Payday For Danni

After 39 days of intense competition, 16 dramatic tribal councils and seven angry jurors, it came down to two of "Survivor: Guatemala's" fiercest competitors: Danni Boatwright and Stephenie LaGrossa.

Both were in the New York studio of The Early Show Friday, the morning after Danni was announced as the winner in Los Angeles. They took the red-eye flight to make the show. Is the whole experience real to Danni yet?

"No! It's so funny," said Danni. "As soon as I landed, I turned my phone on and I had 61 messages and trying to answer them on the way back. It's crazy."

When "Survivor" host Jeff Probst started reading off the votes, Danni said she didn't know she had won until the third vote.

"Then I knew that I had won," Danni said. "But we had a little inkling. You aren't sure because you get blindsided all the time in this game. I thought it would happen again."

Danni said it was difficult to choose between Rafe Judkins and Stephenie to take to the final two.

"Sometimes, I'm ruled by my heart," Danni said, "and so that was obviously something I was dealing with … But then I also had to think about my family, and they would have just killed me if I had taken Rafe instead of Stephenie, Stephenie having a huge target on her back coming back in from playing last year."

The last immunity challenge — trying to stay on a balance beam under the broiling sun — looked difficult but Danni appeared to suffer little discomfort.

"I was doing a really good acting job," Danni said. "I had no meat on the backbone and, at that point, it was grinding into the bone. I had an advantage of being a little taller."

Stephenie agreed that height was an advantage.

"It's hard," Stephenie said. "I was just barely able to reach with my toes and I was like, 'Man, Lydia wouldn't have even been able to get on this thing.' "

If Stephenie had won that immunity challenge, she said, she would have taken Rafe to the final two.

"We had an alliance since day one," she said. "So I didn't really have that great of a shot against anybody."

When Rafe told Danni that she was no longer honor-bound to take him to the final two, Danni said she thought he was being sincere.

"That's how Rafe is," Danni said. "But it was also the worst move Rafe could make, and I know he was hating himself for making that move. I was heavily weighing on, 'I have to take Rafe.' Then I said, 'I don't have to take Rafe.' "

At the beginning of the game, Stephenie was initially welcomed with open arms. But by the end, particularly from Judd Sergeant, there was a lot of resentment toward her.

"Yeah, there always is when people take on a leadership position," said Stephenie. "You are sitting in the end, and they are sitting on the jury. I don't have regrets.

"I feel bad I never got to repay Judd, but I'm working on that."

It was on The Early Show that Danni was presented with a check for $1 million, presented by "Survivor" favorite Rupert Boneham.

"I'm going to have a good Christmas for my nieces and nephews," Danni told co-anchor Rene Syler.

But her dream, she said, is to become an adoptive parent.

"I love kids so much, and I'm 30," she said, "and I really am going to look into adopting next summer. I always thought China, but possibly now Guatemala since I've been there. I think it would be awesome. I have family that are missionaries and have traveled all over, and they have a ton of kids and they thought about doing the same thing in Guatemala. I'd like to possibly do that next summer."

As for the game she played, Danni concluded: "I think, sometimes, if you sit back and you watch and you wait for the right move to make, I think that's the smartest play you can make because, obviously, Judd's mouth got him voted off the game a little early. And I sat back and I watched and I'd like to consider myself the stealth bomber. You didn't know I was there until after I did all the damage."