Sex therapist Denise Stapley was voted the winner of Survivor: Philippines over former Facts of Life star Lisa Whelchel and Survivor Michael Skupin.
Although Denise was seen as an underdog going into Sunday’s finale of Survivor: Philippines, the sex therapist from Cedar Rapids, Iowa was a strong force all season long. After forming an early alliance with fellow Matsing tribe mate Malcolm Freberg, Denise strategically maneuvered her way through three tribes and every Tribal Council of the season.
Despite strong pleas to the jury by Lisa and Skupin, Denise used endurance to her advantage in securing the right amount of votes to win and take home the million dollar prize as sole Survivor.
The following day, The Deadbolt caught up with Denise to learn more about her victory, her strategic game play, and what went wrong with Malcolm.
THE DEADBOLT: What was your strategy for your final speech at Tribal Council that you knew would separate you from Skupin and Lisa?
DENISE STAPLEY: The number one thing that I knew, that I needed to say and make very clear, was that I survived every single Tribal Council. I had done that. That was the number one thing that I knew I really had to close the speech out with that would completely separate me from Michael and Lisa.
THE DEADBOLT: You were so strong throughout the entire game. Why do you think the others saw you as an underdog?
DENISE: I think, because I’ve heard it described as coattails or under the radar, I just played a very quiet and smart game. Luckily I had my alliance with Malcolm that felt solid.
As long as votes were going the way I needed them to go, or the ways that were beneficial for me, there was really no need for me to be the bull in the China shop and make a lot of noise. So I was able to continue to maneuver and went tribe-to-tribe. That was it. That was my strategy.
THE DEADBOLT: Where did things go wrong between the you and Malcolm?
DENISE: You know, it sounds like a bad break-up. It didn’t necessarily go wrong but it didn’t go exactly right after the final four. I was really trying to sure up whether Malcolm was going to go forward and his thoughts on going into the final four with me.
He could never give me that confirmation. I gave him ample opportunity to do it, and I would have taken him. When he didn’t give it, I went to plan-B. Thank goodness it worked!
How do you feel about Denise winning Survivor: Philippines?