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'Survivor: Nicaragua' winner was 'nervous'

December 20, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Jud "Fabio" Birza, the 21-year-old model-student from Los Angeles, overcame Chase Rice from Fairview, N.C., and real estate broker Matthew "Sash" Lenahan from New York to take home the reality competition's $1 million grand prize Sunday. Birza earned five votes from the nine-person jury of dismissed contestants on 'Survivor: Nicaragua'.

"From how I felt down in Nicaragua, going through all the angles or whatever, I really thought I was going to win by a little more," Birza said to the Associated Press during a phone interview following the finale. "It's all good, dude. I would rather it be super close. Chase felt good about it. As you could see, I was sweating. My armpits were going crazy. I was nervous."

Birza secured his place in the final trio by dominating the last three immunity challenges and breaking up the alliance of Rice, Lenahan and 44-year-old swim coach Holly Hoffman from Eureka, S.D. The jury lashed out at schemers Lenahan and Rice, who came in second behind Birza with four jury votes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report