Bob “was in favor of bringing Matty to the end, which in hindsight was not a very bright thing”

After his Survivor Gabon win Sunday night, Bob Crowley flew immediately on a red eye to New York for a day of interviews. By Tuesday, he’d lost his voice, so we didn’t talk until last night. He was also speechless, sort of, during the reunion, which Bob told me “was shell-shock. It’s so nice to have documentation, because people claim I’ve never been without words, but Jeff did it to me. He’s the only one in America who’s done it so far.”

In Africa before the game started, Bob told me, “I’m not playing the game, I’m here to have a good time, and now, he’s won $1.1 million. “I was there to enjoy Africa, and boy I had a hell of a time. I didn’t exclude playing the game when I said that,” Bob said yesterday. “I just genetically get competitive; I can’t help it.” He also said, “my strategy worked: … fly low under the radar, be a provider, be a nice guy.”

While Bob said “I didn’t think I’d make it this far,” he was “50 percent confident” going into the finale about his win. “I knew it hinged on Randy,” he said, who “gave me a hint that it was me that he’d voted for, but he just left it vague enough to torture me. And he did. It was absolute torture from when we left Gabon until Jeff turned over that last vote.” That Randy voted for Bob is perhaps surprising since Bob gave his fake immunity idol to Randy, a move Bob now said he “really didn’t give it the thought I should have about how it could affect my game.” But he hoped Randy would “give me credit for what I’d done as opposed to taking it personally.”

Besides Randy, Bob’s win was pretty much thanks to Sugar, who gave him the chance to face off against Matty in the tie-breaking fire-building challenge. He said Sugar “knew that she didn’t have any votes and she couldn’t win,” and in discussions about that, Bob “actually was in favor of bringing Matty to the end, which in hindsight was not a very bright thing. If I brought Matty, you wouldn’t be talking to me right now.”

Bob said “Sugar’s a wonderful girl and I’d like to stay in touch with her forever, too,” and “as the game went on, I realized, this is no pin-up model. This is a really bright—this isn’t a dumb blonde, this is an incredibly bright woman who has a plan and knows what she’s doing.”

One vote Bob didn’t get was Kenny’s, who he clashed with over the immunity idol deal. Bob said Ken “accepted it as a friend not as a foe” and “there was a little disclaimer at the end that if you’re going to use it to backstab me, all bets are off.” Bob added, “I heard that he’d said that he wanted to make me look like the stupidest Survivor ever—both Susie and Sugar told me that,” so “when he turned on me, all bets were off. … I don’t see a lack of integrity.”

Bob has good things to say about Ken. “I think he played an incredible game. He, without a doubt, played one of the best games of all of us. He played the game. The game includes lying and being deceitful, and he did a great job; I admire him. He had me fooled; he almost got me. He could have done better if he didn’t get arrogant.” Bob added, “Kenny ought to get an Emmy for his acting around camp. The person I saw at camp is nothing like like what I see edited. I saw a nice, pleasant … I didn’t see any of the strategizing. He had me completely fooled; I didn’t think he had control of anything.”

I asked him about Kenny’s claim that Bob’s actually “a grumpy old man,” and Bob said, very diplomatically, “He’s an interesting character; it’s interesting to hear him say that. I’ll let it go as Kenny apparently doesn’t recall what happened or is fabricating it, one or the other.” Bob admitted that his edit did soften him somewhat. “The moments I had they edited out a little bit; they didn’t show how angry I was when we got back from Randy’s” Tribal Council, he said.

Bob said that he leaves the game with “no doubt that I have lifelong friends in the gang,” and “the closest right now is Charlie, he’s a wonderful guy. Both Peg and I love him to death; we enjoy him.” He’s invited the entire cast to Maine for lobster next summer, and “they’re all welcome.” Still, Randy said “he couldn’t stand to stay with me more than two days in a row because he knows I start repeating myself, so he’s going to come up and have his lobster and leave.”

Bob went back to work teaching Wednesday, after teaching during fall, and will finish out his contract for the year. What comes next? “I’m going to think about that; I don’t want to make any rash decisions,” he said, and while his wife would love to move to Los Angeles, “nobody’s called yet.”

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