost a social game. I was able to fine-tune my strategy to encompass that and really build relationships and made them work for me. I was able to exploit those relationships to the point where people didn’t feel exploited enough to not give me their votes and I was fortunate to get their votes.”
The final three consisted of Rob, Phillip and Natalie, and Rob admits that while both of his competitors felt they could beat him in the end, he feels that he couldn’t have beaten anybody but the two he was standing with.
But there was another significant factor that he feels played a part in his win and that is the presentation he made to the jury. He points out, “Back in All-Stars, the problem was I felt bad and I apologized to them when I should have told them: ‘Kiss my ass. I outplayed you.’ I wasn’t going to make the same mistake this time. I just tried to present myself in a way that was humble. I said, ‘I played the best game I knew how, but at the end of the day you guys have the power to vote. You vote however you want. …I positioned myself with two people I think I can beat. If you agree, give me your vote; if not, there is nothing I can do about it.’”
And there was nothing he needed to do about it since he had the votes. Despite his kiss-my-ass attitude, Rob says he is disappointed that Grant, who he was very close to on the show, still has hard feelings about his elimination.
“Coming from anybody, I thought that Grant would have a handle on it more so than anybody else having played professional football. I thought he would get the ‘it’s-just-a-game mentality,’ but he got caught up in it. I can’t blame him for his emotions. He is a good guy. I wish he could see it the way I saw it, but at the end of the day, I can’t lose sleep over it.”
Next up, Rob is making a move to the other side: He will be hosting a new TV series called Around the World in 80 Ways instead of being a reality TV contestant.
“At this point, I have done everything I wanted to do with Survivor,” he says. “My main goal was to win the show and I did that. I am happy to leave with the way I played. I am going to move on to the production end of things with this new show on the History Channel.”
Survivor returns in the fall with two familiar faces joining a new cast in the South Pacific.