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Survivor Wiki

Michael David "Mike" Skupin (often referred to as Skupin in his second season) is a contestant from Survivor: The Australian Outback and Survivor: Philippines.

Michael holds the distinction of being the first person to ever be medically evacuated from Survivor after he passed out and fell into the fire at camp in The Australian Outback. His wounds were too severe to be treated on location so he had to be medically evacuated from the game, causing him to narrowly miss out on the merge.

He returned in Philippines as a self-consciously strategic player, positioning himself as the swing vote in almost every Tribal Council after the merge. He also excelled in challenges and managed not to have any votes cast against him until the Final Tribal Council. However, his lack of solid loyalty to any player besides Lisa Whelchel, as well as what some of his competitors viewed as a socially unaware, even quixotic approach to the game, caused the jury to vote the more sure-handed Denise Stapley the winner in a 6-1-1 vote.


Retrieved from

Michael Skupin co-founded a software publishing and distribution company in 1992 where he currently serves as president. He also founded the CCA, which is a motivational speaking company. He attended Western Michigan University where he earned a bachelor of business management in 1984. His previous employment includes office equipment sales, surgical and operating room equipment sales, and a water-ski instructor. He is most proud of his wife Peni and his three children, Michael (12), Kalyn (9) and Emily (3).

Skupin describes himself as adventurous, a thrill-seeker, and a risk taker. His favorite television shows are ESPN's SportsCenter / Primetime (to compare notes with his son) and Seinfeld while his favorite motion picture is Meet Joe Black. Although he's a big fan of Faith Hill, he listens to a variety of music including Top 40, Country, Christian and has a soft spot for Oldies. His favorite sports teams are any team from Michigan, especially the University of Michigan Wolverines. Amid his hectic schedule, Skupin finds time to hunt, barefoot water-ski and play ice hockey. He'll also play a good game of Scattegories if time permits.

Originally from Farmington Hills, Michigan, Skupin currently lives in White Lake, Michigan with his wife and three children. They have 2 Black Labradors, Thor and Simeon and lots of wild fish and wild birds. His birth date is January 29, 1962.[1]

Name (Age): Michael Skupin (50)
Previous Season: Survivor: The Australian Outback
Previous Finish: Medical Evacuation due to severe burns received after passing out into a fire from smoke inhalation. After inhaling a thick cloud of smoke, I passed out and fell forward into the fire suffering severe burns all over my body, the worst of which was on my hands.
Tribe Designation: Tandang
Current Residence: White Lake, Mich.
Occupation: Professional speaker, author and coach
Personal Claim to Fame: I have seven of them that I feed everyday – my children. And, ranking 23rd on TV Guide and TV Land's List of the 100 Most Unexpected TV Moments. It's an honor to have been there when it all started!
Inspiration in Life: My dad, a true warrior who lost a battle to cancer when he was 28 and my mom who battled emphysema for 17 years and never complained. She taught me what tough was.
Hobbies: Sports and fitness, coaching my kids and anything to do with water… in it, on it, over it, looking at it or listening to it.
Pet Peeves: Negativity and pessimism. The glass is always full.
3 Words to Describe You: Adventurous, spontaneous and competitive.
If You Could Have 3 Things on The Island What Would They Be and Why?
1) Animals to hunt for food.
2) An impenetrable shelter.
3) An unbreakable alliance.
Reason for Being on Survivor: To avenge a long-standing internal battle, wondering if I can win this game in spite of the changes and my 12 year absence. No matter what any returning player may say, you never stop thinking about going back. And: 7 cars when they turn 16, 7 college educations, 7 weddings… I want to be there for my kids at all times when they need me.
Why You Think You'll "Survive" Survivor: The physical part I'm ultra prepared for. I never stop moving. The survival part won't be an issue. I grew up in the woods. My crazy family life has prepared me exceptionally for the mental part. I'm surviving seven kids!

Why You Think You Will Be the Sole Survivor: There is no other returning player in the history of this game with more to prove than me. I'll find a way to win, whatever it takes! I won't give up… ever, ever, ever, ever![2]


The Australian Outback

Michael proved useful to the Kucha, being able to carry heavy loads to their camp during the opening trek. He tried to take control of the building of their shelter on Day 1, despite Rodger Bingham having more experience in the field of construction, though it did not seem to annoy anyone except for Debb Eaton, who voiced her resentment of him doing so. After losing the first Immunity Challenge, Michael participated in the unanimous ousting of Debb.

On Day 4, Michael woke up early and put rice on the fire. This upset some of his tribe because they were not hungry and considered it a waste of their limited food supply. Michael claimed he was trying to make food for the tribe before they woke up, but some tribemates thought he made the rice just for himself. The rice turned out bad, but Michael was shocked that they not only did not appreciate it, but they did not like it. He claimed that his tribe was getting edgy without food and that they were not aware of how bad it was going to get. He decided to go fishing to at least provide his tribe a full meal. Another reason for his fishing was because during Kucha's first Tribal Council, he claimed he was made the tribe leader, a position he wished to avoid, although some of the other castaways privately said they thought Michael made himself the leader. By catching fish, he hoped to shy away from the leadership position and to focus on that one activity. However, by doing this, he only further put himself in a bad position, though, by referring to himself as the leader and focusing on his accomplishments.

On Day 6, still on his quest to provide food for the tribe, Michael set out in hunt of a wild pig, generating controversy among fans. He crafted a spear with a stick and a knife, which only worried his tribe because it was their only knife and they did not want to lose it.

After Kucha won chickens in the fourth Reward Challenge, Michael felt threatened he might become useless as a food provider now, and decided to kill and eat the chickens as soon as possible, which openly disturbed vegetarian tribemate Kimmi Kappenberg.

On Day 17, while tending the campfire, Michael inhaled some smoke and passed out, accidentally falling into the fire and burning his hands. He immediately jumped into the cold Herbert River waters to ease the pain and tribe mates Alicia Calaway and Elisabeth Filarski got into the water to comfort him until medical arrived. The Survivor medical team arrived and immediately airlifted him out of the game. Before leaving, the five remaining Kucha members vowed to win to his honor.

Voting History

Episode Michael's
Voted Against
1 Debb -
2 Kucha Tribe Immune
3 Kucha Tribe Immune
4 Kucha Tribe Immune
5 Kimmi -
6 No Tribal Council
Evacuated, Day 17

Survivor: Philippines

Michael was initially placed on the Tandang tribe, and right off the bat, he recognized fellow tribe mate Lisa Whelchel as a former TV star, but he kept the information to himself. He had the best start out of the three returning player, finding himself in an alliance before either Jonathan Penner or Russell Swan. At the beach, he was approached by RC Saint-Amour to join her alliance with Abi-Maria Gomes and Pete Yurkowski. They targeted Lisa for being considered untrustworthy, despite Michael personally liking her. He later informed her that he knew who she was, and they started to develop a friendship despite being on opposite alliances.

When Abi-Maria and Pete turned against their alliance and recruited Lisa and Artis Silvester into a new majority voting bloc, Michael and RC were put in the minority, putting them in danger, although most of the pressure was on RC due to her conflict with Abi-Maria. However, Tandang continuously winning Immunity Challenges kept them safe from Tribal Council.

When the Matsing tribe was down to 2 people, Malcolm Freberg was absorbed by Tandang and was promptly accepted by the majority alliance. Malcolm's challenge prowess made Tandang even stronger, and Michael was able to reach the merge without attending a single Tribal Council.

The tribe soon merged with Kalabaw into the Dangrayne tribe where Pete, Abi-Maria, Artis, Malcolm, and Lisa sided with Kalabaw members Jeff Kent, Carter Williams, and Denise Stapley (also a former Matsing tribe member and an ally of Malcolm) in order to split their votes between Jonathan, since Jeff, although aligned with Jonathan in the Kalabaw Alliance, did not want a returning player to win, and RC, since Pete distrusted her from Day 1. Meanwhile, Jonathan and RC, who knew that they were at the bottom of the Tandang Alliance, attempted to appeal to the Kalabaw Alliance in order to vote out the other Tandang members, targeting Pete, but Michael eventually shifted his vote to Jonathan who played a Hidden Immunity Idol, negating Michael's and the 4 other votes, eliminating Michael's ally, RC, who received 4 votes after the majority split their votes.

Without RC, Michael became a target next to Jonathan. After the next Reward Challenge, he, along with Jonathan, Malcolm, Denise, and Lisa, considered themselves the heroes of the game, while Artis, Abi-Maria, and Pete were portrayed as the bullies of the tribe, which would have meant that they would all stick together and blindside the three. However, Lisa realized that she could have a better chance of winning if she stuck with Tandang, deciding to still eliminate Jonathan. Their plan was foiled when Jonathan won the Immunity Challenge, which changed the plans of the Tandang Alliance. With Michael possibly being in danger for being the only returning player not having immunity and Lisa wanting to keep Tandang intact, Lisa planned to blindside Malcolm, knowing that Malcolm had Matsing's Hidden Immunity Idol, which Malcolm denied having to the Tandang Alliance. During the next very intense Tribal Council where Abi-Maria and Malcolm revealed their Hidden Immunity Idols, Michael was put in the middle with Jonathan arguing to vote against Pete, while Lisa arguing to go with Pete's "Plan B", Jeff. Michael eventually sided with Tandang, voting out Jeff after a 5-4-1 split with Kalabaw and Matsing, except Jonathan, voting against Pete, Tandang against Jeff, and Jonathan against Abi-Maria.

With the returning players' threat eliminated, Michael and Lisa were wooed by the newly solidified Kalabaw-Matsing Alliance to join them due to Tandang's treatment of the two. Lisa still voted with Tandang in the next Tribal Council, however, Michael eventually flipped on Tandang by blindsiding Artis (a plan of Denise due to Artis being the least likely receiver of Tandang's idol), 

The next day, Lisa joined the new majority alliance with Michael, deciding to split their votes between Abi-Maria and Pete since they knew that Abi-Maria had Tandang's idol. With neither Pete or Abi-Maria winning immunity, they tried to sway Michael back to their side by blindsiding Malcolm (possibly using Tandang's idol on Pete as Michael would then vote against Malcolm). However, Michael stayed loyal to the majority alliance, with Pete being voted out. 

During those times, Malcolm and Michael talked about being in the final four. Michael was then offered by Malcolm a final four alliance with their alliance mates Lisa and Denise, where Michael first asked Lisa about it. Lisa hesitantly thought about the plan and approached Jonathan first to make a final four deal along with Carter, but Jonathan refused (saying that it would be early to make such a move) prompting Michael and Lisa to lock in the final four alliance with Matsing. With Abi-Maria winning the next Immunity Challenge with the help of the advantage she bought during the Survivor Auction, the six-person alliance turned on each other. Michael ended up being the swing vote between Denise and Jonathan after Lisa said to Jonathan that she would stick with her new alliance, and even after Jonathan's rallying to vote with him, Michael stuck with the final four alliance voting out Jonathan.

Before the next Immunity Challenge, Michael and Lisa, with the help of a self-esteem boost from Lisa's brother, Justice (who visited the island for a Loved Ones Challenge), planned to blindside Malcolm with the help of Carter. This plan failed, however, as Malcolm won immunity, with the alliance voting out Carter over Abi-Maria for being a physical threat. Michael won the next Reward Challenge, where he was allowed to select two people to join him, choosing his closest ally Lisa, with Malcolm as well. During the reward, Malcolm made a Final Three deal with Michael and Lisa and plotted to blindside Denise. After the next Immunity Challenge where Malcolm won immunity, Michael and Lisa debated to either keep Abi-Maria for being the least likely to get jury votes or Denise in order to have more competition against Malcolm to prevent him from getting immunity. During Tribal Council, Michael was called a "moron" by Abi-Maria for not wanting to take her to the end. Even after Abi-Maria tried to get Michael and Lisa to her side saying that Denise or Malcolm would win over them, Michael voted with the others against Abi-Maria, voting her out.

Down to the final four, Michael thought of either voting out Malcolm or Denise, saying that defeating Malcolm would be honorable. Malcolm won the next Reward Challenge which would give him a huge advantage at the Final Immunity Challenge. Despite Malcolm's advantage, he ended up being the first one out, while Michael ended up winning the challenge. Even though Lisa and Denise decided to vote out Malcolm, Michael was still undecided on who to vote out. At the next Tribal Council, Michael eventually decided to go with the women, voting out Malcolm.

At the Final Tribal Council, Michael expressed to the jury being a returning player and surviving each time, saying that there was always a threat of him being voted out and that he exemplified the slogan of Survivor ("Outwit, Outplay, Outlast"). The jury, however, castigated him for not really being in danger seeing that he had no votes ever cast against him. Michael eventually lost against Denise, tying for first runner-up with Lisa, earning his only jury vote from Carter.

Voting History

Episode Michael's
Voted Against
1 Tandang Tribe Immune
2 Tandang Tribe Immune
3 Tandang Tribe Immune
4 Tandang Tribe Immune
5 Tandang Tribe Immune
6 Tandang Tribe Immune
7 Jonathan1 -
8 Jeff -
9 Artis Individual Immunity
10 Abi-Maria2 -
11 Jonathan -
12 Carter -
13 Abi-Maria -
14 Malcolm Individual Immunity
Jury Votes
for Michael
Co-Runner-Up, Day 39

^1 In "Not the Only Actor on This Island", Jonathan used a Hidden Immunity Idol, negating Michael's vote against him.
^2 In "Whiners Are Wieners", Abi-Maria used a Hidden Immunity Idol, negating Michael's vote against her.


  • Michael considered running for U.S. Senate in 2001.[3]
  • Michael established a self-named company, Michael Skupin Ministries.
  • On May 14, 2001, Michael appeared on Hollywood Squares as a panelist for Survivor Week.[4]
  • Michael released an autobiography entitled Fireproof in 2004.
  • Michael has since taken on a part-time career as a professional speaker.[citation needed]

Legal Issues

  • On February 23, 2013, Michael was arrested for multiple driving violations. According to Michigan State records, he has had 20 license suspensions since 1999.
  • In December 2013, Michael was featured on Fox 2 Detroit's "Hall of Shame".[5][6]
  • On February 5, 2016, Michael was arrested with six counts of possession of child pornography after an investigation of a Ponzi scheme he made called Pay It Forward,[7] On April 8, Michael was imprisoned for breaking his bond agreement.[8] On November 18, Michael was found guilty of child pornography charges.[9] Michael was released on parole on December 19, 2017.


  • Michael was one of the two first castaways to come from Michigan, along with Keith Famie in Survivor: The Australian Outback.
  • Michael's luxury item in The Australian Outback was camouflage hunting paint (erroneously listed as war paint).
  • Michael is the first contestant to be eliminated from the show without being voted out and the first one to be medically evacuated from the show.
  • According to Rodger Bingham, he and Michael were considered for Survivor: All-Stars and Survivor: Guatemala as returning players.[10]
  • Michael stated in his Survivor: Philippines interview that it took a full year for his hands to completely heal after the fire accident in The Australian Outback. He also stated that all of his fingernails fell off as a result of the burns and that his doctor informed him that they would not grow back due to damage to the nail beds. However, Michael went on to make a full recovery.
  • Michael is the only returning player to have never received a vote against them in all of their seasons played. Both Michael and Lisa Whelchel never received a vote against them on Philippines and tied for second place at the Final Tribal Council with one jury vote each. Michael received his only vote from Carter Williams, albeit a jury vote.
  • Michael, Jenna MorascaColton Cumbie, and Michele Fitzgerald are the only returning players to have never been voted out.
    • Michael, Michele, and Jenna have all made it to a Final Tribal Council, but Michael is the only one of those three who has not won the game.
  • Michael previously held the record for the most improved finish of any returning player, lasting 22 days longer in Philippines than he did in The Australian Outback. His record was later broken by Monica Culpepper, who lasted 25 days longer in Survivor: Blood vs. Water than she did in Survivor: One World.
  • As part of the original Tandang tribe, Michael became one of the first six contestants to reach the merge without visiting Tribal Council.


Survivor: The Australian Outback Castaways
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Survivor: Philippines Castaways
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