CBS LOCAL-  CBS aired the season finale of Survivor: Game Changers this past Wednesday and we had the chance to interview this season’s champion, Sarah Lacina. Here’s her first-hand account (as told to CBS Local’s Adam Bloom and Samantha Bennet) on what she plans to do with her winnings, her strategy for playing the game and which of her fellow players she’d want watching her back on the police force.

AB- You are America’s newest millionaire, do you have any plans for your winnings?

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SL- This is the one question I hate because I have such a boring answer. I want to sit here and go, yea I’m going to Vegas on the way home and double down – go big or go home, but no we’re going to be smart with it. Retirement, a house, boring stuff. I really wish I had something more juicy, I should have come up with something good. Sorry, I’m going to be boring (laughs). I don’t want to spend all the money on a house, we want to build a home. We want to build what we want. I think that’s the route we’re definitely going to go and obviously retirement so that I don’t have to work until I’m 65. Next week I go back to work.

SB- One of the things that played a big factor was the change in the final tribal council. How do you think the change in the final tribal council played a role in your winning?

SL- I think with the new format it gave me an opportunity to explain my game more than the old format where people ask you a question. For example, had it been Debbie’s turn to ask a question she wouldn’t ask me one, she would give Brad a chance to showcase himself and I wouldn’t get that opportunity – same with Ozzy, same with Ciera. Having this format, that blocked them from alienating me or not giving me the opportunity to showcase what I did.

AB- Was the actual final three your final choice for who you wanted to go to the end with – or who would you have rather gone with? 

SL- Ok so, I had a final three with every single person out there (laughs). It’s a true story, you have to. Until the final six, that’s when we set it in stone. Up until then I really didn’t know for sure who I wanted to sit next to because things are constantly changing. I think it’s a bad idea to go in there and say on day one, “Ok we made a final three let’s stick to this.” Someone might play a better game than you and now that you’ve made this pact you’re going to lose because you’re sticking to your word. You have to get rid of people that can beat you. That’s why when Tai was like, “Oh, Troyzan and I can make fire and then we can sit together in the end,” well I did’t want to sit with him in the end. Tai found three idols, he played two of them for other people, now if he made fire I’ve given him all these matches in his belt so no I don’t want that to happen.

I was just really open to going with whoever I felt that I could beat. I think it was huge to not set in stone who I was sticking with.

SB- That plays really well into our next question, we were wondering was there anyone you felt you couldn’t beat at the end? Maybe there was somebody besides Tai that you thought if they were sitting next to you, you wouldn’t have won?

SL- Ok so, if you were to look at a résumé and if you want to say based on moves and this and that, I think I beat everybody. Unfortunately that’s not necessarily how it would play out because human emotions are involved. I don’t think I would have beat Cirie, I don’t think I would have beat Andrea, I think it would have been close on Aubry. I definitely think I wouldn’t have beaten Zeke. There’s a lot of people that I wouldn’t have beaten unless they absolutely went on gameplay alone and I’m not convinced that would have happened if you take Cirie to the end.

AB- So when Cirie was out of the game I assume in the back of your mind there was probably a bit of excitement thinking, “That’s the one person here I was most concerned about.”

SL- Yea, so I didn’t vote Cirie out and she knew I didn’t vote her out. She got voted out without me having to physically write her name down. It saved me that knife wound so I can sit there and say, “Hey I didn’t write your name down, in fact you wrote mine down.” It was definitely instrumental.

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AB- Was there any point during the final tribal council where you had a feeling you might have this won? It seemed to start with Zeke singing your praises but was there a point where you felt you had a good shot at winning?

SL- No, it’s actually the exact opposite, I thought going in I had this in the bag. Once we kicked it off you could see the emotion, you could see how upset Andrea was and I think I underestimated people’s feelings and that could have came back to bite me in the butt. Literally the exact opposite, I thought it was in the bag and then after tribal council I didn’t think I won. I played a great game but I hurt a lot of people and I wondered if there had been enough time for those wounds to be healed or are they going to reward the game play; I wasn’t convinced that they would.

SB- In the end, did you think that Brad won?

SL- Well, I didn’t know. I knew Troyzan wasn’t going to get any votes, the jury kind of made that clear while we were sitting there. I definitely thought it was a possibility. I was like 90% sure I won, but you want to be 100%. You don’t even want to be 99%, you want to be 100% sure. So the people that say it was obvious I was going to win because I played the best game, well it’s not that obvious because three people didn’t vote for me.

SB- Little bit of a side-step question here but based on observing the skills of the players in the game- if you could pick someone to recruit to join you on the police force- who do you think has the skills to do it?

SL- Cirie, I would take Cirie with me. She’d have your back, she stays loyal to you, other than trying to steal my advantage but she had good intentions with it. Yea, I’d have Cirie be my backup.

AB- Now that they’ve announced the theme of next season, I’m curious about your thoughts on it and how that might change the Survivor dynamic?

SL- It’s going to be the same, I feel, as the “brains, brawn, beauty” which I was on the first time. I felt like that was really successful and so I think this next season is going to be really exciting. I mean hustlers, the name just sounds cool and they hustle every day. If they’re hustling out there, I think it’s going to make for a great season.

AB- Well awesome game play this year Sarah. Samantha and I have actually talked to each castoff and we’ve said congratulations but they’ve always said, “You can’t say that to me, I didn’t win.” So now we can finally say congratulations to someone because you won!

SL- Thanks so much guys!

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Survivor returns for its 35th season this fall with Survivor: Heroes Vs Healers Vs Hustlers on CBS. Check out for more info.