It was couple’s night Sunday on the live finale of CBS’s Survivor: All-Stars, where Amber Brkich was the $1 million winner and her boyfriend, “Boston Rob” Mariano, won $250,000 as the runner-up.
Jenna Lewis received $175,000 for third place.
But Amber got a little bit more than she bargained for: a diamond engagement ring from Rob during an on-air marriage proposal that seemed to take even host Jeff Probst by surprise – though Rob said only his and Amber’s parents knew of his intentions.
Amber and Rob met on the show, and she later said she and Rob had “talked about” marrying, but she had no idea he’d ask for her hand on Sunday.
The proposal took place during the live reunion show from New York’s Madison Square Garden, which followed the two-hour taped finale of the granddaddy of reality shows.
Probst revealed that Amber, 25, was the winner after defeating the Rob, 28, in a 4-3 vote by the panel of tribe members who had previously been booted from the game.
Some of the judges suggested that Rob’s ruthlessness may have cost him the top prize. Kathy Vavrick O’Brien, 50, tearfully accused Mariano of “checking his friendships at the door,” a sentiment also bitterly echoed by Alicia Calaway, Lex van den Berghe and “Big Tom” Buchanan.
“You sold out your values, you sold out your character, you sold out your friends for a stack of greenbacks,” Lex told Rob. “I hope it was worth it.”
Said Rob: “I played the game as hard as I could.”
And the game isn’t over yet. CBS announced Sunday that fans may pick one of the 17 Survivor All-Stars losers for a second $1 million prize, to be awarded on a live show Thursday.