The tie-dyed teddy bear Rupert Boneham, a jury member on Survivor‘s Pearl Islands and the All-Stars editions knew he was living on borrowed time. So, this 46-year-old “Hero” wasn’t the least bit surprised when his ticket was punched on day 36. He spoke with PEOPLE about broken toes, strategic missteps and why he didn’t side with Sandra. – Carrie Bell
You couldn’t possibly have been surprised by that vote.I knew my number was up at the last few tribal councils. The rock in my pocket trick gave me one more day and the villain infighting that resulted in them getting rid of Danielle bought me another. I tried to do it a third time by going to Russell and saying the girls were trying to get him and going to the girls and saying that Russell was at camp planning to vote them off. It just didn’t work that time.
Did anyone have a clue that Sandra had an idol?None. It had been hours since I put that rock in my pocket and no one called me on it, so I figured it was still out there and the clue was too hard. Up until she stood up and played it, I thought I still had a chance at a tie.
Sandra and you were allies in Pearl Islands for awhile. She narced on Russell at the merge and seemed happy to flip yet you guys didn’t utilize that. Then you sold her out again last night? Why?I was trying to play them against each other that last day. They didn’t show me asking her why she wrote my name down when she said she wanted to get rid of Parvati or Russell. Her answer was always the same – “I have to stick with my villains.” I never knew when to believe or trust her. I knew she was trying to be honest because Sandra’s my buddy but the other heroes wouldn’t listen. Then we tried to get Russell by explaining that the girls would gang up on him given the chance just like they had for the immunity challenge but he wouldn’t listen either.
What move do you wish you could take back or what would you do differently?I would go back and change day 1. I would not have been so physical with the younger guys, Tyson or Boston Rob. I would not have gotten in the position where they could break three bones in two different toes. That hurt me a lot in this game. It took my patience and tolerance away because I was in so much pain every day and I had a hard time in many of the challenges. Feeling those bones move around and grind against each other had me on the ground. There‘s no aspirin unless you tap out of the game. Until then, it’s bite on a stick.
Give us a toe update.To finally be able to get out of the game, get off my feet, get some x-rays and set the toes right was such a relief. I would’ve never quit over it but proper medical attention almost made up for it.
Did you ever in a million years think the last Hero standing would be Colby?Oh my gosh, no, because he’s been a wet noodle in this one. If James hadn’t gotten hurt, Colby would have never made it this far. I really like Colby, but he’s the last standing because no one sees him as a threat. He used to be a big threat.
Put a few years on anyone and I bet the game gets a lot harder.Oh yeah. You feel it all a little bit more and the recovery is harder. But I liked showing that even at 46, I was still tough. It still counts how you play and I’m still a winner.
Do villains play Survivor better? A villain type has an advantage because they’re more willing to compromise their values and do whatever it takes to win. I’m not willing to do that. I have guidelines and boundaries and I like showing that it matters how you play the game. I still say that if the heroes had stood together, it would have been all heroes in the final five. We had the chance to show the game as positive and we each chose on our own not to. Amanda chose to tell Parvati everything, which is why she gave both those idols away. JT chose to go to the evil side and give Russell our idol. Candace chose to flip. A hero could win this game but it takes more than one. You need a team.
Would you play again?Right after I got out last time with broken bones, swollen feet and I could barely talk. I said that was it for me. I’d hung up my buff for good. But this morning when I’ve showered, got a meal in me and hugged and kissed my wife and daughter, you’re darn right I’d play again. I’d play next season if CBS asked me.
Join Rupert on June 13 in Beech Grove, Ind., for an all-you-can-eat breakfast and bike ride benefiting his charity Rupertskids.org.Todd Williamson/WireImage