‘Survivor’ Champion John Cochran – ‘I Thought Dawn Could Beat Me’


John Cochran (CBS)

Now that John Cochran is the latest million-dollar “Survivor” winner, he’s going to pass on practicing law for a while to focus on writing. Well, from one writer to another, here’s a little advice…

Don’t write a story about an underdog who gets a second chance to fulfill his childhood dream and pulls off a stunning victory. It was already done in “Rocky II” and it was awesome.

I spoke with the newly crowned champ the morning after his big win and asked him about his boyhood dream coming true, how he compares to other champs, and his teeny, tiny check…

Gordon Holmes: The champ…is…heeeeere!
John Cochran: (Laughs, Sings a few bars of John Cena’s theme music) Unreal, right?
Holmes: Over the moon for you, buddy.
Cochran: It hasn’t fully registered for me yet, but thank you. I appreciate it.
Holmes: Let’s see here…four individual challenge wins, no votes against you, all of the votes at the final Tribal Council…after all that, why did they give you such a tiny check?
Cochran: That pisses me off more than I should be talking about because it’s not the most flattering thing to be complaining about. And there’s a typo, my address is spelled wrong. I don’t think that’s going to prevent me from cashing it. Is a big, foam novelty check that expensive?
Holmes:  I feel so bad for you.
Cochran: (Laughs) You should!
Holmes: I mean, winning a million dollars is cool, and dominating the game you’ve loved since your childhood is nice, but having to cash a tiny check is brutal.
Cochran: I’ll get over it, but when I saw Jeff come out with that tiny check I thought, “Really, this is how this is going to happen? After all I’ve given you, Jeff? A typo-ridden, flappy piece of paper.”

[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/watch/Survivor%3A-Caramoan—Fans-vs.-Favorites/6680657917899399112/30047299677/Survivor%3A-Caramoan—Last-Push/embed 580 476]

Holmes: You were worried about being Sugar’d, by that we meant, voted out first after being a star your first season. But now, it’s looking like you’re more of a Parvati.
Cochran: Yeah! The parallels are there. She was on 13 and 16. I was on 23 and 26. We both won on a “Fans vs. Favorites” season. She did a little bit better on “Cook Islands.” But to be compared to Parvati, even though the gameplay is different…you know, it’s blowing my mind now. When people reference other winners and I’m a part of it now? That’s so bizarre to me. As bizarre and stupid as that little Richard Hatch video thing was, the fact that I’m part of that lineage is unbelievable to me.
Holmes: That could be you some day. Naked on a beach.
Cochran: An incomprehensible video speech to pitch to some rambling Rudy. I don’t know what that was about. That reunion show? I’ve got to rewatch it. Living it was so bizarre.

Holmes: The worst part of your game was being a reporter who has to interview you the next day. Usually you ask about where things went wrong or why you made certain moves, but everything seemed pretty well documented. So, let’s try some “What if” questions. Erik went out first with his medical issue. What was the plan if he’d stuck around?
Cochran: It was to get rid of Eddie first. I thought Erik would still keep me around. I wasn’t sure if he’d keep Dawn or not. But after Brenda, I was inexplicably in everyone’s final three last night. It seemed like everyone wanted to take out Dawn. Nobody was talking about voting me out. We would’ve gone for Eddie, then Erik, and you’d get the same final three. Erik probably would have won that card-stacking immunity. And that would’ve been an immunity, not for the advantage. They converted it. But, he would have won that. Then we would’ve voted out Eddie.
Holmes: Could Erik have won at a final Tribal?
Cochran: I don’t think Erik would’ve won. I think Brenda would’ve had an OK shot at winning.
Holmes: Even if Erik went back-to-back in those last two immunities, I don’t think the jury would’ve given it to him. They seemed to respect strategy over challenge prowess.
Cochran: That’s the sense I got. Even Eddie, people said he would’ve had the Amigo votes, Andrea because of their relationship, Michael… Malcolm and Andrea wouldn’t have voted for Eddie. Reynold would have. And that weighed on my mind, he’d get at least one vote.

Holmes: Did you think Dawn could beat you?
Cochran: I thought Dawn could beat me. I didn’t go there thinking she’s a crazy, volatile lady that everybody hates. I knew people perceived her as paranoid and crying, but I thought of her as a legitimate threat. She played a super strong game.
Holmes: My thing with Dawn is, if you have a reputation as a player, people will respect you when you vote them out. If you act like you’re nice, they’ll get upset.
Cochran: Yeah. But some of that might be ageism. She’s an older woman, so I don’t know if there are maternal connotations. It’s different if your mother votes you off instead of your bratty, younger brother. Just the way Dawn connects with people is emotional. It stings more when she votes you off. I had good relationships with everyone, but we didn’t have these crying connections.

Holmes: Were there any big moves that we didn’t see?
Cochran: There were a couple of things where after I did them I thought, “Maybe I made a mistake.” Voting off Andrea, she would have gone to the end with me. And I think I would’ve beaten her. It would’ve been close. I voted out Andrea in order to keep Brenda who had no intention of going to the end with me. And I was wondering if that was a bad move.
Holmes: It worked out.
Cochran: Yeah, my rationalization was she had an idol and she wanted to keep Eddie. That freaked me out. And I shouldn’t be admitting this, because it shatters the illusion of me playing a magnificent game…
Holmes: Shatter away…
Cochran: At the merge, the most important vote was the Corinne vote. It wasn’t clear we were going to have the numbers. Andrea was going to talk to Eddie to get him on board, but she was called away for an interview. And it was at a point that we knew we were going to get called away for Tribal Council in the next ten minutes. I was terrified she wouldn’t get to talk to him. So I went to Eddie, not having spoken to him over the previous three days, and introduced myself and told him we were voting for Corinne. Malcolm saw me do this, Malcolm goes right up to Eddie. I see this intense conversation between them. That could’ve blown everything. Had Eddie ratted me out, Malcolm could have played the idol for Corinne and it would’ve been a disaster. That would’ve ruined my game.

Holmes: As you well know, we do word associations here…
Cochran: I haven’t planned anything for this. Damnit! I was so consumed with other things. I won’t have any clever things. You’ve got Malcolm with his big theatrical things….
Holmes: Malcolm is a filthy cheater, you’re not supposed to have anything prepared.
Cochran: I’m just going to legitimately do adjectives that come to mind.
Holmes: That’s what you’re supposed to do.
Cochran: I like that I’m admitting defeat by playing by the rules.
Holmes: Let’s start with Dawn.
Cochran: Dawn is wonderful. I do love Dawn.
Holmes: Phillip?
Cochran: Storyteller.
Holmes: Erik?
Cochran: I don’t even know…benign.
Holmes: Malcolm?
Cochran: Rivalry. Hatred, intense hatred. I love Malcolm too, but we have a joking feud with each other.
Holmes: Well, one of you has a million-dollar check.
Cochran: I know, but I still find myself jealous that he was fan favorite and I wasn’t even mentioned.
Holmes: Eddie?
Cochran: Goofball.
Holmes: Sherri?
Cochran: Intense.
Holmes: Brenda?
Cochran: Serene. And I want to go on the record, Phillip came up to me and asked what word would describe how calm Brenda is, and I said, “Serenity.” And then I see him walk over there and say,  “I’ve come up with a name for you.” Give me a break, can’t the intelligencia attaché get some credit?
Holmes: That’s another feather in your perfect game cap.
Cochran: (Laughs) Yes, I’ve also got a Stealth R Us nickname to my credit.
Holmes: Micheal?
Cochran: This is going to sound like a back-handed compliment, but he’s the most well-adjusted guy on the show.
Holmes: Andrea?
Cochran: Delightful. I like Andrea.

Holmes: The best part of all of this is, you can go back and play it Sandra style. “I’ve already won, you should take me to the end because they won’t give me another million bucks.”
Cochran: No, I think I’m done.
Holmes: What?
Cochran: We can joke about it being the perfect game, but I’m never going to do as well as I did this time. And, I don’t like the ten-month waiting period of filming the show and then waiting for it to air. I basically don’t function during those ten months.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

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