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‘Survivor’ Superfan-Nerd Cochran Wins $1M Prize

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STUDIO CITY (CBSLA.com) — In the end, it was the former loser who came back to win.

The team comprised of fans never stood a change. John Martin Cochran, a self-described “Survivor super fan” outlasted, outplayed and outwitted the rest to be crowned the $1 million winner of “Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites.”

One of the favorites among former players, Cochran won unanimously. Host Jeff Probst called the nerdy, unassuming “Cochran, probably the most unlikely winner, ever!”

Calling Cochran a superfan of the show might be an understatement. The 26-year-old Harvard Law graduate won the Dean’s Scholar Prize at school for an essay describing in exacting detail how the jury system worked on his favorite reality show.

Self-described as “Brilliant, insecure and neurotic,” he used all three traits to his advantage. He won ten challenges and the respect of most of his colleagues. Cochran did it mostly by using brains over brawn.

Cochran was also a contestant on “Survivor: South Pacific.” He didn’t win that series (he was the 13th castaway voted off) and came into “Caramoan” determined to right the wrong. In both shows, he was usually buttoned up while most of the other contestants –male and female– paraded around half naked. It was clear why he kept the shirt on from the first episode —  the pale and wan Cochran got so sun burned, the other castaways said his feet looked like tomatoes. (Although when it comes to memorable moments this season, it will be tough to surpass Dawn pulling out her teeth in the finale.)

When asked why he would endure the grueling challenge of being on the show again, he didn’t hesitate. In addition to the show being one of his hobbies, “I’m too passionate about ‘Survivor’ to let harsh elements, starvation, sleep deprivation and abrasive tribe mates deter me from lasting all 39 days.”

He added, “I love ‘Survivor!’ I’ve watched it, talked about it, studied it, written about it and dreamed about it for half my life.”

Cochran told CBS2’s Suzanne Marques he already had plans for his first purchase. “My first impulse, I want a Segway. I know it’s nerdy. I know it’s impractical. I know no one has one. I know they’re mainly for airport security guards. But I like the idea of rolling around on it. I think it would complete my image.”

Malcolm Freberg — another former contestant — won the fan favorite prize of $100,000.

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