“I ran out of things I could even imagine to ask for,” the Florida Congressman told CNN reporter Melanie Zanona in the early hours of Saturday morning after a rowdy post-midnight vote finally saw Mr McCarthy elected to House speaker.
Mr Gaetz and the other “Never Kevin” holdouts were granted numerous concessions that have considerably shrunk Mr McCarthy’s powers as the normally routine election for speaker stretched over four days and 15 ballots.
Mr McCarthy was forced to reinstate a rule that will allow a single House member to call a “motion to vacate,” or a vote to oust the speaker.
Other rule changes will significantly increase the powers of rank-and-file lawmakers in drafting and passing legislation, the Associated Press reported.
In a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity shortly before the final vote tally, Mr Gaetz and Lauren Boebert indicated their opposition to Mr McCarthy was waning.
“I am grateful that Speaker-designate McCarthy has been so receptive to each and every change that we have demanded,” Mr Gaetz said. “And Sean, we’re at the stage right now where I’m running out of stuff to ask for.”
Likening the negotiations to a “prenuptial agreement”, Mr Gaetz said they had secured written agreements on the border and balancing the federal budget.
“Kevin McCarthy is agreeing to all these things ... It’s never been about him, it’s been about draining the swamp,” Mr Gaetz told Fox News.
During the 14th round of voting on Friday night, Mr Gaetz and Ms Boebert switched their votes to “present”.
However four other holdouts — Eli Crane, Bob Good, Andy Biggs and Matt Rosendale — voted for alternative candidates, meaning Mr McCarthy had failed to get the necessary votes.
A near-brawl broke out as GOP lawmaker Mike Rogers lunged at Mr Gaetz, before he was physically restrained by North Carolina Congressman Richard Hudson.
Mr Gaetz appeared to revel in the chaos, mockingly flexing his muscles to the amusement of fellow right-wing Republican Anna Paulina Luna.
After a final intense round of lobbying, the four far-right holdouts agreed to vote “present” in the 15th ballot, and Mr McCarthy was elected over Democrat leader Hakeem Jeffries 216-212.
It’s not yet known whether Mr McCarthy made additional pledges to his detractors in return for their neutral votes.
“My father always told me, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” he told the House after securing the speaker’s gavel.
A few dozen bottles of Gloria Ferrer champagne were seen being wheeled into the speaker’s office in the early hours of Saturday morning.