‘Survivor’ Sandra: “If I Can Get to Day 4, I’ll Be There at Day 39”

Sandra Diaz-Twine (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Game Changers.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire 20-person cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Name: Sandra Diaz-Twine
Age: 41
Hometown: Fayetteville, N.C.
Previously Played On:
“Survivor: Pearl Islands” – Winner
“Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” – Winner
Best Known For: Being “Survivor’s” only two-time winner, burning hats.

Gordon Holmes: I remember the first time a winner was brought back in “Survivor: All-Stars,” and I said to myself, “There is no way a jury will ever let someone win twice.”
Sandra Diaz-Twine: Thank God that they did. That’s why I want to vote off JT and Tony so I can be the only two-time winner ever. There can’t be another king or queen. The queen stays the queen.

Holmes: It’s odd to me to have you back now. Because this isn’t really an All-Star season, and in my book, you’re the top of the list. You bring Sandra back when you mean business.
Diaz-Twine: Well, thank you.
Holmes: Is it weird to be back?
Diaz-Twine: It is, because when they told me it was “Game Changers” I looked around…and for instance…Hali Ford? I didn’t even know who that was. How is she a game changer? Sarah? How is she a game changer? Sierra Thomas? I don’t know the history of these two new players, which I don’t like not knowing what they’re all about. I don’t think it’s fair. We’re all an open book, people know our games and our strategies. And now we have two people…we don’t know anything about them. But, I’m scratching my head when there are people here who aren’t game changers and we have other people who could fill those shoes.

Holmes: In “Heroes vs. Villains” you had to play with an unknown quantity in Russell Hantz. How do you approach Michaela and Zeke when you get out there?
Diaz-Twine: I think these two players are not going to go far, just because of the fear that they might become another Russell. We don’t know what it is about them that makes them game changers. And I don’t think anyone is going to let them go too far in the game. They have to go home immediately.

Holmes: If someone didn’t watch “Survivor,” how would you describe how you’ve changed the game?
Diaz-Twine: I think my game has always been simple, “As long as it’s not me, I don’t care who goes home.” It’s pretty basic. People make it more than it is. It’s simple. Self-preservation is number one. My alliance is to myself and my family. Other people, they go off on, “I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do that.” As long as it’s not you, vote out whoever has to get voted off. If you’re in a bad spot, be glad that you’re still there. Be positive, and then tomorrow you can change things up.

Holmes: As the game’s only two-time winner, is there any concern that a loss could harm your legacy?
Diaz-Twine: I’m not worried about my legacy. If I can make it through the first Tribal Council, even if my tribe wins immunity, I’ve completed my first mission which is to not be voted out first. If I can get to day 4, I’ll be there at day 39. No doubt in my mind.

Holmes: Alright, let’s get you ready to survive day three.
Diaz-Twine: OK.
Holmes: I’m going to give you an argument that someone could use to get rid of you. I’d like you to counter it.
Diaz-Twine: Alright.
Holmes: Sandra’s a two-time champ. I don’t want her being a three-time champ at my expense.
Diaz-Twine: I won’t be a three-time champ. Who here would give me another million dollars? I’m the perfect person to sit next to because you don’t have to worry about how many votes I’m going to get. You only have to worry about the other person in the final three.
Holmes: Russell Hantz took Sandra to the end for the exact same reason and all he ended up with was another runner-up medal.
Diaz-Twine: That’s (expletive deleted). Russell had to take me to the final three because I told him, “If you don’t take me to the final three, I’ll vote for Jerri.” Then he started to do the math in his head. Jerri was going to have Coach’s vote, Rupert’s vote, my vote, and Colby’s vote. He had already lost. He didn’t have a choice. See, people don’t know the things I say to put myself in those situations. I told Russell, if you can take me to the merge, I’ll give you my million-dollar vote. That’s all I had to say. Courtney went home and I stayed. Then when it was time for me to go home and he was being an (expletive deleted) about it, he was saying, “I don’t know if it should be you or Jerri.” I told him if he got rid of me, I’d vote for Jerri and he just freaking lost.

Holmes: Sandra isn’t the strongest in challenges. Let’s get rid of her now and we won’t have to worry about her after the merge when she can blend in.
Diaz-Twine: There are so many people on “Survivor” who have never won a challenge. I want to be with the alpha males. Those guys, everybody loves them when they’re on a tribe. Once we get to the merge they want to take out the strongest of the alpha males. The weak outnumber the strong. That’s why I’m going to pledge my loyalty to that person. You take care of me in the beginning, and I’ll take care of you in the end. I don’t care who I’m sitting with in the end. I don’t care if it’s two alpha males. Ozzy’s playing for the fourth time. He knows what it’s like to be an alpha male and then get voted off. Malcolm, three times. Now we’ve got Troyzan and Culpepper. Those are the only four I think are alphas. JT’s not an alpha, Tony’s not an alpha. Those are the four. If I can just get in the ear of two of them and tell them, “You take care of me, I’ll take care of you.” They have to take care of me first, but when push comes to shove I won’t betray them.

Holmes: There are four people here from Kaoh Rong. What are your thoughts on that?
Diaz-Twine: Every time there’s a returning season…Amber won “All-Stars” because there were five players from “Australia.” Parvati won “Micronesia” and there were three from “Cook Islands.” In “Caramoan” Cochran won and there were three from “South Pacific.” Dawn went to the final three with him. And in “Second Chance” there were three people from “Cagayan” and Spencer and Tasha got to final three. If we don’t split up these four people, two of them will be in the final three.

Holmes: What do you think of this cast?
Diaz-Twine: Nobody here scares me. Either they’re going to send me home first because of who I am, or I’m going to get to the end and take them out one-by-one.
Holmes: Aside from the alpha males, is there anyone else you’re looking forward to working with?
Diaz-Twine: Definitely the alphas, although I’m worried about Malcolm. When I was doing my research, I was talking (expletive deleted) about him a couple of years ago. I didn’t even remember it. I said he wasn’t all that. I hope he didn’t do his homework. Culpepper, I want to work with him. I think players who are my age understand me more. Troyzan…if I can get my foot in the door, I think I could be solid with these guys. And they can kill it at the challenges and not worry about me. I can be their eyes and ears. I like Debbie. I don’t think her and Aubry are on speaking terms. We can pit Debbie against Aubry.
Holmes: Any early targets?
Diaz-Twine: Cirie, I want her gone. She was talking (expletive deleted) about me…which was the same thing I was doing to Malcolm. She was saying I didn’t deserve to win the first time, much less the second. She needs to go home, I don’t even know why she’s here. Why do they compare her to me all the time? We’re not the same. I don’t think we’ll be on the same tribe. Aubry’s a target too. She did really, really good last year. She’s got to go home. But, it all depends on who’s on my tribe. I’m guessing there will be two from Kaoh Rong on each tribe. Aubry can go home first. Tai, after we throw him in a tree and he can get us some bananas, he can go home too. He’s a blabbermouth. You need to give him as a little information as possible.

Holmes: With returnee season, there’s always talk of pre-season alliances. Are you a part of any?
Diaz-Twine: No, but those four just got off their season! There’s no way they don’t talk.
Holmes: You’re not allowed to talk because you’re in lockdown. But, people smile and wink. Have you been doing any of that? Have you caught anyone doing it?
Diaz-Twine: I think for the most part, everyone smiles and winks and tries to get a nod. But, if anyone is together, just my suspicion…yeah, Tony got rid of Sarah. But years have come and gone. They had to have talked. Same for Ozzy and Cirie, Cirie voted him out. You build friendships over the years, but there’s got to be a thing where, “I’ve got to get her before she gets me.” The paranoia is there. Like JT and Cirie, Ozzy and Cirie, Debbie and Aubry.
Holmes: What’s your relationship with JT like?
Diaz-Twine: I can’t forgive and I can’t forget because at the end of the day, he gave Russell the immunity idol to get rid of Parvati or Sandra. He didn’t give me a chance. So, if anything, he has to mend fences. I thought, I don’t care when I go home as long as Russell goes first. That’s all I wanted and look what happened.

Holmes: If there are any twists, any guesses as to what they could be?
Diaz-Twine: I don’t know, but that’s why we need to go after Kaoh Rong first. If there’s a Tribal swap after the second Tribal Council and those people are together? It has to happen and it has to happen fast.

Holmes: Alright, I’ll give you a twist. You tell me if it’s awesome or awful. Hidden immunity idols.
Diaz-Twine: Awesome.
Holmes: Redemption Island?
Diaz-Twine: Awful.
Holmes: Exile Island?
Diaz-Twine: Awful.
Holmes: The Medallion of Power?
Diaz-Twine: Awesome!
Holmes: (Silence)
Diaz-Twine: What?
Holmes: Sorry. Extra votes?
Diaz-Twine: Awesome.
Holmes: Stealing a vote?
Diaz-Twine: Awesome.
Holmes: Eliminating a juror?
Diaz-Twine: Awesome.

Holmes: Alright, I have a deck of cards with your opponents in it. Everyone is there except for Michaela and Zeke because we don’t know them. I’ll hand you three at random. You tell me who you’re voting out first, who you’re working with but eventually eliminating, and who you’ll take to the end.

Round One: Caleb, Debbie, and Andrea
Diaz-Twine: Let’s vote out Debbie first because we need Caleb to be the strong physical male. I’ll align with Andrea because she knows what it’s like to be voted off. She’ll be an asset. And I’ll take Caleb to the end, because he’s an alpha male. I didn’t like any of those cards.
Holmes: We don’t always like the cards life deals us, Sandra.
Diaz-Twine: I know.

Round Two: Sarah, Ozzy, and JT
Diaz-Twine: I’m voting Sarah out. She’s friends with Russell…and so is Caleb. They’ve got to go. They called him for advice, so I don’t give two (expletive deleted) about them. JT I would align with. We’re both winners, he’ll look out for me, I’ll look out for him. But, I want to be the only two-time winner, so eventually he’d have to be voted off. And Ozzy is my ideal final three.
Holmes: Can you beat him?
Diaz-Twine: No, but I just want to be there on day 39.

Round Three: Tai, Jeff, and Cirie
Diaz-Twine: Cirie is first out. I can’t stand Cirie. Tai…I would align with. I think he’s naïve to the game. He has a good heart. I could work with him. He could feed me. But Jeff deserves to go to the end because he’s funny.

Round Four: Malcolm, Hali, and Troyzan
Diaz-Twine: (Expletive deleted). Hali can get voted off. We don’t know too much about her. She really shouldn’t be here anyways. Malcolm and Troyzan…these are my guys. I want final three with one of these guys or even both. I want to be with alpha males. But I think Malcolm deserves it more. He’s put a lot of work into the game. I’ll take him to the end.

Round Five: Aubry, Brad, and Ciera.
Diaz-Twine: Aubry can go home and you know why. Ciera I could work with. She’s a wild card, if she doesn’t like something, she won’t put up with it. So we could work together briefly. People hold it against her because she voted out her mom, so they feel she’s not trustworthy. Brad’s one of my alpha males. Take him to the end.

Holmes: We’ve got two left. Work with one and eliminate the other.

Round Six: Tony and Sierra
Diaz-Twine: Tony’s gotta go. I want to be the only two-time winner. I’ll work with Sierra. I actually like this chick. I like her build, her physique. I think she’s a strong female. I don’t have no problems with her.

Diaz-Twine: Do you think I can win this thing?
Holmes: Like I said, I never thought anyone would win twice.
Diaz-Twine: If I can get to the end with the right jury.
Holmes: I’d never count you out.
Diaz-Twine: You think I’ve got skills?
Holmes: If I were playing, I could make a case for keeping you around. There’s a very devil-you-know kind of air about you.
Diaz-Twine: I wanna do some new things though. I want to find an idol, then make my own fake idol. A really nice one. Then wrap that (expletive deleted) up with the rules. I don’t know if I could keep a straight face if someone played it. Or, if someone’s going home and I hate them, I’m not even going to whisper. I’m going to be talking (expletive deleted) while I’m voting. “(Expletive deleted), you! You’re going home and I’m not.” Or, “I’m not going home, and this idol is the reason I’m not going home. I hate you both equally. I don’t know which of you to vote for. So…eenie, meenie, minny mo…” They’ll be freaking out. Maybe they’ll change their votes. What do you think?
Holmes: I’ve always thought, what do you do when you’re out of options? Do you try one of these outside-of-the-box moves or regret not trying.
Diaz-Twine: If I had an idol, I’d walk over to Jeff and if they’re smirking and laughing, then I know they didn’t vote for me and they want me to use the idol. But if they’re looking at me like, “Oh (expletive deleted),” then I know I need to use it. If I see Tony over in the woods looking for an idol, I’m going to say, “Hey! Tony has a clue!” He might and he might not.
Holmes: You’re amazing.
Diaz-Twine: People think I’m a dummy and I’m not. I’m here to defend my title. I’m here to get to day 39 and show them that the queen stays the queen. I hope JT listens to me this time. I don’t think my game is a nasty game. It’s about self-preservation.
Holmes: Well, you might burn a hat or two…
Diaz-Twine: Well, Russell was a (expletive deleted) (expletive deleted).

Don’t miss the two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers,” Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.

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

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