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Gordon Holmes: Hey guys, sorry to start the interview off like this, but I have to duck out for a second to get some water and some firewood. You guys wait here while I go do that..
Devon Pinto: (Laughs)
Mike Zahalsky: I’m going to follow you, and I’m going to get my own firewood, my own water, and hopefully I find the firewood in the right spot.
Holmes: I feel like you both have a ton of potential to be two-time players. What would your second chance look like?
Pinto: I wouldn’t do anything differently. I think I played the best game I possibly could have.
Zahalsky: Clearly I had some strategic errors in my game. I had this strategy going in and it went out the window, literally the first minute of the game. When Joe put a target on my back. You saw it. You never think you’re going to be on the bottom within the first three minutes of “Survivor.” I was struggling to get back on top. When Jessica got blindsided, it blindsided me as well. She was my biggest ally. I think my biggest change would be to get on top and stay there. (Laughs)
Holmes: That works.
Holmes: Last night it comes down to Chrissy being in control and winning immunities vs. Ben who was able to hustle and take advantage of idols and twists. Why do you think the jury rewarded Ben?
Zahalsky: Honestly Gordon, I think Devon and myself were controlling the game. The edit is the edit, but Devon and I were silently in the background controlling the game. If Chrissy hadn’t won immunity, she was going home. If Ben didn’t have an idol, he was going home. But they kept pulling it out. We had to change to orchestrate things differently. Now wait, what was the question?
Holmes: Forget the question. This is all news to me.
Holmes: Devon, do you agree that it was the Devon and Mike show out there?
Pinto: Oh yeah, Mike and I were talking the whole game. Some of my best strategy talks were with Mike. It’s true. I was looking to get Chrissy and Ben out much earlier. There was just never the opportunity.
Holmes: At final five, did Ben tip you off at all that he was going to vote for you?
Holmes: Mike, you seemed very confident that you would have won at final three. What would have been your argument?
Zahalsky: There were three Healers on the jury, and they’re probably voting for me regardless. We had such a good time in the nine days without going to Tribal. All I needed was one more vote. And you need to win the jury’s respect. They want to think you’re this amazing “Survivor” player, but they also want to respect you and feel like they have a connection with you that transcends the game. Devon probably would’ve been my hardest competition. If I made it to the final three he had this fantastic game. But if I made it with Chrissy and Ryan I would’ve won. The same with Devon, I think he’d win against them too. But a Devon, Ben, Mike final three? I don’t know who would’ve won.
Pinto: That would’ve been a wild one.
Holmes: Ben managed to stick around for four consecutive Tribal Councils where the majority wanted him gone. As a jury member do you respect the hustle with which he got the idols? Did you value idols more than immunity wins?
Pinto: For me? No, I value immunity way more than idols. He worked hard to look for them, but it came down to luck.
Zahalsky: I valued them the same, that’s why I voted for Chrissy. She had four and he had three. Ben went from the top to the bottom and never worked his way back up. Chrissy went from the top to the bottom to the top.
Holmes: That’s a very interesting point.
Zahalsky: And Chrissy took me on that family reward. I felt like I should reward her for that.
Holmes: Devon, you say you appreciated immunity wins over idols, then why the vote for Ryan?
Pinto: That came down to my word. I’d promised Ryan that I wouldn’t write his name down unless he made it to the finals. And he said the same to me. I strongly believe he would’ve kept his word.
Holmes: Chrissy wins an immunity challenge and the jury hears about it. Ben plays an idol and they get to witness it. Does that have an effect on the jury?
Zahalsky: I haven’t heard that before, but it’s interesting. When I threw the idol in the fire I was putting on a show for the jury. That’s what Ben was doing with his Ben Bombs. And clearly it worked because he won the game. I said “I’ve been waiting to do this for fifteen years.” But, apparently there haven’t been idols for fifteen years. I’m just a “Survivor” fan, I’m not a “Survivor” super fan.
Holmes: We’re in the same boat. I love the show, but I can’t remember the facts the way Ryan can.
Zahalsky: You ask Ryan who was the first person to get voted out in season seven, he can tell you the name and the immunity challenge. That’s great, but I’m just going to watch the show.
Holmes: Devon, I’ve asked a lot of people about your game because I thought you were playing a great, low-key game. How intentional was it that you played up the laid-back surfer angle?
Pinto: That was my gameplan since day one. I wanted to play that perception of me up, because I get that a lot. I wanted people to underestimate me and not see me as a threat.
Holmes: You’re young, you’re fit…but you didn’t win a single immunity challenge. You even stepped down from one. Were you holding back or were those challenges just not your cup of tea?
Pinto: No, I wasn’t holding back. Those challenges are harder than I could’ve imagined. They look so simple on TV, but when you’re out there participating you’ve got no energy, you’re starving, it’s a whole other ballpark.
Holmes: Was there anything that happened out there that you wish we would’ve seen?
Zahalsky: You figure out who you really are when you’re stripped to nothing. And I think I’m a happy, funny, nice guy. I think that was portrayed really well. What you didn’t see is Devon and I got to share one of the most incredible experiences when we were looking for the idol, we found baby turtles.
Pinto: That was beautiful.
Zahalsky: We saved 22 baby turtles that day.