SPOILER WARNING: Do not read on unless you’ve watched Wednesday night’s finale of Survivor.
The winner of Survivor: Winners at War was crowned in Wednesday night’s season finale.
The tribe has spoken, and Tony Vlachos was named the winner of Season 40 on Wednesday night over Natalie Anderson and Michele Fitzgerald in a 12-4-0 jury vote.
Vlachos, a police officer from New Jersey, has now become the second two-time champion, joining Sandra Diaz-Twine as one of only two contestants to win Survivor twice.
The finale began with host Jeff Probst introducing the final episode of Season 40 from his garage and connected with all 20 contestants filming from their own living rooms due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At the beginning of Wednesday night’s finale, there were five contestants in the running to be crowned the winner: Vlachos, Fitzgerald, Sarah Lacina, Denise Stapley and Ben Driebergen.
The finale also saw 14 previously voted-off winners compete in a challenge to gain entry back into the game, and Anderson won the challenge. She was voted off on Day 2 during Season 40.
During the first immunity challenge, Fitzgerald finished the final puzzle and won. The tribe then voted out Stapley in sixth place.
Vlachos won the subsequent challenge, and Driebergen was voted out and ended up in fifth place.
Anderson won at the final four immunity challenge, and she decided to bring Fitzgerald to the final three, which resulted in Vlachos and Lacina competing in a fire-building competition.
Vlachos won the fire-building competition, which sent Lacina out of the game and into fourth place.
It was then time for Fitzgerald, Anderson and Vlachos to plead their cases to the jury, and the jurors asked the three remaining players about their social and strategic games.
“You outlasted 17 of the best people to ever play this game,” Probst said to the final three castaways before reading the tallied votes from his garage. “Win or lose, you should be proud of yourselves.”
In the end, Vlachos won with 12 votes, and Probst showed the $2-million cheque that will be sent to the winner.
“Jeff, it is definitely life-changing, especially now with what is going on in the world, you can see how financial security is so important,” Vlachos told Probst. “With this money, I am going to secure my family and be financially secure for the rest of my life.”
Probst told Entertainment Weekly that Vlachos is “such a delight to watch play Survivor.”
“He seemed to have a general plan to lay low and see if he could get a footing with a solid alliance. He didn’t hunt for idols, in fact, he only found one the entire game,” Probst said of the winner. “I was also really impressed with how malleable he tried to be with Sarah. You could tell that at times he did things he didn’t want to do, like have to play his idol, but he did them anyways to remain loyal.”
Probst added that Vlachos’ performance in challenges “was really something given he had not won a single challenge in his previous two seasons.”
“And, on top of everything else, he was so entertaining week after week with his giant ladders, sharks and spy nests. I agree with what he said at final, that he didn’t really make many mistakes,” Probst said of Vlachos. “I won’t get into the GOAT (greatest of all time) debate, but I will say we could not be happier with Tony as the winner of our biggest season of all time.”
Many fans of Survivor took to Twitter to discuss the finale.
In March, it was announced that the next season of Survivor has been postponed due to the novel coronavirus epidemic.
Probst wrote a letter to the show’s crew, explaining the delay of the next season.
“Due to growing short-term uncertainty surrounding the global spread of COVID-19 and the corresponding desire for the continued well-being of our amazing crew, we have decided to push back our start date for Survivor Season 41,” Probst’s letter began.
“Though Fiji has no reported cases and is beautifully remote, our crew numbers over 400 and are flying in from over 20 different countries, creating a need for more time to fully analyze and create our new production safety plan.”
At the end of Wednesday night’s finale, Probst teased Season 41, saying: “Normally, we show you a cool promo, but for obvious reasons, we haven’t been able to shoot.
“Man, we have some fun ideas,” Probst said about future instalments. “We’re always trying to explore and evolve the show and take chances and we’re gonna do that. We’re committed to being on in the fall with our 41st season, which means you should apply, especially if you’re young. I’m talking teenagers — 16, 17, 18, 19. Do it.”