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Boston Rob Mariano Thinks ‘Survivor’ Players Will Have a ‘Hard Time’ on ‘Deal or No Deal Island’ (Exclusive)

Rob “Boston Rob” Mariano doesn’t think any of his fellow Survivor alums can match what he’s been able to accomplish on Deal or No Deal Island.

“I think they’re all going to have a hard time now that I’ve kind of set the tone,” Mariano, 48, exclusively told Us Weekly on Friday, April 19, while promoting the inaugural season of Deal or No Deal Island. “I think anybody that goes out there now is going to have a really big uphill battle because they’d be crazy not to get rid of them right away.”

The former Survivor winner entered the banker’s island with a huge target on his back as he joined 12 additional players on the new NBC competition series. The only other notable name in the cast was Claudia Jordan, who got her start as a Deal or No Deal Model.

“I knew that my reputation was going to precede me and I was going to have a target on me,” Mariano explained to Us. “But what I did was try to show that I was always going to be a target and there’ll be a time to get me out later in the beginning.”

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Mariano, who has a lot of experience participating in island-themed shows, shared that his mindset going into the game was to convince his fellow competitors that he could be an asset to them as they worked on increasing the prize total early on.

“I can help to build the pot. I’m good at the challenges you can use me for now,” he reflected. “It’s not like I’m not going to be someone that you guys want to take out whenever.”

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Patrick Ecclesine/NBC

Although how Mariano ultimately fairs in the game has yet to be revealed, he’s been a frontrunner in the competition as he’s won immunity four times since the series premiered in February.

However, Mariano didn’t realize that the contest also included a bit of luck, which he got a taste of when he played a game of Deal or No Deal early in the season. In Mariano’s faceoff against the banker, he immediately knocked off many of the big value cases. While it wasn’t looking good at the time, Mariano realized he had a better chance of making a good deal and staying in the game.

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Monty Brinton/NBC

“So that’s really one of the conundrums of the show that I think the audience might not see the bigger picture, and that is that from the position of a person playing the game, it actually behooves me to knock out the big cases because it allows me to have a better odds and better opportunity to stay in the game because you want to make a good deal,” he said to Us. “At the same time, the people [who] are sitting there watching the game want to see the case get built. So it’s a little bit of, I don’t want to say a conflict of interest, but when you’re playing the game, I don’t care how big I build the pot, as long as I get to stay in the game and play for it.”

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Mariano’s experience against the banker paid off, and he encourages future Deal or No Deal Island players to follow his lead.

“I always wanted to have my fate in my own hands, and once I realized [there are] situations that you can get yourself into in this game where effectively you wouldn’t have your fate in your own hands per se,” he shared. “If you’re sitting in the middle and somebody else was playing the banker, they could potentially take you out because you didn’t have immunity. So what I did was I tried to avoid those situations at all costs, and I think anybody else playing this game should be perceptive of their position.”

Deal or No Deal Island airs on NBC Mondays at 10 p.m. EST.

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