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Boston Rob Unpacks the "Mistake" That Cost Him a Potential Deal or No Deal Island Win

The Survivor All-Star explains how that game ironically sort of messed up his Deal or No Deal Island finale.

By Tara Bennett
Did Boston Rob Cheat? | Deal or No Deal Island | NBC

This story contains spoilers for Deal or No Deal Island Season 1, Episode 11.

In the penultimate episode of Deal or No Deal Island, a single side-step and lookie-loo at Amy McCoy's puzzle table ended up dooming “Boston” Rob Mariano.

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The veteran reality competition contestant and professional poker player lost his hand when he made the reactionary decision to look at someone else's work, earning himself a three-minute penalty that ultimately left him on the excursion course as Stephanie, Amy, and Jordan landed in the running for the final two. 

RELATED: Deal or No Deal Island's Jordan Talks Winning Strategy, Feeling the Love & That Surprise Reveal

Even if you're not familiar with Mariano's prowess as a strategist in competition reality shows, his gameplay on Deal or No Deal Island alone positioned him as a good bet for the ultimate winner. So what happened?

In our exit interview with Mariano, he broke down to NBC Insider and select other reporters how his Survivor instincts actually tanked his judgment after Amy figured out the answer first, how he feels about the loss, and the only moment in the season that got under his skin.

Rob Mariano looks into the distance on Deal or No Deal Island Episode 111.

Walk us through what was going through your head when Amy left to go into the maze.

Yeah, this is a situation where, because I have so much experience, the experience kind of got the better of me. Obviously, I've played Survivor six different times. In that game, not only is it allowed, you're almost berated if you don't take the advantage to look at the other team and what they're doing if you're behind. So I definitely reverted to that.

And I'm just going to put it out there, from the outset, they definitely did say you're not allowed to look at the other person's puzzle. Joe didn't actually say it as you saw it portrayed on television. But before the challenge, they have standards and practice people run through all the rules, and there's a lot of rules. A lot of times in those situations, you're kind of half listening to the rules and you're half looking to see what the puzzle might be, what the maze might be because there's little clues that can give you an advantage when it starts. In addition to them saying that you're not allowed to look at the other person's puzzle, they also said it's up to you whether or not you want to cover your tiles or turn them over after, or put them back. So I heard that and, to me, that's kind of like indirect conflict. What would be the point to turn them over or try to hide it if no one could look at it?

And as it turned out, Amy was actually in the maze and she had turned around and was coming back out of the maze because she didn't turn her tiles over — is what she told us anyway — and that she was going to turn it over. So when I did go to look at hers, I was working through [mine] and I was close. But I was like, "Man, she just got in ahead of me. I wonder if she covered hers? Let me look real quick." I'm not trying to hide that I did. Of course, you saw it happen. And when Joe said, "Stop, stop, stop!" Immediately, I knew, "Oh no, I wasn't supposed to do that." 

RELATED: The Banker's Identity Is Revealed on Deal or No Deal Island

Then they decided what the penalty was going to be. The penalty was actually from the time that Amy had entered the maze until the time the next person was going to enter the maze would be added on. They said it was three minutes. I don't know if it was exactly. It might have been more. It felt like it was more, standing there. But anyway, it was what it was. And so in the moment, I'm thinking to myself, when I realized I have this penalty, I'm gonna have to deal with it. How can I negate it?

As soon as they say, "Go," [I decide] I'm just gonna tell Stephanie and Jordan what the answer is. I'm going to tell them the answer is 75. So there'll literally be no time and then I'll be right in there with them. But I made a mistake of asking the executive producer if I could do that. I think they were already nervous because I had already broken the rule. They're like, "No, no, don't do that." Even though it would have been great. I should have never have asked them. I should have just done it. And then, it could have been a lot different. But hindsight is what it is. It's unfortunate that it ended the way it was, but that's what happened.

The cast stands in front of Joe Manganiello on Deal or No Deal Island Episode 111.

When you were finished with the penalty and went into the maze, did you close the gap with Amy?

It wasn't as close as they made it look on TV. I think I was just unlocking my case when I heard them celebrating. She had already got back, just after I had retrieved my case. I was starting to make my way back over the hurdles. So it wasn't as close as they made it look, but that's good TV editing. I didn't actually get to open my case at the end. But Joe Manganiello and I have become good friends since the show and he told me that he did look in the case. And I actually had the high amount. So had I beat her back, I would have been able to stay in the game.

Where does this loss rank amongst your competition reality show losses?

Yeah, it was tough because anytime you get to the end — and I feel like I did everything right. Except, I made this one mistake and I got nobody to blame for it except for me. It lives and dies with what I did.

I mean, I got no choice but to accept the penalty and the consequences that go with it. That comes along with being a man, being a good leader, being a good role model, doing the right thing for not only myself so I feel good, but also for my kids. I accept it. I made a mistake. I'm human just like everyone else. It wasn't malicious or intentional, but I made a mistake. So that's it.

The cast of Deal or No Deal Island sits behind Joe Manganiello on Deal or No Deal Episode 112.

As a veteran of these shows where hurt feelings can be the norm, did anything actually get under your skin this season?

The one situation that really triggered me was when Stephanie called my integrity into question at Temple against Nick. Nick and I weren't per se working together. In the beginning, we kind of had a little bit of an alliance or whatever. But I had nothing but respect for Nick the entire time. Like I knew that I was a threat to him in the long game. But I was never maliciously, actively targeting him.

So when she says that — and right in front of me — I mean, it's crazy to think after all my years of doing reality TV that I'm not going to defend myself. So in the moment, I took offense to it. I didn't feel like I needed to turn it back on her. But at the same time, I would use it to get further in the game. Even if Nick had made a good deal with the Banker, I wanted everybody else to know that this was the person that was causing that unrest in the tribe. I tried to find peace after the fact. But in the moment, I definitely spoke my mind. And then afterward, I was good.

Just so you know, they didn't show it last night, but after I was eliminated, I told Stephanie, "Listen, you and I were adversaries in the game, but I hope outside of the game, there's no animosity going forward." And there hasn't been. We're good. 

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You have made it to a lot of finales. What was it like to just sit back and watch Jordan be in a position that is so familiar to you?

That's a really good question. So interestingly enough, I think the format of the show lends to really no hard feelings amongst the people that are eliminated, because it wasn't like a vote or something personal that ended up causing someone's demise, for the most part. With the exception of maybe, like, the people that sat at the end that were targeted because they had beaten the Banker. I didn't have to experience that. Ironically, I didn't even get taken out by another contestant or luck. It was kind of my own undoing. So I had nobody to blame but myself. So I was genuinely excited for her to play the Banker and bank a big amount of money to take home. I felt like if it wasn't me, it was definitely a worthy opponent. And I think that for the most part, that was a sentiment of everyone that sat up there at the end.

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