Tony Vlachos was crowned the winner of “Survivor: Cagayan” Wednesday (May 21), besting Yung “Woo” Hwang” in a nearly unanimous vote to win the million dollars. He tells Zap2it that he doesn’t blame people for hating on his game and that he played as hard as he could.
Zap2it: Obviously “Survivor” turned out well for you,
Tony Vlachos: Thank you so much, I appreciate it.
You were a very polarizing figure this season. How do you
respond to the haters who didn’t want to see you succeed?
I guess the haters, I don’t think they’re bad people for
hating on my game. But I think it’s a natural instinct,
nobody roots for the aggressor — not in life, not in the
game. When you’re watching the Discovery Channel and you
see a lion pouncing on a gazelle, you root for the
gazelle to get away, you’re not rooting for the lion to
destroy the gazelle. But at the end of the day, you gotta
respect the nature of the beast, and I hope the haters out
there do respect the nature of the game, which was
exactly how I played it — the aggressor was victorious
in the end, which was a blessing for me.
Jeff Probst really nailed it last night in the
live finale when he called you an “Idol hog.” Do you
think people were mad because you just kept finding
I don’t think they were mad, I think they respected that.
Spencer made a clear case about that. Everybody looked
for the Idol, but they only looked for it for a day or
two or maybe three days. I looked for 39 days. Even the
last day, you saw me pawing in that basket looking for a
clue. I never stoped playing the game, I was always
looking for an edge, I was always looking for an angle
and people respected that.
Speaking of Spencer, he made quite a case for you at the final Tribal Council.
Spencer’s a brilliant guy. Luckily for me he’s a super fan
of the show and he respected everything I was doing out
there. He knew everything I was doing was based strictly
on strategy. It had nothing to do with emotional
decisions, it had nothing to do with personal vendettas.
Spencer definitely respected my game, he knew I wasn’t a malicious person. He knew I took no pleasure in
blindsiding people. Spencer really went to bat for me and
I definitely appreciated that.
How seriously did you consider taking Spencer and cutting
Woo at Final 4?
Zero point zero chance of me accepting Spencer’s plea to
me [laughs]. You’ve seen me play the game — I was very
self-aware, I was very socially aware of what was going
on and I knew I had no chance against Spencer. I would
like to think that I played a much stronger game, much
more aggressive game than Spencer, but at the same time,
I knew what I was facing and I was aware enough to know
that no matter who Spencer goes to the end with, he’s
winning the game.
Were you surprised that Woo took you to the finals? That
I was definitely surprised. It was a combination of luck,
of Woo being the person he is in real life, and it was a
combination of me pointing some things out to him.
Throughout the game and at Tribals, Spencer kept saying
how Woo was my follower, Woo was my goat, and I made a
point to Woo — I said listen, Woo, the jury is not going
to respect you if you think it’s going to be this easy
for you to be a goat the whole entire game and you take
somebody like Kass, thinking you’re going to get an easy
victory. They’re going to vote against you spitefully.
So it was the combination of that, luck and who Woo is as a person.
He wanted to keep the game as loyal, as honorable as
possible. … He was really stuck in a hard place, with
the totality of the circumstances.
Another thing that surprised us was the jury saying if
Woo had taken Kass, they all would have voted for him to
win. Did that surprise you, that Kass was so strongly
disliked on the jury?
You know what it is? Kass was trying to play the game,
she was trying to make moves, but the moves she was
making were solely to hurt other people and she took
pleasure in that. As opposed to me, everybody knew the
moves I was making were very strategic moves and I took
no pleasure in hurting somebody. When the stakes are so
high, you have to get your hands dirty in the game but
not necessarily bloody. Kass wanted to get her hands
bloody, and that was the difference where people loved me
and hated Kass — or I should say, people liked me and
Would you go back on “Survivor” if asked?
Absolutely, but it’s going to be much much tougher for me
because I can’t swear at anybody anymore, I can’t have my
bag of tricks anymore, I can’t build spy shacks anymore.
[laughs] It’s going to be a totally different game and a
much harder game, but I’m ready, I’m willing and I’m
looking forward to it.
“Survivor” Season 29 returns with “Blood vs. Water 2″ in the fall on CBS.