Time to decide the Ultimate Winner of Survivor. For the next month or so, we’ll have weekly polls pitting former winners in head-to-head match-ups until we get from 32 down to 1. While we cannot tell you how to vote, the intention of this tournament is to judge winners by the season in which they won, not their collected body of work. You decide what that means to you and what the Ultimate Survivor Win looks like.
We begin with 16 of the first 17 winners in Survivor history. (Pearl Islands Sandra has been eliminated from the tournament by Heroes vs Villains Sandra).
1. Richard Hatch (Borneo) vs 17. Bob Crowley (Gabon)
I’m gonna be honest with you guys: if Richard Hatch doesn’t win this matchup by at least 98%, I am gonna be mad as hell. Because on the one hand we have Richard Hatch, the man who invented the game we love. The man who defied the odds and changed the game before there was even a game. Richard Hatch is a goddamn legend and Bob Crowley might just be the worst winner ever. Remember when Bob allied with the people who got voted out at the merge, one by one? Remember when Sugar dragged him to the end for no good reason? Remember when he barely beat Susie by one vote?!? But sure vote for Bob, throw your vote away. Remember how well it went when people voted for the lulz in 2016?
- 1. Richard Hatch (Borneo) (97% Votes)
- 17. Bob Crowley (Gabon) (3% Votes)
Total Voters: 168
9. Chris Daugherty (Vanuatu) vs 10. Tom Westman (Palau)
While the fact that Andy may go on a rampage if Chris wins may be enough to sway some troll voters, let’s think this through: Chris managed to win despite being a major underdog — the last man standing in a battles of the sexes season. Tom, on the other hand, is the kind of front runner that makes Andy have to change his sheets after dreaming of Palau. Chris, with lots of prodding and suggestions thrown his way, managed to be a useful vote to turn the tables on Ami. As the leader of the most dominant tribe there has ever been and ever will be, Tom won five individual immunities, survived a potential women’s alliance because Caryn sucks, and convinced his closest ally and biggest threat to essentially quit at the final three. Chris would need to team up with at least 8 doughy losers to ever have a chance against Tom.
- 10. Tom Westman (Palau) (83% Votes)
- 9. Chris Daugherty (Vanuatu) (17% Votes)
Total Voters: 164
4. Vecepia Towery (Marquesas) vs 14. Earl Cole (Fiji)
Okay I know that these matchups are just based on chronological order, but the first two black winners are pitted against each other in the first round? Yikes.
Can I be honest? I really don’t remember much about Vecepia. A couple of summers ago, we planned to do a Marquesas rewatch and I didn’t even make it to the merge. Vecepia is one of the show’s quieter winners, who managed to survive being down in the numbers when those on the bottom flipped on the Rotu Four. Going up against Neleh and her used mint didn’t hurt either.
Earl went from being a prospective contestant on The Amazing Race to being the first unanimous winner of Survivor. He overcame one of the most unfair twists the show has ever had, and partnered with one of the most delightful contestants of all time in Yau-Man. The pair, some of the only likable people in the cast, teamed up to find two immunity idols. At final tribal council, Yau-Man confronted his friend, asking why Earl would vote him out. The winner of Fiji showed importance of being straight-forward with your answers. “…because I would not win.”
- 14. Earl Cole (Fiji) (89% Votes)
- 4. Vecepia Towery (Marquesas) (11% Votes)
Total Voters: 159
8. Amber Brkich (All-Stars) vs 11. Danni Boatwright (Guatemala)
Amber is the reason that people choose the bland pretty girl as their winner pick for every returnee season, and Danni is a lesson to never let that last person from a minority alliance get to the end.
Danni won challenges to get to the end and stayed appealing enough to get Rafe and Stephenie keep her instead of Lydia. She also managed to form a bond with Rafe so that he “released” her from taking him to the end. Plus, it turns out Stephenie is less fun when she’s winning.
Amber was Rob’s more palatable partner, working with him to slay your faves. She then proceeded to marry him and have four babies that seemingly only carry her genes.
- 11. Danni Boatwright (Guatemala) (69% Votes)
- 8. Amber Brkich (All-Stars) (31% Votes)
Total Voters: 156
2. Tina Wesson (The Australian Outback) vs 14. Parvati Shallow (Micronesia – Fans vs Favorites)
Tina and Parvati are more alike than you’d think. They’re both social players who were taken to the end by close allies who initially seemed like strong winner possibilities. Of course, Amanda likely loses either way, while Colby would have easily beaten Keith in the end.
In a world that only knew Richard Hatch, Tina showed that you can be nice and win the game as well. Parvati formed the most notorious female alliance of all time.
According to Jeff Probst, Tina is a mom and Parvati is a flirty sex kitten who flirts.
- 14. Parvati Shallow (Micronesia - Fans vs Favorites) (75% Votes)
- 2. Tina Wesson (The Australian Outback) (25% Votes)
Total Voters: 163
6. Jenna Morasca (The Amazon) vs 12. Aras Baskauskas (Panama – Exile Island)
If Rob Cesternino wasn’t so happy with his podcast empire, it would be an outrageous snub to keep him off Survivor: Game Changers. People had flipped on alliances before, but no one had jumped back and forth between different people the way he did, not to mention having to maintain Matt’s sanity. But he failed to win the final immunity challenge, so we got stuck with Jenna instead. She almost quit the game and gave up an immunity necklace, but she also and won four individual immunities (two at the exact time she needed to) and was smart enough to take the potential serial killer to the end.
Cirie Fields actually is on Game Changers and is one of a handful that actually deserves the nomenclature. Her growth arc is legendary and her 3-2-1 vote has influenced many a blindside. She quickly became a fan favorite for both her personal and strategic acumen.
Aras was also on the season.
- 12. Aras Baskauskas (Panama - Exile Island) (58% Votes)
- 6. Jenna Morasca (The Amazon) (42% Votes)
Total Voters: 162
3. Ethan Zohn (Africa) vs 15. Todd Herzog (China)
Ethan was the nice guy in a dominant alliance featuring two main allies with some fringe players who voted with them. One of those fringe players took him to the end, knowing she would lose either way, preferring to lose to the nice Jewish boy instead of the sneaky, tattooed, surprising challenge beast.
Todd was in a dominant alliance featuring two main allies along with other people they voted with. One of those allies was the nice girl who he absolutely decimated in the final tribal council.
Neither Ethan or Todd played particularly flashy games, and they’ve both had (very different) health problems after the show. But Ethan had it in the bag as soon as Lex contracted a stomach bug, while Todd snatched victory from the jaws of defeat at his top-notch final tribal council. An easy win due to consistent strategy and an amiable personality is a perfectly respectable way to win the game. It just depends on what you value more.
- 15. Todd Herzog (China) (80% Votes)
- 3. Ethan Zohn (Africa) (20% Votes)
Total Voters: 162
5. Brian Heidik (Thailand) vs 13. Yul Kwon (Cook Islands)
A lot of people think Brian is one of the top winners of the show and that Yul’s Tyler Perry idol (née the God Idol) was an unfair advantage. But let’s keep in mind: Brian beat the odious, prototypical goat Clay Jordan by one vote. Yul beat arguably the best challenge competitor there has ever been by one vote.
Yul is also, by all account, a good person. Brian…. less so. Take that as you will.
- 13. Yul Kwon (Cook Islands) (80% Votes)
- 5. Brian Heidik (Thailand) (20% Votes)
Total Voters: 163
Don’t forget to vote in the other division:
Favorite seasons: Heroes vs. Villains, Micronesia, Cambodia, Cook Islands, China, Philippines
Favorite players: Courtney Yates, Parvati Shallow, John Cochran, Cirie Fields, Yul Kwon, Kim Spradlin