TVGO: Congrats! You were a shoo-in to win.
I know, but I couldn't let myself believe it. In the back of my head, I kind of knew, but I was not going to let myself hope. I didn't want to walk out disappointed. It almost seemed greedy to even want more.
TVGO: Did you worry about your chances after learning which other players made the fans' final four?
Not at all. It was the same competition as the game. I thought Rudy would be down there. I knew Colby would be there because he's America's pretty boy. Big Tom and Boston Rob were kind of a surprise.
TVGO: A CBS publicist said you were mobbed outside The Early Show. Exciting! Ever imagine anything like that happening to you?
[Laughs] Did I imagine that I would be sitting and talking to Harry, Rene, Hannah, Julie, and Russ and look out that window and see all the signs saying, "We love you, Rupert, and we want to meet you and congratulate you"? No, I never did. When I did Survivor: Pearl Islands, I went out there to show that I was the toughest Survivor. Never in a million years did I go out there thinking I was going to be America's sweetheart.
TVGO: Why do you think you're so popular with fans?
There are a lot of fake people in this world. I don't really fit the normal Survivor guy. I'm the everyguy. There is not anything special about me. Everybody I meet tells me, "Oh, you remind me of my son, my daughter, my wife, my husband, my cousin, my neighbor, my somebody." People can just relate.
TVGO: The million-dollar check must have been a nice birthday present for your daughter. You can get her a great gift now.
It was a great present, although she didn't care about the money. Her favorite thing was getting Dad back. Before we left [home], we had a birthday party for Raya and she got a big-girl bike. So just that was making her feel like she was walking on air.
TVGO: She was adorable at the finale, but she looked a little overwhelmed.
It is a little overwhelming for me at 40, so for her at 5, she did so good. Somebody asked her what she wanted and she looked at me and whispered in my ear, "A pony." Well, there is a new house maybe in the future, but I don't know about a pony. Maybe if grandpa wants to take care of a pony, we'll have a pony.
TVGO: Still planning to pay off your mom's house and put money towards your charity?
Most definitely. That is a great little thing that I can do for my mama. I can also get my Kids Help group started. I can be in control of helping more than just two or three kids a year, maybe more like five or six or eight or 10 families a year.
TVGO: Jenna basically told viewers to vote for you, since she felt bad about breaking your alliance.
She said that voting for her was like voting for Nader and it just takes away from the true winner. That was the sweetest thing. I hugged her and kissed her and told her, "Thank you, thank you." She is a very good young lady. I told her I didn't agree with what she did to me, but I totally understand it.
TVGO: You took home the money, the best fight and the best moment of all time. Did you mind not being nominated for sexiest man?
[Laughs] There were two male categories that I wasn't nominated for — villain and sexiest. I know that nobody wanted to see me win everything, so they couldn't nominate me [for those]. I was happy to see Colby win it and have the first little bit of the [reunion] be "The Colby Show." It is good for him. I love it when it is "The Rupert Show," but it is hard to live with some of the other Survivors when it is!