Nesconset's Domenick Abbate may have missed a million bucks by a single vote — reaching second place on "Survivor: Ghost Island" Wednesday night after Laurel Johnson broke an unprecedented tie to give Wendell Holland the win — but he's doing more than OK, he said.
"A million dollars is always helpful to anybody," Abbate, 38, said by phone, the day after the deciding vote was revealed on the live reunion show in Los Angeles. "You can do a lot of things for people. But at the end of the day, my life is still intact, my wife and kids are healthy and everything's good."
Besides, he added, referring to the series' second-place pay-out, whose exact amount the producers do not reveal, "I didn't win the million, but I still did OK."
He also developed a new perspective. "I work with a lot of guys where we're all the same archetype," the construction supervisor explained of himself and his crew at his uncle's Tri-Messine Construction Co., a road and sidewalk specialist based in Syosset. "But [on 'Survivor'] it's 20 strangers who don't come from the same background as me. A diverse group of people. And I needed to figure out a way to communicate with them and get through these next 39 days with people whose personalities I'm not familiar with. It taught me patience," he said. "And to listen to people's concerns and needs and to see if I can't cater to those things. Since I've been home I've incorporated that into my life."
Abbate has remained in touch with the Philadelphia-based Holland, with whom he developed a strong friendship. "Once you become a player in the game, they open the doors to you," he said of "Survivor" alumni. "We're on a private Facebook page, we communicate with each other, if someone's having a get-together, any past contestant knows about it — it's a really great community. So Wendell always makes an effort when he sees I'm coming into the city. We have a true love for each other," said Abbate, who has three children with his wife Kristin. "His father hugged me yesterday and called me his second son. I look forward to many years of hanging with this guy."
Meantime, he's hanging on Long Island. "I can't tell you the overwhelming amount of support I got from Long Islanders" during the season, Abbate said. "I'll walk into a supermarket two towns away and I got people coming up to me and telling me what great a game they think I'm playing," adding that, "Even as I watch it, I look at myself like it's a character. 'Oh! That's funny what he said!' "