Mike Holloway on his ‘Survivor: Worlds Apart’ win and his superstar edit

This concludes my coverage of “Survivor: Worlds Apart.”

The 30th “Survivor” installment — “The Dirty 30” as the castaways were apparently calling it — wrapped up last Wednesday with a decisive victory for Texas oil driller Mike Holloway, who earned six votes from the Jury, beating Will and Carolyn, who took one symbolic vote apiece.

It was a hard-earned win for Mike, who started off in a position of power with a strong Blue Collar alliance only to have his former chums turn on him. Backed into a corner, Mike  made a new alliance with vestiges of both White and No Collar tribes, ties that paid few dividends during the season, but formed the spine of his Jury triumph.

After perceived challenge powerhouse Joe was taken out, Mike became the target every single week and nearly every single week he won Individual Immunity, tying a quartet of “Survivor” legends — Colby, Terry, Tom and Ozzy — with Five Individual wins. And the one week he didn't have Individual Immunity? Well, he just happened to have a hidden Idol he found with only piecemeal instructions. 

I talked with Mike last Thursday, capping off a long morning of exit interviews and we discussed his challenge dominance, his questionable piece of attempted Auction trickery, his dark horse pick for “Survivor 31” and why he was able to predict Wednesday's vote.

Click through for the full Mike Holloway Q&A… 

HitFix: Going into last night”s show what were you guessing that the vote was going to be?

Mike Holloway: Actually I wrote in October, looking at my journal, and in October I wrote my prediction. And my prediction was 6-1-1. And it was exactly the votes who everyone voted for and I knew nothing about who anyone voted for. Because the great thing about the Dirty 30 is that we can keep secrets.

HitFix: So you weren”t surprised by the results. Were you surprised when you got to that Final Tribal Council and you got the tone of the Jury? What were you expecting it might be? What did you feel from that jury?

Mike Holloway: Well here”s the thing: You know if you”re the Final Three that you just stole somebody”s chance at being in the Final Three. So you know going into that Final Tribal Council that people are going to be hard on you and you expect that and they should be. I think Cochran said it best, you know, like, “Come on man, I”m ready for it.” And I mean that”s the mentality you”ve got to go to, but I thought going into it that I had a really good shot to carry the No Collars and I knew Shirin was going to… Well I didn”t know but I figured she was going to vote for me, especially everything that we went through. So I thought that four votes would actually end up carrying the day because I knew Rodney was going to vote for Will. There was no way in the world he was going to vote for me. Sierra was my biggest question mark and I was just like, “Man, I”m really sure she voted for Mama C.” And sure enough it worked out that way. You know it”s 1-1. But no going into Final Tribal, sitting with the people that I was getting with, Will and Carolyn, Carolyn played an amazing game. Will playing a very silent but still great game. He got all the way to the end. He”d never even seen the show one time, got the call 12 hours before we started filming. Do you know what I mean? So like that”s pretty impressive for Will to pull that off. But I really felt confident in the fact that I'd won, especially when I left the game. And then in the middle of it, I kind of questioned it. And then the amazing edit that I received just kind of confirmed it.

HitFix: I”ve talked to one person after another who”s talked about the awful edit they received. So do you feel like the edit was a positive edit that maybe made you look better than you were out there?

Mike Holloway: Here”s what I would say. I would say that I gave them enough to hang me or make me look good. Either way. And the thing about me is, yeah I did all of those things, but I was just able to recover, I was able to recover from mistakes throughout the game. I mean let”s start with Day One. Eating the scorpion. You know that”s not the brightest thing to do in real life, let alone in the game of “Survivor “where you can”t have a doctor look at you. I mean we had doctors but do you know what I mean, like a physician”s care or whatever. So yeah, my edit? Man I”m so thankful to CBS and the producers and Jeff Probst. Come on man, I”m not a superstar but I feel like they kind of made me look like one.

HitFix: You figured you were going 6-1-1 and you were going to win this thing. And therefore that you weren”t gonna be eligible for the Second Chance vote that you were in the middle of anyway. So did you give that any consideration at all or was that just not in your mind?

Mike Holloway: Here”s the thing: Carolyn and I were put in a position that no Survivors have ever been put in before – ever. And we weren”t given the level playing field to go out and campaign. There were restrictions put upon us. And in the end you look at it I won and Carolyn didn”t go. So they put this woman that played an amazing game through this process. You tell me – I don”t know how big your fandom is but you tell me what woman that went on this season had more Immunity wins than Carolyn Rivera. I mean it”s one of those things that we were put in a position, not of our own volition, not of our own doing, but yet we were not given the exact same freedom that all the other contestants were. And in Carolyn”s case I believe that it ended up hurting her.

So to answer your question did I actively pursue votes? I did actively pursue votes because I mean this is something that I committed to. This is something CBS asked me to do and I was like, “Hey, you know what? You guys are going to actually give me an opportunity to play the game again. Well then yeah, we”re going to do whatever we can to make that happen.” So yeah we were actively campaigning as much as we possibly could. 

HitFix: When I talked to Joe, Joe told me that he believed 100 percent that he could win all of the Immunities out there individual until he obviously lost and went out. So as soon as Joe went out, how quickly did you begin to believe that you could possibly win them all?

Mike Holloway: Oh, I knew that Joey was the only thing standing in my way and that”s why he had to go. I mean literally like this is no joke. I”m not just saying this to make myself look better or anything like that. This is a very true statement. I knew that I sized up the competition and then considered despite the endurance challenges which I didn”t do too well — We had four and I think I won one of those. Mama C, Beast Mode Mama C — but yeah, I had a really, really good feeling that I could operate at such a high level in the competition that there wasn”t anybody that would rival me except for Joe. And that”s why Joe had to go. I love Joe. He”s such a good guy. Such a good kid, young man, I should say. I shouldn”t say kid. He”s 26 years old. Young man. But yeah, I mean that”s why Joe had to go. And believe me when I tell you the next morning after Joe got voted out, by either 14, 15 to 22 year old girls, I was receiving death threats. Kind of like, “We”re gonna kill you.” I”m like, “It”s a game, it”s a game. We”re friends. Joe, tweet something. Tell them we”re friends.”

HitFix: On that same count where you knew once you got rid of Joe that you had that smooth sailing, talk about the vote where Kelly went out…

Mike Holloway: Wait, wait, wait. Smooth sailing. What did you watch?

HitFix: Not “smooth sailing” per se but you had the physical advantage. But the Kelly vote was the last time really and truly that anyone could take you out and for some reason they didn”t. How shocked were you at the time that they missed that opportunity?

Mike Holloway: When Jenn Brown pulled out her Idol I turned to Kelly and I go, “I”m going home.” And then they read Kelly. And I was like, “Oh my gosh. I just dodged like a bazooka bullet.” Not like a 35 millimeter. I dodged a massive bullet there. And yeah man, from that point on, just trying to keep the focus on getting Joe out. Joe, Joe, Joe, Joe. Much like they did me, you know. Much like they did me. Yeah so I kind of inherited Joe”s life when Joe left basically.

HitFix: I want to talk a bit about the Auction move and the strife that caused, because I”m still trying to get this straight. What do you regret about that and what don”t you regret? And here”s my question. Why was it not okay to do what you tried to do?

Mike Holloway: What I regret is that I wish I would not have given my word right there when we were standing there about to buy the letters. Because really and truly if you know me you know that like if I give you my word, I”m not gonna break it. I”m gonna stand by it. And that was the one time in the game that I kind of basically stopped playing for a second and I let my heart get in the way. So what I was apologetic for and felt bad about for was that I had kind of possibly gone back on my word. But I really didn”t because I actually ended up buying it. But that”s what I was regretful of. Think about it. No one”s ever done anything like that at an auction ever. Do you know what I mean? Like strategically it was a great play. Socially it was a death move. But yeah, I mean I needed the advantage and I let my heart get in the way and I didn”t get it so I did all the harm and I got none of the benefit.

HitFix: But were you still surprised by the level of animosity, particularly from Dan that came out of that and were you then surprised that you were able to diffuse it, relatively speaking, as smoothly as you did at Final Tribal?

Mike Holloway: I was surprised with Dan. Not so much for that move but when we were at 10, I went to Dan and brought up Tyler and he said, “No, we”ve got to stay with seven. We”ve got to stay with seven.” I said Dan, “They”re coming for my head. We”ve got to get Tyler,” and he kind of basically defended Tyler which made me go, “Yo, why are you closer to Tyler than you are to me? You're supposed to be my No.1 alliance in this game.” And yeah, I was really surprised that Dan would not listen to me at all, especially after the amount of time him and I spent together and the amount of time we had spent developing a relationship. So all that being said, all of that time that we spent developing that relationship at Final Tribal, you know, Dan told me he's the guy that, you know, he wants truth and he wants you to be honest with him. And so I just apologized because I that's honestly how I felt, that I needed to apologize for the lie. Not the move, but the lie.

HitFix: And one of the things Dan said in his angry rant was that the mistake that you made was not playing to the Jury or not remembering the Jury. And it seems to me that”s ridiculous primarily because to me the most important thing you did was locking up the No Collar Alliance and making sure that those people were in your camp. How conscious were you at the time of Jury future even though you were way far out when it came to making friends with Jenn, with Shirin, et cetera?

Mike Holloway: Very aware. As soon as the Jury starts every single Tribal Council should be a final tribal council. You should be playing to the Jury every time. Because if you”re not somebody else or somebody else should be. So when you go to Tribal you need to have an agenda. Not only an agenda to get somebody out but when the Jury starts, an agenda to make the other players around you not look as strategic, not look as appetizing in the end basically.

HitFix: But I was thinking more specifically before they went to the Jury, making sure you were in good with the No Collars.

Mike Holloway: Oh okay. Okay so yes. They”re not invisible people, so you”re sitting there and you make a move at Tribal and you see their reaction. The No Collars and stuff. So whenever I would do something positive or whatever, you know, I mean you do look for affirmation. I mean just like in real life. So I would look over there to see kind of what they were doing, you know, like the No Collars. And then Shirin whenever she got there. But yeah, in this specific case, this specific Jury I really felt like I had the upper hand because I felt like the first four people that went out of our game were people that were positive mind people. Like they wouldn't have a hard time voting for me in the end.

HitFix: And looking at the two people from this season who did advance for the Second Chance next season, handicap how you think Joe and Shirin are going to do in their second shots?

Mike Holloway: Well my winner pick for Season 31 is Shirin. And it”s not because of the relationship that we have. I mean who is literally going to vote this girl off first? Maybe I”m wrong. Maybe she will be the first one to go, but if she can skate through two or three beginning votes and she makes the Merge, I feel like she can go a long way. Joe? Oh man. This guy right here, if you let him get to the individual aspect of this game, he can go all the way too. He could go on a run like Terry Dietz or like Tom Westman, one of those guys. And pull off something but, you know, that”s not the strategy that I think Joe wants to go into the game with because he is such a physical threat. I think Shirin”s battle is going to be at the beginning of the game and I think Joe”s battle is going to be right at merge. God, I would love nothing more than this season to be a Final Two and it be two Dirties in the Final Two and me being like, “I don”t know who to root for.” But yeah, here”s another thing. I don”t think that Joe and Shirin will work together on a game. They don”t have that relationship. So I don”t necessarily think that they”re going to just be like team up.

HitFix: That makes sense. Well thank you so much for chatting today and congratulations again to you.

Mike Holloway: Hey, thank you so much and you too, you have a great day. And do me one favor. 

HitFix: Yeah?

Mike Holloway: Just make somebody smile today, dude.

HitFix: I will do my darndest.

Mike Holloway: Go out, just make somebody smile today bro. It changes people”s worlds.

HitFix: I will do my best.

Other “Survivor: Worlds Apart” exit interviews:
Carolyn Rivera
Will Sims II
Sierra & Rodney
Dan Foley
Tyler Fredrickson
Shirin Oskooi
Jenn Brown
Joe Anglim
Hali Ford
Kelly Remington
Joaquin Souberbielle
Max Dawson
Lindsey Cascaddan
Nina Poersch
Vince Sly
So Kim