Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains has been described as the most cutthroat chapter in the show's history, so of course it came down to a trio of villains in the end. After the vote, Sandra Diaz-Twine took home the $1 million prize, perhaps because she was the lesser of three evils — which seems to prove once and for all that it's a social game above all else, despite third place finisher Russell Hantz' objections. "He's been saying it all day: 'Sandra winning is proof that the game is flawed,'" Sandra tells In Touch. "I've played twice and won twice. But he's played twice and still come up short. After his first time, he came out and played the same game. That's a strategic player who doesn't realize there are errors in his game." And Parvati Shallow, who came in second, agrees. "Russell is just making excuses for losing two times," she tells In Touch. But Russell, who will likely go down as the most villainous Survivor player ever, points out that America called him the best. "I'm good at the game," he tells In Touch. "I could play it again and I'd go to the finals again."
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Sandra Diaz-Twine, winner
Did you expect to win?
I wasn't sure — I thought Parvati had it because everyone kept talking about how many challenges she won and what a physical person she was. But I ended up getting six votes and she got three.
Do you think that your win proves it's a social game, above all?
It is a social game, maybe 10 percent physical, because even if you're the most dominant player — and yes, your tribe is happy when you're winning — the minute you're an individual, that's out the window. Someone's coming after you, and you can't win them all. I've been a fan since day one and I've taken bits and pieces from every winner.
When were you most worried?
Just before the merge, but I said to Russell that I would give him my vote once I made the jury. He ate that up.
But if Jerri had made it to the final three instead of you, whom would you have voted for?
Who were you most excited to play with?
Boston Rob. When I put in my application, they asked, "Who are you most like?" and "Who's your favorite?" and both times I said Boston Rob. I said I was most like him because I say what's on my mind. We got along out there very well. I thought my game was ruined when he went home. Tyson screwed it up. But that's the thing with me: I'm able to bounce back no matter what blow has come my way.
How was this season different?
It was physically and mentally challenging. On Pearl Islands, I got to enjoy the people and the location. We did it all together. This time, minute one, it was already, "What alliance are you in?" Randy came to me and said, "We decided Parvati goes first." I thought, "Who's we?" By the time I got to her, she already knew. There's so much that wasn't shown on TV. On day 36, when Danielle went home, right before we left tribal counsel, I told Rupert that I would never write his name down — but I switched my vote when Jerri switched hers. When I got back, he knew I did it and he was mad.
What will you do with the money?
Pay my taxes! I learned that from Richard Hatch — don't you have to learn something from each season?
Parvati Shallow, second place
You came so close!
So close, but so far away. At that final tribal counsel, people were campaigning for Sandra! Amanda, Candice and Courtney didn't even ask me questions. No one was even giving me a chance to speak. So I realized the odds were stacked against me.
What do you think about Russell's complaints that there's a flaw in the game?
There isn't one. Survivor is a social experiment. It's always been that way and it just shows human nature. It's "outwit, outplay, outlast" —but to win, you have to make the people you voted out vote for you in the end. So if you wrong these people along the way, they're not going to vote for you. So it does turn into a popularity contest in the end.
What was different this time around?
This was my third time and I was attacked and targeted from the first day. There was nothing I could do to get the target off my back. I was playing against the numbers from the beginning. I never felt safe and the level of paranoia was so intensified because everyone was so desperate to win that they were playing so hard. That's why it turned into such a great season to watch, but so difficult for us to play as contestants.
Who were you excited about playing against?
I was happy to see James and Cirie. It was fun to see Boston Rob and Coach, and Courtney, who I loved in China. All those big personalities.
Do you think there was anything else you could have done?
I don't. I played as hard as I possibly could. I played a really good game and I think the only reason I didn't win is people's resentment toward me for even getting to the final three — and also the animosity toward Russell and the fact that I played so closely with him since day one. I play a loyal game, but people hated my alliance so much that it burned me, too.
What was it like playing so closely with Russell when you clearly weren't fond of him?
He's a lunatic! What you see is what you get with that guy: he is just crazy town. It was definitely difficult. I didn't really check myself too much. I pretty much told him exactly how I felt whenever I felt like it. I think that was different for him because I think he's used to people being afraid of him. So having me and Sandra there talking back to him all the time threw him off, which was fun.
Would you do it again?
Never again. I played 114 days. I've played a third of a year on an island with all these psycho people. Enough is enough. I'm actually opening a wellness center in Santa Monica, putting all of my energy towards building a healthy life for myself and other people.
Russell Hantz, third place
Were you surprised?
No. I thought I would get one vote: Amanda. I thought she was a strong strategic player who understood my game and got me, but obviously not. Everybody said I had an advantage, but they were all buddy-buddy, so when they were sitting on the jury they voted for their friend. Why would they vote for me?
So do you think that was the problem?
No, the problem was that I played like I played, and nobody can take me playing that hard. They get their feelings hurt and don't want to vote for me. Come on! Parvati is ten times better than Sandra. I would have been okay with Parvati winning because she's a good player. Sandra's a terrible player. Just because you've seen what you've seen, trust me, I was there. She's terrible in everything: the social game, the strategic game and the physical game. And she still won! If I played again, I'd play the same way. I'd play as hard as I possibly can. I'm not going to ever slow down. Obviously America loves it, because they vote for me.
What about the idea that it's a social game?
Who really came up with that idea? Season one, the strategic villain won, but all of a sudden, when the jury is bitter, somebody has an excuse to say, "No, you didn't have social game." In other words, "You beat my butt, but I don't want to tell you that so I won't vote for you." I think that was invented for the weak jury.
Who were you excited to be playing against?
I was excited to play against Boston Rob because I knew he was a good strategic player and I wanted to put him in his place. Some people rank him as one of the best and I wanted to show I could beat him. He didn't even make the jury! I made a previous winner, J.T., win the trophy for the dumbest player in history!
What about Rob's suggestion that he would like to play with you?
Boston Rob is so full of crap! He doesn't want to play with me again, he was just trying to promote himself. He can't play with me. He's not good enough. He can't handle me.