Todd Herzog, a gay ex-flight attendant and former Mormon, is the youngest Survivor winner ever. The 22-year-old's machinations brought this last season in China to life and reinvigorated the series. He talked to Out.com about growing up in the Church of Latter-Day Saints, the hotness of Jeff Probst, and his favorite Spice Girl.
Out: Let's get the important questions out of the way first. Did you get to see the Spice Girls reunion tour?
Todd Herzog: I did. Twice already. I thought it was amazing.
So who's your favorite Spice Girl?
You know, I have love for them all. It used to be Ginger Spice. Now, probably more Victoria. She just took over the world. She all of a sudden became this insane icon. She's got the worst voice of them, she's the worst dancer out of them, but she's like, Victoria.
So. Probst. Hot? Or not?
Definitely hot. He's Probst.
As a flight attendant, do you have a man in every port?
Uh, no. That's the funniest thing. Everybody's always like, Do you have hoes in different area codes? I'm like, Ri-i-i-ght. No. Being a flight attendant was pretty crazy. It was a weird experience.
So you're not a flight attendant anymore?
No, I actually had to quit my job to do the show.
I'd quit my job, and even if I ended up being the first one voted out, it would still be worthwhile.
Exactly. I've been wanting to do Survivor since I was 15. I couldn't tell my job what I was going to do because it was so top secret, and they wouldn't let me take a leave of absence, so I was like Peace.
How's it being a gay Mormon? Are you still active in the church?
I haven't been active in the church for quite a while now. I think the reason I'm happy I was raised Mormon is because it's given me a level of values and morals that I like to stay true to. I'm just proud of how I was raised. And I love my mom so much I want to make her proud too.
Did you ever go on a mission?
No, I did not go on a mission. You go when you're 19 and I came out at 19, and I figured, well, it's either go on a mission and lie or tell everybody why you're not going on a mission.
Did you get an inkling that any of the other Survivors might be gay? Or at least would be open if they had enough reward wine?
I did. My gaydar went off a little bit. I'm not gonna say who, but, yeah, it did ring a few times.
If Amanda had not won final immunity, would you have considered voting her out?
No. I don't think I would have considered voting Amanda out, because we also had Denise [at the reunion show] play pity party and get a $50,000 check handed to her, and that's what I figured she'd do at the final tribal council. And I knew Amanda wasn't the best at answering questions, so I figured why not go up against her in the finals.
That's what tripped her up, that final council.
It's the truth, she just choked.
It was really surprising. Courtney came off as together and truthful by simply saying hey, this is how I did it, and she got more votes than I thought she would. And I liked Courtney.
I love Courtney, I love her so much.
People seemed so against her. I think she's young, but also really funny and smart.
Oh, she's so smart. The thing is that she's real. She's just very, very herself. She doesn't try to please you or pretend to be someone just to make you happy. They didn't show it so much, but she was my best friend the whole entire show.
But they edited it so that it looked like you and Amanda were best buds.
Amanda and I were tight, but it was on a game level. I think Courtney and I were tight on a friendship level.
If you hadn't made final three, who else, other than Courtney and Amanda, would you have liked to have seen there?
Frosti or Peih-Gee... Peih-Gee was quite a bit annoying, except I had to respect her game play. And I just love Frosti. He's the coolest kid alive.
Why did you and Amanda take down the first immunity idol in such a public way?
OK, so the rule with the immunity idol is, the person who gets it, it's in their possession. And I saw Amanda messing around over there, and I immediately panicked, thinking, Oh, no, she's going to get it and it will be hers. So I walked over and I thought it was just one of the bats on the corner of the square, I did not realize it was the entire square. So I thought by pulling off the square, I could sneak away and pull one of the bats off. I ripped the square off and the entire back says, Congratulations, you've found the hidden immunity idol. And I was like, This didn't work the way I planned.
Well, it worked out. You won.
I'm still in shock.
Do you think you got a fair edit?
As far as the game is concerned, yes. In real life, I'm not as sneaky or slippery. But when it's game time, I'm gonna be the manipulative one In my final statement, I was like, Look, guys, yes, we had a bond and we had a relationship, and I really do like you guys, but it's a game and I had to lie to you to get here. I'm sorry. But I'm not gonna try to smooth it over or make it seem like I feel so guilty, because I did it for a reason. And now I'm holding a million-dollar check.
As a huge Survivor fan, who were some of the previous players you were fans of?
I find every season I seem to like the bad guys more. Like I loved Rocky in Fiji, even though it was such a boring season. I loved Rob Cesternino in Amazon. I also love Jenna Morasca. I love Sandra. I love Jonny Fairplay. I love Eliza. There are so many random contestants throughout Survivor history that I just love. Usually, though, it's not the fan favorites, like Rupert.
What was the best moment that we didn't see on the show?
When Courtney, myself and Denise went to the Great Wall of China, in the morning we got to sleep in, which was fantastic, and a little puppy came out of nowhere down the Great Wall and started licking our toes, waking us all up. And we played with the little puppy, and they brought us coffee and biscuits. What a great morning. And then we all sat together on the edge of the Great Wall and watched the sun rise.
You know what, the scary thing is my goal for so long has been to be on Survivor, to win Survivor. And now that I've done it, I'm like, um what next? I really don't know. I have no clue. I know I'm gonna travel quite a bit and gonna try to invest well and just try to build my future and be smart with the money.