Survivor's Winner on the Million-dollar Paycheck: "I Haven't Seen Six Zeroes Since the 'Stealth R Us' Alliance!"

By Drusilla Moorhouse

May 13, 2013

John Cochran, the newly minted winner of Survivor: Caramoan - Fans vs. Favorites, has a million-dollar check burning a hole in his pocket. How will he spend his prize money?

Why, he'll buy a new set of wheels, of course. But forget the fancy Maserati convertible: Cochran's headed to a Segway dealership.

"I've been wanting a Segway ever since it was first announced in 2003 or something," he told me backstage after Sunday's live finale. "I think I'm entitled to at least one nerd-out purchase."

"All those zeroes, my God," Cochran marveled when I asked to see the freshly cut check. "I haven't seen six zeroes since the Stealth R' Us alliance," he wisecracked—referring to Phillip Sheppard's loony-tunes regime.

The Specialist's famous "BR Rules"—modeled after his mentor Boston Rob Mariano— received a special tribute during the reunion show, when the Redemption Island champ showed up to announce that Phillip had inspired him to write a book.

"Obviously, he didn't execute them as well as he was able to learn them," Rob noted backstage, after handing me a copy of The Boston Rob Rulebook: Strategies for Life.  

One of Rob's rules (in addition to gems like "Smarten Up") is "Beware of the Underdog"—advice Cochran's competitors clearly did not heed.

"I played a kind of a low-key game where I just made very time-efficient moves," explained the underestimated star of Season 26. "Nobody voted against me the entire game! No votes cast against me, every vote in the end, more challenge victories than anyone else. I mean, it's bizarre. It's farcical—I'm aware that it's like a farce. I've completely ruined Survivor's reputation. I hope it continues on after this victory, because I know people are reeling right now."

Both Cochran and Dawn Meehan, his South Pacific comrade, suffered a violent outcry from fans following her betrayal and their blindside of Brenda.

"I was really frustrated with the reaction to Dawn's decision, which was also my decision," he said very seriously. "I was not happy that Dawn received such a lashing on the internet. People were wishing death on her family members over a freaking reality show, a game show filmed 10 months ago where everybody gets voted off except three people."

For her part, "I had no idea people hated me that much," Dawn told me. "I love Brenda, but…I promised myself that if your last name isn't Meehan, I would vote you out no matter what. I shut down my Twitter account because I really did get a flood of everything—like, 'You would probably skin your children for a million dollars' [and] 'You're a morally corrupt person.' … I don't wish anybody harm, that's not why I played the game. And we did all sign up to play—I didn't randomly grab someone on the street and grab their purse and run."

Dawn still hasn't watched the most unsettling scene from the final Tribal Council—in which Brenda asked the finalist to humiliate herself in front of the jury by removing her false teeth.  

"I don't know what I was thinking, to be honest, Dawn said about complying. "I was so stunned that she asked me… I was troubled by it, to be honest. I was so stunned—I just voted people out; I don't hate any of you, please don't hate me. But it was an angry jury."

"The way I remember it, [the jury] loved it, so it was humiliating. Oh gosh. I was proud of myself because I thought, 'If you're that hurt, I'll do it. If that's gonna make you feel better.'"

Even more disturbing than Brenda's bizarre request was the reason for Dawn's primal howl at the loss of her dental prosthesis. "I actually had an incident where someone attacked me and I lost those teeth because I was punched," she revealed. "So what happens after 22 days of no food and no sleep and you lose something that was a traumatic event, you get to relive it. That's what that cry was."

Dawn, whose emotional outbursts had become routine at camp, never told Brenda or her other tribemates about her attack. "I didn't want to make it like, 'Oh, here's my excuse for being a big ninny.' I just wanted it to be over."

Dawn acknowledges that much of the jury and audience's animosity is rooted in what they saw as crocodile tears. ("Nobody Likes a Crybaby." —The Boston Rob Rulebook, Page 9)

"I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I'm really emotional. In the game. I'm not [like that] in real life, which is hilarious; I don't know if my kids had seen me cry…. I think that being emotional, it was contradictory for people…. I had bonded with people, so I was really having moral conflicts. So I can see when you don't know someone it's easy to say that was game strategy, and she's just being kind of a hypocrite, I think that's how it was translated or that I was not grateful."

But Dawn is grateful, especially making it to the end with Cochran. "We did so good together," she said with a smile about her fellow outcast from South Pacific.  

"I'm very, very close with Dawn," Cochran told me. "I'm sorry she had to go through that, but I think she's bouncing back, and I think a lot of the wounds are healing."

And if she plays her cards right, maybe Cochran will invite Dawn to join him for a victory lap—on his Segway. 

  • Comments (28)
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  • Vicky8675309 May 13, 2013

    Why are people so mad Dawn voted Brenda off? Dawn played to win--it's a game--wtf to wish harm to someone because they deceived someone on a game that is designed to deceive someone?
    I never cared for Dawn but now I like her;-)
    Kudos to Cochran for his win!!

  • skbn113 May 13, 2013

    Best one-liner yet. CONGRATULATIONS, NERD BOY.

    You sexy thang.

  • Big_Pecks May 13, 2013

    Cochran was great this season. Another deserving winner.

  • maritimer00 May 13, 2013

    I'd be more enthused about this article if the site writers wrote articles regularly BEFORE the finale and it didn't come across as nothing more media meeting with Cochran/Dawn after the finale. Oh, and one other thing - shilling Mariano's book has no place in this piece.

  • Volebien May 13, 2013

    congratz cochran

  • CalumRobertson May 13, 2013

    All these people complaining that Cochran's win is a spoiler, were you watching the season?

  • hypyrwyf May 13, 2013

    I didn't get to watch this yet f'ers, thanks for ruining it! I think it's great that Cochran won, I'd just like to have been surprised when I watch it tonight. Best season ever!!

  • TeddyBearZA May 13, 2013

    I see the Headline is changed to "Survivor's Winner on His Million-Dollar Paycheck" - "HIS Paycheck" seeing as there were 2 women and 1 man in the final this is STILL A SPOILER! Come on guys, seriously, think!

  • buildam2005 May 13, 2013

    Well, technically if you didn't see last night's episode, you'd know the winner was one of three people, because at the end of last week, there were 3 men and 2 women left. Not sure who would have seen the 2-hour episode that got things down to two but not the "reunion" that announced a winner two minutes in.

    Still, though, changing it to "Survivor Winner on Million-Dollar Paycheck" would have been really quite easy to do.

  • mochadude May 13, 2013

    i was also so pissed. i went here first rather than the entertainment weekly website because never had a weekly commentary. and then bam the first thing i saw was cochran won. WTF

  • shadowdemon936 May 13, 2013

    SPOILERS jeez

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