The Survivor Auction is a special Reward Challenge where the players are temporarily relieved from competing in strenuous challenges. Instead, they will be given a specific sum of money where they must outbid the other contestants for certain items, mostly food, with instances where a temporary use of amenities or a visit from loved ones are also offered. There are also instances where there are game-changing powers that contestants can outbid on, such as the power to send another player to Exile Island, an advantage at the next Immunity Challenge, or a clue to a Hidden Immunity Idol. The host would pound a gavel on the auction table, denoting that the item has already been sold.
At pre-determined points, the host will offer covered items which will remain covered until there is a winning bidder. In connection to covered items, there are also "trap items," which reveal an undesirable prize, such as exotic food items or boiled water from their camp. Also, the host will sometimes tempt the contestant to trade his/her chosen item for another sealed item, which sometimes reveal a "better" item(s), or sometimes a more undesirable one(s).
In recent seasons, players are to outbid on items that would benefit the entire tribe, such as all-tribe food items to be eaten in a certain amount of time, or extra food supply. This could serve as doing a favor for the tribe, in order to establish a better position in the game, perhaps expecting their tribe to return the favor.
Prior to the auction starting, the host announces the guidelines of the auction. In order for a contestant to bid, they must adhere to the following rules:
- Castaways are given a predetermined amount of money (which may vary from local currency to USD) and can choose to bid as many times as they wish using however much money they have.
- The host would open the bidding with a flat rate that follows the prescribed increment (if bidding is at $20 increments, the host may open the bidding at $40). This rule has been abandoned in recent seasons.
- Bids will be in increments at the host's discretion. Castaways can, however, immediately bid a large amount, or all of the money in their possession, in an attempt to instantly win a desired item.
- "Pooling" (sharing money along with the item up for auction with other players) is permitted, as long as they share the item and/or vice versa. This option has been voided since Cook Islands.
- Food which is bought must be eaten before leaving the auction area.
- The auction will usually end without notice.
- Sealed/covered items will remain covered until the item is sold.
- Host Jeff Probst has revealed that after the auction, the contestants may keep their unspent money. Jeff even claimed that some contestants do not bid at all so that they can keep the money.
- If two or more people who have all their money want to bid all of it on the same item, they will draw rocks to decide who wins. This rule was implemented starting with Cagayan.
The auction is well received by fans, primarily with seeing the contestants enjoying food and sharing it with their tribemates or keeping it for themselves. It also provides insight as to whether or not a castaway will risk what they have bought in order for a concealed item, which is typically exotic local cuisine or an improvement on what has been won. Also, hogging too many items from the auction may receive the ire of his or her tribemates.
Host Jeff Probst himself acknowledged that the Survivor Auction lost its appeal due to the increasingly cutthroat nature of the game, as contestants no longer competed for food and instead held on to their money until game advantages were up for bid. This was apparent in the most recent instances of the Survivor Auction, Cagayan and Worlds Apart.
Most Common Items
|Letters from home|
|Advantage in the upcoming Immunity Challenge|
|Clue to the location of a Hidden Immunity Idol|
| Power to send someone to Exile Island|
and to take all of said person's auction money
- Thailand is the only season to feature an auction during the pre-merge stage of the game, where the tribes outbid each other for items.
- Amber Brkich is the first contestant to buy a "mystery item" at the Survivor Auction that would be revealed as a "trap item" in The Australian Outback. The mystery item was a pitcher of river water.
- Danni Boatwright is the first contestant to ever buy an advantage for the next Immunity Challenge.
- Stephenie LaGrossa, Parvati Shallow, Jonathan Penner, Erik Reichenbach, and Malcolm Freberg are the only players to participate in more than one auction.
- Most Survivor Auctions have been on Day 28, with the exceptions of Guatemala and Tocantins (both on Day 31); One World and Worlds Apart (both on Day 25); Cagayan (Day 29); and Thailand (Day 15).
- Judd Sergeant has spent the most money at an auction, sharing money with Cindy Hall and spending $880 in Guatemala for his loved one. Along with that, he got to choose two people who would also spend time with their loved ones. He chose Cindy and Stephenie LaGrossa.
- Ken Hoang holds the record for the most money on hand during an auction. In the Gabon auction, Ken had $160 left when he took $500 from Bob Crowley, giving him a total of $660 at the auction.
- Cagayan holds the record for the least amount of money spent on food in an auction, with only $360 spent.
- ↑ Jeff Probst (November 9, 2011). "Auction". Tout. http://www.tout.com/m/0ftyt5. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- ↑ Dalton Ross (May 1, 2014). "Survivor Cagayan: Jeff Probst talks about super idol and auction twist". EW.com. http://insidetv.ew.com/2014/05/01/survivor-cagayan-jeff-probst-super-idol-auction/.
- ↑ http://www.ew.com/article/2016/04/21/survivor-jeff-probst-kaoh-rong-super-idol
- ↑ http://www.cbs.com/shows/survivor/news/1002894/