Survivor: Nicaragua is the twenty-first season of the American CBS competitive reality television series Survivor. It premiered on September 15, 2010 at 8 pm, moving to the Wednesday timeslot for the first time since Survivor: Borneo. The tribes were split into two tribes divided according to age. The season has to date produced one returning player for subsequent seasons: Brenda Lowe. Fabio Birza became the winner, defeating Chase Rice and Sash Lenahan by a vote of 5-4-0.

The season is perhaps most notorious for its twelfth Tribal Council, which featured two castaways quitting together. This incident resulted in permanent alterations to the Survivor Rulebook to discourage quitting.


The location of Nicaragua was announced at the conclusion of the finale of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains. This season and Survivor: Redemption Island were both filmed in San Juan del Sur. Jeff Probst has stated that he and the production crew were very grateful for the natives' warm hospitality.


These are the game-changing events of the season:

  • Old vs. Young: The 20 contestants will be divided up into two tribes based on their ages. The Espada tribe will feature contestants over the age of 40, and La Flor tribe will include contestants aged 30 years and younger. The producers deemed that they have a good slate of competitive older people, so they expected that the "Battle of the Ages" format will not agree to the younger tribe's sheer strength.
  • Hidden Immunity Idol: Similar to Fiji, China, Tocantins, Samoa, and Heroes vs. Villains, one idol will be hidden at both tribe camps. Jeff Probst, has also announced that the Hidden Immunity Idol will be hidden differently this season. Realizing that idols have been found too easily the past two seasons (notoriously often by Russell Hantz), the clues of the idol's location will be rebus puzzles rather than textual. They dubbed it as "The Russell Factor." Both idols are usable up until the Day 36 Tribal Council.
  • Medallion of Power: The two tribes will also vie for a new item, the Medallion of Power. The tribe that currently hold the Medallion will have an option to have an advantage in challenges (i.e. shortcuts, less workload etc.). They can either use it or save it until the next challenge. However, once the Medallion is utilized, regardless of whether the host tribe won or lost the challenge, they must surrender it to the rival tribe. The premise of the Medallions is to further even up the playing field for the tribes defined by age. After the tribe switch, the Medallion was retired.
  • Less Physical Challenges: Aside from the Medallion of Power, challenges in this season will be more innovative and less physical, due to the Old vs. Young format. Instead of sheer strength, majority of the challenges will require teamwork to win. Jeff Probst said: "It's way less physical this season, so there will be no wrestling on the beach. Our challenge department has come up with some inventive ideas that are fair, still take skill and still take strategy. They're going to be the kind of things you think would be fun to do."
  • Tribe Switch: Selected tribe members will be transferred to the rival tribe.
  • Double Tribal Council: Both tribes will go to Tribal Council and will vote somebody out, with one member of both tribes possessing individual Immunity.
  • Early Merge: Similar to Survivor: Samoa, the tribes will be merged with twelve people still in the game.
  • Expanded Jury and Final Three: Instead of the conventional Final Two facing the jury of seven, the Day 39 Tribal Council was held with a Final Three facing a nine-person jury.


Contestant Tribe Affiliation Finish Votes
Original Tribe Switched Tribe Merged Tribe
S21 wendy t Wendy DeSmidt-Kohlhoff
48, Fromberg, MT
Goat Rancher
Espada 1st Voted Out
Day 3
S21 shannon t Shannon Elkins
30, Lafayette, LA
Pest Control Company Owner
La Flor 2nd Voted Out
Day 6
S21 jimmyj t Jimmy Johnson
67, Islamorada, FL
Former NFL Coach
Espada 3rd Voted Out
Day 8
S21 jimmyt t Jimmy Tarantino
48, Gloucester, MA
Commercial Fisherman
Espada 4th Voted Out
Day 11
S21 tyrone t Tyrone Davis
42, Inglewood, CA
Fire Captain
Espada Espada 5th Voted Out
Day 14
S21 kellyb t Kelly Bruno
26, Durham, NC
Medical Student
La Flor La Flor 6th Voted Out
Day 15
S21 yve t Yve Rojas
41, Kansas City, MO
Espada Espada 7th Voted Out
Day 15
S21 jill t Jill Behm
43, Erie, PA
ER Doctor
Espada La Flor 8th Voted Out
Day 18
S21 alina t Alina Wilson
23, Downey, CA
Art Student
La Flor Espada Libertad 9th Voted Out
1st Jury Member
Day 22
S21 marty t Marty Piombo
48, Mill Valley, CA
Technology Executive
Espada La Flor 10th Voted Out
2nd Jury Member
Day 24
S21 brenda t Brenda Lowe
27, Miami, FL
Paddleboard Company Owner
La Flor La Flor 11th Voted Out
3rd Jury Member
Day 27
S21 naonka t NaOnka Mixon
27, Los Angeles, CA
PE Teacher
La Flor Espada Quit
4th Jury Member
Day 28
S21 kellys t Kelly Shinn
20, Mesa, AZ
Nursing Student
La Flor La Flor Quit
5th Jury Member
Day 28
S21 benry t Benry Henry
24, Los Angeles, CA
Club Promoter
La Flor Espada 12th Voted Out
6th Jury Member
Day 32
S21 jane t Jane Bright
56, Jackson Springs, NC
Dog Trainer
Espada La Flor 13th Voted Out
7th Jury Member
Day 36
S21 dan t Dan Lembo
63, Water Mill, NY
Real Estate Executive
Espada Espada 14th Voted Out
8th Jury Member
Day 37
S21 holly t Holly Hoffman
44, Eureka, SD
Swim Coach
Espada Espada 15th Voted Out
9th Jury Member
Day 38
S21 sash t Sash Lenahan
30, New York City, NY
Real Estate Broker
La Flor La Flor Second
S21 chase t Chase Rice
24, Fairview, NC
Professional Racecar Jackman
La Flor Espada Runner-Up 1
S21 fabio t Fabio Birza
21, Venice, CA
La Flor La Flor Sole Survivor 2

Season Summary

Twenty new castaways were divided into tribes by age: the younger La Flor, and the older Espada. Both tribes also vied for ownership of the newly introduced Medallion of Power, which granted them an advantage when played in challenges. At Espada, several members of the tribe such as Jimmy Johnson and Jimmy Tarantino vied for leadership as Marty Piombo stealthily built an alliance along with close ally Jill Behm.

Despite dominating in challenges, La Flor also had their own share of conflicts. Two warring alliances (one led by Shannon Elkins, and the other led by Brenda Lowe and Sash Lenahan) emerged, with both alliances vying for Chase Rice's vote. A confused Shannon lashed out at Tribal Council, making some of his alliance members and Chase to turn on him, causing his elimination instead. The remnants of Shannon's group found themselves at the mercy of the majority alliance. Not only did they have the numbers, but Brenda and NaOnka Mixon successfully found their Hidden Immunity Idol, leaving them more vulnerable. However, their supposed eliminations were put on hold, as La Flor went on to win two more Immunity Challenges.

On Day 12, a Tribe Switch caused allegiances to shift. At the new Espada, Holly Hoffman bonded with her new tribemates, and formed an alliance with them. At the new La Flor, the once-powerful Marty fell from grace, thanks to Jane Bright flipping to Brenda's alliance. Marty narrowly escaped the swapped tribe by giving Sash his Hidden Immunity Idol. On Day 19, the two tribes were merged into the Libertad tribe.

Sash and Brenda took control of Libertad, finally eliminating Marty. Seeing that Brenda was controlling the game, Holly made her move by turning everybody else on Brenda (who hoped that Sash would give her his Idol), causing her demise. Brenda's elimination, along with the voluntary exits of Kelly Shinn and NaOnka, left Sash alone and without allies. However, Sash became the swing vote and managed to find a new alliance in Holly, Chase, and Jane. After voting out the untrustworthy Benry Henry, the new formed majority alliance planned to eliminate Fabio Birza next, but he went on to win the last three Immunity Challenges, ending up in the Final Three along with Chase and Sash, who were forced to turn on Jane and Holly.

At the Final Tribal Council, Sash was ignored by the jury because of his numerous deceptions; while Chase was castigated for his indecisiveness at several points during the game. Fabio on the other hand was chastised by the other two for seemingly coasting throughout the game, but he rebutted that he did that on purpose to not hurt anybody's feelings, and still stay longer in the game. In the end, Fabio's unconventional strategy earned him the title of Sole Survivor by a 5-4-0 vote over Chase and Sash.

Episode Air date Challenges Medallion of Power Eliminated Vote Finish Viewership (in millions)[2] Rating/Share (18-49)
Reward Immunity Holder Used?
1 "Young at Heart" September 15, 2010
La Flor
La Flor
9–1 1st Voted Out
Day 3
12.23 4.0/13
2 "Fatigue Makes Cowards of Us All" September 22, 2010
7-3 2nd Voted Out
Day 6
12.59 4.0/12
3 "Glitter in Their Eyes" September 29, 2010
La Flor1
La Flor
Jimmy J.
8-1 3rd Voted Out
Day 8
12.26 3.5/11
4 "Pulling the Trigger" October 6, 2010
La Flor1
La Flor
Jimmy T.
5-3 4th Voted Out
Day 11
12.05 3.8/11
5 "Turf Wars" October 13, 2010
La Flor
6-2 5th Voted Out
Day 14
12.32 3.8/11
6 "Worst Case Scenario" October 20, 2010
La Flor
Kelly B.
6th Voted Out
Day 15
12.26 3.6/11
6-1 7th Voted Out
Day 15
7 "What Goes Around, Comes Around" October 27, 2010 Espada Espada Jill 3-2-2 8th Voted Out
Day 18
11.82 3.5/10
8 "Company Will Be Arriving Soon" November 3, 2010 None Jane Alina 10-2 9th Voted Out
1st Jury Member
Day 22
12.30 3.7/11
9 "Running the Camp" November 10, 2010 Benry, Dan,
Marty, Sash
Brenda Marty 7-4 10th Voted Out
2nd Jury Member
Day 24
11.29 3.2/10
10 "Stuck in the Middle" November 17, 2010 Chase,
Fabio, Jane,
Kelly S.,
Jane Brenda 8-1-1 11th Voted Out
3rd Jury Member
Day 27
11.98 3.5/10
11 "We Did It Guys" November 24, 2010 Recap Episode N/A N/A
12 "You Started, You're Finishing" December 1, 2010 Benry,
None NaOnka No vote Quit
4th Jury Member
Day 28
12.26 3.6/11
Kelly S. Quit
5th Jury Member
Day 28
13 "Not Sure Where I Stand" December 8, 2010 Chase
Sash Benry 4-2-1 12th Voted Out
6th Jury Member
Day 32
12.13 3.6/10
14 "This Is Going to Hurt" December 15, 2010 Chase
Fabio Jane 5-03 13th Voted Out
7th Jury Member
Day 36
12.32 3.5/11
15 "What About Me?" December 19, 2010 None Fabio Dan 4-1 14th Voted Out
8th Jury Member
Day 37
13.59 4.1/11
Fabio Holly 3-1 15th Voted Out
9th Jury Member
Day 38
Jury Vote Sash 5-4-0 Second Runner-Up
Chase Runner-Up
Fabio Sole Survivor
16 "Reunion" 11.19 3.4/9
^1 Combined Reward/Immunity Challenge.
^2 Jeff tempted the winners of the Reward Challenge by offering a new supply of rice and tarp for the tribe if one of the winners chooses to give up his/her share of the reward. Furthermore, being singled out due to the odd number of players, Dan was chosen to sit out in the challenge, but if he guessed the winning team correctly, he would join them at their reward. Dan guessed the winning team correctly, winning himself reward as well.
^3 Sash used a Hidden Immunity Idol, negating 1 vote against him.

Voting History

Survivor: Nicaragua Voting History
Original Tribes Switched Tribes Merged Tribe
Episode #: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 13 14 15
Voted out: S21 wendy t
S21 shannon t
S21 jimmyj t
Jimmy J.
S21 jimmyt t
Jimmy T.
S21 tyrone t
Tie S21 kellyb t
Kelly B.
S21 yve t
S21 jill t
S21 alina t
S21 marty t
S21 brenda t
S21 naonka t
S21 kellys t
Kelly S.
S21 benry t
S21 jane t
S21 dan t
S21 holly t
S21 sash t
S21 chase t
S21 fabio t
Vote: 9-1 7-3 8-1 5-3 6-2 3-3-21 5-1 6-1 3-2-2 10-2 7-4 8-1-1 No vote2 4-2-1 5-0-03 4-1 3-1 5-4-0
Fabio Brenda Kelly B. Kelly B. Marty Alina Jane Brenda Holly Jane Dan Holly Jury Vote
Chase Shannon Tyrone Yve Alina Marty Brenda Benry Jane Dan Holly
Sash Shannon Marty Kelly B. Jill Alina Marty Brenda Benry Jane Dan Holly
Holly Wendy Jimmy J. Dan Tyrone Yve Alina Marty Brenda Benry Jane Dan Sash Chase
Dan Wendy Jimmy J. Jimmy T. Tyrone Yve Alina Jane Brenda Fabio Jane Chase Fabio
Jane Wendy Jimmy J. Dan Marty Marty Marty Marty Marty Brenda Benry Sash Chase
Benry Shannon Tyrone Yve Alina Jane Brenda Fabio Fabio
Kelly S. Shannon Kelly B. Kelly B. Jill Alina Marty Benry Quit Fabio
NaOnka Shannon Tyrone Yve Alina Marty Brenda Quit Fabio
Brenda Shannon Kelly B. Kelly B. Jill Alina Marty NaOnka Chase
Marty Wendy Jimmy J. Jimmy T. Brenda None Jane Alina Jane Fabio
Alina Brenda Tyrone Yve Marty Chase
Jill Wendy Jimmy J. Jimmy T. Brenda Kelly B. Jane
Yve Wendy Jimmy J. Jimmy T. NaOnka Dan
Kelly B. Shannon Marty None
Tyrone Wendy Jimmy J. Jimmy T. NaOnka A6a6a6
Jimmy T. Wendy Jimmy J. Dan
Jimmy J. Wendy Dan
Shannon Brenda
Wendy Yve


^1 Tribal Council resulted in a tie. Per the rules, a second vote was held where the castaways involved in the tie would not vote and the remaining castaways could only vote for those involved in the tie.
^2 NaOnka and Kelly S. both elected to quit the game. No vote occurred for their removal.
^3 Sash and Chase both used Hidden Immunity Idols, therefore all votes against the user were negated. However, neither Chase or Sash received enough votes to be voted out.


  • This is the second season to have tribes split by age, the first being Survivor: Panama, which was divided by age and then by gender.
  • This season's Tribal Council set is patterned from a destroyed church, with a mock graveyard pathway where the eliminated castaways walk after being voted out.
  • This is the first season in the history of the series that two people quit at the same time.
  • This season marked the second time that Jeff bribed a tribe for something after an unfortunate event at camp. The first time this happened was in Survivor: The Australian Outback, where the Barramundi tribe suffered miserably after a terrible storm, with their remaining food supply being washed up. Jeff bribed them to dismantle their shelter for a new supply of rice.
  • This season has three 4-day cycles. "Company Will Be Arriving Soon", "Not Sure Where I Stand", and "This Is Going to Hurt" all covered more than 3 days.
  • This season marked the second time that more than one player used a Hidden Immunity Idol in a single Tribal Council, being Sash and Chase.
  • Chase is the fourth player that drew an Idol, but no votes were cast against them, following Alex Angarita and Earl Cole from Fiji, and Russell Hantz twice, once in Samoa and once in Heroes vs. Villains.
  • This is the first time since Survivor: Tocantins that there have been all-male finalists, though this is the first time that the final three entirely comprised of male contestants, namely, Sash, Chase, and Fabio.
  • This is the fourth consecutive season that all finalists came from one original tribe.
  • Original La Flor members had an etched flower design at their torches, while the original Espada had saber-like etchings on theirs.
  • This was the first time that tribe names were prominently displayed on the buffs, though this would be the second time that buffs were customized for a tribe, following Survivor: All-Stars, where their buffs had their tribe insignia drawn on it.
  • This season's jury had the most female members, with six.
  • This is the first (and most recent overall) season since Survivor: Gabon where the difference in the jury vote was only one vote.
    • It is the first season since Survivor: Cook Islands where the jury vote has been 5-4-0. There had been three seasons with a final three and nine jury members between Cook Islands and Nicaragua.
  • This was the first season since Survivor: All-Stars to feature two castaways quit in the same season. However, unlike the former season, the two contestants quit in the same episode.
  • This season marks the third all-male Final Tribal Council, following Survivor: Thailand and Survivor: Tocantins.
    • This season also marks the first and only all-male Final Three.
  • This is the first season to have a castaway that was born in the 1990s: Kelly Shinn.
  • Composer Russ Landau had composed a new version of "Ancient Voices" for this season featuring indigenous flutes and elements of Spanish music, however the producers instead used an extended version of the original theme from season 1. The theme composed for Survivor: Nicaragua was later released on iTunes and is known as "Survivor: Nicaragua Unapproved."[3]