After a masterful season of “Survivor” in which he controlled the game for weeks, Tyson Apostol outwitted, outplayed, and outlasted 19 other players to win $1 million.
When the near-unanimous jury vote revealed him to be the winner, it was a moment of redemption for the 34-year-old bike shop owner, who played (and lost) twice before. And this time, it was an experience that he got to share with girlfriend Rachel Foulger for a few days.
Apostol chatted with Yahoo! TV about his crafty gameplay, any regrets he has about the season, and whether he’d play in an all-winners edition of “Survivor.”
Congratulations on the win! What are you going to do with all that money?
I don't know! Cash it all in twos, two-dollar bills, and then roll around in it.
You got very emotional as Jeff Probst read the tally last night. Did you think that you had the votes to win?
I thought that I did, but you never really know until you see them come out, you know? And I think it was an end to the anticipation, but not even from this season, but from seasons past. "Survivor" has been in my life for the last five years. The last five years, I've played three times, so to finally be in that position to win the game, it was just a flood of emotion and gratitude to the show for giving me so many opportunities and so many chances. So yeah, I was kind of in a rush and flood of emotions.
See Tyson's winning moment right here:
From a viewer’s standpoint, it felt like you were in control of the game for most of the season. Did it feel that way to you on the island?
Yeah, it did. There were definitely moments it was teetering a little bit. And there were moments where I thought, OK, people are really catching onto what I'm doing here, and it's only a matter of time before they start gunning for me. But for the most part, I felt in control. I'd put in a lot of work every day, every minute, every hour, with all these people to get them to trust me and to put them against each other and all that. So I felt pretty confident. But a lot of times the person in control is confident and gets voted out.
You’ve gotten a lot of grief for what happened the last time you played — essentially voting yourself out. Did you think about that while playing this time?
No, not so much. I mean, I realize the stupidity of the move now, especially because Monica pulled the same move, but fortunately I had an idol, so nothing got played. But no, you have to make moves in the game and you have to do what you feel is best for you, and whether or not it always is, you sometimes don't know until afterwards or until you watch it on TV. So I never go in and try to play with hesitation. You just have to play. It's too hard of a game to second-guess every single thing you do.
In your speech at the final tribal council, you said that Rachel’s elimination motivated you to win. What was it about her leaving that clarified things for you?
I had been on the show twice before and been voted out twice before, and I'd already had that experience, so if I wasn't going to make the most of this third time, I needed to let her have the experiences I already had, whether it be making it to the jury or lasting a little bit longer, or at least maximize her time in "Survivor" for however long.
I felt like she kind of wanted to do this, but she was also apprehensive and scared and nervous, and I think a lot of the reason she did it was for me, because she knew that it would mean a lot to me to do it again. So when she chose not to let me switch with her at Redemption Island, I kind of figured I have to get a little more serious about the game and figure out how to make it as far as I could.
That final tribal council was pretty brutal for Monica. But you kind of got a free pass! Did that surprise you?
Yeah, wasn't that crazy? But everybody knew who I was. I'd talked with everybody, I learned about everybody, people knew who I was and what I was about. And I'd goofed around with all of them, just being fun Tyson, and then all my moves in the game, for the most part, were strategic-based. It was great, people coming in and being like, "Tyson, awesome game. Monica, we don't like you because we don't feel like we know you." So, I was like, well, that was easy for me. I did feel like I got some free passes there, but it was nice to get free passes.
Watch "Survivor" winner Tyson chat with "omg! Insider" right here:
We spoke with Monica, and she said that you felt bad that all the hate she got was misdirected from you. Is that true?
Monica did? [Laughs] I think that she didn't connect with people on a personal level as much as people wanted her to, and I think maybe that's just Monica. I think they just wanted something from her. They wanted her a reason to vote her and they were giving her an opportunity. People didn't necessarily want to vote for me, but who else were they going to vote for?
So you didn’t think Gervase was a threat?
I thought he would be my biggest competition going into tribal council. Leaving tribal council, I felt pretty good about my chances.
You apologized to Katie for your comment after the drawing of the rocks. Is there anything else you regret about your game?
No, not that I can think of. Obviously drawing rocks and stuff was a pretty emotional thing, and I was pretty upset with almost everyone involved at the time. But to me, it was just taking a jab at somebody. If i were playing a board game with my family, I would've made the same jab at my brother or my sister. So I didn't view it as serious as other people viewed it, although I knew it was the wrong move.
Other than that, probably eating all the food in front of everybody wasn't the best choice. But I was not only there to win the money, I was also there to have fun, and it made it way more fun to eat all the food.
Now that you’ve won, you may not want to do another “Survivor,” but would you do it if it was an all-winners version?
I would do that. But I don't know if it would happen. If they do do it, I would hope I have a few years off so I can get the edge again.
What’s next for you and Rachel?
Lots of vacation. Somewhere I can work on my tan.