'Survivor' Winner Ben Driebergen Reveals How He'll Spend His $1 Million Prize (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
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Ben Driebergen was named Sole Survivor on Wednesday night's season finale of Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers -- but most importantly, he won the $1 million prize.
ET caught up with the 34-year-old Marine at CBS Television City in Los Angeles after he was crowned the season 35 winner, and he dished all about how he planned to spend his million.
"I'm going to save it. I'm going to figure out how to save it and make it work for us, my kids' college. Education is a big thing. I didn't get to go to college, so if we can better our lives and my children's life, that's what I'm going to do," Ben explained, adding that he's been thinking of ways to spend the money "since I got cast, really."
"A million dollars goes quick these days, and I'm still working at a grocery warehouse and still stacking groceries, so I'm going to do that for a while and figure out what we're going to do with our lives," he added.
The vote definitely was close, with many fans thinking the early votes read for Chrissy Hofbeck meant she would take home the final prize -- not to mention her impressive four individual immunity wins and great relationships with much of the castaways.
"Even the way it went, with each one of us getting one vote apiece and then Chrissy getting another one, I thought I lost," Ben confessed. "You can speculate how people voted. Some people might say something to you, but Jeff says at the very end, 'Look, these people might still be playing a game. You don't know if they're telling you the truth.' And it's a very uneasy, nerve-wracking feeling to have until your name is read."
The finale also saw an emotional reunion between Ben and those he fought in combat with, starting a dialogue about veterans' issues with PTSD and learning to live off the battlefield.
"That was amazing. What they did for me, I could never repay them. Those guys are brothers. We went through a lot. We lost some buddies, and we will be friends for life, no matter what, and so to see them again was just an awesome feeling," Ben shared, tearing up while recalling the powerful on-stage moment. "Obviously, there's an issue in our country with veterans and PTSD. We gotta figure out how to help these guys out. But as a vet, you don't want to be perceived as weak. So, it's a touchy subject, and if I can help just one vet and save just one vet's life, then it was worth it."
At the end of the day, though, it's Ben's wife who he couldn't wait to celebrate with.
"Oh my god, I can't wait to go get her and hug her and kiss her more and open this thing and see what a million dollar check looks like!" he exclaimed. "I'm so excited to get back to her."
And after a little nudging, the Idaho native finally revealed the one thing he just might splurge on. "I'm talking about buying a circle track racing car," he said with a wide smile. "But we'll have to see. We want to be smart with it -- but I think I've earned a race car."
Survivor returns for season 36 next spring on CBS.