After a gruelling 39 days of outwitting, outplaying and outlasting his fellow castaways on “Survivor: Island Of The Idols”, Tommy Sheehan was officially crowned the winner and sole survivor of the show’s 39th season.
During the three-hour season finale and reunion, the 26-year-old came out on top, beating Dean Kowalski and Noura Salman by an 8-2-0 jury vote.
While chatting with ET Canada’s Keshia Chante backstage, the fourth-grade teacher reveals that this win wasn’t all about nabbing the $1-million grand prize.
“I went out for the title, and a million dollars is just an extra bonus,” Sheehan says. “It’s a dream come true, it still doesn’t feel real.”
The New York native also sweetly shares how he’ll celebrate his momentous win with his students back home.
“I don’t call them my students, I call them my kids and I have 23 kids right now and I hope they’re really proud of me and I can’t wait to hug them and talk about stories and everything like that,” he adds.
Before taking the title of sole survivor, Sheehan helped eliminate close allies Lauren Beck and Janet Carbin, thanks to his clever gameplay.
However, Sheehan admits that he doesn’t have any regrets when it comes to how the finale played out.
“Look, things like stabbing Janet in the back or stabbing Lauren in the back, people understand it’s a game and I went out there to play a game that I love and those relationships were true, and like Jeff said, I ‘betrayed and slayed,'” he says.
“In the end they still gave me their jury vote because why? They know I truly do love them.”
Not only did the season finale announce Sheehan as the winner, it also addressed the controversy surrounding Dan Spilo, with Jeff Probst engaging in a vulnerable conversation with Kellee Kim about how the situation was handled by “Survivor” and CBS.
Sheehan opens up about his experience with Spilo and how the controversy affected the season.
“This is going to be straight forward and very truthful, I heard nothing, I saw nothing,” he reveals.
“Like Jamal [Shipman] said, it’s the girl’s story, if they wanted to tell me, I can’t push them to tell me something. I didn’t have the information. I know that’s not what people want to hear but I didn’t know until after,” Sheehan continues.
“It opened my eyes to a lot, and I am a teacher and I’m with nine-year-olds and it was so amazing now to talk them through it. Was it tough to talk about? Yes. But now everyone says ‘There’s a black cloud over our season’. No, let’s move from it and learn from it.”
Make sure to stay tuned for the upcoming 40th season of “Survivor” as your favourite winners return for “Survivor: Winners At War”, premiering in February on Global.