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Survivor: Winners at War is the fortieth season of Survivor.

This season featured twenty of the show's previous winners to commemorate its 20th anniversary. Tony Vlachos beat Natalie Anderson and Michele Fitzgerald in a 12-4-0 vote, becoming the series' second two-time winner.


The season was filmed in May–June 2019, two weeks after Survivor: Island of the Idols.

Much like every previous season to feature an all-returning player cast, challenge producer John Kirhoffer revealed that classic challenges return to commemorate the show's 40th season and 20th anniversary.[4]

The pay scale for the season is significantly increased, with the winner receiving $2,000,000. The first person voted out is guaranteed to take home at least $25,000 instead of the standard $2,500.[5]

Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine, who both appeared as mentors on Island of the Idols, only had two weeks to prepare for the upcoming season.

Due to an unprecedented incident of inappropriate touching in Island of the Idols, beginning this season, new guidelines regarding personal space, inappropriate behavior and how to report violations were imposed. Anti-harassment, unconscious bias and sensitivity training were also given to cast and crew members alike pre-production.[6]

The announcement of the winner was done virtually due to the outbreak of COVID-19. As such, there was no reunion show for the season.[3] The survivors however were all in the video conference to witness the announcement of the winner.


According to host Jeff Probst, the cast was assembled to equally represent winners from the earlier seasons, the middle, and the more recent seasons.[7] Despite initial hesitancy from some who came back, according to Probst, nobody refused.

The past winners who did not make the cast were:


  • Returning Winners: Twenty former Survivor winners returned for a chance to win another Sole Survivor title.
  • Increased Prize Money: For this season, the winner received $2,000,000, the biggest prize given in the series and reality television history.[20] Further, the pay scale was significantly increased, with the player finishing last receiving at least $25,000.[21]
  • Fire Tokens: A new twist, Fire Tokens allowed the castaways to purchase creature comforts, food, or game advantages.
  • Edge of Extinction: The Edge of Extinction returned this season with the same rules and premise, but the inclusion of Fire Tokens added a supply and demand system between those still in the game and those who were on the Edge of Extinction.[20]
    • Effort Tasks: The players living on the Edge of Extinction will have to perform tasks requiring herculean effort to earn Fire Tokens.[22]
  • Hidden Immunity Idol: A Hidden Immunity Idol was hidden at each camp. However, these idols had two halves, one of which had to be given to another castaway before sundown on the same day that it was found. When combined, both halves worked as a regular idol.
  • Edge of Extinction advantages: The following game advantages were available thru the Edge of Extinction and sold by its finder to a castaway still in the game before sundown on the same day that it was found:
    • Temporary Hidden Immunity Idols: These idols were only usable for three Tribal Councils after they are purchased.
    • Safety Without Power: The castaway was able to leave Tribal Council before the vote, effectively making them immune, at the cost of not voting. This advantage was usable until there were 10 active castaways left.
    • Vote Steal: A vote steal was hidden at the opposing tribe's camp, which the purchaser must retrieve the night after the transaction was completed.
    • Idol Nullifier: This advantage would have been able to void the use of a Hidden Immunity Idol and would have been usable until there are 5 active castaways left.
    • 50/50 Coin: The player who purchased the coin may use it at any Tribal Council up until there were 7 active players left. If flipped and landed on "safe" the player who used it became immune the same way a Hidden Immunity Idol would.
    • Extortion Advantage: Found on the Edge of Extinction, the eliminated player who found it gave the power to "extort" an active castaway into giving them an amount of Fire Tokens of their choosing before the next Immunity Challenge. The demand had to be met before the next Immunity Challenge.
    • Challenge Disadvantage: Once purchased, an active player was able to anonymously disadvantage another person at the Day 34 Immunity Challenge.
  • Tribe Expansion: With 15 active castaways left, a tribe expansion occurred, introducing the Yara​ tribe.
  • Double Tribal Council: On Day 16, only the first place tribe won immunity, sending both losing tribes to Tribal Council to vote out one person each.
  • Merge: This season merged with 12 castaways in the game; eleven in the main game and one from the Edge of Extinction.
  • Simplified Final Four Tribal Council: Instead of a traditional vote, the person who won the Final Immunity Challenge got to choose one person to take with them to the Final Three. The remaining two castaways competed in a fire-making challenge to determine who would be eliminated.
  • Final Three and Expanded Jury: Three finalists faced a 16-person jury.
  • Reformatted Final Tribal Council: Instead of having each jury member speak one by one, an open forum was held to ensure a more insightful rapport between the jury and finalists.


Contestant Tribe Affiliation Finish Edge of
Extinction Status
Original Tribe Expanded Tribe Merged Tribe
S40 amber t.png Amber Mariano
40, Pensacola, FL
The Australian Outback & All-Stars
Dakal 2nd Voted Out
Day 3
1st Jury Member
Day 35
S40 danni t.png Danni Boatwright
43, Shawnee, KS
Sele 3rd Voted Out
Day 6
2nd Jury Member
Day 35
S40 ethan t.png Ethan Zohn
45, Hillsborough, NH
Africa & All-Stars
Sele 4th Voted Out
Day 9
3rd Jury Member
Day 35
S40 rob t.png Rob Mariano
43, Pensacola, FL
Marquesas, All-Stars,
Heroes vs. Villains, & Redemption Island
Sele Yara 6th Voted Out
Day 14
4th Jury Member
Day 35
S40 sandra t.png Sandra Diaz-Twine
44, Riverview, FL
Pearl Islands, Heroes vs. Villains,
& Game Changers
Dakal Dakal 7th Voted Out
Day 16
Day 16
S40 parvati t.png Parvati Shallow
36, Los Angeles, CA
Cook Islands, Micronesia,
& Heroes vs. Villains
Sele Sele 8th Voted Out
Day 16
5th Jury Member
Day 35
S40 yul t.png Yul Kwon
44, Los Altos, CA
Cook Islands
Dakal Sele 9th Voted Out
Day 18
6th Jury Member
Day 35
S40 wendell t.png Wendell Holland
35, Philadelphia, PA
Ghost Island
Dakal Sele Koru 10th Voted Out
7th Jury Member
Day 21
Day 35
S40 adam t.png Adam Klein
28, Los Angeles, CA
Millennials vs. Gen X
Sele Yara 11th Voted Out
8th Jury Member
Day 23
Day 35
S40 tyson t.png Tyson Apostol
39, Mesa, AZ
Tocantins, Heroes vs. Villains,
& Blood vs. Water
Dakal 5th Voted Out
Day 11
1st Returnee
Day 19
12th Voted Out
9th Jury Member
Day 25
Day 35
S40 sophie t.png Sophie Clarke
29, Santa Monica, CA
South Pacific
Dakal Yara 13th Voted Out
10th Jury Member
Day 28
Day 35
S40 kim t.png Kim Spradlin-Wolfe
36, San Antonio, TX
One World
Dakal Dakal 14th Voted Out
11th Jury Member
Day 29
Day 35
S40 jeremy t.png Jeremy Collins
41, Foxborough, MA
San Juan del Sur & Cambodia
Sele Dakal 15th Voted Out
12th Jury Member
Day 31
Day 35
S40 nick t.png Nick Wilson
28, Williamsburg, KY
David vs. Goliath
Dakal Sele 16th Voted Out
13th Jury Member
Day 34
Day 35
S40 denise t.png Denise Stapley
48, Marion, IA
Sele Dakal 17th Voted Out
14th Jury Member
Day 36
S40 ben t.png Ben Driebergen
36, Boise, ID
Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers
Sele Yara 18th Voted Out
15th Jury Member
Day 37
S40 sarah t.png Sarah Lacina
34, Cedar Rapids, IA
Cagayan & Game Changers
Dakal Yara Eliminated
16th Jury Member
Day 38
S40 michele t.png Michele Fitzgerald
29, Hoboken, NJ
Kaôh Rōng
Sele Sele Second
S40 natalie t.png Natalie Anderson
33, Edgewater, NJ
San Juan del Sur
Sele 1st Voted Out
Day 2
2nd Returnee
Removed from Jury
Day 35
S40 tony t.png Tony Vlachos
45, Allendale, NJ
Cagayan & Game Changers
Dakal Dakal Sole Survivor 0

Season Summary

Twenty former Survivor champions returned to commemorate the series' 20th year and 40th season. A new twist called Fire Tokens added a layer of economy where active players paid tokens in exchange for advantages that inactive castaways found on the Edge of Extinction.

Relationships outside the game heavily affected the early days of the game, attributing to several eliminations. During the pre-merge, allies-turned-enemies Sarah and Tony made amends and resurrected their Cops-R-Us alliance, while controversial winners like Ben and Michelle fought for validation. The earlier winners found themselves employing familiar strategies, whereas the more recent winners capitalized the modernized style of game play, leading to the "old-schoolers" getting sent to the Edge of Extinction to compete for Fire Tokens which they used to buy advantages come the return challenge. Every person eliminated took the challenge of the Edge, with the exception of Sandra, the first two-time winner, who raised the sail on Night 16. Tyson won the return challenge on Day 19, rejoining the game at the merge. Despite not winning the return challenge, Natalie, who was the first person voted out, dominated the Edge of Extinction, finding and selling game advantages and getting paid Fire Tokens in return.

At the merge, the fluidity of alliances and fast-paced game play led to multiple last-minute plotting at Tribal Council, leading to several blindsides. Tony, who had kept a low profile pre-merge in stark contrast to his trademark brash game play in his previous outings, began to seize control of the game post-merge, finding a Hidden Immunity Idol, and winning critical Immunity Challenges. On Day 35, Natalie's perseverance earned her enough Fire Tokens to buy a Hidden Immunity Idol and three advantages at the return challenge, which ultimately allowed her to return to the game.

On Day 36, Natalie reunited with her early ally Michele, who was an outsider from the majority alliance of Ben, Sarah, Tony, and Denise. In an attempt to break the quartet, Natalie revealed that Tony was popular among the jury, which Sarah resented as she was Tony's voice of reason and equally had a hand in their decision-making. With Michele winning immunity, the majority alliance decided to pile their votes on Natalie despite Tony's objections because he believed that she had an idol coming back into the game. Natalie played her idol, forcing Ben and Tony to use theirs, leading to a stalemate. Denise and Sarah, the only players eligible to receive votes, were up for elimination where Denise took the fall. Despite still being in the majority, Ben, who had formed a close bond with Sarah, allowed her to vote him out to set herself up better against Tony at the finals.

Natalie won the Final Immunity Challenge and chose to pick Michele to join her in the Final Three, leaving Sarah and Tony to compete in the fire-making challenge. In a close match, Tony defeated Sarah, joining Michele and Natalie in the Final Three. At the Final Tribal Council, the jury praised all three finalists for their distinct strategies: Tony for his improvement from being reckless in his first season to being patient and calculated, Michele for her strong social game and resilience despite being left out from the vote numerous times, and Natalie for conquering the Edge of Extinction and making the most of her second chance. In the end, it was Tony who was awarded the title of Sole Survivor in a 12-4-0 vote, making him the second two-time winner of the series.

Episode Air date Edge of Extinction Challenges Voted Out
Status Bequeathed
Fire Token
(in millions)
Left Game Finish Reward Immunity
1 "Greatest of the Greats" February 12, 2020
1st Voted Out
Removed from Jury8
Day 2
Jeremy (1) 6.68[23] 1.3/7[23]
None None
2nd Voted Out
1st Jury Member5
Day 3
Rob (1)
2 "It's Like a Survivor Economy" February 19, 2020 None
3rd Voted Out
2nd Jury Member5
Day 6
Denise (1) 7.16[24] 1.4/7[24]
3 "Out for Blood" February 26, 2020 None Dakal1 Ethan
4th Voted Out
3rd Jury Member5
Day 9
Parvati (1) 7.14[25] 1.4/7[25]
4 "I Like Revenge" March 4, 2020 None Sele1 Tyson
5th Voted Out
Day 11
Nick (1) 7.08[26] 1.4/7[26]
5 "The Buddy System on Steroids" March 11, 2020 None None Sele Rob
6th Voted Out
4th Jury Member5
Day 14
Parvati (2) 6.91[27] 1.4/6[27]
6 "Quick on the Draw" March 18, 2020 None Yara1 Sandra
7th Voted Out
Day 16
Yul (1) 7.83[28] 1.6/7[28]
8th Voted Out
5th Jury Member5
Day 16
Michele (3)
7 "We're in the Majors" March 25, 2020 Sandra Quit
Day 16
Yara4 Yara Yul
9th Voted Out
6th Jury Member5
Day 18
Sarah (1) 8.18[29] 1.7/8[29]
Sele4 Dakal Sophie (1)
8 "This Is Where the Battle Begins" April 1, 2020 Tyson 1st Returnee
Day 19
None Denise Wendell
10th Voted Out
7th Jury Member
Day 21
Michele (1) 8.23[30] 1.6/7[30]
Jeremy Nick (1)
9 "War Is Not Pretty" April 8, 2020 None Ben, Kim
Kim Adam
11th Voted Out
8th Jury Member
Day 23
Denise (1) 7.85[31] 1.5/6[31]
10 "The Full Circle" April 15, 2020 None None Tony Tyson
12th Voted Out
9th Jury Member
Day 25
None 8.14[32] 1.6/7[32]
11 "This Is Extortion" April 22, 2020 None Ben, Kim,
Tony Sophie
13th Voted Out
10th Jury Member
Day 28
Kim (1) 8.16[33] 1.5/6[33]
Sarah (1)
12 "Friendly Fire" April 29, 2020 None None Denise Kim
14th Voted Out
11th Jury Member
Day 29
Denise (1) 8.08[34] 1.5/6[34]
Michele (1)
Sarah (1)
13 "The Penultimate Step of the War" May 6, 2020 None None Nick Jeremy
15th Voted Out
12th Jury Member
Day 31
Michele (2) 7.57[35] 1.4/5[35]
None Michele Nick
16th Voted Out
13th Jury Member
Day 34
14 "It All Boils Down to This" May 13, 2020 Amber Eliminated
Day 35
Michele1 Denise
17th Voted Out
14th Jury Member
Day 36
7.94[36] 1.6/7[36]
Natalie 2nd Returnee
Day 35
None Tony Ben
18th Voted Out
15th Jury Member
Day 37
Natalie Sarah
(No Vote)10
16th Jury Member
Day 38
Jury Vote Michele
Second Runner-Up
Sole Survivor

^1 Combined Reward and Immunity Challenge.
^2 A Hidden Immunity Idol was played, negating all votes against its user.
^3 A Hidden Immunity Idol was played; however, no votes were cast against its user.
^4 Promotional pictures were released showing an unaired challenge that occurred during the episode. Yara finished first, while Sele finished second.[37]
^5 Natalie, Amber, Danni, Ethan, Rob, Parvati, and Yul were made jurors following the conclusion of the first reentry duel.
^6 There was an unaired Reward Challenge on Day 26.[38]
^7 Michele used the 50/50 and it landed on "Safe", negating 2 votes against her.
^8 Natalie won the second reentry duel, thus removing herself from the jury.
^9 All votes cast were negated, causing a null vote. Per the rules of Survivor, a vote restart occurred.
^10 Instead of a traditional vote, The winner of the Immunity challenge, Natalie, would choose someone to take with them to the Final Three. She chose Michele. The remaining two castaways, Sarah and Tony, would compete in a fire-making challenge to determine the last finalist.

Voting History

Survivor: Winners at War Voting History
Tribes Original Tribes Expanded Tribes Merged Tribe
Episode #: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Voted out: S40 natalie t.png
S40 amber t.png
S40 danni t.png
S40 ethan t.png
S40 tyson t.png
S40 rob t.png
S40 sandra t.png
S40 parvati t.png
S40 yul t.png
S40 wendell t.png
S40 adam t.png
S40 tyson t.png
S40 sophie t.png
S40 kim t.png
S40 jeremy t.png
S40 nick t.png
Null S40 denise t.png
S40 ben t.png
S40 sarah t.png
S40 michele t.png
S40 natalie t.png
S40 tony t.png
Vote: 7-2-1 6-3-1 8-1 4-3-1 7-1-1 4-1 1-01,2 3-2 3-1 9-3 8-2-1 5-2-01 4-3-2 5-3 3-2-06 4-2 0-01,2,7 4-0 3-22 No Vote8 12-4-0
Tony Kim Tyson Denise Wendell Adam Tyson Sophie Kim Jeremy Nick Natalie Denise Michele Jury Vote
Natalie Denise Ben Denise Ben
Michele Denise Danni Ethan Wendell Yul Adam Adam Tyson Sophie Jeremy Ben Denise Ben Denise Ben
Sarah Kim Tyson Rob Wendell Nick Tyson4 Michele Kim Michele Nick Natalie None Ben Eliminated Tony
Ben Natalie Danni Ethan Rob Wendell Adam Tyson Jeremy Kim Jeremy Nick Natalie Denise Michele Tony
Denise Natalie Danni Ethan Sandra Wendell Nick None5 Jeremy Jeremy Michele Nick Natalie None Tony
Nick Amber Kim Parvati Yul Adam Adam Tyson Sophie Kim Jeremy Denise Eliminated Tony
Jeremy Adam Danni Ethan Denise Wendell Adam None3 Sophie Kim Ben Eliminated Natalie
Kim Amber Tyson Denise Wendell Adam Sophie Michele Jeremy Eliminated Tony
Sophie Kim Tyson Rob Wendell Adam Denise Jeremy Eliminated Tony
Tyson Amber Nick Wendell Adam Sophie Eliminated Natalie
Adam Natalie Danni Parvati Rob Wendell Sarah Eliminated Tony
Wendell Amber Tyson Parvati Yul Adam Eliminated Tony
Yul Amber Tyson Parvati Wendell Eliminated Tony
Parvati Natalie Danni Adam Wendell Eliminated Natalie
Sandra Amber Tyson Denise Quit
Rob Natalie Danni Adam Sarah Eliminated Tony
Ethan Natalie Danni Adam Eliminated Natalie
Danni Natalie Parvati Eliminated Tony
Amber Nick Eliminated Tony

^1 A Hidden Immunity Idol was played, negating all votes against its user.
^2 A Hidden Immunity Idol was played; however, no votes were cast against its user.
^3 Jeremy used the Safety without Power advantage, allowing him to abstain from Tribal Council without voting and making him ineligible to be voted out.
^4 This castaway used the Vote Steal advantage, allowing them to steal another castaway's vote to vote twice at Tribal Council.
^5 This castaway's vote was stolen by the Vote Steal.
^6 Michele used the 50/50 Coin advantage and it landed on "Safe", negating all votes against her.
^7 All votes cast were negated, causing a null vote. Per the rules of Survivor, a vote restart occurred. Since Denise and Sarah were the only two castaways eligible to recieve votes, they would not vote, since they could only vote for each other.
^8 Instead of a traditional vote, the person who won the Immunity Challenge, Natalie, would choose someone to take with them into the Final Three. She chose Michele. The remaining two castaways, would compete in a fire-making challenge to determine the last finalist.


  • Winners at War marks the first time that a country is used eight consecutive times.
  • This is the first season to have its number displayed on the logo.
  • This season is the fifth season comprised entirely of returning players, following Survivor: All-Stars, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, Survivor: Cambodia, and Survivor: Game Changers.
  • Winners at War is the first season since Redemption Island to not contain any LGBT contestants.
  • This is the first season to have castaways in a familial relationship compete against each other in a non-Blood vs. Water season.
  • With Danni representing Guatemala, the earliest season where no first-time castaways have returned is now Caramoan.
  • Amber and Kim are the second and third castaways to play under two different last names, following Candice Cody, who played as Candice Woodcock in her first two seasons.
  • Of the participating castaways:
    • Eleven are playing in their second season: Adam, Ben, Danni, Denise, Kim, Michele, NatalieNick, Sophie, Wendell, and Yul.
    • Five are playing in their third season: Ethan and Tony who won their first, and Amber, Jeremy, and Sarah who won their second.
    • Three are playing in their fourth season: Parvati who won her second, Tyson who won his third, and Sandra who won both her first and second.
    • One is playing in his fifth season: Rob, who won his fourth. Rob is the first person to play Survivor five times.
  • With this season, Amber and Ethan broke Kelly Wiglesworth's record of 30 seasons for the largest gap between appearances in two different seasons, with 32 seasons.
    • Amber also broke the record for the largest gap between the first and most recent appearances, with 38 seasons.
  • Winners at War is the second season where every contestant won an Immunity Challenge, after Pearl Islands.
  • All three finalists lived in New Jersey at the time of filming.
  • Winners at War currently contains the largest jury, with 16 jurors.
  • Winners at War has the most vote outs of any Survivor (U.S.) season, with 18.
  • Winners at War is the only season without an aftershow or reunion episode following the announcement of the Sole Survivor.


  1. Pitman, Jeff (April 25, 2019). "Survivor 40: Winners at War calendar". True Dork Times. Retrieved December 19, 2019. 
  2. "CBS Winter 2020 Schedule: Premiere Dates For Survivor, Criminal Minds, New Series, And More". CBS. November 11, 2019. Retrieved December 19, 2019. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ross, Dalton (April 13, 2020). "Survivor: Winners at War to air virtual reunion during May 13 finale". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 13, 2020. 
  4. Ross, Dalton (January 18, 2020). "Survivor: Winners at War will feature all classic challenges from the past". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 19, 2020. 
  5. Ross, Dalton (January 19, 2020). "Survivor: Winners at War cast members getting at least $35K each". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 23, 2020. 
  6. Ross, Dalton (December 17, 2019). "Survivor and CBS announce new oversight after inappropriate touching incidents". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 2, 2021. 
  8. Reinstein, Mara (January 15, 2020). "Jeff Probst Reveals Why Richard Hatch Is Not Part of 'Survivor' Season 40: 'I Didn't Feel Comfortable'". Us Weekly. Retrieved January 17, 2020. 
  10. Reinstein, Mara (February 11, 2020). "Jeff Probst Shares His Pick to Win 'Survivor: Winners at War' — and Who Didn't Make the Final Cut". Us Weekly. Retrieved February 14, 2020. 
  11. Cesternino, Rob (June 6, 2020). "Talking with T-Bird: Tom Westman". Rob Has a Website. Retrieved June 7, 2020. 
  13. Cesternino, Rob (January 19, 2020). "Talking with T-Bird: Vecepia Towery". Rob Has a Website. Retrieved January 21, 2020. 
  17. Cesternino, Rob (April 24, 2020). "Survivor 40 Episode 11 Feedback with Aras Baskauskas". Rob Has a Website. Retrieved April 27, 2020. 
  18. Ross, Dalton (January 28, 2020). "Jeff Probst on the player they could not get for Survivor: Winners at War". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 29, 2020. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 Ross, Dalton (December 18, 2019). "Jeff Probst shares intel on Survivor: Winners at War". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 21, 2019. 
  22. Ross, Dalton (March 5, 2020). "Jeff Probst on 'one of the most dramatic Survivor sequences ever'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 6, 2020. 
  23. 23.0 23.1
  24. 24.0 24.1
  25. 25.0 25.1
  26. 26.0 26.1
  27. 27.0 27.1
  28. 28.0 28.1
  29. 29.0 29.1
  30. 30.0 30.1
  31. 31.0 31.1
  32. 32.0 32.1
  33. 33.0 33.1
  34. 34.0 34.1
  35. 35.0 35.1
  36. 36.0 36.1
  37. Ross, Dalton (March 25, 2020). "Survivor: Winners at War recap: The queen abdicates her throne". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 25, 2020. 

Survivor (US) Seasons
BorneoThe Australian OutbackAfricaMarquesasThailandThe AmazonPearl IslandsAll-StarsVanuatuPalauGuatemalaPanamaCook IslandsFijiChinaMicronesiaGabonTocantinsSamoaHeroes vs. VillainsNicaraguaRedemption IslandSouth PacificOne WorldPhilippinesCaramoanBlood vs. WaterCagayanSan Juan del SurWorlds ApartCambodiaKaôh RōngMillennials vs. Gen XGame ChangersHeroes vs. Healers vs. HustlersGhost IslandDavid vs. GoliathEdge of ExtinctionIsland of the IdolsWinners at WarSurvivor 41Survivor 42Survivor 43