'Controversy is a part of the win': Survivor: Edge of Extinction winner Chris Underwood on that shocking upset

"I knew I had to take a really big swing and it wasn’t just make contact – it was hit a home run." - Chris Underwood on his controversial win on this season's Survivor: Edge of Extinction. Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment

Share Adjust Comment Print

Call it historical or call it a scandal. Regardless, it was 25-year-old district sales manager Chris Underwood who solidified an unprecedented win during the finale of Survivor: Edge of Extinction on Wednesday night to not only secure the esteemed title of sole survivor but the coveted $1-million prize as well.

As the first player to ever win after previously being voted out of the game, Underwood pulled out a jaw-dropping victory after becoming the third player cut from his Manu tribe due to a painful blindside on just Day 8.

For 28 days, the South Carolina-based businessman reflected on his short time in the game and prayed for an opportunity to get off Extinction Island to re-enter it. Finally, on Day 35, he was given the chance after fighting head-to-head with some of the season’s most notorious competitors.

“I really had to come to terms with losing before I could come to terms with winning,” the Season 38 winner said the day after his surprising triumph.

“My time on the Edge of Extinction taught me a lot about myself. I came in pretty hot-headed and confident with a lot of pressure. Having 28 days of self-reflection really influenced my gameplay back in the game. And influenced me winning my way back into the game beside the most stacked competitors. It helped me let go.”

Upon returning to the Fijian beach, the pressure was on for Underwood who knew he had a lot of ground and time to make up heading into finale night in order to prove to the jury that he deserved the title.

After winning the final immunity necklace, just to dramatically give up its power at tribal council to make fire against the season’s most well-respected player, Chris quickly demonstrated to the jury and the viewers at home why his strategic moves were enough to earn the 9-4-0 vote that inevitably crowned him the sole survivor.

“My Survivor experience definitely came full circle. I was completely blindsided and had to come to terms with that. I had a lot of time out there to be okay with losing, and then at the same time coming up with a game-plan of how to win if I did get back in,” he said.

“When I did end up winning my way back in, I knew I had to take a really big swing and it wasn’t just make contact — it was hit a home run. I really tried to play a very aggressive game and it ended up paying off.”

Underwood’s polarizing game has some Survivor fans rattled as the mission to outwit, outplay and outlast took new form with Chris’ lengthy stay on the Edge of Extinction. But the 25-year-old champion says he’s happy he made history, while being a $1-million representation of how the game has evolved since it first premiered nearly two decades ago.

“I love that controversy is a part of the win. I’m totally okay with that. I can hang my hat up knowing there’s nothing else I could have done and anything less wouldn’t have been enough,” he said.

“The crazy thing is, we’re 38 seasons in. This isn’t season 6 anymore with no tribe swaps and hidden immunity idols. The game is evolving and adapting and I did everything I could with what I had.”

While Chris and his family walked away smiling on finale night, it was 23-year-old Gavin Whitson and 46-year-old Julie Rosenberg who were stumped by their runner-up positions, especially after showing that they both had what it took to make it 39 days without ever stepping foot on Extinction Island.

“It wasn’t the end result of what I was hoping for, but that’s the game. I thought that it was going to be either me or Julie based on the fact that we had survived 39 days. If I was on the jury, I would have voted for somebody who played that classic Survivor game. Once I got into the final tribal council, I could see the way people were rallying for Chris,” said Gavin.

“But I’m just so grateful to have had the whole opportunity and the fact that I made it the full 39 days. I’m proud of what I did. I would have liked to win, but it is what it is,” Julie added.

The next edition of Survivor — dubbed Island of the Idols — will premiere this fall.

samomaryleona@gmail.com

Comments