Exclusive Interview: Earl Cole, winner of Survivor: Fiji
Exclusive Interview: Earl Cole, winner of Survivor: Fiji
Earl Cole became the first Survivor in the history of the long-running program to win the top prize with a unanimous vote.  That's right, all nine members of the jury gave Earl their vote.  There has to be a pretty good reason for that, right?  Earl played an intelligent and subtle game, forming an alliance that catapulted him into the finals, where he eventually ended up winning the million dollars.  Earl took some time earlier today to stop by and discuss his Survivor experience with us.

Below you will find both a written transcript and the full mp3 audio of the interview.

How did you get cast on Survivor?

It was very, very random.  I was originally cast for The Amazing Race and the person that would've been my partner didn't want to do it, so they said, “Well, maybe we'll give you a call next year or something.”  They ended up calling me a couple weeks later and they said "Hey a spot just opened up on Survivor right at the last second and we would love to have somebody like you.”

Did you come on Survivor with a game plan?

I didn't have a game plan when I came, it was just to sit back and watch and observe, because I wasn't that familiar with the show, so I just wanted to learn about the people.  I knew it was about the people and I know people pretty good, so I was glad we had the collective effort for the shelter at the beginning. I was able to label certain people, see how they performed during the shelter building.  Who was lazy, who was a hard worker who was bossy.  That's how it first started.  Then we switched tribes, then I started forming different strategies.  There's a lot of things you have to do.  I was always thinking out there.

What made you gravitate towards Yau-Man at the beginning?

Yau-Man and I, we talked briefly when we were first all together, then we were split up on Ravu and Yau and I were the hardest workers on there.  We were always working, and so we respected one another's work ethic.  And, we would have talks about life, philosophy and science.  We just had that in common.  We just bonded and said we should just trust each other.  It was natural, the bond.  And then the whole idol thing, that just brought us closer together.

During the middle part of the season and throughout to the end, it seemed like you stepped back and allowed Yau-Man to step up and be the target.  Was this a conscious decision?

Yau became a target when they found out about that idol, but he was always a target on old Ravu.  I kept saying, “No, we're not gonna vote out Yau.  Yau works hard, we need to keep him.”  But people like Mookie and Rocky, they wanted to vote him off, “Oh, he's this old guy.”  No, Yau's a keeper.  I always knew Yau was somebody I could trust.  I wanted to keep him around and I was so glad during that tribal mix up that he was with me.

When did you realize that Yau probably had the upper hand against you in a final jury vote?

I knew how things had appeared to be.  I was so behind-the-scenes that I wasn't very visible on the things I was doing.  Yau was pretty visible, so I knew it would be pretty tough against him.  Him and I were planning to go into the final two together, but the closer we got to the top four or five, it's every man for himself.  So, when we got to that point and Dreamz reneged on the infamous deal, that was my loophole to say, “I hate to do this but I have to play smart.” 

Was there a part of you that was hoping Dreamz would renege on that deal?

Actually, that never even really crossed my mind.  I really thought that he was going to give it to him.  I was already writing the script in my head on how I was going to play my tribal council against Yau-Man.  And it didn't happen that way and I ended up going up against Dreamz and Cassandra and I had to flip my script and it worked out.

How shocked were you Dreamz decided not to hand over the immunity necklace?

Did you see my face?  It was just, "What?!!  I might have just won a million dollars.  My stock just went up immediately.  People are going to hate him.”  And then that opened up the opportunity to vote Yau-Man.  It was my only chance to take out my biggest competition.  Even though it was my best friend on the show, I had to be smart. 

(Interview Conducted by Oscar Dahl)
(Image Courtesy of CBS)