Former Illinois first lady Patti Blagojevich said Friday that making new friends during her time on NBC's reality show "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!" helped her get over those she's lost since her husband's arrest on federal corruption charges.
Blagojevich arrived back in Chicago shortly after midnight after spending several weeks in Costa Rica for the show. She was greeted at O'Hare International Airport by her husband, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, daughters Annie and Amy, and her sister, Illinois State Rep. Deborah Mell.
Annie jumped into her mother's arms as Patti Blagojevich got off the escalator at baggage claim, where the ousted former governor stood signing autographs and having his picture taken with onlookers.
Patti Blagojevich said the hardest part of appearing on the show was being away from her daughters. But she acknowledged the experience was a welcome distraction from her family's troubles.
"It was nice to go down there and meet people that didn't have an agenda with me, that became my friends and it helped restore my faith in people," she said.
Now that Blagojevich has returned to real life in Chicago, she'll resume dealing with the ongoing legal problems of her husband. Bounced out of office by lawmakers, Rod Blagojevich faces federal corruption charges for trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama. He has pleaded not guilty.
The reality series was an image-changer for Patti Blagojevich, who came off as a down-to-earth, well-liked mom. She spent 23 days on the show before getting voted off during Tuesday night's episode. Actor Lou Diamond Phillips went on to win.
"I was totally flattered by the votes I received," she said Friday.
Before the show, Blagojevich was mostly known for being a foul-mouthed political spouse caught on federal wiretaps prosecutors had made of her husband.
When she was asked if she thought she'd now be more famous than the former governor, Rod Blagojevich jumped in: "She's a heckuva lot more popular."
Patti Blagojevich has said she lost 12 pounds eating rice and beans in the jungle; one of the first things she wants to do at home in Chicago is eat ribs.
She also said her family has recorded all the shows for her and, after a good night's sleep, she plans to watch them for the first time.