Chris Daugherty, 33, came from behind as the surprise victor of Survivor: Vanuatu. As the last man standing (literally), he out-scammed this season's seemingly unbeatable female faction, thanks in part to runner-up Twila bringing him into her alliance. He mostly just let the ladies take each other down, but he did have to tell his fair share of whoppers to win, and that included lying to his bride-to-be. Here, the sole Survivor tells TV Guide Online why all the deceit was worth it.
TV Guide Online: How will you spend the $1 million?
Chris Daugherty: I am going to go buy myself a Harley first. I actually went shopping for one last week, before I knew that I won. Isn't that arrogant?
TVGO: Yeah, a little. So you had a hunch things would go your way at Sunday's finale?
Chris: I took the most controversial, outspoken person in the game to the final two, so I definitely had a premonition. Basically, I said to myself, "If I don't win against Twila, it wasn't meant for me to win against anybody."
TVGO: Think you played the game better than she did?
TVGO: Even though she saved you by bringing you into her alliance?
Chris: No! Big negative, honey. Listen to this. Basically, it was Twila saying, "You ain't got a chance in hell, but if you convince Eliza to join me and Scout, we'll go to the final four. You've got to remember that Twila and Scout were at the bottom of the pecking order. They knew that, but were stuck with nothing to do unless they convinced me to convince Eliza to get the numbers. Because Eliza hated Twila and Scout and she still does.
TVGO: So you're saying you did them a favor?
Chris: It was fifty-fifty. They came to me and offered me an opportunity to stay in the game, if I gave them the same opportunity back. Of course, it was not portrayed that way. The conversation with Eliza in the woods was so much longer than they showed, and me convincing her was extremely difficult. But it worked out perfectly.
TVGO: Well, it worked out for you! Is Eliza speaking to you anymore?
Chris: Yeah, we're really good friends. She's great. Eliza was a huge player as well. When it was all over and we met up, she was like, "Good job, you played it well." I got the same compliment from Ami, the queen bee, of all people. She put her arm around me and said, "You little bastard, I had no idea." That amazes me. I don't think any one of the women knew I was playing the game. I think they thought I was coasting and doing what I could to have them keep me [around]. They didn't realize that I made an alliance to the end with six different people throughout the game.
TVGO: Well, it was a successful plan.
Chris: It was perfect. My strategy was, "If you want to make an alliance to the end, I'll watch your back if you watch mine." Then I'm like, "We can't tell nobody this because if we tell them, they'll separate us and vote us off and that puts us in jeopardy. So I won't say nothing about our alliance if you don't." I was sitting back watching Twila and Eliza and Julie and I'm like, "I cannot believe they haven't talked." And they never did!
TVGO: They all foolishly trusted you!
Chris: It was like my alliance with Bubba. I never broke my alliance with him, he just got voted off — the same with Sarge and Chad, a little different with Julie and Eliza.
TVGO: Yeah, you were definitely a little responsible for Eliza's and Julie's downfalls.
Chris: Just a little. I know it is crazy, but I would play it the same way if I did it again.
TVGO: Would you still lie to your fiancée, Lori, if you could do it over?
Chris: Yeah. That was funner than playing the game. We're talking about getting married in February.
TVGO: Obviously, she's forgiven you for sending her into therapy?
Chris: Yes. That whole therapy thing got blown out of proportion. Lori's like, "I didn't go to therapy." Well, Mom and Dad said she needed therapy when she got home [from visiting Vanuatu] because she was distraught thinking she was the reason I got voted off.
TVGO: So instead of consoling her, you egged her on?
Chris: Yeah, she was doing pretty good when I got home. She'd just say, "Oh, Chris, making the merge is unbelievable. You've succeeded in the game." And all along I'm like, "Yeah, but it sucked getting voted out."
TVGO: That's so mean!
Chris: It's not just me. My dad knew because I talked to him. Then on Thanksgiving, halfway through the show, she looked over to me and said, "Have you been lying to me?" It dawned on her and she was like, "You bastard." It was great. She loved it.
TVGO: Think she would've been less forgiving if you came in second place?
Chris: (Laughs) No, not at all. I think she would have been the same. You are totally basing it on the dollar signs, aren't you?
TVGO: Well, kinda. But the bottom line is that the wedding is still on.
Chris: Yeah. The deal is if I marry her, then she'll have a baby for me. I want a little kid.
TVGO: You'd be a fun dad... I think.
Chris: Heck, yeah. I'll be a real good dad, I've got a million bucks.
TVGO: Work on teaching the baby to tell the truth though, OK?
Chris: It is not like I'm going to be playing Survivor every day. It is only in the game! But I can make [my Survivor lies] sound really good. It is not so much that I lied, it is that I was charming.
Chris: Yeah. Don't you agree?
TVGO: Um... yeah.
Chris: No, you don't!
TVGO: But your lying did help you win, so I have to give you some credit.
Chris: I can live with that.
TVGO: Better buy your fiancée a really nice gift for putting up with everything.
Chris: Yeah, her Christmas list is growing as we speak.