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Peter talks about being the first off Marquesas

Peter talks about being the first off Marquesas. The bowling alley owner tells EW.com about his religious moment and his secret reason for bringing cologne to the island

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Peter Harkey, Survivor: Marquesas
Peter Harkey: Monty Brinton/CBS

Poor Peter Harkey. We barely even got to know this bowling alley owner from Millis, Mass. Then again, did we really want to get to know someone who does a prayer dance in the ocean and rambles on about his breathing skills? Even so, we couldn’t resist asking Peter why he became the Sonja of Marquesas.

On the boat ride out to Marquesas, did you look around and think, ‘I can take these people?’
No, I was just so excited about the whole thing. Actually, I had a tremendous amount of disbelief. It felt like I started with the application, and the next moment I woke up and saw palm trees.

So you weren’t thinking alliances and strategy early on?
No, the whole thing seemed a little silly. I wanted to be myself and be real and genuine. And my goal was simply to get as many members of my team to the jury with or without me. Remember how the Patriots won the Superbowl? I truly believed we needed to become a team.

So what went wrong?
By the first day, three different couples represented our team. Sarah and Rob were in love, Hunter and Gina were falling in love, and Sean and Vecepia shared a love of Scripture. That left Patricia and myself, and we were happily married to other people.

What was the deal with you and Sean praying in the water?
Sean had been sick and vomiting while he was paddling. I deeply respected his effort after experiencing sea sickness this past summer myself, and I was impressed by his effort to paddle. He collapsed when we made it to the shore. When I went over to help him I didn’t think it was going to be a spiritual moment. But I was glad to share it with him. It was not planned, and it definitely was not strategy.

By the way, how did you manage to get kicked off before Britney-wannabe Sarah?
Well, Rob was in love with Sarah, and I think he did a noble job of protecting the woman he loved. It wasn’t necessarily the best move for the team’s sake but we’ll just have to see.

Who did you think would get the boot?
My sense was it was between Sarah and Tricia. However, Hunter led me to believe that he was going to be taking Rob out. I voted for Tricia. But in my vote I gave a message to her two sons, telling them that Tricia deserved to stay because she thought her sons would be embarrassed and disown her if she was voted off first.

What did your kids say?
They’re fine with it. My wife and I didn’t let our daughter Samantha wear my ‘Survivor’ stuff since it became public that I was on the show. She had the option today to wear it to school after I had been voted off. I’m very proud of her because she wore it even though she got a nasty phone call last night from a sixth grader.

Are you getting the kids a dog, as you promised?
Yes, we’re getting the yellow lab as part of the deal that allowed me to go.

Did you go back home immediately or did you get to hang out in the South Pacific?
No, we all committed to staying for six or seven weeks. So I stayed, waiting for other members to be voted off. I snorkeled, scuba dived, swam, went tuna fishing. Please, America, don’t feel sorry for me. I can’t believe how many people are feeling bad for me. It’s the best thing that could have happened.

Was everyone in your bowling alley watching the episode?
Well, the television in there broke, and the employees were trying to get me to get a new one before the show started. But I knew what was coming so I thought it was kind of appropriate that the television should be broken.

Why on earth did you choose cologne as your luxury item?
I should be saying there’s nothing like a great cologne so I can get a cologne commercial. But actually cologne is flammable and I thought it would be a great choice. I took so much abuse from the producers for choosing it. They were basically telling me what a schmuck I was for bringing cologne. I just said, ‘You gotta smell good.’ I had to eat it the whole time. But I was thinking, ‘We’ll see who laughs last.’

So why do you think you got rejected first?
I’ve been told people didn’t like the way I smile.

I think they thought you were kind of weird.
I take that as a compliment. Thank you.