The Sole Survivor is the title held by the winner of the reality TV show Survivor, as determined by a plurality of votes from the jury. It is the task of the jury to award the title to the castaway it believes to have most thoroughly embodied the game's three-word slogan: "Outwit, Outplay, Outlast."


There are no formal constraints on the rationale that jury members may employ in choosing the Sole Survivor. The only built-in requirement of eligibility for the title is to reach Day 39 (42 in The Australian Outback, 39.5 in Blood vs. Water and San Juan del Sur).

On the evening of Day 39, the Final Tribal Council will be held, in which the finalists are subjected to questioning by the jury, who may ask any questions or make any statements that they feel will help them make the best decision possible. As there is no objective definition of 'best' in this case, the methods by which castaways have won the game, and the reasons adopted by the jurors in voting for them, have varied widely throughout the history of the series.

Jury members are expected, however, to choose Sole Survivors that have credibly embodied the game's three-word motto:

  • Outwit: The strategic element; the ability to outmaneuver other contestants and eliminate them in a manner conducive to one's own long-term success in the game. This component of the game may include alliance formation/management, the execution of blindsides, the use of Hidden Immunity Idols, advantages, or any other manifestation of guile, deception, or strategic command.
  • Outplay: The social element; the ability to bring about one's desired strategic goals without sacrificing one's social standing or alienating other contestants emotionally. A strong candidate will remain respected while playing an efficacious game.
  • Outlast: The physical element; the ability to literally survive the harsh realities of the game, such as harsh weather, grueling challenges, and the overall deprivation of the necessities of life. It is expected that the Sole Survivor will have not only endured the physical difficulties of the game, but indeed will have borne them with enthusiasm and grace.

It should be noted that in the game of Survivor likability and respect are not always fungible qualities. In some cases, the winner may have played a game strategically dominant enough to overcome the fact that other finalists were more likable. At other times, the opposite may be the case, and a more sociable player may win due to the quality of their character even in the presence of a more strategically "active" but socially inept competitor. It is up to the idiosyncratic interpretation of the jury to determine who has fulfilled all three elements of "Outwit, Outplay, Outlast," and it is up to each finalist to present a compelling argument in their own favor, emphasizing their strengths and eliding their weaknesses, at the Final Tribal Council. Regardless of the rationale behind its decision, the jury in essence is deciding which finalist they feel comfortable losing to.


The Sole Survivor receives a check of $1,000,000, to be received after the season finale. Earlier winners additionally received a car that is usually similar to the one given at the Reward Challenge where a car was also given, though this has been abandoned since Survivor: Cook Islands. The winner, and all contestants present in the live Reunion Show will also receive an extra $10,000 appearance fee, which immediately follows the finale broadcast. From Survivor: Panama to Survivor: Caramoan, the Sole Survivor was also eligible to win the Fan Favorite Award. All cash prizes are taxable at the U.S. rate of 35% leaving the winner $600,000.

List of Sole Survivors


Winning and Perfect Games

Tribal Council

  • All 5-2 jury votes in Final Two seasons have involved a man defeating a woman: Ethan Zohn defeated Kim Johnson, Chris Daugherty defeated Twila Tanner, and Aras Baskauskas defeated Danielle DiLorenzo.
  • Tony Vlachos is currently the Sole Survivor with the most jury votes received in a Final Two, with 8.
  • Richard Hatch is the only Sole Survivor to be revealed on location rather than during the Reunion Show.
  • Natalie White, Kim Spradlin, and Sarah Lacina are tied for the most jury votes received by any female winner, all receiving 7 jury votes.
  • Denise Stapley is currently the only Sole Survivor to attend every Tribal Council of their winning season.
    • Natalie White is the Sole Survivor who was eligible to be voted out the most times, with 14.
  • Eight winners have won without ever having a single vote cast against them: Tina Wesson, Ethan Zohn, Brian Heidik, Sandra Diaz-Twine (in Pearl Islands), Tom Westman, J.T. Thomas, John Cochran, and Natalie Anderson.
  • Michele Fitzgerald is the only Sole Survivor to never attend a pre-merge Tribal Council.
  • Ben Driebergen has the most votes cast against any winner in a single season, with 11. This includes 9 votes that were negated by Hidden Immunity Idols.
    • Natalie White has the most votes cast against any female winner in a single season with 8 (however, this includes the 3 votes she received in the revote in "The Day of Reckoning").
  • The most common decision for Sole Survivor by the jury is a 4-3 vote, occurring a total of 5 times. This count does not include the 4-3-0 Final Tribal Council of Survivor: Gabon.

Hidden Immunity Idol and Twists

Challenge Wins

Returning Winners

See also