Survivor Crowns Tony Vlachos Winner of Its 40th Season, Winners at War
WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD
A new winner of Survivor has been crowned — and he's become the show's second two-time champion!
After an ambitious season in which 20 former Survivor winners went head-to-head, Tony Vlachos was named the winner of season 40, Winners at War, Wednesday night over Natalie Anderson and Michele Fitzgerald in a 12-4-0 jury vote. He joins Sandra Diaz-Twine as the only two contestants to win the game twice.
The finale kicked off with host Jeff Probst introducing the episode from his garage and connecting with all 20 contestants, who were each filming from their living rooms. (The live finale — a staple of Survivor since season one — was scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic.)
At the beginning of the episode, there were five contestants still in contention: Vlachos, Fitzgerald, Sarah Lacina, Denise Stapley and Ben Driebergen. Vlachos, Lacina and Driebergen had a seemingly unbreakable three-person alliance. Stapley and Fitzgerald seemed to be on the outs.
In the first few minutes of the show, 14 of the previously voted off winners competed in a challenge to return to the game. After playing several advantages, Anderson — who was voted off on Day 2 — won the challenge and reentered the game.
At the first immunity challenge, Fitzgerald aced the final puzzle and became a surprise winner. Because Anderson had a hidden immunity idol, the tribe voted out Stapley in 6th place.
During the subsequent challenge, Vlachos won — and Driebergen surprisingly gave Lacina permission to vote him out. The game's three remaining women voted for Driebergen. He ended up in 5th place.
At the final four immunity challenge, Anderson won. She opted to bring Fitzgerald to the final three, forcing Vlachos and Lacina to compete in a fire building challenge. Vlachos won, sending Lacina out in 4th place.
On night 39, Fitzgerald, Anderson and Vlachos all pled their cases to the jury. Unlike previous seasons, the jurors weren't overly critical of the finalists, instead asking questions about their strategic and social games and complimenting the final three. (The final tribal council ended with a standing ovation.)
"You outlasted 17 of the best people to ever play this game," Probst told the final three before reading the votes from his garage. "Win or lose, you should be proud of yourselves."
In the end, the jury gave the prize to Vlachos, who got 12 of the possible 16 votes. Anderson got 4 votes, and Fitzgerald received no votes. "This really was a dominant win," Probst told Vlachos before showing a $2 million check that will be sent to him.