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'Survivor' post-game: Rob elaborates on his difficult path to victory

May 17, 2011 |  7:00 am

2214_Publicity_Still_54 Have you had your fill of “Survivor” post-show interviews yet? No? Good, because I’ve got plenty on the way.

“Boston Rob” Mariano did what seemed so unlikely at first: He won “Survivor: Redemption Island.” I thought everyone would wise up at some point and vote him out like they did the other veteran, hated Russell Hantz.

On the reunion show Sunday night and in other interviews, Rob maintained that it wasn’t as easy as it looked. So during his conference call Monday afternoon, I asked him what in particular, besides the immunity challenges that almost made him pass out, was hard.

“It wasn’t really the physical aspect,” he said. “It never has been for me. And having done it more and more over the years, it’s gotten easier because you know what to expect. The difficult part was the constant checking on the strategizing. ... I’d give them a tidbit that had no impact on the game whatsoever –- the sun’s rising in the east today –- and time and time again, they came back to me with critical information.”

He did want to tell everyone who thought he had it easy, “I’d like to see you do it. ... The check’s in my account." But he acknowledged that one person’s compliments really meant something to him. That would be host Jeff Probst, who said Rob probably played the best he’d seen.

“Coming from Jeff, it’s a huge compliment," Rob said, "considering he’s seen every episode of every season.”

Rob himself did some reminiscing during the call, looking back on his first time playing at 24 to now, 35, married with two kids. He went from a villain to a fan favorite in less than 10 years. Not every reality star is so lucky.

Speaking of villains, Rob said if it had worked out another way, he could’ve tried to work with Russell in the game but didn’t think he could ever trust him. And with regards to Phillip, he said that if there had been just one more tribal council before the tribes merged this season, the specialist would’ve been gone. Things had gotten that bad at the Ometepe camp.

“But when we merged, he turned all his animosity toward Zapatera,” Rob said. “It became Comedy Central for us.”

Rob reiterated his frustration at Grant for taking things personally, said he couldn’t have won without the two people who were beside him and also elaborated on his disappointment in Julie.

“I’ve never sat on the jury, but I think it’s a lot easier to take a route she did with a last jab,” he said, as opposed to her more humble jury partner David. “Nothing inappropriate happened between me and Natalie.”


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— Anthony Williams / anthonyw_ent

Photo: Boston Rob enthusiastically celebrates winning the last immunity challenge. Credit: CBS