After an exhausting 39-day battle, Tony Vlachos, the 39-year-old police officer from New Jersey, won Survivor: Cagayan and the $1 million prize. The votes were revealed live in Los Angeles by host Jeff Probst during the reunion with Vlachos receiving eight votes, and runner up Woo Hwang receiving one vote.
Vlachos was regarded as a controversial player from the beginning with fans and castaways alike questioning his manipulative methods, while some argued that he was playing the most strategic game of anyone on the island.
Vlachos’ friends were at the live reunion show to celebrate his win. According to Probst, Vlachos’ wife could not be there as she is pregnant and due any day.
When asked about his gameplay, Vlachos replied, “It was a game. I distinguished the game from real life. I did a lot of lying, a lot of backstabbing on TV. I take no pleasure in that at all. I did what I had to do."
Trish Hegarty, who was blindsided by Vlachos, said that they are on good terms now. “He texts me 500 times a day,” she said.
“Yeah, everything stayed in the game,” Vlachos agreed.
Kass McQuillen, who was known for constantly butting heads with Vlachos, said that their relationship on the show was that of siblings. “He’s like my jerky brother,” McQuillen said.
When Probst asked who would have voted for Woo if he had taken Kass to final two, a majority of the jury members raised their hands. The runner-up defended his decision, saying that he played the game like he lives his life and wanted to win or lose with honor.
Probst then asked Spencer Bledsoe, who was one of the last four castaways to remain in the game, a fan question about what he might have done differently.
“I might have shared with my alliance that I had an idol,” Bledsoe said.
Wednesday’s live reunion show marked the first time that Probst apologized to a Survivor. Declaring that he “needed to apologize to Spencer,” he recounted a conversation he had with Bledsoe during casting.
“You have no chance of winning. The only way is if you have a clone of you sitting next to you,” Probst recalled saying. “I was very wrong.”
Probst said he wrote Bledsoe a letter on day 15, which he presented to him at the reunion.
Survivor super fan and acclaimed actor/director Tyler Perry was in the audience to explain how the idol with special powers came about – a text message to Probst one night – and why he loves Survivor.
“Outwit, outplay, outlast. I love everything about it. I love everything that America loves about it,” Perry said.
As with every season finale, Probst gave a sneak peek into the next season, Survivor: San Juan del Sur – Blood vs. Water II. This is the second iteration of the popular twist that was introduced last fall.
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