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Erika Tinio Casupanan[2] is the Sole Survivor of Survivor 41.

Initially on the outs of the Luvu tribe with her ally Heather Aldret, Erika found her footing following a critical point where she decided who would have immunity at the first merge Tribal Council, exposing a secret Luvu pact against her, and later rallying the fellow outsiders against the majority alliance. For much of the merge, she was able to control the vote behind the scenes while the more pronounced threats went after each other. Erika's strategic gameplay, social acumen, strength in challenges, and ability to avoid being targeted earned her the respect of the jury and the title of Sole Survivor in a 7-1-0 vote, making her the first non-U.S. American to win the U.S. version of the series.

Profile

Retrieved from cbs.com

Age: 32
Hometown: Niagara Falls, Ontario
Current Residence: Toronto, Ontario
Occupation: Communications Manager
Hobbies: Traveling, boxing and fitness, following pop culture
Three Words to Describe You: Fun, fearless, empathetic
Pet Peeves: Ignorance and men in ill-fitting jeans
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? It's hard to pick one because I love my whole life. My goal was to pay off my student loans by 30, and I did it at 27. Doing so allowed me to travel to so many places on my bucket list, get into combat sports and create financial stability for myself. One of my biggest accomplishments is actually leaving my job before coming to Fiji for the game. I'm proud of the career I built for nearly a decade. I'm even more proud that I was brave and walked away when I wasn't passionate about it anymore.
What is something we would never know from looking at you? People are always surprised by how smart and articulate I am. I'm quite smart and figure things out quickly. I'm also quick-witted and those who get it are pleasantly surprised. Those who don't, have no clue what they're missing. People also don't believe I'm 5-feet tall because my vibes make me seem 5'3".
Who is your hero and why? My grandma. She lived with my family growing up and I have a tattoo inspired by her. She [was] strong willed, so chic, sweet, yet opinionated and caring. She had my back 100 percent of the time. During her final days in the hospital she was still so high-maintenance and always made the nurses put on her pearls and diamonds.
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? Brenda on the outside, Todd underneath. Brenda is physically strong, socially aware and not afraid to show her teeth. Todd is my all-time favorite player. I can channel his ability to influence others and always be strategically in control of the game and prepare to pitch myself in an amazing jury performance.
Why do you believe you can win Survivor? I've been manipulative since before I knew what manipulation was. I relentlessly pursue my dreams. The great thing is no one would expect it because of my youthful face and small stature. I can make it to the end and am confident in my ability to advocate for myself at final tribal.[3]

Survivor

Erika began the season on the Luvu tribe, which lost the opening Reward Challenge. As her tribemates Danny McCray and Deshawn Radden completed the subsequent "Sweat" task to obtain their flint, Erika joined Naseer Muttalif and the Luvu women in building the tribe shelter. Here, she agreed to Naseer's plan to take out Danny or Deshawn when he saw them apparently searching for an idol. However, Erika's aptitude with puzzles helped Luvu win the first Immunity Challenge and abstain from the Double Tribal Council.

The rest of the tribal phase saw Erika focus on keeping under the radar and mainly working on her social relationships, most notably by forging a friendship with Heather Aldret. During this time, she also decided to make a move against Sydney Segal, whose temper she saw was becoming increasingly hard to control. Erika shared this plan with Deshawn, who then leaked it to Sydney; this would lead to Luvu attempting to throw the next Immunity Challenge to get rid of Erika. Fortunately, Naseer's dominant performances and unwillingness to throw challenges helped keep Erika safe until the merge on Day 12.

Prior to the first team Reward/Immunity Challenge, Erika and Naseer drew the grey rock and sat out. The blue team, which contained four of her Luvu tribemates, won the challenge handily and was given the option of choosing either Erika or Naseer to join them on the reward, granting them immunity in the process. They picked Naseer, thus sending Erika to Exile Island. Dejected, Erika's miserable stay on Exile Island had a respite in the form of the Hourglass, which gave her control over who would have immunity at the first post-merge Tribal Council. Sensing that she was on the bottom of Luvu, she made the easy decision to break the Hourglass to give herself and the losing yellow team immunity. At her first Tribal Council, Erika observed the chaos unfold from safety, before joining her Luvu affiliates to vote with the All-Black Alliance and eliminate Sydney. Erika continued to show loyalty to her allies by taking out Tiffany Seely at the next Tribal Council.

During the early merge, Shan Smith became increasingly wary of Erika and decided to target her next. Erika's situation was made even more dicey by the introduction of the Double Elimination on Day 17, where she was grouped together with her friend Heather against an apparently tight alliance of Naseer, Ricard, and Shan. Though Erika saved herself by outlasting her groupmates in the endurance challenge, it appeared that Heather would be next to go. The two women were given a reprieve when Ricard Foyé proposed that they blindside Naseer to flush his Hidden Immunity Idol; this plan came to fruition that night, giving Erika and Heather new life in the game.

Their streak of success would continue when Ricard pulled them and fellow outsider Xander Hastings into his Final Four Alliance to go against the All-Black Alliance by blindsiding Shan. Knowing that Shan had an idol and was targeting her, Erika orchestrated a split vote between Shan and Liana Wallace to grant herself additional protection. Her alliance got her way, sending Shan home in the biggest blindside of the season. Erika and Heather then became swing votes at the next Tribal Council, where Liana and Ricard, having now become the biggest threat, were on the block. They sided with their allies to continue steamrolling their rivals by taking Liana out.

During the Reward Challenge on Day 22, Erika was part of the winning team alongside Deshawn and Xander. They took the opportunity to forge a Final Three pact and agreed that Ricard would be next to go. Their plan was foiled when Ricard won immunity, which left Erika's alliance with a decision between eliminating Danny or Deshawn. Desperate, Deshawn used their pact against her at Tribal Council by dropping a "truth bomb", telling Heather that Erika had no plans to take her to the finals. However, Erika managed to convince her alliance to keep Deshawn in the game over Danny.

After the final five relocated to a new camp, Erika spent the rainy night upset with Deshawn for his remarks at Tribal Council. More importantly, she was worried about how they might have impacted her friendship with Heather. Erika would then go on to find a Challenge Advantage at the new camp, which she used to emerge victorious in the final five Reward/Immunity Challenge. She chose Heather to join her on the reward so they could debrief and reaffirm their friendship to each other. They also had to consider whether to play with their head or heart by getting rid of Ricard or Deshawn respectively. In the end, Erika followed through with her plan to take out Ricard.

Erika lost the Final Immunity Challenge, but received verbal confirmation from Xander that he would bring her to the finals. She chose to practice making fire out of respect anyway, which alarmed Xander when he saw that she had difficulty making fire, contrary to his previous beliefs. Heather attempted to convince Xander to take Erika out because she was the biggest threat, but eventually, he kept to his promise with Erika and took her to the Final Three, a move that notably earned a confused response from the jury. Deshawn then beat out Heather to join the two of them in the Final Three.

At Final Tribal Council, Erika was interrogated for her social strategy. Tapping on her experience in communications, Erika explained how she let herself be underestimated, a trait that she translated from her career, while pulling the strings behind the scenes. Her eloquent delivery earned her the respect of the jury, which gave her the seven winning votes that allowed her to become the first Canadian Sole Survivor and the first female winner in seven seasons.

Voting History

Episode Erika's
Votes
Voted Against
Erika
1 Luvu Tribe Immune
2 Luvu Tribe Immune
3 Luvu Tribe Immune
4 Luvu Tribe Immune
5 Luvu Tribe Immune
7 Sydney Individual Immunity
8 Tiffany -
9 Naseer;
Naseer1
Individual Immunity
10 Liana;
Shan2
Liana, Shan;
-
11 Liana -
12 Danny;
Danny3
-
13 Ricard Individual Immunity
Jury Votes
for Erika
Evvie, Heather, Liana,
Naseer, Ricard, Shan, Tiffany
Sole Survivor, Day 26

^1 In "Who's Who in the Zoo", the vote ended with a 3-3 tie between Heather and Naseer, forcing a revote. Erika did not change her vote on the revote.
^2 In "Baby with a Machine Gun", the vote ended with a 3-3 tie between Liana and Shan, forcing a revote. Erika changed her vote to Shan on the revote.
^3 In "Truth Kamikaze", the vote ended with a 3-3 tie between Danny and Deshawn, forcing a revote. Erika did not change her vote on the revote.

Post-Survivor

  • Erika released her own limited line of merchandise to commemorate her Survivor experience. The design includes a crown, a puzzle piece, the hourglass and hammer, her headband and purple hair, a lamb turning into a lion, a well as the Philippine flag sun and Canadian maple leaf, nods to her Filipino and Canadian heritage, and the Survivor Game Within the Game.[4]
  • On February 25, 2022, Erika was given a key to the city in her hometown, Niagara Falls, ON, Canada.[5]
  • Erika was a special correspondent for Entertainment Tonight Canada during Survivor 42.

Trivia

  • Erika is the first castaway on Survivor, and by extension the first winner, to reside in Canada at the time of filming.
  • Prior to moving to Canada during her youth, Erika's family hailed from Hermosa, Bataan in the Philippines.
    • Erika is the second castaway with Filipino ancestry to win in an English-language franchise, following Jericho Malabonga of Australian Survivor (2017).
    • Erika is the first Filipino, Southeast-Asian and Asian-Canadian to win Survivor (U.S).
  • Erika is the first winner since Richard Hatch to be crowned Sole Survivor on location.
  • Erika is the first person to win a season with a 26-day format.
    • She is the first person since Tina Wesson to win a season without a 39-day format.
  • Erika is the first woman to become the Sole Survivor since Sarah Lacina won Game Changers.
  • Erika is the second winner to avoid Tribal Council during the pre-merge portion of the game, following Michele Fitzgerald.
  • Erika is tied with Michele as the least vulnerable female winner and tied for second overall behind Tom Westman, having been eligible to be voted out only four times.
  • Erika is the first Sole Survivor since Tony Vlachos (in Cagayan) to vote for the person eliminated at every Tribal Council she attended. However, because of tie votes, she did not always vote in the majority.
  • Erika is the first woman and second castaway overall after the introduction of the modified version of the final four format to be taken by the winner of the Final Immunity Challenge to the Final Tribal Council and become the Sole Survivor, following Tommy Sheehan. She would be followed by Maryanne Oketch.
  • Erika is tied with Natalie White, Kim Spradlin-Wolfe, Sarah Lacina, and Maryanne Oketch for the most jury votes received by a woman, with seven.
    • Erika and Maryanne achieved this with the smallest juries of the group, as Survivor 41 and 42 only had eight jurors.
    • Erika and Maryanne also have the highest percent of jury votes received among female contestants with 7 of 8 or 87.5%.

References

Preceded by
Winners at War
S40 tony t.png
Tony Vlachos
Sole Survivor Titleholder
Survivor 41
S41 erika t.png
Erika Casupanan
Succeeded by
Survivor 42
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Maryanne Oketch
Survivor 41 Castaways
 Abraham
Yase
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 Brad
Ua
S41 brad t.png
 Danny
Luvu
S41 danny t.png
 Deshawn
Luvu
S41 deshawn t.png
 Erika
Luvu
S41 erika t.png
 Evvie
Yase
S41 evvie t.png
 Genie
Ua
S41 genie t.png
 Heather
Luvu
S41 heather t.png
 JD
Ua
S41 jd t.png
 Liana
Yase
S41 liana t.png
 Naseer
Luvu
S41 naseer t.png
 Ricard
Ua
S41 ricard t.png
 Sara
Ua
S41 sara t.png
 Shan
Ua
S41 shan t.png
 Sydney
Luvu
S41 sydney t.png
 Tiffany
Yase
S41 tiffany t.png
 Voce
Yase
S41 voce t.png
 Xander
Yase
S41 xander t.png
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