Hello and welcome to the penultimate instalment of my eight part interview with Australian Sole Survivor Pia Miranda. When we left off, Pia had just beaten all the other contestants, to win $500,000… in a moment that looked something a little like this;
PM: It’s a big thing, winning that amount of money.
SH: It’s absolutely life-changing. I think back on it all the time, and its benefits continue… and will continue, all the way through.
PM: Our kids will benefit from this. We bought our house late, because we’re actors – we just don’t have money. Just that whole idea that we’ve now fast-forwarded our lives and we’re in that position. Even if I got in a great television show and I was the lead, I still wouldn’t be in this position! There is no point in time that I ever thought that amount of money would fall into my lap. It was weird because right before you go on Survivor, they put you in this little hotel room with no TV or anything and you’re just stuck there for three or four days by yourself. And you go to shoot the promos and you see who else is there…
SH: Lots of athletes?
PM: It’s not just athletes, I felt like that little kid at school on their first day at a new school and everyone is kind of cool… I just regretted it. The last thing I said to him – and he was trying to pump me up, going “you can do this”. So I said to him “Okay, right now I’m going to go out and win us this money,” and then I hung up.
SH: And sure enough…. fifty days later, there you were! How was it to decompress and return home after all that privation and starvation?
PM: It’s bad. You should see the WhatsApp groups that various players had with each other after the show. For 3 weeks, they were just all about food.
SH: Like “what are you eating?” “What are you eating?” “What are you eating?”
PM: Yes! Totally obsessing about food. It is non-stop food. I spoke to one of the dads at school (where my kids go) and he said “In the army, we generally reintegrate you into society after you’ve been through something like that.” When I got out, I missed out going to jury villa decompressing with everyone and talking the game or having that bonding experience. I just got thrust out and had that weird guilt of “Oh, I won – sorry about that guys.” The night I got let out, they gave me a meal. I said, “I just want a bottle of wine.”
SH: At least!
PM: I drank wine. I was trying to tell Luke everything that was going on. I had a shower, and just fell asleep in bed with the kids – it was amazing. My head was spinning and Janine’s husband and my husband spoke and discovered me and Janine were going through the same thing. I had to come back and work on Mustangs two days later.
SH: Just two days later? Wow.
PM: It was just hard to look anyone in the eye. There was an energy about me; I couldn’t connect with anyone, I was talking a million miles an hour, I was super overstimulated. The whole time you’re there, you only see Tribal, you see the beach and you see the challenges. In between that, you see nothing, you don’t hear music; there is no external stimulation at all. I couldn’t stop eating. We just talked about food the whole time and we’re talking about Hungry Jack’s at the airport. I had this massive thing of Hungry Jacks in my lap on the plane. Then I saw one of the other contestants walked onto the plane with his Hungry Jack’s.
SH: Did it make you sick?
PM: Sick for days. I had the runs for like two weeks. I was bingeing, runs, bingeing, runs (LAUGHS) it was just this cycle… One day I woke up and said “Okay, this has to stop”, and then it stopped. Actually, I found out I had an autoimmune disease when I was out there and went to a naturopath and she was like “don’t eat this or this”. I was on this restrictive diet, so that stopped me – no more burgers. The weird thing was though, when you are that starved – I don’t have a sweet tooth at all. I don’t like ice cream and all that kind of stuff – but when you’re out there, your body starts obsessing over and thinking about sugary food cakes, ice creams, I guess your body is just looking for a quick calorie hit.
SH: A bit of energy.
PM: Yes, one of the first things I did was to have gelato… which I’ve never eaten (LAUGHS).
SH: Okay. I’ve already asked you what you’re doing with the prize money…
PM: Yes, mortgage and Disneyland.
PM: When I was up on that big endurance challenge, Jonathan was “So, Pia what are you going to do with the money if you win it?” I was crying, “I’m going to pay off the mortgage. I’m going to take the kids to Disneyland.” and then I pulled myself together and added “And I’m going to buy a Chanel bag, Jonathan.” He was so impressed he just nodded and said “Nice.”
Next week, as we wind up the interview, Pia gives her very Top Tips for any aspiring Survivor contestants out there. So if you’re dreaming of, thinking of, or applying for, your very own Survivor experience… you can’t afford to miss that.
Until then, then!