May 21, 2011 02:32 PM by Ryan Haidet
Mike Chiesl was the last member of the Zapatera tribe standing when he was eliminated after the final duel on Survivor: Redemption Island. Shortly after the live reunion show at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City, Mike talked with me on the red carpet where he compared Survivor to the military. He discussed his desire to play the game again after finishing in sixth place this time around while also explaining why Boston Rob had one of the best strategic performances in the show’s 22-season history. Be sure to check out the exclusive video inside this article to also find out Mike’s take on Phillip Sheppard.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine.com: First of all, congratulations on making it this far in the game.
Mike Chiesl: Thank you.
Ryan Haidet: Did you respect the way Boston Rob played? It seemed like the studio audience was all on his side.
Mike Chiesl: It’s overwhelmingly positive, the response for Boston Rob. I think in Survivor history, this is one of the most-masterful performances. It’s not the game that I would’ve played, but he played an outstanding game. You gotta give him credit for that. What I like about our season is I feel there was some real integrity in the voting of the jury. We voted and gave a million dollars to he who played the best game. This season, it was Rob. I wanted to win it. I thought I had the ability to, but this was Rob’s season.
Ryan Haidet: You talked a lot about the bond you formed with Matt on Redemption Island — especially on faith. Could you envision voting for Matt had he been up against Boston Rob?
Mike Chiesl: If it were Matt and Rob in the final three, I love Matt. My vote would’ve gone to Matt. He persevered through six challenges to get back into the game. It was really an impressive performance. When your existence is on the line, to come up big time and time again is really impressive. He just needed a little more street smarts when it comes to playing the actual game. Like he said, it’s the logic and reason. He went with his heart, and unfortunately it wasn’t the right move. But I would have gladly given my vote to Matt had he been in the final three.
Ryan Haidet: I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up Phillip, possibly the most colorful character we’ve ever seen on Survivor. What’s your take on Phillip?
Mike Chiesl: You watch Phillip and you look at guys like Coach. Coach was amazing to watch, but Phillip brings it to a whole ‘nother level. Phillip is just Phillip. This is the man that he is. He said it was all a show to be public enemy number 1. I don’t know if that’s actually correct. I think Phillip marches to a different beat — if he’s even marching to a beat. God bless him. He’s fun to watch. At times, not fun to be with. But Phillip’s a great guy and he’s an interesting one. One that we’ll be talking about for years to come for sure.
Mike Chiesl: There’s a ton of parallels. I played football competitively in college, there’s a lot parallels between warfare and football. Survivor, very much the same. Leadership is huge. I fall back on leadership because it’s what I was trained to do with my years at the naval academy. Rob was an excellent leader of his tribe. There’s so many parallels between toughing it out through adversity, persevering, knowing that you’re going to make it through a situation and sticking to your mission. Rob was on a mission this season. I was on a mission in Iraq. Twice. It’s very similar in challenging you as a person. Because of the next great generation that’s coming — there will never be another greatest generation — but there’s a great generation in the works right now, because of them, we’re allowed to do something like Survivor. I got to give credit to the American service members. God bless ‘em. My hat is off to you. Thank you for your service and allowing me to participate in this, and challenge myself once again.
Ryan Haidet: Next season they are bringing two players back for redemption. If CBS calls tonight, would you go back and play again?
Mike Chiesl: I’m there. I’m passionate about Survivor. I want to win this game. For me, it’s more about winning the title of sole Survivor. Once you get the Survivor bug, it sticks with you. Look at Rob. He can’t give it up. He spent 10 years trying to become sole Survivor. For him, it’s not the money. His wife has already won the money. I would gladly compete again, and it would be my honor to do so.
Ryan Haidet: Congratulations on everything. Thank you for talking with us today.
Mike Chiesl: Thank you.
Check out my interview with “Boston Rob” Mariano — the winner of Survivor: Redemption Island:
Check out my interview with Phillip Sheppard — the runner-up of Survivor: Redemption Island:
Check out my interview with Natalie Tenerelli — the third-place finisher on Survivor: Redemption Island:
Check out my interview with Ashley Underwood — the fourth-place finisher on Survivor: Redemption Island:
Check out my interview with Andrea Boehlke — the fifth-place finisher on Survivor: Redemption Island:
Game images courtesy of CBS. Red carpet photos by Melissa Fouse.
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