A quiet contestant for much of the game, Michele made solid social relationships with her peers and utilized them to secure a place in the majority alliance. She won a crucial Final Immunity Challenge, as well as an unprecedented advantage to strip a juror of their right to attend and vote in the Final Tribal Council. While she was not known to be the most strategically capable of the three finalists, Michele's social game, growth, and overall sincerity won her the title of Sole Survivor in a 5-2-0 vote.
Michele returned as one of twenty winners in Winners at War with the desire to prove her worth as a winner. Placed on the Sele tribe, Michele started in a comfortable position as a new-school winner. She reached the merge where despite consistently having to play from the bottom, she kept her loyalties to Wendell Holland and Jeremy Collins. After Jeremy's elimination, Michele formed a short-lived alliance with Nick Wilson as well as one with returning Edge of Extinction player Natalie Anderson. Through her perseverance and scrappy gameplay, Michele made it to the Final Tribal Council, making her the second winner in Survivor history to make it to the end in her first two seasons. However, her underdog game was overlooked in favor of Tony Vlachos's dominant gameplay and she placed third with no votes to win.
Retrieved from CBS.com
Name (Age): Michele Fitzgerald (24)
Hometown: Freehold, New Jersey
The one thing that feels really important is advocating for my own story so that at the final Tribal I have a compelling narrative. Lately, we have seen a trend of strong, confident males winning Survivor so I want to show that you can have a different approach and still be worthy of the title Sole Survivor. The pressure is on this season because everyone wants to prove they are the best to ever play the game so I am expecting fireworks and lots of big moves.
Assigned to the Gondol (Beauty) tribe, Michele quickly bonded with Anna Khait and Julia Sokolowski to form a women's alliance. They had considered recruiting Tai Trang as a fourth member of their alliance to gain the majority, but the girls quickly lost trust in him after they caught him searching for a Hidden Immunity Idol. However, Gondol proved to be the most dominant of the three tribes as they won the first two Immunity Challenges, putting any plans on hold. When Tai reluctantly decided to help kill the chickens, he got emotional, having his tribe comfort him except Nick Maiorano, who offered no empathy. But Nick's attitude set the girls against him as they tried to recruit Caleb Reynolds in voting Nick out. However, Gondol won the next Immunity Challenge on Day 8, once again putting plans on hold. Gondol faced their first setback on Day 9 when Caleb was medically evacuated due to heat stroke after the Reward Challenge, but Gondol managed to avenge his departure by winning the next Immunity Challenge.
When the Tribe Switch occurred on Day 12, the Beauty girls were separated from each other as Michele was switched to the new Chan Loh tribe along with Nick, Anna stayed on Gondol, and Julia was exiled to the former To Tang camp. The new Chan Loh tribe won the next Immunity Challenge on Day 13, keeping Michele safe again. During the next Reward Challenge that involved releasing a set of buoys from a net, Michele struggled to release the buoys, putting Chan Loh behind and losing the challenge. Back at camp, Michele was distraught as she had lost Anna at the last Tribal Council, and she worried that her performance in the Reward Challenge would make her a target, but Debbie Wanner assured her that she was safe and the two aligned against Kyle Jason. Nick, however, told Michele not to align with Debbie, but Michele didn't appreciate Nick's patronizing attitude, she stated in a confessional that she was gonna lay back and play dumb, also stating that she didn't need to be carried in the game. But Gondol won the last Immunity Challenge before the merge on Day 16, abstaining Michele from Tribal Council once again.
Due to her tribes winning all of the Immunity Challenges, Michele was among the people that made the merge on Day 17, joining the new Dara tribe. Michele and Nick became potential swing votes as the Brain and Brawn alliances were vying for their votes. After Nick won the first individual Immunity Challenge on Day 19, Michele and Nick had decided to join the Brawn alliance, as Jason and Scot Pollard's arrogance made them least likely to get jury votes at the end. However, before Tribal Council, host Jeff Probst and a doctor came to visit the camp to inspect injuries that the castaways sustained. This resulted in Neal Gottlieb being evacuated after he was diagnosed with a life-threatening infection and became the first member of the jury.
After the next Immunity Challenge, Cydney Gillon approached Michele and Julia into targeting Nick for being a threat to the Brawn alliance. However, Michele and Julia debated sticking with the Brawn-Beauty Alliance to target Debbie or make a bigger move by joining the Dara Women's Alliance in blindsiding Nick. At Tribal Council, Michele and Julia ultimately joined the women's alliance in blindsiding Nick, making him the second juror. The alliance initially decided to betray Julia for playing a double agent, but their plan was thwarted when Julia won immunity. Cydney and Aubry Bracco then wanted to target Debbie for her volatility after she failed to realize the fact that Scot or Jason had an idol and that Julia was playing both sides. At Tribal Council, Michele joined Aubry, Cydney, and Julia in blindsiding Debbie. After the next Immunity Challenge, the women's plan was initially to vote out Tai to flush out his idol, but Aubry tried shifting the target to Scot. At Tribal Council, Julia and Michele were left out of the plan when Tai turned on Jason and Scot, refusing to form the super idol and blindsiding the former with Jason's idol in his possession.
Michele was confused when she was left out of Scot's elimination and felt that she and Julia were on the outs. Michele and Cydney won the next Reward Challenge and chose Aubry to go with them. During the reward, Michele tried to reintegrate herself into their alliance as Aubry and Cydney wanted to take out Julia and Jason before taking out Tai for being too likable at the end. After Michele won a critical Immunity Challenge at the final seven, the majority alliance decided to target Julia over Jason for her challenge and social prowess, but Michele was worried as Julia has been her closest ally since Day 1, so Michele and Cydney debated on targeting Julia or Tai. At Tribal Council, Michele ultimately turned on Julia, sending her closest ally to the jury.
After Julia's elimination, Michele hoped that by voting out her closest ally, she had gained trust in the majority alliance. But Tai wanted to blindside Michele for her likability. After the Immunity Challenge, Cydney leaked Tai's scheming to Michele, forcing Michele to have to do damage control. At Tribal Council, Tai tried to throw Michele under the bus saying that she was on the bottom of the majority alliance but Michele ratted him out about his disloyalty, mainly when he turned on Scot and Jason and how he has floated with the majority in almost every vote he was a part of. Tai used an Extra Vote advantage he won at the final eight Reward Challenge to cast two votes against Michele. But the majority alliance stuck to their original plan in sending Jason to the jury.
Following Jason's elimination, Joe del Campo won the next Reward Challenge and chose to share the reward with Aubry and Cydney. Back at camp, Michele and Tai made amends and planned to target Aubry. However, unknown to her, when Aubry returned to camp the next morning, Aubry made amends with Tai and decided to go to the end with Joe, while Michele and Cydney teamed up against Aubry and Joe. However, Joe started feeling ill as a result of feasting at the last reward. After his condition started getting worse, the medical team decided to pull him from the game.
After Joe was evacuated, Michele was targeted by Aubry and Tai for her close personal relationships with the jury. After Aubry won the final four Reward Challenge, she chose to share the reward with Cydney to try to weaken Michele for the Final Immunity Challenge. Back at camp, Michele tried to convince Tai to break up Aubry and Cydney's partnership. At the Final Immunity Challenge, Michele came from behind to win immunity, thwarting Aubry's plan. Michele and Cydney then decided to get rid of Aubry as she was the best likely speaker going into the Final Tribal Council and tried to get Tai to flip. At Tribal Council, Michele and Cydney stuck to their plan voting Aubry, but Tai switched his vote to Cydney, forcing a tie and causing a fire-making tiebreaker to occur. Aubry won the challenge, making Cydney the final jury member, and making Michele, Aubry, and Tai the Final Three.
Michele then won an unprecedented final Reward Challenge on Day 38, which gave her the right to deny a juror of their voting rights. She considered Joe for his unfaltering loyalty to Aubry, Neal for his loyalty to Aubry and persuasiveness, or Scot being the victim of Tai's biggest move in the game. Aubry campaigned hard for Scot to be eliminated, knowing that Joe and Neal were her guaranteed votes. At Tribal Council, Michele ultimately voted Neal out of the jury, feeling that he could easily persuade the jury into voting Aubry. Before leaving Tribal Council, Neal said some harsh words to Michele to try and throw her off her case going into the Final Tribal Council.
At the Final Tribal Council, Michele was reprimanded for coasting during the pre-merge, but was praised for working back into the majority after Scot's elimination by turning on Julia and winning the final seven and final four Immunity Challenges. Scot openly advocated for Michele citing that Aubry's game became less impressive near the end while Michele finished strong. Michele's social game ultimately helped her beat out Aubry and Tai in a 5-2-0 vote, becoming the Sole Survivor of Survivor: Kaôh Rōng.
|Michele's Voting History|
| Voted Against|
|1||Gondol Tribe Immune|
|2||Gondol Tribe Immune|
|3||Gondol Tribe Immune|
|4||Gondol Tribe Immune|
|5||Chan Loh Tribe Immune|
|6||Chan Loh Tribe Immune|
|7||No Tribal Council|
|13||No Tribal Council|
| Jury Votes|
| Cydney, Debbie,|
Jason, Julia, Scot
|Sole Survivor, Day 39|
Winners at War
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|Michele's Voting History|
| Voted Against|
|Sele Tribe Immune|
|4||Sele Tribe Immune|
|5||Sele Tribe Immune|
| Jury Votes|
|Second Runner-Up, Day 39|
^1 In "The Penultimate Step of the War", Michele used a 50/50 coin advantage which landed on "Safe", negating 2 votes against her.
^2 In "It All Boils Down to This", Ben used a Hidden Immunity Idol, negating Michele's vote against him. Because Ben and Natalie both used Hidden Immunity Idols and negated all the votes cast at Tribal Council, a vote restart was held between the two non-immune players, Denise and Sarah. Michele voted for Denise on the restart.
- Michele used her winnings to finish paying off her car.
- Michele currently works in the tourism industry as a Business Development Manager at Palace Resorts.
- Michele was previously in a relationship with Ghost Island winner Wendell Holland, though the two had ended their relationship prior to appearing on Winners at War.
- Michele, along with Nick Maiorano and Chris Noble, currently holds the record for surviving the most days in the game without attending Tribal Council, with 22.
- Of those three, Michele is the only one who was not voted out at their first Tribal Council.
- Michele's 25th birthday was on Day 37 of Kaôh Rōng.
- In Kaôh Rōng, Michele became the first and currently only winner to avoid Tribal Council during the pre-merge portion of the game.
- Ironically, she attended the most pre-merge Tribal Councils out of anyone during Winners at War, with 5.
- Michele is the least vulnerable female winner and the second overall behind Tom Westman, having been eligible to be voted out only four times.
- Michele is the only person in Kaôh Rōng to win more than one individual Immunity Challenge.
- Michele secured her seat at the Final Tribal Council earlier than any other contestant by virtue of winning the Final Immunity Challenge on Day 37.
- Michele is the first contestant to be able to remove a juror from the game.
- Michele is tied with Natalie Anderson for the most challenges (both tribal and individual) won by a female winner, with 13.
- Michele became the third person from New Jersey to win in five seasons, following Tony Vlachos and Natalie Anderson.
- Coincidentally, Tony, Natalie, and Michele made up the Final Three in Winners at War.
- Michele is the youngest woman to compete on Winners at War.
- Michele is one of four returning players to have never been voted out. The others are Jenna Morasca, Michael Skupin, and Colton Cumbie.
- She is the only one of these four to have reached the Final Tribal Council every time they competed.
- Michele and Natalie Anderson have played the most days of any two-time players at 78, and currently have played the highest average number of days of any returning player at 39.
- Every time Michele received elimination votes, she received exactly two votes.