Having survived 47 days, Mark pled his case to the Jury, shining a spotlight on a game that was equally physical and strategic, and one that saw him sail through the game despite having one of the biggest targets on his back from day one.
Returning to the very game where he met his wife, the pair had spoken for years about what it would look like if they got the opportunity to play again. When the opportunity came, both he and Sam Gash were able to once again play the game that changed their lives the first time around.
“We did it much more deliberately, we had a different strategy, we worked hard preparing ourselves for the game so I thought it was a much better showing this time around,” Mark told 10 play.
Though he won the title of ‘Sole’ Survivor, Mark said it’s ultimately a shared win between him and Sam.
“Not only was Sam good in the sense that she was able to navigate the game so well, but even when she was out she was still on the Jury explaining the moves we had done, which probably disarmed some of the Jury that had not been satisfied,” he explained. “It’s every bit her win as much as it is mine.”
Shocked that they were both able to make it to merge, Mark assumed that the pair being returning players, and him standing over six feet tall, they would have some of the biggest targets on their back. But they tried to keep a low profile, tried to keep their games separate for as long as possible and constantly mitigated their threat level for as long as possible.
Post-merge, Mark and Sam were central to the majority alliance, one that was surprisingly populated with physically strong men — the likes of whom are usually picked off in the early days of merge. The majority alliance received flack from viewers who watched as they picked off the minority one by one.
“It is deeply unfashionable to pull together an alliance like that and to cooperate,” Mark said, “and it drove people crazy because we had the discipline to stick together and work repeatedly in the same direction.
“That takes a lot of work and it’s a move on its own, to cooperate together and protect each other in the way we did. So even though it was not liked by people, it made a lot of sense strategically and I’m proud of it.”
At the final five vote, both Mark and Josh had their backs up against the wall facing a potential vote where the three remaining women would push one of them out. But things didn’t go to plan and KJ was sent to the jury. At that point, Mark realised he had a very serious shot at winning the season.
Pitching to the Jury, Mark not only had a serious shot but he won with a unanimous vote. Looking back, he laughed at the idea of returning to the game as a winner.
“I feel like my story arc is done, whereas Sam has more to offer the game,” he said. “I feel like she’s such a good player and didn’t get to go the whole distance.
“I hope she gets another shot, I really do. I hope she does and I’d be happy to watch from the couch.”
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