John Cochran, the nerdy underdog the first time around on “Survivor,” played a masterful game when he returned to the show in Caramoan and won the coveted title of Sole Survivor by a unanimous jury vote. He tells Zap2it that it’s awesome to win — and we won’t see him back on the show.
So, you’re the Sole Survivor — how does it feel?
“I mean, it feels so great because I’m a ridiculously huge fan of the show. It’s 13 years of history building up to this …. the lineage of the show, with Richard Hatch and Parvati and Todd and Boston Rob. It’s humbling.”
Did you have any idea at the start of this “Survivor” season that you could make it all the way to the end, let alone win?
“I came back this season intending to go to the end. I didn’t want to play again just to be on TV again. I always kind of thought, ‘If I make it to the final Tribal Council, I will have made it there in a way that will allow me to win.’ Obviously, getting there is the super hard part. But I thought it was possible. Am I still shocked by the result? Absolutely.”
We were fairly confident that if you made it the Final 3, you would win. Did you feel that way too?
“Watching the show, I could see why it would seem why I would obviously win. Dawn seemed kooky, Sherri didn’t seem strategically relevant. When I won the final Immunity Challenge, I felt like I had a pretty well-rounded pitch I could make to the jury. But before that, Dawn had made a lot of strategic decisions and she has a very sympathetic backstory. Sherri was the last favorite standing and she didn’t win a lot of challenges, so she could’ve been voted off very early … I didn’t think it was a sure thing, but by the time I left that final Tribal Council, I did feel pretty confident.”
There was talk of trying to get you out, but it never seemed very serious (that we could see). Were you surprised there was never a big push by anyone to get you out?
Yeah. What seemed to have happened is there was always some kind of vague desire to get me out, but it was always one or two Tribal Councils away to try to get me out. That’s how I ended up not getting any votes cast against me. Because I was always one Tribal Council away. It was always like, ‘Oh, we’ll get him next time.’ What baffled me more was no one even attempted to break up me and Dawn. Were we really keeping it that well under wraps that we were playing together? The fact that it wasn’t a red flag to anybody, that’s what really surprised me.”
How does it feel to be just the third unanimous winner of “Survivor”? Were you surprised by that? Did you think Dawn would get some votes?
“It’s cool, from like a nerdy ‘Survivor’ historian perspective. But a win’s a win. I did not expect it. I thought that Michael might have voted for Dawn. I thought Phillip could have voted for Sherri because he viewed her as his little pet project. I think he felt kind of responsible for her success. I thought it might be a 6-1 or a 5-2 vote, I don’t know. But I’m also only the second person to get all the votes and not have a single vote cast against them all season, along with J.T. So that’s really cool.”
If “Survivor” did another all-star season, would you go back — we’re assuming they would ask you.
“Whether they would ask me or not, I don’t think I would do it again. I’m not going to do as well as I did this time. I’m not going to have as much fun as I did this time, so it’s going to be a let down one way or another. I’m an obsessive-compulsive guy and I’m not going to be happy that my last ‘Survivor’ experience wasn’t as good as my second ‘Survivor’ experience. I think you’ve seen the last of me playing ‘Survivor.’ I will always watch it, I won’t miss an episode … but I think my playing days are over.”
“Survivor” returns with Season 27, Blood vs. Water, in the fall of 2013 on CBS.