'Survivor' winner Sophie returns to Willsboro - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

'Survivor' winner Sophie returns to Willsboro

Willsboro, New York - December 28, 2011

Sophie Clarke returned to her hometown of Willsboro, N.Y., Wednesday night, a little over a week since winning the CBS reality show "Survivor."

"It feels great to finally be around people that I've known my whole life, very comfortable," she said.

Clarke held a question and answer session at the Willsboro Central School to describe her experience on a tropical island in the South Pacific where the show was taped.

"It's fun learning about the other things that go on on the island that us viewers don't get to see, like how the tribal councils went on for two hours even though we only saw two minutes," commented Pam Drollette of Willsboro.

"The bathroom, it was like whoa, like how she said sometimes she had to go in the water, it must be really embarrassing," said Darrian Sweatt who is from Willsboro.

"They went three days without eating. That's what surprised me," said Mark Bonfey.

Clarke signed up for the show, saying it looked easy and winning the $1 million grand prize would be an easy accomplishment. Clarke said she had a quick reality check.

"It's like being shipwrecked on an island with crazy people for 39 days, without eating," she said. "You are forced to snuggle with a 50-year-old cowboy just for warmth. And you have this whole unpredictability thing, you see two people talking; are they talking about you? Trying to get you out?"

Clarke said even though the game was much more challenging than she thought, she was confident she was going to win. The key was outwitting her opponents.

"I was very observant, made sure to keep my head in the game at all times, that's really hard when you are not eating and missing home. Always thinking about the jury, who they would want to vote for. I was always trying to be strategic, what alliance to go with, what alliance not to go with."

After taxes, the 22-year-old Middlebury College graduate will get to keep about $600,000 of the prize money. She is currently enrolled in medical school in New York City, studying to become an OB-GYN.

"A lot of students chose their specialty in medical school based on, how much they make, and it's nice to have that burden lifted off of me and chose my specialty based on what I want to do."

"I'm ready to move on now, having lived with 'Survivor' for so long," said Sophie's father, Thurston.

Click here to see the live interview with Sophie.

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