updated 05/13/2013 AT 1:00 PM ET
•originally published 05/13/2013 AT 2:15 PM ET
“What I have to do is focus on the positive, visualize success, and just get these negative thoughts out of my head.”
– John Cochran, Survivor: South Pacific
Cochrowned! On Sunday, Survivor super fan John Cochran swept the challenges and swept our hearts. More importantly, he swept the jury votes, becoming the third winner in Survivor history – after JT and Earl – to shut out his opposition. Congratulations, Cochran! You win a million bucks and the final Fishy!
When the season started, I thought Cochran was DOA. He was physically maladroit, he was a known backstabber and his skin blistered on exposure to sunlight.
But the politics of the Favorites tribe favored him. Phillip, Andrea and Dawn wanted to work with him while they settled old vendettas. Cochran served as therapist to a group of volatile players.
That provided him the room to develop he hadn’t had in South Pacific, where he was a nerd outcast among jocks. On the Island of Misfit Toys, Cochran could undergo his chrysalis from anxious caterpillar to slightly-less-anxious butterfly.
By the end, Cochran wasn’t just tribe counselor – he was its leader. He wasn’t a challenge cipher – he was a dominator.