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Much richer Herzog still loves the show

LOS ANGELES — The most successful Utahn ever to play the "Survivor" game isn't on the all-star "Heroes vs. Villains" season — mostly because he wasn't asked.

"Oh, I'm not sure if I would have done it anyway," said Todd Herzog, who won the million dollars on "Survivor: China" in December 2007.

"Maybe they didn't know which team to put me on," he added with a laugh.

Since he won, Herzog, 25, has used some of his winnings to see the world.

"I've traveled a lot," he told the Deseret News. "I've been traveling pretty much since the show ended. I've been to 15 different countries in the past two years."

And he recently moved to Orlando, Fla.

"I bought a condo right across the street from Disney World. I love it. It's great," Herzog said. "I'm just enjoying life as much as I can."

But he still makes frequent trips to Utah to visit his family. And he has nothing but positive things to say about his home state.

"Honestly, everyone in Utah is so great. They'll stop me no matter where I am to say hi," Herzog said. "I love Utah. I love everybody there. But it was overwhelming for sure at first, because I couldn't go to Walmart without people having their camera phones in my face.

"But at the same time, it's very flattering because I'm just a fan from little Pleasant Grove, Utah, and I always will be."

While it came as no surprise to his family and friends, appearing on "Survivor" was a very public way to come out to the world as a gay man. He wasn't worried, but Herzog said his mother was concerned about possible backlash.

"I had to sit my mom down and say, 'I'm very happy and comfortable with who I am. And if there's backlash, people can come to me,' " he said.

For the most part, the reaction was positive.

"More people were supportive and happy and right there by my side through it all than negative about it," he said.

Herzog was a huge fan of "Survivor" before he appeared — he watched every single episode beginning when he was 14.

"It's kind of scary how much he knows about the show," Jeff Probst said before the "China" season aired.

And Herzog is still a fan.

"I watch the show religiously. I can't not watch it," he said. "I definitely root for different people every season. I always find my favorite. And then halfway through it usually changes. "It's still my favorite show. I never miss an episode."