Cirie Fields and Terry Deitz, Survivor: Panama
walked away with the million-dollar prize on CBS' Survivor: Panama — Exile Island
, but he faced some fierce competition as the field narrowed to the final four. Baskauskas faced off against consummate strategist Danielle DiLorenzo
, who earned her spot in the final two after competing against Cirie Fields
in a tie-breaker challenge. Cirie and fellow fan favorite Terry Deitz
ultimately placed fourth and third, respectively, and while they didn't take home the ultimate prize, both will now be cruising around town in a brand-new GMC Yukon. An airline pilot, Deitz provided Baskauskas with the friendly rivalry that Survivor
is known for, while Fields, a registered nurse living in South Carolina, proved to herself — and America — that perseverance and humor can help anyone survive. TVGuide.com sat down with the contestants the day after the series wrapped to get their take on their time in Panama. [Danielle was unavailable due to a personal matter and will be featured in a future Insider
TVGuide.com: Congratulations on finishing third. Did you think you'd make it so far?
I went into that final tribal council knowing I had no power, so I figured I made my nice pitch to Danielle and use the soft and mature approach. I went in there with the mind-set that I was going home.
TVGuide.com: Do you believe in the "car curse"?
No. I didn't even know about the "car curse," and I'm not superstitious. I had to win everything anyway. It wasn't so much about luck as skill.
TVGuide.com: As one of the older players, you certainly gave the younger survivors a run for their money. How did you keep your game so tight?
Having 20 years of life over a lot of the other contestants — I've got a wife, kids, mortgages — helped me focus. [Aras walks into the room, and he and Terry exchange high-fives.] It was tough to bring the A-game. I could never make a mistake against this guy [Aras], because he would eat you alive. But I did, he took advantage of it ,and that was the ballgame. It happens.
TVGuide.com: When you found the immunity idol on Exile Island, did you have any clue how pivotal it would prove to be in the game?
I didn't know how much mental game I was going to have to wrap around that thing, but I knew it was ultimately important. In the beginning of the game, it didn't have that much meaning to me because I had a strong alliance over at La Mina. But at the merge, it was everything.
TVGuide.com: It's clear you and Aras are all smiles now. Was the relationship that was portrayed on TV simply a friendly rivalry?
We were able to take that personal edge off the competition right after the [final four] immunity challenge. We had a discussion, there were apologies given, and we squared it away. It then turned into something really nice. He's a great kid and a winner. Like me, he never sat down at camp — he was fishing, snailing, getting wood. He was good in challenges and a formidable opponent. He deserves it.
TVGuide.com: What did you learn about yourself doing Survivor ?
One of the biggest things I learned was that if you have a message to get across to somebody, look for lots of different ways to do it. There were some times — and you can even ask my wife and kids — that I'll just blurt things out, thinking, "It's all black-and-white and I'm the boss." On the island, you need to take a step back and look at the situation in a different way.
TVGuide.com: What's next for you?
There are bigger things out there. [I'm back to work as] a pilot, and I'm going to look into the entertainment side of things and see if there's any need for Terry Deitz and what he can offer.
TVGuide.com: Would you do Survivor: All Stars if asked?
I'd do it all over again.
TVGuide.com: Congratulations on fourth place! Did you ever think you'd make it this far?
Not in a million years! I'm still spinning. I'm waiting to wake up any minute.
TVGuide.com: You stood for many Americans who perhaps thought that they could never make it to where you did on Survivor. What kinds of reactions have you gotten from fans of the show?
The comments I get are, "We're really proud of you," "You're so inspiring." I kind of inspired myself. I basically learned how to survive while I was there. [Before Survivor] I have been my biggest obstacle. I've lived in fear and comfort, and was comfortable eating chips on the couch!
TVGuide.com: You seemed to fly under the radar in terms of making your strategy known. When did it click for you that you needed to develop a strong game plan to succeed?
I started playing the game on the boat to the island. I wasn't in a position to make any power moves for a very long time, but at the same time, I'm still playing. When I was told I would be the next to go, the only thing I had in my mind was to give these people a reason to keep me around. So I worked my butt off!
TVGuide.com: You surprised America with your play. But what surprised you most about Survivor?
I watched every season of Survivor going in, and each year I would download the application but never do anything with it. Watching it from home, it's like, "Well, they're camping. I can do that." The people [on previous seasons] make it look so easy, and when I got there I was like, "What the hell have I gotten myself into?!"
TVGuide.com: What did you learn about yourself doing Survivor?
There's nothing that's ever going to stop me from going for [my dreams]. I just stopped being afraid and living in self-doubt. There's no stopping me now. I will not waste another day. There's so much out there that I want to do and it's crazy, but I almost feel born again, like a totally different person. I'm so grateful for this opportunity.
TVGuide.com: What's next for you?
I don't know. [Laughs] I literally feel like the sky's the limit and we'll just have to wait and see. I've been working [as a nurse] and Melinda from the show wants me to try to do some motivational speaking with her. I'll give it a try. [At least this time] I'll have a bra on!
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