While most of us were stuffing our faces on Thanksgiving, Survivor: Guatemala's Gary Hogeboom was sitting at home with his family watching his torch get snuffed. The former NFL player — who lied throughout the game about his pro career by claiming he was Gary "Hawkins" — finally fell to the dominant alliance of remaining players. The 46-year-old called TVGuide.com after the holidays to discuss his rapid weight loss and why he decided to fib in the first place.
TVGuide.com: I was skeptical at first, but it seems that your strategy of lying about your background worked in getting you pretty far in the game.
Gary Hogeboom: I had a game plan going in, and I wouldn't have changed it. I'm thinking that the strategy was alright. I would have liked to go further, but I couldn't break in with a couple of people.
TVGuide.com: It seemed more like a numbers game than anything.
Gary: Yeah, it really was. We [the remaining Yaxha tribe members] went into the merge and they [the Nakums] were dominant.
TVGuide.com: I was impressed the day that you found that immunity idol.
Gary: Thank you very much! I was a very happy tribe member at that point.
TVGuide.com: I enjoyed how at your final tribal council, you exposed how Judd lied about where the idol was. Do you think saying that will do any good?
Gary: The reason that I didn't expose him earlier was that I wanted to get him on my side. I had talked to him about that, but then at the last tribal council, somebody told him something, some lie, about me that he wasn't happy with. But that is part of the game. When he started talking some trash, I figured I better expose him for lying because I hadn't lied — other than about my name.
TVGuide.com: There seems to be a lot of lying going on this season. Did you know that while you were playing, or did you only find out when you watched at home?
Gary: I'm a Survivor freak so I know there are no rules. I was ready for a lot of lies, but the tough part was that people were telling lies to other people about me and what I have been doing. That was tough because you don't know what is said behind the scenes. But that is why people love Survivor. It is a roller-coaster and you have to be on your toes.
TVGuide.com: Being a Survivor freak, is that why you wanted to go on the show?
Gary: I watch Survivor, and I've added Lost to my TV shows because that is kind of a survival deal. But Survivor is awesome. I've watched it from the beginning. I've sat down with my wife and daughters on Thursday nights for I don't know how long. If we are not home, we tape it. People know not to call me on Thursday nights.
TVGuide.com: Was there ever a point where you wanted to tell somebody who you really were, just to get it off your chest?
Gary: No, there really wasn't. I did not want to be judged by what I did in the past; I wanted to be judged by how I played the game. I was going to keep that to the end. Obviously, sometimes in Survivor you have to keep your mouth shut. I found that happening so often during the 30 days that I had to keep my mouth shut.
TVGuide.com: But Danni seemed to be on to you.
Gary: Danni was definitely on to me. She's a sports fanatic and she knows her stuff. I think she knew down deep and [she also knew] that I was just going to lie about it until the end.
TVGuide.com: So she decided to just let it go?
Gary: After four or five confrontations about who I was, it was kind of a nonissue. I just kept denying it.
TVGuide.com: Amy had threatened to come after you if she found out you were lying. Are you worried?
Gary: I will tell you what, Amy is one tough, tough individual. We'll probably have to go a few rounds when I see her. I love her. I wish we could have gone further together. If we had won that last challenge as Yaxha [when we were] digging for the puzzle pieces, we would have gone further.
TVGuide.com: I think you can take Amy. You seem like a pretty tough guy.
Gary: Oh, boy. [Laughs] I hope we don't have to come to blows.
TVGuide.com: Although you lied about your football past, are you still a fan of the sport?
Gary: I love sports. I love football. I loved practicing and I loved working out. It was a great time in my life.
TVGuide.com: Did any football strategy, like memorizing plays, help you in Survivor?
Gary: There is no doubt that my background in the NFL and football helped me because it is all about competition and how tough you are mentally and physically. That is why I love the show so much.
TVGuide.com: You seem like a nice guy. Was there anyone that you were unhappy to be stuck with?
Gary: In my viewpoint in life, I try to see the best side of people and don't really dwell on the negative. There were some things that bothered me, but if you let things bother you, you aren't going to get out of life what you need. So I played the game and took people for what they were and how they acted. I just tried to take everything as an advantage to get me further. You are always going to be around people who are saying things and doing things you don't appreciate, but that is OK. I look at the bright side.
TVGuide.com: What did you think of Stephenie and Bobby Jon getting a second shot?
Gary: I was a big Stephenie and Bobby Jon fan during Palau. Personally, I think it took a little away from our Survivor experience because they were there. That isn't a negative to them, they just knew the game and they thought they knew what was coming up and what to expect. A lot of people were asking them a lot of questions, which isn't their problem, they were just answering them. It took away some of the experience, but I still loved it. They were good players. If you are going to compete, compete against the best.
TVGuide.com: Would you go back if the producers asked you?
Gary: I love Survivor.
TVGuide.com: I'll take that as a yes?
Gary: [Coyly] I love Survivor.
TVGuide.com: It looked like such a tough environment out in Guatemala. Was there anything you were totally unprepared for?
Gary: I work out quite a bit — and I picked up the pace when I found out I was going to be on the show — but there is no way you can train for starvation and dehydration. People don't realize when they are sitting at home on their couches that when you stand up after not eating for 10, 15, 25 days, you are dizzy. You are competing on nothing. I was eating cicadas and whatever I could get my hands on. You are weak, and you can't train for that sort of stuff.
TVGuide.com: You looked like you were getting very thin towards the end.
Gary: You can say that again — I was pretty ugly.
TVGuide.com: I wouldn't say ugly, just... very thin.
Gary: I know, I looked like I was in a prison camp.
TVGuide.com: You didn't go out there with extra weight to lose like Judd did.
Gary: I tried, but I have a hard time gaining weight.
TVGuide.com: I hope you've gained back a little now.
Gary: Yeah. I love to eat.