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Survivor

EXCLUSIVE: Survivor All Stars winner David Genat on moving his family to Australia and his dire health struggles during the show

''I almost gave up on that first day.''

By Maddison Hockey
When Australian Survivor announced an All Stars series, we knew it was going to be huge.
Rounding up the best of the best, Survivor greats returned for a second chance at glory and they brought their A-game.
In last night's nail-biting finale Moana Hope, Sharn Coombes and David Genat battled it out in a final immunity challenge to make top two. It was David who won and took Sharn through to the finale before taking out the entire competition to be named sole Survivor.
The Golden God, who first appeared in Champions V Contenders in 2019 had returned for All Stars with a point to prove after being eliminated with an Idol in his pocket the previous season.
There's no doubt David proved that point, playing one of the most strategic and social games in Survivor history.
In an exclusive post-win interview with Now To Love, David reveals his game almost ended on day one after suffering an injury, how he suffered through countless illness and which co-star took their blindside betrayal to heart.
The final three and one of the show's strongest alliances: Mo, Sharn and David. Image: Instagram / @davidgenat
Congratulations! How are you feeling?
I'm on cloud nine. It's almost incomprehensible. I'm happy, my family is happy of course, but I think the fans are really happy and that's what is bringing me a lot of joy today.
How will you be spending your winnings?
We've moved back to Australia and will be back now for a few years. We're going to use it for the kids education, my daughter is dyslexic so there will be a lot going into there and my wife has some health complications with an auto immune problem with Lupus. But we're going to have some fun too as soon as this coronavirus goes away we'll take a holiday and I'll definitely be buying a motorcycle or two.
Why was it so important to bring your split family together and make the move here?
My daughter is 8 now, and I've been living in New York for 17 years. Two of my boys have been growing up in Perth and they can't quite get the same relationship through Skype as they would in person. It's pretty expensive to fly a family of four here and have a place to stay. We were intent on making the move back and Survivor has given me the ability to do that.
David's wife and kids were by his side at the finale. Image: 10
It didn't quite make it to air but your time on the show wasn't easy, how did you cope?
I was so sick. I had ten stitches on my first day from being hit by a piece of wood. I almost gave up on that first day, luckily I didn't. But, as the season progressed I kept getting progressively worse.
I had a huge weight loss, about 14.8kg this second time round. To go from losing weight the first time, around 11kg, putting it back on then that mass weigh tloss again, my body was breaking down. I dislocated my knee cap, ruptured my LCL, I had five spider bites, I had an abyss on my left butt cheek, so now I have a good side [laughs]. Then I got the flu. I think playing back to back was too much.
How did you push through such a tough experience?
I'd do daily meditation, think of my family and have little conversations with them. I have their initials on my necklace, I would make these conversations in my head while meditating where I would ask how their day was. Also trying to have a positive mantra, which was don't trust anyone but you're doing great, you're going to win this thing.
You burnt a few bridges, thus is the nature of the game, but did any of your co-stars take their blindsides or betrayals to heart?
[Laughs] Yeah, probably Phoebe. I had to put a bit of work in with Phoebe. I think there was a bit of a story arc where we were great but then that episode aired and she was like: "What?!"
But, that is the nature of the beast, All Stars isn't first timers, people know what they are signing up for. We're there to make a television show at the end of the day, for me whatever makes that show more interesting; I try to give that to the fans.
Poor Phoebs, there was a bit of apologising and then probably also Mo. Mo and I were very, very close, she'd had my back. But I wanted to clean sweep that Jury with a 9-0 vote, it didn't happen but that was primarily in my mind.
Phoebe and David had a tight alliance and friendship, until he blindsided her. Image: Instagram / @davidgenat
Was choosing between Mo and Sharn a tough decision for you ahead of the finale?
It was a difficult choice because you are close to these people. They're good friends and will continue to be but at the end of the day I thought I could beat both of them at tribal council it just came down to who would get less votes. In my mind I thought that was Sharn.
How are you finding life now you've moved to Ausralia?
Loving it. It's a weird time with coronavirus. My wife has lived in New York for over 20 years, to get to show her what life is like in Australia, it's so amazing here. We're so luckily to be living where we are and to be able to give that to them is a special experience.

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