A lot of people say Russel deserved the money and the title of sole survivor because he played the game the most aggressively and pretty much dominated the game since day one. While Russel did play the game the best, Natalie apparently had the best strategy: Fly under the radar and ''coattail'' the guy everyone DOESN'T like, so when the final tribal council comes, the jury's resentment will be directed towards the guy who lied, blindisded, and backstabbed everyone to advance himself further in the game. Natalie's strategy may not have been as offensive and as powerful as Russel's, but it turned out to be more effective than Russels simple plan of ''Blindside EVERYBODY until I get to the finals.'' Some people say Natalie did nothing and just got lucky; I firmly disagree. She used Russel as a scapegoat so he would take the blame for all the lying, blindsides, etc, while she sat pretty, playing the weak, innocent, non-threatening blonde and gained popularity with the jury. She outwitted the so called ''Best player in survivor history.'' Thats why I think she deserved the money and the title of sole survivor.
Russel did things day by day; Natalie had her plan set since day one. At the final tribal council, Russel was bragging about all he did in the game and how he earned his spot in the final 3. Russel made a very good argument. However, what he was BASICALLY saying was, ''I was the one responsible for lying to, blindising, backstabbing, and ultimately taking 1 million dollars out of each and every pair of hands in that jury; Thats why I deserve the money.'' Russel did not say this in so many words, but thats what he was implying, pretty much. Russel did not realize that some people WILL hold grudges when you take a one-in-a-lifetime shot at 1 million dollars away from them. Bragging about dominating the game is just like saying ''I ruined your chances at 1 million dollars, so give ME 1 million dollars.'' At the final tribal council, Russel made valid points as to why he deserved the money, but he failed to make points as to why the jury should GIVE it to him. The jury (Namely Erik and Kelly) were disgusted of how much of a dirty game Russel played. They were also displeased at his arrogance. Russel played an extremely good game, but his social characteristics were deplorable. Dominating the game, making empty promises, blindsiding, backstabbing, thats all important for STAYING in the game. But Russel failed at playing a good SOCIAL game, which is the most important aspect when it comes to convincing the jury that you deserve the money. Natalie was able to play a good social game by letting Russel take the blame for everything and take all the bullets, while she remained ''Honest and Innocent'' in the jury's eyes.
I think Russel made 3 fatal errors which cost him the game: 1. He underestimated the underdog, Natalie. 2.: He did NOTHING to improve his social status with the jury, a very importmant aspect of Survivor. and 3. Russel became too focused on STAYING in the game and he did not anticipate the fact that the jury would most likely hold resentment towards him and look at him as the ''Dirty, rotten snake who ruined what might have been my only chance at 1 million dollars.''
Bottom line, Russel being the ''bad guy'' throughout the entire season, being a snake, stripping people of a shot at 1 million singlehandly, that was good for staying in the game; It was terrible for convincing all the people he backstabbed to vote for him to be the winner. Natalie, on the other hand, saw who was in control, and aligned herself with him, and as they dominated the game together, he took all the blame while she gained popularity with the jury. Russel played the game the hardest; Natalie played it the smartest. She outsmarted Russel and he didn't even know it. The so called ''Dumb*** girl'' ended up defeating the '' Puppet Master'' , and Natalie deserved the title and the money.