Survivor SA’s Tom on his R1m prize: ‘I’m going to buy our house so we always have a home’

Cape Town – 41-year-old adventure camp manager Tom Swartz was named South Africa’s ultimate survivor during the live finale of M-Net’s Survivor SA: Philippines on Thursday night.  

The former head of an anti-poaching unit survived 39 days of tough challenges, blindsides and hunger on a remote island to finally pick up the majority of the votes from the Arawa jury.

Channel24 spoke to Tom shortly after his win about the final tribal council, his roller coaster ride in the game and what it’s like to be a millionaire now.

What does it feel like to be a millionaire now?

It is surreal. Is it real? Did it just happen? Is this really my fate? There are so many things running through my mind right now. If I thought I was stressed before this, I am so stressed now. But it is amazing!

What does winning this R1m mean to you?

Not necessarily me. What it means to my family is more than you can imagine. We have space to breathe, we have a way to move now. We have a way to get our lives back on track and that is just godsend. I am going to buy the house we are living in so that there is never a time that we don’t have a home. 

How confident were you going into the game? Did you at any moment think that you would win because you had so many ups and downs?

Boy, it was a roller coaster. No, I didn’t think I would win. I thought I would probably make it to merge. If I was lucky enough to hold on that long. Once I made it to merge I changed my game plan slightly and I thought...well maybe I can make top five. 

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@survivor_sa season 6 winner, Tom Swartz #survivorsa

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How much preparation and thought went into your speech going into final tribal council?

We didn’t really have a helluva lot of time if you think about it. What I decided to do for my speech was to take ownership of the victories, the losses and also the mistakes. And I think that was what sort of swung the jury. I had to show that not only did I play a hard game but I also realised that I irritated a few and completely cheesed off a few others.

The jury grilled you and didn’t hold back. Where did you think you stood with the vote heading out of final tribal council?

I thought I was done! When I left tribal council, I thought well that’s it, kiss my chance goodbye. I made it to the top two. I did not expect a 6-1 vote.

Whose vote surprised you the most?

Chané’s...but mostly Palesa’s. I did not expect that. 

What was your best move of the game and what was your worst move of the game?

My best move of the game was voting out Werner. My worst move emotionally was voting out Werner.

People are always asking what did you miss most about home. Let’s flip that. Now that you’re back home what do you miss most about being on the island?

I miss the island incredibly. I love being in nature, I love being in the water. I miss rolling over and going for a swim and just grabbing a snorkel and a mask and going diving for the day. 

If there is a season where the winners come back to play. Would you come back and do this all over again?

If that was an option I would probably be out of the door so quickly I wouldn’t say goodbye to you. I would be on a plane and on my way.

Entries for Survivor SA season 7 is now open. Click here to enter!

(Photos supplied: M-Net)