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Congrats to Bob Crowley!

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INTERVIEW: Bob Crowley, Survivor Gabon Winner Teaches Tribe

He dominated the final immunity challenges, and last night,

the tribe rewarded 57-year old Bob Crowley as winner of "Survivor: Gabon.

The Maine high school teacher joins us for our Survivor Spotlight.

An interview with Bob:

Nice Guy Survivor Shares Secrets of Success

The nice guy finished last, and he couldn't be happier.

"Because in Survivor, you want to be the last one," said Bob Crowley, talking by phone with the morning after he won Survivor: Gabon. "You don't want to be the first one."

The high school physics teacher from Portland, Maine, stayed in the game by making himself useful to other contestants, being friendly to everyone, and at one point constructing a false idol. Host Jeff Probst called him one of the most likable winners in the show's history.

The winner was revealed in California, but Crowley arrived New York Monday morning for talk show appearances. He squeezed in a phone call with us to talk about his strategy, his competition, and how he hopes to work with the Red Cross now that he's won. How are you feeling? The last few hours must have been amazing.
Bob: The last 24 have been just a whirlwind. I'm still sort of on a high from winning the show and then Brett (Gold, a CBS representative) dragged me right out of the show. I got to kiss my wife once and then I've been hanging out with him on the plane and hanging out like some celebrity. You mentioned on last night's show that your students had a test this morning.
Bob: My students are taking a test this morning, theoretically. There's a difference in theory and practice. I've gotten about four text messages: Mr. Crowley, if you win, do we have to take the test? I wouldn't be surprised if I got back and the test was still on my desk. They'll probably get my substitute to turn on the Regis show rather than take the test. So you've been in touch with your students recently when did you come back from Gabon?
Bob: I've been in school all fall. I got back from Gabon in the first week in August, so I had to start school without even disclosing where I was, even though there were a lot of rumors. And then of course I haven't been able to tell them what I knew of the show until now.

TVGuide: Has there been any downside to all this?
Bob: The only downside is my wife is now on the West Coast and I'm on the East Coast. I'd kind of like to celebrate with her but it's kind of hard to do. ... But I haven't seen the downside yet. When were you pretty confident you had the votes?
Bob: I knew that I had three. I knew I had Corinne, Charlie and Marcus. I was sure that I didn't have Kenny and Crystal. Matty I thought I might have, and Randy was sort of the swing vote. I thought I might've had him but until they turned the vote over I honestly had no idea. And I refused myself to even hope that he would vote for me. I had to take it one day at a time and there were a lot of days I had to take at a time. When you first got there, who did you think was the strongest competitor? Besides yourself.
Bob: I had no idea that I'd be able to get as far as I did. I think people like Marcus, Charlie, Matty definitely, Dan definitely had the potential. There were a lot of Ace I knew people like Ace were at risk because he started strategizing and planning right off. And I'd watched enough of the shows, historically, to know that's not a good thing to do. In this show it was definite. Anybody that was out there looking to strategize, to control, to manipulate, they got shut down. Unless you did it like Kenny did it. He had me completely fooled. He was playing so far under the radar and strategizing very well. But people like Jacquie, Jacquie didn't even make the jury. And she's an incredible athlete, very bright, and definitely had the potential for a winner. You're the oldest person ever to win Survivor. Do you feel like you're an inspiration to older people not? Not that 57 is even old.
Bob: That was very politically correct. Actually I know I am. I know I'm an inspiration. These people are so excited. I'm gonna be two years from 60 in February and I know I'm an inspiration. I'm pretty proud of that. I think I'll get people excited to apply for the show and hopefully follow in my footsteps. There was a lot of talk before the jury about whether winners would do something charitable with the money. Do you know what you'll do?
Bob: The first thing that came to mind was just bringing my wife to Africa, which is not charitable. I think it's more important that I spend my time and my energy helping people and what I'd like to do is I've been planning this almost from the beginning because I've been to Africa I can't give blood anymore, and so I'd like to work with the Red Cross. And because there's so many Survivor fans out there, I'd like to encourage people especially now that it's Christmas time and they have a hard time collecting blood. When I get home I'm going to call the Red Cross and ask them what I can do to help them increase the blood collection. And what I thought I'd do is go to blood collecting sites and sign autographs for people who have given blood. Anything to add?
Bob: Only to not hang the phone up too loudly, because I'm living a dream and I don't want you to wake me up.


An interview with Bob:

Exclusive: Robert 'Bob' Crowley dishes about his 'Survivor: Gabon' win

Robert "Bob" Crowley hardly seemed like the favorite to "outwit, outlast and outplay" his seventeen fellow Survivor: Gabon castaways when the reality competition began. In fact, the 57-year-old physics teacher from South Portland, ME, commanded so little attention during Survivor: Gabon's early rounds that he was known more for his lengthy naps than his gameplay.

However, after 39 days in which he crafted two show-quality fake Immunity Idols, won five straight challenges, and triumphed in a tie-breaker challenge that allowed him to stave off elimination and make the season's Top 3, Bob benefited from having several former allies on the jury and became the oldest champion in Survivor history.

On Monday, Bob spoke to Reality TV World about how he had pulled off his improbable win, what he deemed a "huge mistake" on his part that could have cost him the game, and how surprising his weight loss numbers (or lack thereof) were to him following his 39 days in Gabon.

Reality TV World: Congratulations on the win last night.

Bob: Thank you very much.

Reality TV World: I know you mentioned your plan had been to fly under the radar, but did you think that, given how much older you were than most of the other contestants, you had any chance of ending up as the winner?

Bob: Well, I knew I was flying under the radar, I just assumed I'd hit a tree at some point.

I can remember going on and thinking "I just want to not be the first one voted off," then I wanted to make the jury, then I wanted to make at least fifth so I could tie [Survivor: Vanautu contestant] Julie Berry, who was a student of mine. Then I got greedy...

Reality TV World: Well it paid off. Based on your comments on the finale, you seemed as surprised as anyone that [Jessica "Sugar Kiper] was willing to force a tie and take you to the Final 3.  When did you realize that you'd apparently managed to form that close a relationship with her?

Bob: Actually just within days of that occurring. I realized that she had, previous to that, offered me the [Immunity Idol] that she gave to [Matty Whitmore]. Actually, when I gave Randy the [fake] idol, she said "I'll have your back," and I didn't realize she had the [Immunity Idol]. But it was only within days of the end that I really realized that I'd made such an impression on her.

Reality TV World:  If any challenge would have seemed to be geared toward a physics teacher, it would seem to have been that "house of cards" challenge.  Can you explain why you seemed to do the worst of anyone on it?  Were you just "over-engineering" your structure?

Bob: I know the theory, it's just the practice that get's to me. The interesting thing is -- which I don't think came out -- was that [Susie Smith] was the daughter of a poor migrant family. They didn't have toys as kids, they just had decks of cards. Every Sunday, she said, that they would sit down as kids and play that game with cards.

I never remember playing that. I knew in theory how it worked, but for the life of me I couldn't seem to get it done.

Reality TV World: You seemed to get pretty frustrated at Susie after she won the challenge and asked you if you thought you'd win the jury vote.  Why'd you get so upset?

Bob: Well after that I realized that I was that I'd made it to the Final 4, and I wasn't gonna make it [to the Final 3] and I assumed I was going to be the next one voted off. Susie -- as much as I love her, she's a wonderful woman -- was continually asking me questions and grilling me, and I knew I was going home. I knew that there was no way I would stay.

That was before Sugar suggested that she might force a tie because she essentially wanted to give both [Matty Whitmore] and I equal chance of getting to the Final 3.

Reality TV World: Did you realize [at the time] that, much like what happened, if you made it to the Final 3 that you had four former allies on the jury and were basically a shoo-in [to win]?

Bob: There was no shoo-in. I had three former allies. [Randy Bailey] was a floater. I had no idea until Jeff turned the card around how Randy voted, and I'm sure the last card he turned around was Randy's, you can tell by the handwriting.

[Survivor: Gabon host Jeff Probst] knew that I knew that, and that's why he tortured me for... how long did he hold that [card]? A half-hour or 45 minutes? (laughs)

Reality TV World: Did you have any idea Susie was apparently open to sending Sugar home instead of you?

Bob: No, I wasn't.

Reality TV World: Oh, well when we talked to her this morning, she claimed that it was something she had considering, so you hadn't [known] about that while you were there?

Bob: No.

Reality TV World: Sugar said that she wanted to leave things up to "chance" or "fate" by forcing that Tribal Council tie, but did you feel like you had something of a head's up and an advantage because you were able to go and practice [your firestarting] while Matty didn't?

Bob: Yeah. Yes I did, and I think the reason why Sugar did that was she was afraid that if she told Matty that Matty may have done something differently and voted for her. If [Matty and Susie Smith] both voted for her, than she would've gone out. Sugar played an incredibly good game, she flew under the radar in between the trees.

Reality TV World: Going off of how Sugar played the game, based on her actions and jury comments during the last few days it almost seemed like she basically playing for you those last few days. Did it seem that way to you?

Bob: Oh without a doubt. She understood that she didn't have a chance against anybody there -- Matty or Susie or me -- because, for some reason or another I don't entirely understand, people were so upset with her. But she just really annoyed some people and she knew that she really didn't have a chance to get any votes.

Reality TV World: Did Sugar ever explain why, if she thought she couldn't beat anyone [that she ended up in the Final 4 with], she decided to turn her back on [Crystal Cox] and Kenny and ally with you and Matty instead?

Bob: There was a connection that was made, and I think she summed it up in four words: it felt like Matty was her brother and I was her father, and she just wanted to leave it up to the "fire gods" to make the decision because it was like a cruel "Sophie's Choice."

Reality TV World: A couple of the [other castaways] we've talked to have kinda vaguely implied that they believed Sugar and yourself had already established some kind of relationship before the game began.  Do you know what they're talking about?

[CBS declined to allow Bob to answer this question]

Reality TV World: Do you believe Randy's claim that his jury vote came down to the fact that Susie had chided him for carrying on about the cookie thing is true?

Bob: I have no doubt in my mind that that's true. It's a funny game and if you slight somebody... and that's one of the slights that occurred. I can't believe that overwhelmed my [fake] Immunity Idol, but apparently it did.

Reality TV World: Based on what viewers saw of them on the show and their post-elimination behavior in the Ponderosa videos on CBS' website, [Marcus Lehman], [Corinne Kaplan] and [Charlie Herschel] really seemed to have a high school cool kid [clique] attitude to them -- they talked about [the game was like high school all over again] they described and the Fang folks as "mutant losers." I know they all voted for you, but were you  surprised that some of the people in the game [basically seemed to be] acting like some of your high school students?

Bob: Yeah, I was. But its also a lot of pressure during the game. I think Randy said it best: it makes good people bad and bad people worse.

It's a tough game, and it can bring out the worst in you if you're not careful.

Reality TV World: After going through all the trouble of creating that first fake idol, why did you then turn around and almost immediately tell Sugar you'd created a fake idol instead of [following through with what seemed to be] your original plan [and] subtly letting someone know you had it but have them think it was real?

Bob: That should have been a huge mistake on my part. What happened is I came back to camp [from Exile] and Charlie said to me [that we had to swing Sugar and needed her vote] to sorta get control of what was going on, and he knew that I was the only one that Sugar kind of connected with.

In an attempt to show her that I was being honest with her, she asked if I'd [found] the idol. [I said I hadn't found the idol], and in hindsight it irritated me when I did it, but in order to gain her trust I said "No I didn't find the idol but I made this fake one." I thought at the time that it was a real bad move, but in hindsight it actually worked well on my behalf.

It was just a case of trying to win her trust, and apparently it did. I didn't realize it because she had clocked one of my alliances.

Reality TV World: It seemed pretty obvious from the show that Sugar's whole goal with getting Randy to play the fake idol was to publicly humiliate Randy so why were you so surprised about the way she ended up acting at Tribal Council?

Bob: I gave Randy the idol because it was extremely clear to me that I was gonna go that week if not Randy. At least that was my interpretation while I was there at camp [and] my attempt to stay on one more week. That worked.

Reality TV World: But what annoyed you the most about [how Sugar acted]?

Bob: Both she and Crystal were extremely cruel to Randy. It went beyond what they showed. I don't mind giving him the idol to save myself, but I just cannot stand cruelty and, even though Randy had given both of them a hard time and there was an unpleasant hatred between the three of them, I just didn't want to be part of being cruel to somebody and kicking them when they are down.

Reality TV World: It looked like you lost a lot of weight and had thinned out by the end of the game -- how much weight did you end up losing?

Bob: (Laughs) When I got on the scale at the end of the show the doctor said to me she said,"Oh my God Bobby, you've lost 7 kilograms -- that's [15] full pounds." And I looked to myself and said "I haven't lost 15 lbs." and [the doctor] goes "Look, you were 70.9 kilograms before the show and now you're 70.2." I said "That's a pound and a half," and she said "Oh yeah." Which is what they had documented.

I lost 1.5 lbs., but they weighed me with my pants and my tools on at the beginning of the show, and they weighed me in my underwear at the end of the show and my pants weigh 4 lbs. So I actually gained 2.5 lbs. during the show.

Reality TV World: Wow, that's news to me...

Bob: (Laughs) Are you implying that I'm a scrawny, little...

Reality TV World: ...I'm not implying anything (laugh)

Bob: That's what I look like normally, but if I ever play Survivor again my wife has made me promise that I won't take my shirt off! (laughs)

Reality TV World: During last night's finale, Kenny was shown making some confessional in which he claimed he'd made up the deal in which you'd promised to give him the idol if you thought he was in danger, but you had seemed to verify it was a real deal during one of your Tribal Council visits.  Was the revised immunity idol deal real or not?

Bob: It had been revised. When we were at the gorilla sanctuary I began to realize that Kenny may not be a trustworthy player, and I suggested to him that it wasn't gonna help him if I gave him the [Immunity Idol] the next time I got it if he wasn't in danger, and I said "How about when I feel you are in danger, if you need it, ask me and I'll give it to you and that will go beyond the next challenge.

Then he tried to say that "whenever" I won it that [I would give it to him] forever, and I said "No, it'll only be for when I think you're in danger," and that gave me time enough to realize, well, time enough for Sugar to tell me that he was thinking of blindsiding me. And as soon as I was aware that he had told her that he wanted to make me look like the stupidest survivor ever, I explained to him that there's a little disclaimer at the bottom of any contract I make: If I offer to cover your back, and you use my covering your back to stab me in the back, all bets are off.

If you wanna [say I have] a lack of integrity, so be it. I was actually surprised that he really didn't seem to get the fact that he could lie and deceive and cheat, but when anyone else even approached that -- me -- that he was absolutely incensed that I would not stand up to my word when he obviously was not one who stood up to his.

Reality TV World: Kenny had Marcus had throw the Immunity Idol away, and also just seen Randy play the first fake idol that you'd created only three days earlier, [so] were you surprised how easily he still fell for your [second fake idol] story?

Bob: Well don't forget, Marcus was a long way out in the water. If I had been Marcus, you'd better bet your bottom dollar that the idol would not be part of that bottle when it went out, and I'm surprised Marcus wasn't sharp enough to do that himself.

The [Immunity Idol] is worth nothing, in my opinion, if everybody knew you had it. It's worth a huge amount if you have it and nobody knows it. That's why nobody was really interested in grabbing it while everyone was watching.

So... where was I going with that, what was the original question?

Reality TV World: Just if you were surprised that Kenny had fallen for your story so easily.

Bob: Hey, c'mon it's a great story! (laughs)

Corinne was one of the brightest people out there -- well, technically I guess [based on the IQ tests] it was Randy and Marcus. Corinne's a real sharp character and she fell for hit hook, line and sinker and it actually made a lot of sense. (Sarcastically) I actually almost convinced myself, I was gonna keep the idol and use it myself.

Jeff would've fallen for it too.

Reality TV World: You referenced it before that you had taught [former Survivor: Vanautu contestant and Jeff Probst ex-girlfriend Julie Berry] when she was in high school.

Bob: Correct.

Reality TV World: Did you get a chance to get any advice from her before going on the show?

Bob: I actually haven't talked to her since she graduated from high school. Oh God that must be about ten years ago.  So, long answer, no.

Reality TV World: How were you cast on the show?  Was it the first time you had applied?

Bob: Yes.

Reality TV World: Did you just apply normally?

Bob: sent in the application and I made the video. I made a really cool video.


An interview with Bob:

Exclusive Interview: Bob Crowley, Winner of 'Survivor: Gabon'

On last night's season finale of Survivor: Gabon, Bob Crowley was named the winner, picking up 4 votes in the final tribal council to defeat Susie Smith, who earned 3 votes.  Jessica "Sugar" Kiper, who was the third finalist, did not earn a single vote.  Bob had several close calls this season, and was often the target for elimination, but he pulled out win after win in individual immunity challenges.  His most crucial was a tie-breaking fire making challenge at the second to last tribal council on last night's episode.  At the reunion show, he found out that he was not only the winner, but fan favorite, and picked up an extra $100,000 on top of his $1 million grand prize.  Today, he spoke to BuddyTV in an exclusive interview.

Tell me what this day has been like for you today.

Tell me what day it is! Right after they read the last vote and I got to run down to my wife and kids, this evil, mean man from New York City grabbed a hold of me and took off with me and I have been doing interviews since then. I've been riding in a limousine around New York City, around L.A., flying from L.A. to New York City.

Well, what is it like to get the star treatment? You're just this physics teacher from Maine and what has it been like to be a celebrity for a few days?

I'm starting to get used to it. It's been fun. If you'd ever told me last February that I'd be getting out of a limousine in New York City and people would be running up and asking for my autograph today, I would've thought you were on crack.

Did you get a little nervous when Susie got 3 votes?

I was a little nervous is underestimating it.

Did it surprise you that Sugar didn't end up getting any votes at all?

Actually, it did. I thought Matty would've voted for her. That surprised me a little bit. It didn't surprise me that Crystal and Kenny didn't vote for her.

Tell me what your favorite moment in Africa was.

Oh, I bet you could guess that - when I won the Sprint phone and I was gonna get to see a video of Peggy and I was sitting there on the couch with a beer and a pizza. Jeff had completely convinced me that we were gonna look at some stupid little video, which I was so glad they didn't tell me Peggy was there or I would've hurt myself trying to win the challenge. I turned around and saw my wife standing in Africa, which I had no idea she was there. It was almost like a ghost had arrived. It was one of those moments in my life that is now burned so deeply into my memory, I will never forget it. It was the highlight of Peggy's summer and mine. It was just a wonderful event.

When you look back at that final tribal council where the jury was able to speak, some pretty nasty things were said, not to you but to certainly Sugar and Susie. How did you handle that night and how do you feel about it, all this time later?

I think some of it has been smoothed over. I've never been real keen on that nasty behavior. Also, the stress of being on Survivor is enormous and the interaction that you're required to do. I think Corinne said, "We're forced to live with people we hate." It was really very difficult for me because I liked most of the people on the show... no, actually I liked them all. I like some more than others but it's very difficult when you have two people that you like a lot... it's like having two children that are fighting all the time. You love your kids and it's difficult for me to deal with and there's nothing you can do about it. That was stressful, the distaste that they had for each other.

Did being on Survivor make you want to travel more, see the world?

It took a week for Peggy to get over to Africa, fly over to Africa. She flew to Paris, then she flew to Morocco, then she flew to Libreville, and then took either a helicopter or, I'm actually not sure, a boat over to the other side of Gabon. Then, she sat with me for four hours and then went through the whole trip going back. We never had a honeymoon when we got married. We still haven't. I've been married to her for 28 years and I think, what I'd like to do, is put her back on the plane, fly back over to Gabon, and have a tourist's view of Gabon, give her the honeymoon we never had.


An interview with Bob:

Survivor Exit Interview: Winner Bob Crowley

Last night on Survivor: Gabon - Earth's Last Eden the million dollar prize was awarded to Bob Crowley, the grandfatherly science teacher from Portland, Maine who managed to beat back the popularity of Sugar and the below-the-radar talent of Susie in gaining the 4 votes needed to win over a wavering jury. The only clear loser was Sugar, who managed to escape having her name written down in every Tribal Council, especially the one that counted.

Publicity about the result is universally for the 57-year old ultimate Survivor due to the way Bob carried himself throughout the game. Gentlemanly, erudite, a fine companion and a resourceful tinkerer, he helped everyone enjoy the game a little more and even scored an extra $100K as Sprint's most popular player.

But it was his arts and crafts skills, learned from his artistic mother, that will forever seal his place in the Survivor Hall Of Fame.

Cobbling together two beautiful fake Idols, that fooled Randy and the remaining Fang tribe members, and blinding them with misplaced belief in the trinkets, saved his skin just long enough to put him in a final fire making face off with Matty.

Starting a fire was the first job Bob took on that first day at camp, and the crucial, basic skill put him in the Final 3.
When the dramatic result was announced last night on live TV, Bob Crowley became the oldest player to win the game in Survivor's 17 season history.

I caught up with him, on the phone at the offices for CBS in New York City, after he was picked up at the airport by Brett Gold, CBS publicist and the man who got him to The Early Show in time to pick up his check.

Hi Bob! Congratulations on your win!
Would you speak softly please? I just spent the last 18 hours in a fog, like a dream. With only four hours of sleep, I don't really feel like I've woken up yet. And maybe this is a dream I don't want to wake up from. The last thing I remember is being picked up by this nice young man, who wizzed me away to the middle of New York City, of all places. It's been quite a day.... and night.

Well you'll have time to recuperate later, right now everybody wants to get a piece of you. And to ask how it feels to win a million dollars!
Thank God I was able to pull it together at the end. It was a close race with Susie, but with a little bit of smarts, a little bit of talent and a whole lot of luck I came out alright in the end.

It was not a foregone conclusion either, but spending a day practicing your fire starter skills certainly helped.
Actually, losing the earlier fire challenge to Susie prepared me for that final with Matty. We were used to sharper knives and harder metal back at the camp. But in that challenge I found out the knives were duller and the metal softer. So losing to Susie helped me to learn how to beat Matty. Just another piece of good luck, but I like to learn from my mistakes, and I learned alot from that one.

Well, that was a great moment, but of course you will go down in Survivor history as the master of the realistic looking fake Idol. It's been done before, but never with such style and skill. I commend you sir.
Thank you. The last time a fake Idol was used, I think the quote was "that's not an Idol, that's a stick!"

Did you have that in mind when you went out to Exile Island?
Yes I did. On the show last night Jeff Probst asked me where I got all the beads and stuff. I remember when I was being picked to go to Exile Island I reached up and yawned. Apparently I even got past the cameraman and the producer, when I reached up to take all the beads off the Kota tribal flag, which I usually carried into the challenges.

Well the fake you made was fabulous, much more than beads. It fooled everyone and saved you in the end.
I thought it looked real.

Where did you get the resin you mentioned?
There was resin everywhere out there. I had a 15 pound block that we used to keep the fire burning overnight, but out at Exile Island I found a source that was clear and transparent. The real trick was getting the resin to dry smoothly and hold all the pieces together. I figured out that if I heat the Idol first and let the resin cool over the pieces, it held the whole thing together perfectly.

It was great when Jeff gave you the pieces he saved from the fire. Will you put it back together?
I thought about that, but Jeff told me I should keep the pieces as they are. Just like real artifacts, which this is now, a Survivor artifact, they are usually left the way they were found in the ground. But I will take all the pieces and mount them in a case to display on my wall.

Now that's a conversation piece. When your name was announced, we saw your wife, we had seen her before. But who were the other people who came up to you on the stage?
Yes my dear wife was there. And let's make a note of the time. I've only been talking with you a few minutes and I've said nothing nice about her.... the very beautiful blond girl you saw there was my daughter-in-law. And you saw both my sons, John and David. And the clown you saw there with the big bow tie was my brother David, my son is named for him.

Well they certainly looked proud. And winning a milion bucks helps!
I have had a lot of stress in my 57 years and it's nice to know that I might be able to breathe a little easier now.

And your students seem to have a lot of respect for you too.
I told them all, I got 20 texts from them already today, and I'm not as fast as they are, but they asked me if they still had to take the test and I said yes, I'll be back in time. I have to finish out the year for them so I will have to do any publicity for Survivor on the weekends.

Well, they are the luckiest students in the world. Congratulations on the victory, Bob. As the old saying goes, "The Best Man Won."
Thank you. Thanks for talking with me, and thanks for watching. It was a great experience.

It sure was.



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