Chris Schulz is the deputy head of entertainment for the New Zealand Herald.

'I was drunk': Survivor winner reveals her secret

Sophie Clarke is the latest winner of reality show Survivor. Photo / Supplied
Sophie Clarke is the latest winner of reality show Survivor. Photo / Supplied

Survivor's latest winner says secretly drinking champagne during her final tribal council helped her win the reality show's US$1 million prize.

Sophie Clarke, a medical school student from New York, lifted Survivor: South Pacific's title after beating Benjamin "Coach" Wade and Albert Destrade in the show's final jury vote.

Clark held her nerve in the brutal jury session to receive a majority six votes. Wade got three and Destrade none.

The 22-year-old told the secret to keeping calm was filling up her water bottle with champagne and sipping at it regularly during the gruelling question-and-answer session.

"We had champagne at the final three breakfast. Coach and Albert managed to spill all the orange juice. I was so angry I said, 'Listen, you spilt the orange juice - this champagne is mine'.

"Every time someone was mean to me at tribal I took a swig. I was able to just sit there a little subdued, just smiling," she said.

"It definitely gave me some liquid courage and helped me to get through."

Clarke described the show's final tribal council as "awful".

"All these people were voted out of the game and all they can do for the weeks they're waiting is talk about how much they hate us. They have one last shining moment to talk about how terrible we all are.

"They really milked it this time."

Clarke said she snuck under the radar and let the bigger personalities on her tribe make big moves.

"I could tell all the guys in my tribe wanted to target the girls. I knew I had to align with the guys. The last thing I wanted to do was be super loud and super domineering so I definitely tried to fade into the back a bit and work on my alliances with the guys."

She said the show's returning players - Oscar 'Ozzy' Lusth and Wade - were obviously gutted at missing out on the win and failing to repeat the efforts of last season's winner, 'Boston' Rob Mariano.

"Where Coach fell done is that he almost succeeded in pulling off a Boston Rob. The problem is he isn't Boston Rob. Boston Rob will own up to everything and he will say, 'Yeah, I manipulated you and I did it because I wanted to win'.

"Coach instead tries to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to win but wants to say he's this great moral guy with integrity and honesty. It's a little self righteous. You need to make people feel good about giving you the million. He didn't do that.

She had some advice for future Survivor players.

"My advice would be to be a conniving bitch, but own it. The jury doesn't want to hear about honour, they want to hear about how you played the game."

The 24th season of Survivor, called One World, begins screening in America in February:

- Herald online

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