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Survivor winner Jeremy Collins says 'I didn't think I could win the game'

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CBS

Massachusetts firefighter Jeremy Collins didn’t just win Survivor — he won Survivor in the biggest landslide in history, strutting off into the sunset with a 10-0-0 victory over Spencer Bledsoe and Tasha Fox. His victory in Survivor: Cambodia—Second Chance was punctuated by the ultimate mic drop moment as he revealed to the jury that his wife was pregnant with a baby boy just before voting.

Jeremy called into Entertainment Weekly Radio (SiriusXM, channel 105) on Thursday morning to celebrate his victory and to give me and co-host Jessica Shaw his thoughts on his big win, his big revelation, his biggest competition, and whether he’ll name his baby after Jeff Probst. (Read through both pages for the entire interview.)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Well, I picked you as the winner, Jeremy, but I was one season too early! I had you winning San Juan del Sur.

JEREMY COLLINS: You picked me last season?

I picked you, and five minutes into the game you made that stupid decision to volunteer in the challenge. But congratulations on a great job this season.

Thanks a lot, man. It was crazy.

You waited until the last possible second to bust out the baby boy news. Was that by design? Because that is dangerous to wait that long in case Kelley Wentworth asks you something completely different and you don’t have a chance to give that emotional revelation. What as your thinking there?

I don’t even know. I knew I needed to put it out there but I didn’t want to sound beggy. I just wanted everybody to know, “Hey, if you’re on the fence between me and Spencer, or me and Tasha, this will put you over the fence, that Val’s about to have a baby.” If Kelley’s question wasn’t going to fit, I might have just blurted it out like, “Hey, wait. I just want to say before you go back and write a name down, Val’s pregnant and this happened.”

But context is everything because if you had done what you just said, I would have been like, “That is so lame — he threw it out there so people would vote for him on the emotional side and not how he actually played the game!” But the way that it fit into her question was perfect. It was so manipulative but it was also so well done the way you held that information back until it fit at very end that I was impressed.

Thanks, man. I appreciate it. That’s how I live. I live to impress you, Dalton.

So, did Val go into labor last night?

No, do not say that! We are not talking about Val going into labor until we get home. I do not need to be out here in California for this long. I need to get her home as soon as possible.

What’s the due date?

She’s due in two weeks.

That’s is really cutting it close, dude. So we spoke with Kelley Wentworth and she said that you were never really considering taking her instead of Spencer to the end. Is that right?

No, I was never going to take Kelley. This is the thing with Kelley. Kelley played such a great, under-the-radar game. Kelley was so good that we thought that Ciera was the leader of that pack, and Kelley would just sit back and was running the show back there, and we didn’t even know. But when I made my decision with Tasha and Spencer, I made it and I said, “I’m going with you two and this is how I’m going to roll.” That’s it. I had to get Kelley out. Kelley had a lot of people in the jury that I think would vote for her. And she’s an underdog. She was fighting from the bottom just about the whole game.

I said I think she beats you at the end. What do you think?

I don’t know. If I don’t throw out that Val’s pregnant, does she beat me? I think it’s close. I think it’s going to be close either way. I don’t know.

We were intrigued by how confident you were that you were going to beat Spencer when you said at the previous Tribal that you were going to take the players you thought you could beat.

I wasn’t 100 percent confident, but I figured if Tasha gets a vote or two that I could edge Spencer out with the remaining votes. I had a good feeling. I feel like I played the game pretty good. And early on Kass was saying, “If Jeremy goes to the end, I’m voting for Jeremy.” And then Ciera said, “I’m voting for Jeremy if he goes to the end.” So all these people are saying it. Abi’s saying it! So I’m like, I think I can pull it off with Spencer there. So I felt pretty good.

You ended up with 10 votes. It’s the biggest Survivor victory ever because it’s the biggest jury ever and you got all the votes. How many votes did you put in your column before you went to that Tribal.

I didn’t know. I knew I had Stephen and if Stephen’s there, Stephen is going to vouch for me. And I figure Kelley, Kass, Abi, and Ciera said they were going to vote for me, and I said, “You guys said it. Stand by it.” I thought I had at least four, maybe five votes. I thought I could get Savage but I was like, hey, Savage might go with Tasha. That Angkor tribe was terrible and they built a lot of that. So I wasn’t sure, but I thought I could get four or five, and if Tasha gets one and I get four than I feel pretty good about that.

Let’s talk about that crazy Tribal Council vote with you and Kelley both using your hidden immunity idols. Were you always going to use yours, or only if someone else played an idol first?

I knew Kelley was getting three votes. I knew that for sure. So if Kelley pulled hers out, I was pulling mine out. And if it’s a tie, that’s fine with me, go to rocks. You guys can go to rocks after. I’m making it. It was so wild. It was such a crazy Tribal and I knew Kelley had it and I was like, Kelley is definitely going to pull it out. The way she was carrying herself, Kelley gets really confident the way she sits up when she’s about to play that idol, so I was like, Kelley’s going to do it. It was just beautiful. It was awesome. It was so fun to watch and be a part of.

NEXT: Jeremy on who (besides him) played the best game[pagebreak]

The season was edited in a way to make us believe that Spencer was going to win. When you watched the season back were you like, “Show some more of my power here! Where’s my evolution story line?”

You know what I looked at? I knew that Spencer, Tasha, and myself were at the end. All three of us had really strong cases and I knew that any one of us could win, so show all of us! We had strong games. And Kelley also played a crazy game. She played a hell of a game. So any one of us could win this thing, so show all of us. Show as much as possible. I don’t care how much you show me — just show me the check afterwards.

Too bad they don’t give out those oversized novelty checks anymore, right?

I don’t know if the bank endorses those.

Let me ask you this: Who was the best player this season besides you? Who scared you the most out there?

Looking back, it was Kelley, but in the game, Spencer was playing the best game. Spencer was out there going back and forth between everybody else. He could have flipped the game on me a few times. I thought he played crazy. He was awesome. But looking back on the season and how much Kelley was doing, I didn’t know Kelley was running it over there. Kelley just sat back and Stephen said at one point “I thought Kelley was better than this.” And I said, “You know what? You’re right. I thought she was better than what she was doing. She’s not doing much out here.” And we were wrong. Going back and seeing all the things she was doing — she was killing it.

I know you’re a huge fan of this game and the result could not have been any better for you, but did you actually enjoy yourself out there while playing or was it just all business?

At the beginning I enjoyed myself and was just having fun. I let the chicken go. I let Juicy J go and I was like, “Yo, I’m just out here having fun.” I didn’t think I could win the game. From last season I was like, these people all see me as a threat. They see me as a physical threat and I’m not good at challenges so how can I do this? And then they’re voting me out because I have two kids and I’m a firefighter. So I’m like, I” can’t win this game. I’m just going to go out there and have fun and play reckless and do whatever I need to do.” And the further you get in the game, the tighter it gets. When you get down to the final six, seven, eight, you’re like, “Oh, man, it’s right there. I can make it to the end. This is crazy.” That’s when you really start to tighten up and the game’s not fun anymore. It’s really stressful.

What are you doing with the money?

I already gave the check to Val. She’s gonna take it and do the baby’s room. I’m going to take her on vacation, but I’m going back to work.

I don’t know if you caught this last night but Probst was suggesting Jeffrey Collins as the name for your son.

Is that what he said? Well, he has to fight with young Stephen Fishbach Collins too.

That brings up a good question: why Fishbach? Why did you pick him to be your big ally out there?

It’s so crazy. I don’t know. I went out there and I said, “I’m not playing with Stephen.” He did not give me any Fishys. I do not trust these smart strategic players. I said, I’m not doing it. I just get Stephen. He’s quirky. Out there he’s untrustworthy, just his actions. But I get him. He’s never lied to me. And you know who else? I didn’t trust Ciera going into the game. I was like, I’m never going to work with Ciera. And I worked with her one time and I was like, I love Ciera! Everybody that I didn’t want to work with changed my whole mind-frame of them