He lost a million, won our hearts on 'Survivor'
By Susan Young, STAFF WRITER
Inside Bay Area
YAU-MAN CHAN will go down in "Survivor" history as the man who gave away a $65,000 truck to a guy who reneged on his promise to give Chan immunity.
Chan, 54, a Martinez resident who works as the Director of Information Systems for the College of Chemistry at UC Berkeley, says as soon as the curtain dropped on the huge Ford truck, he knew he could never take it home.
"When they dropped the curtain, I knew that's not my lifestyle. I own two hybrids. If I took it home, my wife would leave me and the children would have disowned me, but it was nice of Ford to donate the truck," Chan says the morning after Sunday's "Survivor: Fiji" finale. "Now, if they would have donated a hybrid Escape, I wouldn't be so quick to trade it off."
Of course, that was also before he knew how much the truck was worth, joking that he would never have made it on "The Price is Right."
So, does he have to pay taxes on the truck anyway?
"I didn't touch it. The title never touched me," Chan says. "I'm in the clear."
He says that he knew how much Andria "Dreamz" Herd wanted the truck, so he decided almost immediately to use it as a bargaining chip because he knew when it came down to the final four, either he or Dreamz would win the immunity challenge.
"Looking back, I may have overplayed (Dreamz honoring his promise)," Chan says. "I can't read people like Cassandra (Franklin) did. I found out I don't have a talent for that."
The final four included Chan, ad executive Earl Cole, college administrator Franklin and cheerleading coach Dreamz.
Cole says the shocked look on his face when Dreamz backed out of the agreement with Chan was genuine: Cole realized he'd just won a million dollars. He knew up against Chan, he probably would have lost.
That was borne out Sunday when host Jeff Probst asked the jurors if they would have voted for Chan to win the million. In a show of hands, it was revealed that Chan would have won the game.
"So Dreamz, who was never going to win the million because of what he had done during the course of the show, decided the outcome by not giving me the immunity he had promised," Chan says. "Earl won the million dollars, and because neither Dreamz nor Cassandra got a single vote, they tied for second and will get $100,000. Since I came in third, I will get $60,000."
Herd, who has lived most of his life as a homeless young man, was all over the map, making him very difficult to read at the best of times. He mentioned on the reunion show that he hoped to meet Oprah Winfrey. Perhaps if he had honored his bargain, that might have happened.
As it is, Chan says he doubts Oprah would "even allow him close to her building."
Chan says Herd feels guilty over his decision.
"Being nice to him was worse than being angry. He really wants me to be all over him about this, but I'm not going to give him the pleasure," Chan says. "Look, life is short. I don't want to hold that anger or a grudge against him. He will have to deal with this for the rest of his life. He's in bad shape because he will have to do a lot of good deeds to offset that image. He committed a major moral infraction in front of millions of people."
The funny thing is, Chan says, is that Herd is telling everyone he's going to donate the truck to the charity that helped him when he was homeless.
"We all rolled our eyes and said please have a lot of television and newspaper coverage or else we won't believe it," Chan says.
Chan admits he was a little disappointed that his pal Cole sided with Franklin and Herd to vote him out.
"I was hoping he would vote for Cassandra so we could have a tie vote, but I understand that he felt he had a better chance at the final tribal council with Dreamz and Cassandra," Chan says. "I still think that if Dreamz hadn't won the immunity, Earl would have voted him out instead."
Chan says that when he thought he might have a shot at winning the million, he thought about retiring. But now that's not an option. He says people are seeking him out for endorsements, but he says he thinks he'll steer clear of commercial endorsements while doing what he can for charities.
"There's a move on the Internet to get a million people to send in a dollar each so I can win the million," Chan says with a laugh. "I'm getting a lot more recognition on the street. I'm basically a shy person, so I'm trying to be more outgoing. It's a new experience for me."