In last week's Survivor: Palau finale, Tom Westman took home the $1 million prize, which was no surprise. Thanks to Ian Rosenberger 's crazy choice to cede his spot in the final two to Katie Gallagher, the 29-year-old California girl became the runner-up. Far from being sad about losing the top spot, Katie tells TVGuide.com she's happy that anyone voted for her at all.
TVGuide.com: As the live finale approached, did you think you had a chance to win?
Katie Gallagher: No, not at all. I went into tribal council [without expecting] to be attacked as much as I was. Why would they go there? We all knew Tom was going to win.
TVG: Are you mad at Gregg for tearing you apart during his tribal council speech?
Katie: No. I've totally forgiven him, and he really made up for it at the finale.
TVG: Was your final encounter with the jury hard to watch on TV?
Katie: Yeah, I was dreading that. I knew people were going to call me lazy. I just didn't expect them to attack me personally and call me "cruel" — because I'm not. I was destroyed when Gregg told me off. I was shaking and throwing up before [the live finale] even started. I wanted to disappear.
TVG: Why didn't you answer Janu's question? Don't you think that might have annoyed the other jurors?
Katie: I don't think so. I got a lot of "good answer" comments. Janu talked in circles, and Janu liked hearing herself talk. I went in there knowing I wasn't going to answer her question. We had our little [conflict] where I said she looked like a jack-in-the-box and she wouldn't accept my apology. She was so serious about it. I was like, "Come on, it's not like I attacked your soul." I said that her face, at that moment, looked like a jack-in-the-box. And it did!
TVG: So you aren't likely to be friends.
Katie: No. But we had a really good time [after the live show]. We do have one thing in common; we all shared this amazing experience together. So there is no animosity between the two of us.
TVG: Did you expect more votes than you got in the end?
Katie: I thought Coby would vote for me [just] to be different, so it could continue to be "The Coby Show." I am just glad that it wasn't a total sweep [in Tom's favor]. All I could hope for was at least one vote.
TVG: Would you have remained friends with Ian even if he hadn't stepped off that buoy?
Katie: Yeah, I had already forgiven him. I was just trying to keep my game face on. I didn't believe it [at first]. I thought, "It's just part of the game. I'll believe [the result of his sacrifice] when I see it." I was so wary of every move that everybody made at that point. I had accepted my fate in third [place].
TVG: When you stepped off the buoy early on, you didn't think Tom or Ian would take you into the final two?
Katie: I didn't know. I was pretty sure Ian was going to take me. Then again, they had a really strong bond and they kept saying, "Duke it out. Fight to the finish." I'm like, "I don't want to fight anymore. I have to go to the bathroom and I can no longer humiliate myself in challenges."
TVG: What's next for you?
Katie: I am turning 30 at the end of the month, and Jenn [Lyon] and I are going to Hawaii. That is all I have planned right now.
TVG: Would you do anything like this show again?
Katie: I would love to do The Surreal Life! Totally. Bring it on. I'll call everyone a jack-in-the-box. I've already put together the cast in my head. Tone Loc, Bret Michaels, Tonya Harding, Corey Haim. [Laughs] It would be great TV.