Starting off as the key member of the original Levu tribe, Ben found himself in the minority following a Tribe Switch. However, thanks to a string of challenge victories, Ben was able to make the merge where he found himself as the swing vote for the first Tribal Council, and took charge of the Solewa majority alliance. This time was short lived as Ben's short temper and controlling demeanor turned all of his allies against him. With the odds against him, Ben managed to survive and reach the Final Tribal Council by finding and playing three Hidden Immunity Idols in a row and beating Devon Pinto in an unprecedented final four fire-making challenge. His idol plays and status as an underdog, combined with the jury's general dismissal of Chrissy Hofbeck's and Ryan Ulrich's gameplay, rewarded Ben the title of Sole Survivor in a 5-2-1 vote.
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Hometown: Boise, Id.
Current residence: Boise, Id.
Hobbies: Circle track car racing, building and shooting guns, and camping with my family.
Pet peeves: Whining.
Three words to describe you: Hilarious, strong-willed, and motivated.
What's your personal claim to fame? Being a good dad and husband.
Who or what is your inspiration in life? Michael Blake Wafford because he gave his life for our country. We were together in Iraq and we were a team.
If you could have three things on the island, what would they be and why? My cowboy hat, my boots, and my running shoes.
Survivor contestant you're most like: I'm a mix of Russell Hantz, Boston Rob, and Joe Anglim. I'm a little conniving and manipulative like Russell, have the determination and confidence of Boston Rob, and the athletic ability of Joe.
What's your reason for being on Survivor: Winning a million dollars and being on an island and living with nothing.
Why do you think you'll "survive" Survivor? Because I have survived and overcome so many situations and met so many different people with different personalities. My social game is on point and my leadership and survival skills have been tried, tested, and proven.
Ben was placed on Levu. Ashley Nolan and JP Hilsabeck immediately wanted to work with Ben due to his strength and perceived trustworthiness. Ben initially was close to Alan Ball , but that relationship worsened after Alan Ball went off on JP and Ashley. When Levu lost the very first Immunity Challenge, Ben joined the rest of the tribe in voting out Katrina Radke. Following her elimination, Ben became closer to Chrissy Hofbeck after the latter identified Ben as the best possible ally in this tribe. However, any further action with his fellow Levus was put on hold as a Tribe Switch occurred that put him on the Yawa with three Sokos (Mike Zahalsky, Cole Medders, and Jessica Johnston) and one Yawa Lauren Rimmer. Ben and Lauren became close as the only non Healers on the new Yawa tribe. Cole rubbed Ben the wrong way with his eating habits, and both Ben and Lauren tried to turn Mike against Cole. However, Yawa won the next three Immunity Challenges.
At the merge, Ben was a swing vote between Soko Alliance and the remaining Heroes and Hustlers, the latter two groups which banded together. Lauren initially wanted to work with the Healers, but Ben's relationship with Chrissy and his rivalry with Cole caused him to prefer the Heroes and Hustlers. This led to the pagonging of the original Sokos until the final 9. During that process, Lauren told Ben about her Extra Vote advantage, Ryan Ulrich told Ben about his Hidden Immunity Idol , and Joe Mena tried to use Ben's marine status against him. Ben started to gain a target on his back as the leader of the majority alliance, referred to as "King Arthur" which would dub his alliance The Round Table . On Day 25, Lauren won a reward and included Ben, Ashley, and Devon Pinto to discuss making a move against JP, Chrissy, or Ryan Ulrich. This plan was also fueled by Devon's lack of trust in Ryan after he told both Devon and Ben about his Hidden Immunity Idol. During the reward, Ben found a second merged idol (the first being in Ryan's possession). Back at camp, Devon nominated Ben to act as a spy by voting for Mike in order to gain information from the new minority after the vote. The plan worked as his alliance and Joe and Mike blindsided JP, and Ryan and Chrissy had no idea Ben was involved.
For the next few days, Ben pretended to be betrayed by Ashley, Lauren, and Devon, much to Joe's amusement. After Chrissy won the next Immunity Challenge, Ben suggested to his alliance that they take out Joe because he was no longer needed. However, Ben's status as a strong player began to worry his allies. Ashley and Lauren considered voting Ben out before Joe, but Devon was unsure. Ultimately, they blindsided Joe and flushed Ryan's idol, relegating Mike to the minority along with Ryan and Chrissy. Returning from Tribal Council, Chrissy found out that Ben was playing double agent and called him out on it which caused the two to argue. On Day 31 Ben met his wife Kelly at the loved ones. Chrissy won the Reward Challenge and took enjoyment in preventing Ben from spending time with his wife. Things continue to heat up on Day 33 as Lauren, Devon, and Ashley were caught by Ben planning to vote him out. Ben tried to target Lauren, who had found the re-hidden idol as well as her extra advantage. Panicking for numbers, Lauren gave Mike half of her idol as a sign of trust. At Tribal Council, Mike threw Lauren's idol in the fire which allowed Ben to successfully eliminate his target in Lauren, despite needing his own idol to negate everyone else's votes against him.
At that point, Ben became the undisputed target. All the other contestants made it explicitly clear, though Ben continued to try to find other avenues. Unable to convince the tribe or win immunity, Ben resorted to finding idols and then taking out his chosen targets. On Day 36, Ben found his second idol moments before going to Tribal Council and played it before the votes were cast, and Ashley was sent home. On Day 37, Ben played his third idol (which he found hours after the previous Tribal Council) normally and forced a tie between Devon (his target) and Mike (who received Devon's vote). Mike was voted out in the revote. With no more idols in the game, Ben thought he needed to win immunity to ensure he made it to the end. He came close on multiple occasions in what was a back and forth Final Immunity Challenge, but was unable to capitalize and Chrissy won the challenge. However, a twist changed the Tribal Council from a standard vote to a forced fire-making challenge. Chrissy saved Ryan and forced Devon and Ben to participate in the tiebreaker, in which Ben succeeded.
At the Final Tribal Council, Ben's argument to the jury was that he was constantly playing hard in all facets of the game, especially in finding Hidden Immunity Idols. He was applauded for finding idols, but panned (particularly by Joe) for his weak social game, which Ben explained was the most difficult part of the game for him due to his PTSD from his marine tenure. Ben's astounding idol finding run and his ability to beat the odds and make it to the end were preferred over Chrissy's dominance in Immunity Challenges and Ryan's subtle gameplay, and he was awarded the title of Sole Survivor in a 5-2-1 vote. Also inspite of Joe's final tribal comments, his social game was deemed by jurors, especialy the majority of the early jurors and the Healers former tribe, to be superior to the often abrasive Chrissy and Ryan.
|Ben's Voting History|
| Voted Against|
|2||Levu Tribe Immune|
|3||Levu Tribe Immune|
|4||Yawa Tribe Immune|
|5||Yawa Tribe Immune|
|6||Yawa Tribe Immune|
Lauren, Mike, Ryan
| Jury Votes|
| Cole, Desi,|
JP, Joe, Lauren
|Sole Survivor, Day 39|
^1 In Playing with the Devil, the vote ended with a 4-4 tie between Desi and Joe, forcing a revote. Ben did not change his vote on the revote.
^2 In Not Going to Roll Over and Die, Ben used a Hidden Immunity Idol, negating 6 votes against him.
^3 In The Survivor Devil, Ben used a Hidden Immunity Idol, but did not negate any votes against him.
^4 In Million Dollar Night, Ben used a Hidden Immunity Idol, negating 3 votes against him. Also, the vote ended with a 1-1-0 tie between Devon and Mike, forcing a revote. Ben did not change his vote on the revote.
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- Ben is the third castaway from Idaho, the first two being Sherri Biethman and Taylor Stocker.
- Ben is the oldest and highest placing male member of the original Levu tribe.
- Ben is the first person to negate every single vote but his own with a Hidden Immunity Idol.
- Ben holds the record for the highest percentage of votes negated with the Hidden Immunity Idol at roughly 85.71%.
- Ben is tied with Russell Hantz in Samoa, Tony Vlachos in Cagayan, and Tai Trang in Game Changers for the record for the most Hidden Immunity Idols found in a season, with 3.
- Ben is the first castaway to play an idol at three consecutive Tribal Councils.
- Ben is the first person to play an idol before the votes were cast under the current rules.
- Ben has the shortest time between playing an idol and finding another one, finding his third idol the in the same night he played the second idol.
- Ben holds the record for the most votes cast against a Sole Survivor, receiving 11 votes in Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers. This record was previously held by Panama winner Aras Baskauskas, who received 9 votes in his season.
- Of all Sole Survivors, Ben played the most imperfect game, receiving 11 votes against him and losing 3 jury votes, totaling up to 14 votes lost.
- Ben is the second castaway to become the Sole Survivor and win a fire-making challenge, following Bob Crowley. They were followed by Wendell Holland.
|Sole Survivor |
Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers
| Succeeded by|
|Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers Castaways|