"Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains" Winner Sandra Diaz-Twine Talks Strategy, Cash, and Being a Mom

Sona Charaipotra

Survivor Winner Sandra Diaz-Twine
Photo from CBS
Were you as riveted by Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains as I was? Second-time Survivor player -- and second-time Survivor winner! -- Sandra Diaz-Twine, a mom of two, paused to chat with The Stir about her strategy, all that drama, and being cast as a villain.

So a two-time player and a two-time winner. How are you feeling?

I feel really, really, really good. I mean, Russell's upset but I'm really, really happy.

Are you happy because he's upset, or are you happy despite the fact that he's upset?

Both. Because the more it eats him up, the more entertaining it is. He's all like, "That just shows you that the game is flawed." No, Russell, that shows you that it's a social game. That just shows that you don't know what Survivor is all about. Just because you saw Micronesia on DVD and you played in Samoa doesn't make you an expert.  I've been here since day one.

It seems like you weren't quite a Villain or quite a Hero. Were you surprised about how you were categorized?

Yeah, I was, because I was like, "What did I do?" And Jeff was like, "You have villainous characteristics because you take out whoever you have to - you cut their throat and you stab them in the back to stay in the game." So I was like, "Okay, if that makes me a villain, then I'm a villain." But that's just self-preservation. That's playing the game. I've got to put myself first in Survivor, otherwise why bother playing? So when I was put on the Villains, I was like, "Okay, of all the Villains, I'll be the nicest one." I like to be easy to be around.

When you were offered the chance to come back, did you automatically want to?

Yeah, I jumped on it. My family was vacationing in Disney because my husband was about to deploy to Afghanistan. And they called me and said, "If you want to do this you have to leave now. We've got two weeks to move on it." So I was like, "Oh my God, either they'll pick me or they won't." And they picked me, so he left for Afghanistan and I left for Survivor.

So where did the kids go when you both left?

I have two girls, eight and 12. My sister, she has two small children who are not in school yet, so she came and stayed with them. She can get up and go because they're not in school. She lives in Puerto Rico, so she packed up her stuff and stayed with them for two months. It was easy, and they were well taken care of. 

Do the girls watch?

They do. They're proud of me and they love Survivor and they've got all the autographs and pictures. But to them it's just mommy. And I've won before, so they've already gone through this. I'm just mommy and I'll always just be mommy, no matter what.

Do people think you're all set with the money? A million doesn't go as far as it used to.

You know what, I live a simple life. I live in North Carolina, where it's not as expensive. It's not like I live in New York City. So my money has gone far. It's plenty for us.

Is it hard seeing your husband going to Afghanistan?

I'm strong - I spent five years in the army. That's how we met. So I understand how it is. And it's important. Plus, the army actually prepared me for Survivor.

So what's next for you?

The first time around I bought my house cash-money, so we're set with that. We still have money in the bank and this check will go in the bank, too. And I'm going to take a trip in the summer with my kids to meet my husband's side of the family, they're in Germany. But other than that, we live a simple life. I'm smart with my money. I clip coupons. I don't care about the money. It just makes things comfortable for us, gives me time to spend with my kids.

Will you play again?

If they called me back, I would play again -- if I was missing the game. I'd have to defend my title. But right now I'm not missing the game. I'm ready to be home and spend time with my family.

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