Survivor Winners: Seasons 9-16
The Past 8 Seasons
As Survivor continues to be a viewer favorite, each season reveals a new set of strategies, challenges, and twists. With the advantage of having watched many seasons of winners, and being able to study what worked and what didn't in the past, the castaways in the later seasons had to up their game and try to play smarter than ever. Here are the 8 most recent winners of Survivor, from Season 9 to 16.
One of my favorites, Vanuatu was filled with power players and interesting new strategies. Vanuatu is a chain of volcanic islands in the South Pacific and the season was also referred to as "Islands of Fire". The season save premiered on September 16th, 2004, and was eventually won by the unlikely Chris Daugherty, the final man left after Day 27, when he was the only one there with six women.
For the second time, there were 18 castaways, and they were separated by sex. Chris found himself on the chopping block in the first challenge when he failed to cross the balance beam, making his tribe lose immunity. Realizing that the athletic men were targeting him, he rallied all of the "Fat Five" less athletic men to vote against the younger, fit players. After that powerful first move, the younger men were taken out one by one in the next few episodes.
When it was down to 10, the tribes merged, leaving four men and six women. The men thought Twila would join them in their alliance, but all of the women banded together un the clear leader, Ami Cusack (a former Playboy model and one of the only openly lesbian castaways ever to compete). As the men were slowly eliminated, Chris was left as the last man standing with the remaining six women. Ami, who felt that she was in charge, decided to keep Chris in the game instead of staying loyal to an all-female final six, opting to vote out Eliza, the woman most of them found annoying. In a surprising move, a new secret alliance was formed, and Leann and Ami were the next to go, changing everyone's mind about the end of this season.
Defying all the odds, Chris hung on and went on to beat out Twila in a vote of 5-2. After the airing of the show Daugherty married his fiancée Lorie, and went back to his job with the Ohio Dept. of Transportation. It was later discovered that he had lied to his boss, producing a doctor's note claiming he needed a month off of work for depression. In truth, he was trying to get paid leave to appear on Survivor. As a result, he was suspended from work for 20 days without pay, but is still working there now.
Two strong players, Ami and Eliza went on to compete in Fans vs. Favorites in Micronesia.
The tenth season of Survivor was filmed in Palau, and was aired in February - May of 2005. For the first time, the number of castaways was increased to 20, and for the second time,contestants got to choose their own tribes. The last two people waiting to get placed in a tribe were immediately voted out, making their Survivor adventure very short. Also, for the second time, the cast was tricked into wearing street clothes, and then being left with only those clothes. Smartly, Tom Westman's wife had told him keep his swim trunks on under his pants just in case, which put him at a comfort advantage right from the start. Tom went on to win Survivor: Palau with a vote of 6-1 against Katie Gallagher.
In a very surprising turn of events, one tribe, Ulong, actually lost every single immunity challenge, leaving only one member, Stephenie LaGrossa, who had to fend for herself for a day on her own beach by herself. She was then given a map and made her way to the other tribe, and although this was never officially called a merge, there was only one tribe after her journey there.
Not planning to put himself in the spotlight, Tom eventually did become known for his intelligence and strength, and everyone looked to him as a leader. In one episode, he even caught a shark to feed his tribe. Although he did spend some time on the chopping block, people always came out and told him the group's plans and he was able to stay in the game. Also, he won five individual immunity challenges, keeping him in the game. In a twist at the final 3, Ian Rosenberger, gave up his spot in the final two to Katie Gallagher in an attempt to salvage his friendship with her. Tom Westman beat Katie 6-1, with even Rosenberger voting for him. At 41 years old, he is the oldest winner of Survivor to date. After the show, he retired from the fire department and is now a motivational speaker.
Filmed in the Mayan ruins in Guatemala, the eleventh season of Survivor featured the first hidden immunity idol. Also, as a surprising twist, Bobbi Jon Drinkard and Stephenie LaGrossa, the final two members of the Ulong tribe (which lost every single immunity challenge despite their hard work and determination) in Palau.
On the very first day, the castaways were challenged to walk 11 miles on a hike through the jungle where the temperatures were in excess of 110 degrees. Many people got sick on that trip, marking the beginning of one of the most physically difficult seasons ever. While Bobby Jon was voted out 10th, his former tribemate Stephenie made it all the way to the final two. Unfortunately for her, she made so many enemies along the way that in the end, Danni Boatwright won the final vote 6 to 1. Personally, I have to admit that Stephenie is my very favorite castaway and I was definitely rooting for her to win. I hope we get to see her again on Survivor!
A pageant queen and model from Kansas, Danni is known as one of the most successful delegates to compete in the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants. She worked hard in Survivor Guatemala, despite having many setbacks, and avoided elimination even though she was on the chopping block a few times. She is currently a radio personality for a sports show in Kansas and has made several online and television appearances. She is still modeling and is married to Casey Wiegmann, a center for the Denver Broncos. She has one son.
Survivor: Panama - Exile Island
Another season in the Pearl Islands, but this time they came with a twist. Airing in February of 2006, each week of the competition included a single castaway being banished to Exile Island after the reward challenge. They ad to stay there with only a machete, flint, a pot, and water until the immunity challenge. As a bonus, the Island had a hidden immunity idol that could save you at tribal council.
Back to the original size of 16 players, they were first separated into four tribes based on sex and age. (Young women, older women, etc.) The tribes soon merged into two, and when there were only 10 castaways left, they had the traditional merge into just one tribe. At the final four, there ended up being one older woman, one older man, one younger woman, and one younger man still standing. The younger man, Aras Baskauskas went on to defeat the younger woman, Danielle in a 5-2 vote. Cirie, definitely a fan favorite, came in fourth and returned to compete in Micronesia, where she placed third.
After the show, Aras became the CEO of a hat company called Tundra gear. He also teaches Yoga and is involved in community service, helping people with disabilities. Even though he was targeted for elimination several times towards the end of the game, he consistently managed to win immunity when he needed it, paying off in a million dollar prize.
Survivor: Cook Islands
The thirteenth season of Survivor began in September 2006, with contestants being divided for the first time by race. There was an African American tribe, and Asian American tribe, a Hispanic American Tribe, and a White American Tribe. Each tribe had five people, making the total count this season of 20 castaways.
This season saw the return of Exile island and a hidden immunity idol, and it also was the second time the players were offered a chance to mutiny, or to leave their tribe for the other one. While this didn't work in Thailand, it made a huge difference in Cook Islands when two players moved to a different tribe, leaving one tribe with a lot more members than the other. Another twist was that the final jury of nine people (instead of seven) were voting on a final Three instead of two, making a tie possible for the first time statistically. Yul Kwon, Ozzy Lusth and Becky Lee were the final Three, with Yul winning by a vote of 5-4-0.
Three competitors in the Cook Islands returned to Micronesia, Ozzy, Jonathan Penner, and Parvati Shallow, and all three are thought to be some of the best survivors ever. Yul, an original member of the Asian American tribe, was a very solid and intelligent player, calculating every move he made very exactly. He was a master of strategy and came back from terrible odds to lead his underdog tribe to the final four. Ozzy dominated the individual immunity challenges and came to be known as one of the most physically competitive players ever, but he still lost by one vote to the more strategical player, Yul.
Yul Kwon went on to be included in People magazines Sexiest Men edition, he participated in several community service organizations, and also worked as a correspondent for CNN for a short time. He now owns a yogurt shop in California.
Following one of the best seasons of Survivor was Fiji, which is often known in fan groups as the worst season, next to Thailand. Due to a sudden dropout the night before the competition started, there were only 19 castaways in this season. For the first time on Survivor, there was an intitial challenge that split the castaways into two tribes, later to be known as the "haves" and the "have-nots". The winning tribe was given an amazing camp with wooden shelters, dishware, and other luxuries like a shower and a toilet and flint. In contrast, the other camp got almost nothing... only a machete and some water. Maybe the producers were hoping that the less fortunate tribe would band together and rise up from their hard times, but instead, the tribe with all the luxuries dominated the game.
Exile Island was again a factor, with two immunity idols this time that would be rehidden after they were played. One of the favorite castaways in this season was Yau-Man Chan, who won a truck in reward and tried to barter it for immunity. He was betrayed, however, and voted out (and he lost his truck). The final winner was Earl Cole, the first player in history to win with a unanimous vote, as well as the first African-American male winner. He has led a quiet life since his win as the CEO of an entertainment production company and an internet startup. The only player from this season to come back for the Fans vs. Favorites was Yau-Man, who was the first one voted off.
The fifteenth season of Survivor took place in the People's Republic of China, and became the first full American TV series to be filmed there. Throughout the season, the castaways learned a lot about the culture and history of the region. A season with a lot of charismatic and witty players, Todd Herzog, perhaps the most deceptively strategic of them all, went on to win the million in a 4-2-1 final vote against Courtney Yates and Amanda Kimmel.
An openly gay contestant, Todd worked as a flight attendant before the show aired in September of 2007. Todd made an alliance with Amanda right from the start, and they stayed together throughout the season. In one of the funniest moments of Survivor history, Todd gave his immunity idol to James, hoping to eliminate a different player. It turned out that James was blindsided and became the only player to ever be voted off with TWO immunity idols in his possession. Although he called himself "the dumbest survivor ever", he was truly one of the best loved contestants as he was voted by viewers to win $100,000 reward, and he also was invited back to compete in Micronesia along with Amanda.
Todd was one of the most manipulative and strategic players in the history of survivor. His win was further solidified by his ability to convince the jury in the final tribal council.
Survivor: Micronesia - Fans vs. Favorites
The most recent season of Survivor aired from Feb to May 2008 and was the first season to put 10 of the most favorite past Survivors against 10 of the most die-hard fans of the show. Filmed in Palau for the second time, Survivor once again had a beautiful beach setting. With Exile Island back in play, this time two people went each time and were given clues as to where to find the hidden immunity idol.
Althought the fans should have had some advantage from watching the show over the years and knowing the playstyle of each favorite, the favorites truly dominated throughout the game, with Ozzy taking the leadership position. A romantic foursome started up in the beginning between Ozzy and Amanda, and Parvati and James. Parvati, who was known already from the Cook Islands for her flirting strategy, continued to use her feminine advantages throughout this season, going on to win the million dollars.
Although Ozzy and Amanda were very serious about each other (and were still dating after the show ended), Amanda, Cirie, and Parvati made a promise to take each other to the final three. Believing that they were the final three and would all go to tribal council, just as had been the tradition in the past many seasons, there was a huge surprise when there was a final elimination, in which Amanda won and chose to take Parvati instead of Cirie.
Parvati is a boxing model from LA and is part of a non-profit group called "Knockouts for Girls", providing boxing lessons and scholarships to less-priveleged girls. In my opinion, this season set the record for the most blindsides in Survivor history. Each tribal council was a surprise, with people never knowing how the vote would go. In the most surprising tribal council ever, Parvati orchestrated the elimination of Ozzy, the clear favorite to win the million, opening the door for herself to win. Once again in the final tribal council, Amanda Kimmel (who never was voted out and made it to the final vote both seasons she participated in) lost in a 5-3 vote to Parvati Shallow. Once again, as in China, viewers voted James Clement to be their favorite, awarding him with $100,000.
So there you have a quick rundown of the winners in Seasons 9-16 of the hit reality tv series, Survivor. Be sure to check out my other article on the winners of the first 8 seasons, and also my blog about the cast of the upcoming 17th season, Survivor: Gabon, at Survivor Recaps. I will be doing a feature on each of the new contestants leading up to the premiere on September 25th. Also check there for a full recap after each episode.
If you love Survivor and want to comment about who you loved, which season was your favorite, and who you loved to hate, please write your comment below! Thanks for reading!