As if we needed any more evidence of how much America loves Rupert Boneham. It took the admirable pirate from "Survivor: Pearl Islands" over three hours to make it into the show's after party, finding himself buried under a pile of autograph seekers and admirers on his way down the red carpet.
"It feels wonderful. It feels wonderful. It's like a dream," Rupert tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
Rupert made sure everyone had a photo and his signature, each one another confidence booster for the man who claimed to be incredibly self-conscious during the series that topped the ratings with its season finale (25.6 million viewers).
Looking back at the game, he says he wished he wouldn't have been so obvious about his alliance with Christa and Sandra. He says, "That killed all of us. At least Sandra made it, sure, but shouldn't have made it known how close the three of us were."
His philosophy going into the game was to be the caretaker. "The one nobody could do without," he explains. "I knew that would hurt me at the end, but a least that would get me to the merge and then I thought, maybe I could start winning the immunities."
Rupert started playing the pirate from the get-go, enjoying stealing from the other tribe from when they got to town.
He says, "When I went in, I told my wife that I was that pirate that was there 400 years ago and I was going back to find that treasure I never could find."
Unfortunately, he ended up empty handed and seated on the jury. He says, "It was insanely hard for me to sit on that jury and watch that game be played without me. It was making me crazy. You could tell by the way I was eyeballing everybody on that. I didn't want to be in that jury."
Specifically, when his friends Christa and Sandra were still under the web of lies of "Jonny Fairplay". Accompanied by his very-much-alive grandmother Jean Cooke.
But the line about Cooke being dead was not something Rupert, Christa and Sandra totally believed. Rupert says, "That's why Sandra knew there was something up. Christa knew something was up when Jonny Fairplay came up with that line about his grandma. We knew something was up."
But Rupert and friends were not always aware of Jon's dealings. Jon voted to oust Rupert twice. Who can forget the confrontation between them both after the first time.
Rupert says, "On Day 18, it took all I had not to lay hands on this man and pop his head like that chicken. That was a bad day. That was a bad night when I had my team target me."
There is only two rules in "Survivor" and one of them is you can't get another player. Rupert emphasizes, "You cannot lay hands. You cannot hit another player and you cannot make deals out of the game."
Well, all that is in the past now. Jon and Rupert even hugged on The Early Show. Asked if his grandmother knew about his schemes, Jon says she had no clue.
Cooke says, "I figured he needed something desperately. He was ready to be booted off, so he was desperate."
And she watched her grandson play this game, she says, "I'm very proud of him. Because I felt like any of the 16 would have used it if they got as desperate as that, and he was desperate."
These days, he does not look desperate at all. He too walked the red carpet into the "Survivor" after party and enjoyed his spot in the limelight.
Finally, there's Internet gossip that both Rupert and Jon have appeared or have competed already in the "Survivor All-Stars." Asked what they can tell about that, Rupert says, "I don't know about that so much. When I got booted out of there and after I got out of jury camp I was so emotionally distraught, that I just had to get away for a little while, so I don't know exactly what's going on."