After 27 days of scheming and plotting, Pete Yurkowski, the self-proclaimed mastermind of Survivor: Philippines, was sent packing by his tribesmates. The 24-year-old engineering graduate tells PEOPLE what went wrong – and why there are no hard feelings.
You have a degree in engineering management. Did that help you on Survivor?
Engineering helps with puzzles and stuff, but it doesn’t help with interpersonal relationships and Survivor is a social game.
You had trouble making fire.
We were eating our rice raw, but it was like eating sand. We called them Yum-Yum-Yummy-O’s. It was a joke, like a cereal you’d never serve your kids.
You complained that Mike Skupin ate more than his share.
He did, but I was also feeding off the fact that he and Artis weren’t getting along. I wanted to exploit that by making it a bigger deal than it was.
You formed an alliance right away with Skupin, RC and Abi. Why did that fall apart?
That alliance happened literally within the first few minutes of the game. I didn’t know those people and whether they could be trusted. I always felt like I couldn’t trust RC; I wondered when she would backstab me, so I backstabbed her first. RC was a cancer in our tribe.
You and RC have gotten into it on Twitter since the show.
I thought the whole thing was a game, but some people take it seriously. At the end, if they can’t realize that you were outplayed, people can get upset.
You were also on a tribe with Lisa Whelchel. Did you know who she was?
The Facts of Life was on Nick at Nite when I was growing up, but I never watched it. I wasn’t the show’s intended audience.
Your tribe won a lot and never had to go to tribal council until the merge.
That’s not a good thing. Voting can strengthen bonds. So we’re up against people who had been through tribal council, who had voted each other out and they were better at it.
You had the perfect opportunity to advance in the game when Lisa asked you to blindside Malcolm – the biggest threat in the game. And yet you went and told Malcolm. Why?
I’m not going to lie; I fumbled. I should have voted out Malcolm. We had to make a decision quickly and I made the wrong one. Malcolm and I had become close, so I felt like I owed him full disclosure. Come to find out, he didn’t feel as loyal to me, and had no intention of keeping me in the game!
You were aligned with Abi, the game’s biggest villain. What’s she like?
Abi isn’t as volatile in real life as she was in the game. She didn’t have a strategic game, and she spilled secrets when she got mad, but she’s a good person.
And what’s your take on Lisa Whelchel?
She was the island mom. I love her; she was really nice. I couldn’t tell whether she had a strategy or not. She was trying to play a good Christian game, and I don’t think that’s what Survivor is all about.
What about the rest of them?
Skupin seems clueless at times, but I’m not sure if he really is. Denise and I didn’t have many conversations. Jonathan Penner is a very smart guy, but impossible to trust. Carter is a good kid, but I’m not sure he had what it takes to play Survivor.
And what about Malcolm?
I blame him for getting me voted out, but that’s okay. We are obviously pretty good friends. I love him. He’s a charming guy. We’re opposites, we can get along. He’s playing a great game. No hard feelings.
So now what?
I’m going to get into the gaming industry and build a career there. I loved doing Survivor; it taught me a lot about myself, and I love playing games. It was the best experience of my life.