To win Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, Sandra Diaz-Twine had to last 39 days in the wild and beat 19 fierce competitors. But it turned out she didn't have to overcome any hesitance on the part of the jury to give the prize to a past winner. For the final two, jurors chose not only Diaz-Twine, a Pearl Islands winner, but also Parvati Shallow, who won Micronesia. One thing that helped them both: the unpopularity of third finalist Russell Hantz, who received exactly zero votes from his peers. Though she was listed as a Villain, Sandra scored points for a kind demeanor, as well as her flexibility. The day after becoming the first person to win Survivor twice, Diaz-Twine, 35, spoke with TVGuide.com about why the Villains were able to outlast the Heroes, how Parvati's strongest alliance cost her the title, and why Russell will never win Survivor.
TVGuide.com; What were your thoughts after the final Tribal Council? Did you think people would be willing to vote for someone who had already won Survivor?
Sandra Diaz-Twine: After listening to what they said, I knew Russell had zero votes. I thought Parvati had five votes and I had four ... So when I won, it was actually a shock to me. I didn't think I had six votes.
TVGuide.com: Why do you think people voted for you and Parvati, both previous winners, over Russell?
Sandra: Russell was so abrasive. ... The way he played the game — threatening people — that didn't work. I wanted him gone. I gave [the other castaways] three different opportunities to try to help me get rid of Russell. But they never wanted to make that move, so you know what? They paid for it by getting voted off.
TVGuide.com: Why do you think you were able to beat Parvati?
Sandra: Her problem was that she never disassociated herself with Russell. So they were seen as a snake with two heads. When you get one, you get them both.
TVGuide.com: What was it about Russell or his game play that drove you to burn his hat on the last day?
Sandra: Because he was laying there, saying, "You'll never get a vote. No one could possibly respect your game." ... When it came to his hat, you know why I burned it? Because it stunk, just like he smelled. ... I didn't know he had worn that hat for two seasons, so I kind of felt bad, but then he started acting crazy so I was glad I burned it. Then I went home and started watching his season, [Samoa], and saw him burn Jaison's socks, and I was like, how perfect is that?
TVGuide.com: Russell argued that you didn't have any game. What do you say to that?
Sandra: He keeps saying, "When Sandra wins twice, you know there's a flaw in the game." And I'm like, "Russell, you just don't know how to play the game." ... My strategy was identical both times. The thing about me is, I've taken dos and don'ts from all the winners and every season. So if one thing isn't working, I move on to something else because there have been so many great moments along the years. But bullying people? That doesn't work. Yeah, you get to the end, but what does that mean? Russell can get to the end 100 times, but he'll never win, I promise you.
TVGuide.com: A big question going into this season was whether the castaways would be willing to vote for a previous winner. Did you ever hesitate about coming back because of that possible bias?
Sandra: There was no hesitation on my part, but I knew that because I was a winner, my days were numbered. Then, when I ended up on the Villains tribe, I knew out of all the winners, I needed to be the nicest one and that helped.
TVGuide.com: Your big argument to the jury was that you mostly worked alone this season. Is there anyone you think helped you make it to the end?
Sandra: I can only thank myself for getting to the end, because no one helped me. Yeah, Parvati gave me an idol, she looked out for me, but she didn't need to. She didn't save me. She saved Jerri. It was just me. You know who saved me? My immunity idol, which I didn't even need to play.
TVGuide.com: What do you think it says about the game that only Villains went to the final Tribal Council and a Villain won the game?
Sandra: It all depends on who you put out there. That's all that was. It was a different kind of group. It was a different dynamic. We didn't care about food, water or shelter. [The Villains] were just thinking about the game the whole time.
TVGuide.com: Would you consider returning to Survivor to play for a third $1 million prize? Do you think you could do it?
Sandra: Yes, but not so soon. If they asked me tomorrow, I would definitely say no because it's just too soon. But maybe down the road in a couple of years when I miss the game, I would go back out.