December 22, 2006 12:01 AM by Joe Reality
Written by Ryan Haidet. What began with 20 castaways in the most controversial season to date, “Survivor: Cook Islands” culminated in a night of twists and fun at the CBS Studios in Hollywood. For the first time, five contestants began the twist-filled finale episode. Following three tribal councils, an edge-of-your-seat immunity challenge, a hilarious fire-challenge tiebreaker for a spot in the finale three and a 5-4 vote, Yul Kwon was named the winner.
Sundra Oakley, who came in fourth place, voted for Yul. “A better person could not have won,” she said following the reunion show. “I told Yul, you are the nicest person next to Jesus.”
She was close to winning the immunity necklace at the final immunity challenge, but Ozzy Lusth, once again, was victorious. “I really thought I was going to get that last one, too, to be honest with you,” Sundra said. “I woke up that morning and I just envisioned myself with my yellow shirt and that immunity necklace. I got into a zone that I don’t think I’d ever been in before. I kept saying, ‘Ozzy fall. Ozzy fall.’ I just kept trying to put that out there, and a couple of times he nearly did.”
What was the defining moment of the game for her? “The mutiny because that’s when the Aitu four was born,” Sundra said. “I’ll never forget how I felt physically. Nauseous.”
Not a member of the Aitutaki four, Adam Gentry, who came in fifth place, also voted for Yul, but asked Ozzy to bash the other two at the final tribal council. “I knew my vote, but I wanted to ask questions just to stir things up,” Gentry said.
Yul said this experience was one that was completely engaging. “A lot of the jobs that I’ve had I felt like it either challenged me intellectually or emotionally, but never really both,” Yul said. “This is the first time where I felt like intellectually it’s challenging, emotionally it’s challenging and, you know, physically it’s challenging. It’s the weirdest thing. I’ve spent most of my life in the corporate setting but ‘Survivor’ really is the first time I felt completely engaged.”
Since winning the game, Yul has goals he said he hopes to achieve. “I think I have a great path point to really raising awareness for causes and organizations I feel very strongly committed to.”
Although Yul won the game, Ozzy was runner-up with four votes – just one short of victory. “Yul deserves it, and for whatever reason I didn’t get that one vote. And maybe that’s a big signal out there that I should be focusing more on my interpersonal relationships and how I talk and deal with people – and not so much on my loner aspects,” Ozzy said. “Which, I’m a huge loner and I like to be by myself and I like to do things by myself. There is a big message and the message is to learn from your mistakes and to learn, learn, learn.”
He said that there were moments when Yul was able to politick more than he was, which could be the reason he lost by one vote. Although he didn’t receive the majority of the jury votes, he received America’s vote to win a car at the reunion show.
One vote he did receive came from Nathan Gonzales. Nathan said he voted for Ozzy because Yul wouldn’t have been able to do all of the strategizing without Ozzy’s food.
Ozzy, the fan favorite who finished with 45.03 percent of the popularity poll from the official CBS Web site, said he wants to give something special back to Mexico. “I really want to bring skateboarding to Mexico in a way that has not really been explored yet,” he said. “I want to go down and build skate parks in Mexico. They don’t really exist. I have got a couple of brothers that live down there. I bring them skateboards but they can’t skate on anything because it’s like cobblestones. They just don’t have the necessary facilities for it.
“It’s something that really changed my life,” Ozzy continued. If I didn’t have a skateboard when I was a little kid, I don’t know where I’d be today. I could be in jail. Who knows? All that energy that I had might have gone in a really bad direction. I’d like to give that back to Mexico, being able to build skate parks. The United States has thousands, and thousands, and thousands, and Mexico probably has under a hundred.”
For the first time, there was a final three for the jury to choose a winner from, and Becky Lee joined Yul and Ozzy following a tiebreaking challenge that will likely go down in history as one of the funniest moments of “Survivor.” “Even with the fire, they don’t show this either, but I was like giving her (Sundra) some hay,” Becky said. She said she wanted to give Sundra some matches and somebody told her no. “At one point we were like, ‘Let’s just do rock, paper scissors.’ And Candice (Woodcock) was like over in the jury like, ‘No.’”
Becky was in a tight alliance with Yul and had the opportunity to use his hidden immunity idol to guarantee a spot in the final three, but she decided not to accept it. “We had gotten so far as the Aitu four,” she said. “I mean, it would seem like such a betrayal to both Sundra and Ozzy. But then not only for Yul and I betraying those two, we wouldn’t have the votes from the jury. Both hurting him and hurting me because they would be mad at both of us. I felt that the jury people would be like, oh you know, she’s not doing anything, she’s just going to slide into third place – at least prove you have something. Yeah, I wasn’t the best fire maker, but at least I tried, you know.”
When she returned home from the show, she had to go to the hospital. “I had an injury on my back,” she said. “That’s why I always wore that yellow tank top. Everybody was like, ‘Oh my gosh, don’t you have other clothes?’ I had a bandage there.”
She said she didn’t want the cyst drained on the island because she was afraid it might get infected even worse. “When I got back from the airport, I went straight to the ER because the cyst had gotten this big (makes hand gesture to show the size) and turned to rock-hard puss,” she said. “So then they were like, ‘You need to go to a surgeon right now.’ They scalpeled it out. So for another two weeks I was on Percocet.”
Now that “Survivor: Cook Islands” has come to a close, up next is the 14th season held in Fiji. With new twists and turns, like two hidden immunity idols, it should be an interesting show.