Gordon Holmes: Good morning, Chris.
Chris Underwood: Hey, good morning, Gordon. How are you?
Holmes: I am good, but probably not as good as you.
Underwood: (Laughs) You’re probably feeling a little better than me this morning. There was a celebration last night to say the least. I’m loving life right now.
Holmes: So, before we get too far into the interview, I’d like to preface this by saying that you went out there, you followed their rules, and you won the game. So, I hope the line of questioning you’re going to be hearing today from reporters, including me, doesn’t take away or damper what I consider to be an amazing accomplishment. But, the thing that keeps sticking with me is; the jury picks the correct winner, every time. The right winner for that jury. So, players need to take into account how they put people on that jury. However, you weren’t responsible for putting very many people on the jury due to your time at Extinction.
Underwood: You said it exactly; I can hang my hat proud because I played within the boundaries of the game that were there for me. This season had big players and it was really an aggressive season. So, I knew if I got back into the game I had to take big swings. I had to hit homeruns. Not just once, but every time at bat. And I feel like I did that. And, Gavin played an incredible game. He did. This season would’ve looked very different if the Edge of Extinction didn’t exist. Gavin would have probably gotten more votes. But, I knew they’d respect big gameplay, so that’s what I did.
Holmes: There’s no denying that your time back in the game was spectacular. Were there any other mega moves you thought of doing but held back on or anything we didn’t see?
Underwood: You guys pretty much saw it all. There was one time when I got back in that I had asked Ron to write a letter to me saying, “Trust Chris.” I asked Ron if he could use a piece of coal on parchment telling Julie that she could trust me. I tried to use that a little bit to get more information from her on how her and Lauren were thinking. But, I knew the only way to stay safe was to align with Rick again. Everyone wanted him out so bad.
Holmes: I think the biggest tool you had in your arsenal was the ability to talk about what the jurors were thinking. Were those genuine conversations that were taking place at Extinction or were you fabricating some of them?
Underwood: We all brainstormed with each other about what each individual needs to do to win. And that path looked very different for everyone. I knew my path was super hard. But, I had an idea going into it, here’s what each person needs to prove to the jury to win. And if they can do that, they’ll get a vote. And if they can’t do that, it’s an angle for me. I knew Julie had to make a move. I knew Lauren had to make something happen. I knew I couldn’t win if I just won immunity, after immunity, after immunity. I knew I had to be vulnerable at least one and get by without a safety net.
Holmes: My big fear headed into this season was the Edge of Extinctioners would just get together and say, “Hey, whoever wins the return challenge, wins the season.” Was there ever any talk of that?
Underwood: No, there was never a pact or anything. Everyone respected each other, but they knew there were good players…it was an honor thing to earn the votes of some really strategic players. I don’t think anyone said, “Whoever gets in, you get our vote.” When Jeff asked if people hadn’t decided on their vote and people raised their hands, that was real. I didn’t know going into it if I was going to win or not. Towards the end the tide started to shift and I was able to use hard evidence to show the moves I had made. And they appreciated that more than the passive style of Gavin and Julie.
Holmes: Stepping down to make fire was epic. We’ve been living with this twist for a while now and it seems like everyone now appreciates how important it is. Nobody is asking to be the person taken to the end anymore.
Underwood: I got the vibe from day one that you can’t be passive in that situation. But other people, would they have taken the necklace off? Because fire can change in a second. It’s hard to come back from. I knew it’d be the ultimate move as far as strategy. I took a swing there and it paid off.
Holmes: Alright, let’s do some word association. We’ll start with…Rick.
Underwood: (Expletive deleted)
Holmes: Oh…was there something we missed there?
Underwood: He knows it. We love each other. (Laughs) When he sees that I called him an (expletive deleted), he’s going to think it’s hilarious.
Holmes: You know that’s not his real name, right?
Underwood: What an (expletive deleted)! He’s telling me that his name is not Dan the entire game?
Holmes: You learned a lot this season. You were blindsided by Wardog who’s an (expletive deleted). If you get a chance to ride this crazy rollercoaster again, what would you do differently?
Underwood: Someone who tries to plot out a path to winning on day one is a fool. It’s a fool’s game. You really have to be able to look at the field and understand your placement in that field and realize how you’re being viewed. Wardog was an alpha, if I wanted to work with him, I needed him to be bigger than me every time we went to talk. You go to a swap, they all swapped to Lesu. The game is so unpredictable. You have to adapt and pivot.
Holmes: So, now that you’re a millionaire, what are you going to buy me?
Underwood: (Laughs) Come to South Carolina. I’ll take you out for a beer.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes