Survivor Winner Sandra: “Being Weak Helped Me”

 Monty Brinton/CBS

For the record, Sandra Diaz-Twine didn't believe she'd win Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains either. "A part of me thought it would be Parvati," she admits. "A lot of people gave her props for being such a good physical player." But in the end, it was the brazen Connecticut bank teller, 34, who managed to best Parvati — and Russell — to win the title on May 16. Just minutes after getting her $1 million check from Julie Chen on The Early Show, she talked to

Us: Do you truly believe you're a worthy champion? Your physical game alone was kind of pathetic.

Sandra Diaz-Twine: Yes I deserved it! To me, being the weak player physically actually helped me. Colby dominated on his first season, and the second time he played in All-Stars, the players were scared of him and and they got rid of him right away. People always want to take out the strongest ones.

Us: But don't you think it's a lot easier to play the game when there's not a target on your back, a la Parvati?

SDT: Remember that I won in the Pearl Islands! On the first day, Randy came to me and said that Parvati was going home first because she had already won [Fans vs. Favorites]. So I went to Parvati right away and told her, 'I'm going to do my best to save you, because if you go home for that reason, I know I'm next.' I had to work.

Us: Was it really Parvati leading Russell out there, or vice-versa?

SDT: She was the shot caller. He was the goat, and she had a rope around his neck and wherever she took him to feed, that's where he ate his grass.

Us: Do you respect his game play at all? Judging by the fact that you threw his hat into the fire on the last day, I'm guessing no.

SDT: He reminded me of Johnny Fairplay. There's always a Fairplay. He is slick, but he doesn't know how to play Survivor! He only stayed in this game because Parvati, Danielle and Jerri were keeping him around and protecting him. I don't understand why he played the same kind of game twice. He should have changed it up from Samoa. Me, I didn't have to do anything different because I do what works.

Us: Do you really consider yourself a villain? You played rather heroically in the Pearl Islands.

SDT: The heroes were too weak for me mentally. I need fire under my feet. And Jeff [Probst] summed it up perfectly. On the first day, he told me that I was a villain because even if you were my best friend, I would cut your throat to get to the end. I was like, damn, I do do that.

Us: What are you going to do with your $1 million?

SDT: I'm going to pay my taxes, then take my kids and my mother-in-law to Germany this summer. Other than that, I don't think I'm going to do a big purchase. I already have everything I want. I still have money saved from the first million. People don't believe it.

Us: Your husband is going to be deployed in two weeks. Do you have time to go eat at your beloved Outback Steakhouse?

SDT: We've already been there twice!

By Mara Reinstein for For more of Mara's TV recaps and interviews, click here.

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