Survivor: Island of the Idols Winner is Tommy Sheehan

survivor-winner-finale

It all began when 20 “Survivor” castaways, two veteran winners, a fully equip crew and the shows reality series host Jeff Probst arrived at the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji.

This season marked the 39th installment of the CBS series titled Survivor: Island of the Idols.

The show  aired on November 24th. As in the past… The game play remained the same and all rules applied. However, there was one twist, the return of two of the show’s most dominant winners, “Boston Rob” Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine, who would serve as mentors to the new players.

Survivor Season 37 Winner Kentucky Public Defender Nick Wilson

The castaways were divided into two equal tribes, the Lairo Tribe and the Vokai Tribe which would eventually become a sole survivor with the same ultimate goal — to outwit, outplay and outlast each other in hopes of walking away with the grand prize One-Million-dollar.

The shows finale aired on the 17th of December and in the end, Tommy Sheehand, a 4th grade teacher from Long Beach, NY would walk away a much wealthier man.

Jury Votes for Tommy Sheehan included: Elaine, Jack, Jamal, Janet, Karishma, Kellee, Lauren, Missy

Tommy Sheehan Motivation and Survival:

What’s your primary motivation for being on Survivor? I am on the show to do something most people dream about. I am there to win the game and get the million dollars. Those are my only motivations. If I happen to make people smile and help them escape whatever hardships are going on in their lives for an hour a week, that is a huge plus too.

Why do you think you’ll “survive” Survivor? I am physical and can win challenges, but that won’t win Survivor. What
wins Survivor is the time spent opening up and connecting to people. When you have real connections with people they will keep you around longer. Also, I am there to win the game. I see myself finding idols, making moves and leading blindsides.

Which Survivor contestant are you most like? I would say if you combined David Wright’s strategy, Davie’s social game, and a pinch of Amanda Kimmel’s likability. These three players were fans of the game, played hard, and did everything they could do with the hands they were dealt.

Survivor is not without controversy:

  • In February 2001, Stacey Stillman filed a lawsuit claiming that producers interfered in the process of Survivor: Borneo by persuading two members of her tribe to vote her off instead of Rudy Boesch.
  • During a reward trip on Survivor: The Australian Outback, Colby Donaldson removed coral from the Great Barrier Reef and, on the same trip, a helicopter involved with the production crew flew around protected seabird rookeries. Both acts violated Australian law and the incidents could have resulted in fines up to $110,000. Mark Burnett, the executive producer, issued an apology on behalf of Donaldson and the Survivor production team.
  • At the tribal immunity challenge for the final four players on Survivor: Africa, host Jeff Probst asked which female player in their season had no piercings. Kim Johnson answered Kelly Goldsmith, got the point, and went on to win the challenge, which put her through to the final three and ultimately (after winning another immunity challenge) the final two. Unbeknownst to the producers, another contestant on “Africa”, Lindsey Richter, also had no piercings. Lex van den Berghe’s answer had been Lindsey, but the show did not award him a point, which could have significantly changed the outcome of the challenge and the overall game. CBS later paid van den Berghe and Tom Buchanan, who had finished in fourth place, a settlement.
  • In the fifth episode of Survivor: All-Stars, a naked Richard Hatch came into contact with Sue Hawk after she blocked his path during an immunity challenge. Hatch was voted out that day for other reasons, but Hawk quit the game two days later as a result of what had happened. Hawk considered filing a lawsuit against the parties involved, but appeared with Hatch on The Early Show the morning after the sixth episode aired, stating she opted out of legal action because CBS had helped her “deal with the situation”.
  • Rupert Boneham, a contestant on Pearl Islands and All-Stars, was extremely popular with television audiences, but finished eighth and fourth, respectively, in his appearances on the show. As part of a special on the All-Stars reunion (Survivor: America’s Tribal Council), a contest for the 18 players was created, where the winner would be selected by the viewing audience to receive a $1 million prize. Boneham unsurprisingly won this prize, with more than 80% of the votes cast. Many fans of the show saw this as a way of diluting the overall concept of the show, that instead of outwitting, outplaying and outlasting your fellow tribe members to win the game, a player could now play specifically just to gain popularity with the show’s audience, regardless of how well they played the game, and still be rewarded with a large prize.
  • In January 2006, Richard Hatch, the winner of the first season of Survivor, was charged and found guilty of failing to report his winnings to the IRS to avoid taxes. He was sentenced to four years and three months in prison.
  • In the beginning of Survivor: Cook Islands, the tribes were grouped according to their race. Probst claimed the choice came from the criticism that Survivor was “not ethnically diverse enough”, but several long-term sponsors, including Campbell’s Soup, Procter & Gamble, Home Depot, and Coca-Cola dropped their support of the show shortly after this announcement, leading to speculation that the decisions were in response to the controversy. Each company has either denied the link to the controversy or declined to comment.
  • The selection process for the 14th season came under fire when it was revealed that, of the entire Survivor: Fiji cast, only Gary Stritesky had gone through the application process for the show; the rest of the contestants were recruited.  Probst defended the process, citing finding diversity of cast as a reason.
  • At the Survivor: China reunion show, Denise Martin told producers and the audience that she had been demoted to a janitor from a lunch lady due to the distraction she was to students from her appearance on the show. Because of her misfortune, Burnett awarded Martin $50,000. But Martin would later recant her story after the school district she worked for publicly stated that she had taken the custodial position before appearing on the show.  Martin then decided to donate the $50,000 to charity.
  • A brief uncensored shot of Marcus Lehman’s genitals during the premiere episode of Survivor: Gabon led to the show and network being asked to apologize for the incident.
  • Jim Early (aka Missyae), who was a user on one of the fan forums for Survivor, was sued by Burnett, his production company, and CBS in August 2010, for allegedly releasing detailed spoiler information for Survivor: Samoa and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains. Early revealed that he was getting his information from Russell Hantz, a contestant on both seasons, through both phone calls and emails. Early complied in the lawsuit by providing such evidence, eventually leading to its dismissal in January 2011. Although legal action has yet to be taken against Hantz, the contract for a player in Survivor includes a liability of up to $5 million for the premature revealing of a season’s results. Hantz has stated that the claim is false.
  • Contestants that did not make the jury in Survivor: Caramoan were not allowed on stage for the reunion show. While Jeff Probst claimed that the new stage could not accommodate all 18 of the attending contestants, the format change was panned because the show’s fans and fellow contestants felt that it was unfair for them to be left out in the audience. Erik Reichenbach, who finished 5th and did not even get a chance to speak at the reunion, called out the producers for their treatment of the contestants. Calling it a farce, he criticized how the reunion show left so many unanswered questions about the other contestants and his own evacuation during the season finale. He also criticized how the pre-jury members were completely left out in favor of featuring the show’s former contestants, like Rob Mariano and Rudy Boesch.
  • In the sixth episode of Survivor: Game Changers, Jeff Varner revealed at Tribal Council that fellow contestant Zeke Smith was a transgender man. This caused an immediate uproar amongst his tribemates and host Jeff Probst, which led to Varner’s immediate elimination. The incident was covered by various news outlets, with fans heavily criticizing Varner’s actions. Varner explained himself following the episode’s airdate and expressed regret for his actions. Varner was also fired from his real estate job after the episode aired.
  • Before the premiere of Survivor: David vs. Goliath, contestant Alec Merlino posted a photo of himself on Instagram with fellow contestant Kara Kay containing the caption “F*** it”. This action broke Merlino’s NDA agreement with the show and was consequently stripped of all appearance fees and banned from the live reunion show. Due to this, Merlino did not have to pay the standard $5 million penalty for breaking the agreement.
  • In the eighth episode of the 39th season Survivor: Island of the Idols, contestant Dan Spilo was issued a warning by producers for inappropriately touching fellow contestants including Kellee Kim. Contestants Elizabeth Beisel and Missy Byrd came under fire for their misuse of this situation as a strategic tool in voting out Kim later that episode. This moment has since been criticized by various news outlets for the reactions of Beisel and Byrd as well as the handling of the situation by producers. Beisel and Byrd later apologized, along with fellow contestants Lauren Beck and Aaron Meredith. Jeff Probst, CBS, and MGM released a statement about what happened and the production’s reaction as well. Dan was later removed from the game at the end of episode 12 after “a report of another incident, which happened off-camera and did not involve a player”. This is the first time a contestant has been ejected from the show by production. Because of the incident, the season’s finale was not shown live but instead from an earlier live-to-tape recording, the first time since the live finale format was introduced. Further, CBS and Survivor announced they will revamp the show’s rules and production to focus more on earlier detection and prevention of this type of inappropriate behavior, and strict penalties for castaways that engage in it, to be fully in place by the 41st season.
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