Aras Baskauskas, Survivor: Panama
may have butted heads with his Casaya tribe mates early on, but his athletic prowess and true competitive nature helped him survive 39 days in Panama by outwitting, outplaying and outlasting 15 other castaways to walk away as the sole Survivor. The 24-year-old Santa Monica-based yoga instructor was awarded the ultimate prize Sunday night as CBS' Survivor: Panama---Exile Island
concluded its 16-week run. TVGuide.com sat down with the newly minted — albeit exhausted — millionaire the day after his big win to get the scoop on his "wonderful experience" in Panama, how he'll spend his winnings, and his latest business venture to keep America warm with his new brand line of winter hats.
TVGuide.com: Congratulations! How did it feel to wake up this morning a millionaire?
Aras Baskauskas: [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Going into the game, did you ever think that you'd manage to outwit, outplay and outlast your 15 teammates?
Aras: It was amazing!
TVGuide.com: You were certainly one of the strongest alpha males in the game this season. What kinds of reactions have you received from your family and friends about your impressive game play?
Aras: They loved watching [me]. They got a kick out of all the times I fell and all the times I did well.
TVGuide.com: Except the time you fell and got cut with broken glass, right?
Aras: I haven't gotten any feedback on that yet, since it [only] just happened, but it's been cool. [My family] didn't know [I won], so it was a big surprise for them that I made it to the final two.
TVGuide.com: Would you do anything differently in the game if you could?
Aras: Well… I wouldn't have made the comments I made about Terry, Austin or Courtney, but other than that, no. I really thought I played a good game with a lot of honor and integrity.
TVGuide.com: Your strategic game play worked well to earn you a spot in the final two, but what were your feelings about how both your tribal friends and enemies would consider your previous actions and decide your fate?
Aras: I made a lot of long-term friendships. Terry and I have a great relationship, Shane and I have a great relationship — despite what you see out there. Obviously Cirie and I do. [I talk with] Danielle and Austin all the time. I did make great relationships, actually, and that's why I think I won.
TVGuide.com: Did any of the jury questions surprise you last night?
Aras: Shane's question, definitely. [Shane asked the final two to select an arbitrary number to earn his vote.]
TVGuide.com: If you were sitting on the other side of the fire pit and had to ask a question as a jury member, what would it be?
Aras: I've honestly thought about that, and I don't know what I would ask.
TVGuide.com: So from the start you had a feeling you'd make it to the final two?
Aras: When I got there and saw the other 15 people, I honestly thought to myself, "I can do this."
TVGuide.com: Now that you have a cool million in the bank, is there any chance you'll pay your dad back after freeloading off him for so long?
Aras: I don't know, maybe I'll keep freeloading. Why stop a good thing?
TVGuide.com: Cirie told me you've already discussed the possibility of her driving you to the bank to cash your check, in her brand-new GMC Yukon.
Aras: [Laughs] That would be awesome!
TVGuide.com: You already had a stamp in your passport from professional basketball play in Lithuania. How did your stay in Panama compare?
Aras: I've traveled all over the world, but I've never been on a deserted island in the middle of a tropical area. It was really cool, such a wonderful experience.
TVGuide.com: You were one of the contestants who paid some dues on Exile Island. During your stay there, did you have any idea how influential the immunity idol would become?
Aras: Yes, I did. I knew it was huge and could totally change the game. And it did. I remember thinking that if there were no Exile Island, I would have won the game.
TVGuide.com: How do you think the game would have been different had you found the idol instead of Terry?
Aras: I probably would have still won.
TVGuide.com: How do you plan to spend your hard-earned winnings? Any plans to open a yoga studio?
Aras: I'm definitely going to be doing the yoga stuff. Did you [hear about] my company? If you could give me a plug for TundraGear.com it would be awesome. You've got to write that down!
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