Technically speaking, Rupert Boneham came in fourth on Survivor: All-Stars. TV Guide Online sat in the audience at Sunday's finale, though, and judging by the cheers, applause and tie-dyed tees, Rupe's clearly the fan fave. That's good news for him, since this season's "big twist" allows viewers to award a second $1-million prize by voting American Idol-style. The popularity contest will be settled live on CBS Thursday night. While we think the bearded hero's got this prize in the bag, he's cautiously optimistic about his chances...
TV Guide Online: Thursday could be a big night for you!
Rupert Boneham: I'm thrilled for Thursday. I cannot wait. I've got three hours of free time [today], and you know I'm going to go on the website and vote for myself constantly.
TVGO: Based on the audience reaction, you look like a shoo-in to win.
Rupert: I sure hope so. But I thought that I was going to win Pearl Islands, and that's what hurt me so much when I got voted off. In my life, I don't expect anything and I'm happy for anything that I get. Right now, if I don't get anything else, I'm still thrilled with the way everything is going. If Thursday happens, then it is just one more step in this wonderful little dream.
TVGO: Have you thought about how you'd spend the $1 million?
Rupert: Gosh, no. I told my mama, "No matter what happens, I hope that I can pay off your house and help you out." So if [I win], great. If it doesn't happen, I might do appearances or be a spokesman. We are talking to Animal Planet about a reality adventure show, which is what I'm really hoping for!
TVGO: Was it awkward to see Jenna after her betrayal?
Rupert: It is easy to understand why greed can take over. I didn't like hearing her say that she got herself [to the final four] and she helped me get there, and she didn't want to leave it up to drawing a rock. There were a lot of times when she was targeted and I turned it around on everybody, quietly and subtly. I protected her through the whole game — and when it came to the one time I needed her to protect me, she couldn't. That kinda hurt. No worries. I'm still thrilled with the way that I did. I played a very strong game and a very honest game.
Rupert: We all started to have a little bit of a mental meltdown out there. I couldn't believe how easily it was for Boston Rob to poison me against Big Tom. It was a bad misunderstanding between the two of us. We both kicked each other in the butt and said that we should have done something between the two of us when Shii Ann was there and Jenna was there. But then, you get into "shoulda, woulda, couldas"...
TVGO: Was Big Tom's Southern speech really that hard to understand?
Rupert: He's had rest now, and there are still times where he is [like King of the Hill's] Boomhauer. He mumbles, and you just nod and smile.
TVGO: You voted for Rob. Do you think Amber deserved to win?
Rupert: I voted for Rob because it was Rob and I who were the two most dominant forces out there. He took the brunt of everything. Anytime Amber wanted anybody out, she would go to Rob and make Rob be the bad guy. I didn't feel like she deserved to win — I feel like that still. He deserved to win. I still consider him a friend. Even though he may have poisoned Tom and Jenna against me, it is OK.
TVGO: What do you think of their engagement?
Rupert: I love that! I told Jenna, "Those two are a couple. You watch them. Before this is done, they are going to be engaged." And then 10 minutes before [the season] was over, they were engaged. I called it on Day 15.
TVGO: Did you get to take your beloved spear home?
Rupert: No, they don't let you take too many souvenirs out of the game. But just after Christmas, we went down to Florida to see my [in-laws]. I went in an old dive shop, and in the corner was a Hawaiian sling. It had lime deposit all over and it was just like my spear! So, of course, I bought it and I've got it hanging on the wall.