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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."

Criteria

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 elect a winner that have credibly embodied the game's three-word motto:

  • Outwit: 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.
  • Outplay: 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.
  • 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, where 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 the jury's reasoning behind their vote, they fundamentally choose which finalist they feel comfortable losing to.

Prizes

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

Trivia

Winning and Perfect Games

Tribal Council

Hidden Immunity Idol and Twists

Challenge Wins

Returning Winners

  • Eight winners have won the game as returnees: Amber Brkich, Parvati Shallow, Sandra Diaz-Twine, Rob Mariano, John Cochran, Tyson Apostol, Jeremy Collins, and Sarah Lacina.
    • All were second-timers, except Tyson (third time) and Rob (fourth time).
  • Fifteen Sole Survivors who had competed more than once have experienced being voted out, either prior to or after the season that each of them had won: Richard Hatch, Tina Wesson, Ethan Zohn, Sandra Diaz-Twine, Amber Brkich, Tom Westman, Aras Baskauskas, Parvati Shallow, J.T. Thomas, Rob Mariano, John Cochran, Tyson Apostol, Tony Vlachos, Jeremy Collins, and Sarah Lacina.
    • Voted out once: Richard, Ethan, Sandra, Amber, Tom, Aras, Parvati, Cochran, Tony, Jeremy, and Sarah.
    • Voted out twice: J.T., Rob, and Tyson.
    • Voted out thrice: Tina*
  • Jenna Morasca is the only Sole Survivor to play multiple times and never be voted out, as she quit Survivor: All-Stars.
  • In All-Stars and Survivor: Game Changers, no returning Sole Survivors reached the merge nor became jury members.
  • Tina Wesson, Sandra Diaz-Twine, and J.T. Thomas are the only winners to return twice after being crowned Sole Survivor.
    • Tina Wesson is the only Sole Survivor to be eliminated first on another season.
  • J.T. Thomas is the first returning winner to become a jury member and the first to be eliminated after the merge.
    • Two other returning Sole Survivors in Heroes vs. Villains made the merge, but they were finalists, while the other one was eliminated before the merge.
    • J.T., Aras, and Tina are the only winners to become jury members in a subsequent season.

See also

References