Skip to content

Ranking The Past 21 Survivor Winners From Worst To First

May 16, 2011



As Boston Rob lumbers on to his inevitable win this coming (American) Sunday, it’s the perfect time to review the past 21 seasons winners and where they stack up against each other.  For the record, if Rob wins, then he’ll be sitting comfortably somewhere around the 3rd or 4th spot (points deducted for it taking him a record 4 times to win and the fact that he’s winnning a season with the single most uneven playing field in Survivor history).

So, from Worst to First :-


Natalie White – Survivor : Samoa

The most maligned of all Survivor winners due to her shocking (SHOCKING) defeat of Russell last year.  Whilst her social game was approximately one million times more impressive than that bandy-legged troll, going into the Final Tribal Council, no one from the jury was even planning on voting for White – she won them over purely by answering questions better than Dr Mick.

BEST MOVE : Orchestrating the pivotal merge boot of (the incredibly sexy) Erik, that set the whole Galu post-merge crumble in motion.
SHOULD HAVE WON : *sigh* Russell.  Whilst his social game was just AWFUL, he did play an incredible strategic game and changed the way Survivor was played forever.


Bob Crowley – Survivor : Gabon

Who?  Bob sauntered along most of Gabon half-asleep, crafting a few admittedly impressive fake immunity idols along the way.  Loses points for the fact that he was planning to take Matty to the end who would have kicked his ass ten ways to Sunday.

BEST MOVE : Playing the Grandfather role to human waterworks Sugar, who forced the tie that allowed him in front of the Jury in the first place.
SHOULD HAVE WON : The aforementioned Sugar.  Controlled the entire game post-merge without once becoming a target.


Sandra Diaz-Twine – Survivor : Pearl Islands

Better known as the only two-time winner in Survivor’s 22 season history.  Less known for winning through sheer virtue of not being Lil or Johnny Fairplay.

BEST MOVE : Openly having her vote for sale every Tribal Council.  Warring factions kept using her to vote each other out, ensuring she was never the target.
SHOULD HAVE WON : Umm, no one?  Is ‘no one’ an option?  Pearl Islands was a rollickingly entertaining season with Rupert!  Johnny Fairplay!  Outcasts! but no real strong strategic players post-merge.  Or, for that matter, pre-merge.

Here’s an amazing clip of Sandra displaying those social skills that won her her first million bucks.  I CAN GET LOUD TOOOOO! :-


Ethan Zohn – Survivor : Africa

One of the most likeable guys to ever play Survivor.  Plus, not going to make fun of him because of all the cancer and stuff (and, you know, the brilliant charity work he does).  Cruised on through to a win by being the most likeable member of a majority alliance.

BEST MOVE : Being the proud owner of one of the sexiest Jew-Fro’s in recent history;  Consolidating his winnings by marrying Amazon winner Morasca making them millionaire-squared.
SHOULD HAVE WON : Lex.  As awful as he was, he (and his famous ‘gut’) managed to steer the Boran tribe all the way to the Final Four without any casualties.


Amber Brkich – Survivor : All Stars

When Survivor : All Stars first aired in 2004 at the height of Survivor’s popularity it was filled with 17 of the games most famous and infamous players.  And then Australian Outback 6th place finisher Brkich.  The only thing harder than remembering who she was would be to successfully pronounce her surname, which couldn’t have less vowels even if it were Welsh.  A last minute replacement for former America’s Sweetheart and current Right Wing Nutjob Elizabeth Hassleback, Brkich parlayed her status as a non-threat into both one million dollars, a marriage proposal and not one but TWO season competing on CBS sister show The Amazing Race.

BEST MOVE : Aligning with (and eventually marrying) runner up Boston Rob, letting him take the heat for double-crossing everyone and her taking home the million dollar cheque.
SHOULD HAVE WON : Boston Rob.  Although there’s no point in playing such a superior physical and strategic game if you’re not going to give any thought to your jury management.


Vecepia Towerey – Survivor : Marquesas

Another one for the ‘Who? Files’.  Towerey was best known for, at the time, being the first person of colour (as opposed to just plain colourful, like Richard Hatch) to win Survivor.  Was the first to parlay an irrationally bitter jury (Hi Tammy!  Hi John!  Hi Rob!) into a million dollar cheque.

BEST MOVE : Winning the key Final 4 Immunity Challenge where she was meant to be voted out; Switching alliances with the wind without ever being considered a threat.
SHOULD HAVE WON : Anyone else in the Final 4?  Kathy, Neleh and Paschal all played strongers games, but through illness, a bitter jury and an ill-timed accidental boob flash, they all came up short.


Earl Cole – Survivor : Fiji

The first person to get every single jury vote, winning in a 9-0-0 landslide.  Less impressive when you consider that his competition was Cassandra and Dreamz.

BEST MOVE : Allowing his beloved alliance partner Yau-Man to be voted out as the last member of the jury, thus ensuring a guarenteed win against the remaining two competitors; The fact that his name was neither Cassandra or Dreamz.
SHOULD HAVE WON : Yau Man.  Hands down.


Judd Birza – Survivor : Nicaragua

Oh Jud!  By spending the first 30 days of his Survivor experience loping around like an adorable overgrown lost Labrador puppy trying to avoid the inexplicable wrath of Na Onka.  By the time everyone realised that he was a threat to win, it was too late.  Now, he spends his time getting charmingly arrested and starring in amazing C-grade homoerotic thrillers.

BEST MOVE : Winning the final 3 immunity challenges in a row.
SHOULD HAVE WON : Whilst Holly could have feasibly smoked him if she survived one more vote, Jud can squarely claim a deserved win against a week sausage fest of a Final 3.


Aras Bausauskas – Survivor : Exile Island

One of the less memorable winners, but not undeserving.  Bonus points for managing to stay on top of Terry, Crazytown Shane, Courtney and Danielle and her ginormous mutant fake breasts for 39 days without killing himself.

BEST MOVE : Managing to keep the aforementioned ragtag group of misfits focussed on eliminating immunity whore Terry instead of himself and Cirie.
SHOULD HAVE WON : Oh Cirie!  Poor, poor Cirie.  The best player to have never won came up short in a fire-making tie breaker.


Jenna Morasca – Survivor : The Amazon

Fellow winner Ethan Zohn’s even pretty other half, this ‘Professional Swimsuit Model’ was the youngest winner ever.  Her social game was always severely underrated by the public at large, who only seem to remember her now infamous ‘will strip for Peanut Butter’ challenge standown and that she was awfully bitchy to poor deaf Christy and every other woman over the age of 29.

BEST MOVE : Winning 4 individual immunities (especially at the final four when she needed it the most) and realising the need for strong social bonds with jury members (instead of being a borderline psychotic challange whore and camp workhorse like Matthew).
SHOULD HAVE WON : Rob Cesternino, who is the offical title holder of ‘Best Player To Have Never Won Survivor Who Is Not Named Cirie Fields’.  Plus, he’s geeky dreamy!

Here’s a little clip of what may be the most unerotic striptease ever committed in television history :-


Sandra Diaz-Twine – Survivor : Heroes vs Villains

Oh Sandra!  How can one woman win twice and still only make it to the middle of the pack?  Major props for being the only two-time winner (most likely ever) but major luck and a bitter jury played as much part in her second million as did her actual game play and skill.  Snaky, charming and hilarious as all hell (her burning Russell’s hat is still pretty much the most satisfying and ironic Survivor moment EVER), Sandra made actively not-playing the game an art form

BEST MOVE : Managing to always be an essential vote to the Villains Tribe whilst constantly making the Heroes feel like she was trying to jump ship to them; Burning Russell’s hat; The fact that her name wasn’t Russell or Parvati.
SHOULD HAVE WON : PARVATI.  One million times Parvati. After playing one of the most impressively dominant strategic and physical games in Survivor history, she just couldn’t quite win over the bitter Heroes Tribe on the jury after pretty single handedly destroying them.  Sadface.


Danni Boatwright – Survivor : Guatemala

Danni perfected the art of the under the radar social gameplay and key challenge wins.  After merging down in numbers, she managed to seemlessly ingratiate herself into the key alliance and convince them to self-destruct.  Why anyone ever let her get within a hundred mile radius of the finals was as impressive as it was insane.

BEST MOVE : Winning a key final six immunity and forcing the opposing alliance to start canibalizing themselves one round early.
FINAL SCORE : Sole Survivor 6-1 (defeating Stephenie LaGrossa’s evil twin who was also named, ummm, Stephenie LaGrossa).


Tina Wesson – Survivor : The Australian Outback

One of the most famous winners ever of the most watched season.  Tina used her down to earth and unassuming ‘aww-shucks’ Soccer Mom persona to steer her alliance of Colby and Keith into the Final 2 and eke out a victory over the favoured Colby.

BEST MOVE : Getting Colby to take her to the Final Traibal Council over the immeasurably more disliked Keith
FINAL SCORE : 4-3 (defeating former cowboy and current Mini-Probst Colby Donaldson)


Richard Hatch – Survivor : Borneo

The Grandaddy  of all Survivor winners.  Often regarded as the greatest of all time, his poor showing on Survivor : All Stars four years later showed that his actual gameplay doesn’t quite hold up against people playing the game now.  Tempered being the first person to realize forming a organized and solid voting bloc of individuals was the key to success with basically being obnoxious and naked ALL THE TIME.

BEST MOVE : In addition to realizing the value of a voting alliance, he was the first to be a major food provider for the tribe and caught an impressive amount of fish and other sea creatures through his Survivor tenure.
FINAL SCORE : 4-3 (defeated the wishy-washy but amazingly named Kelly Wigglesworth)


Yul Kwon – Survivor : Cook Islands

Yul led the racially-themed Cook Islands to an impressively diverse storybook finish, demolishing all the Evil White People thanks to great strategy, a solid minority (literally) alliance and a well-used Idol.  Loses point for being in the early days where the Immunity Idol was basically a ‘Get Out Of Being Voted Out Before The Final 3’ Pass.

BEST MOVE : Convincing Jonathon to flip on Team Whitey at the Merge thus ensuring the heroically ethnic Aitu 4 sailed to victory instead of likely winner Parvati.
FINAL SCORE : 5-4-0 (defeating part-time pornstar Ozzy and apparent deaf mute Becky)


Brian Heidik – Survivor : Thailand

Possibly the most unlikeable Survivor winner of all time.  Heidik played the game with all the snake oil charm of a used car salesman (which, ironically, was what he did for a job in real life when he wasn’t doing soft core porn), being in Final 2 alliances with all of the Final 5 and just cutting their throats one by one.

BEST MOVE : Taking the even more reviled (and slightly racist) Clay to the end; blinding conving four other people that he was really, totally, going to the end with them.
FINAL SCORE : 4-3 (beating lazy old potential southern racist Clay).


Chris Daugherty – Survivor : Vanuatu

Survivor:Battle of the Sexes Round 2 saw the women whittle the Men down to a tribe of one – Chris Daugherty.  At this point, Chris kicked off his game and masterfully turned the tribe of six women against each other and not just skated his way through to the finals, but managed to earn their votes in the process.

BEST MOVE : Uniting mortal enemies Twila and Eliza for the key Final 7 vote, securing his safety and irrevocably fracturing the core alliance without ever getting blood on his hands.
FINAL SCORE : 5-2 (Against lovable redneck Twila).


Tod Herzog – Survivor : China

Everyone’s favourite little Gay Mormon Munchkin played an impressive game in China, leading a band of motley misfits including snarky waitess Courtney, Denise the mulleted Lunch Lady and Blandmanda the Nature Guide all the way to the end without ever appearing a threat.  Using his sight frame and impish nature to his advantage, he cruised under the radar without ever once losing control of the game.

BEST MOVE : Taking unapologetic credit for every single one of his moves and betrayals at the Final Tribal Council – a total masterclass for future contestants; Constantly neutralizing his alliance mates from getting too much control – making Courtney vote out Frosti, not letting Amanda vote out James when she wanted to so he could get the credit, etc..
FINAL SCORE : 4-2-1 (Besting Courtney the Human Sasspot and Wannah Montana)


JT Thomas – Survivor : Tocantins

While JT’s Survivor legacy will always be his failed (but not strategically unsound) passing of the Hidden Immunity Idol to Russell in Heroes Vs. Villains which single handedly decimated the Heroes Tribe, it doesn’t give enough credit to his superb game in the Brazilian Highlands.  We’ve seen hot woman make people fall for them before on Survivor, but never anything like how the tubby redneck hick managed to merge down 3-6 and someone make every single member of the opposing tribe fall completely gaga in love with him – it was like he slipped the whole entire tribe one big roofie.

BEST MOVE : Setting himself up as a key swing vote between the two warring Timbara factions without ever getting targetted himself; Winning the last few key immunities.
FINAL SCORE : 7-0 (Against Poor Stephen, who really deserved more credit).


Tom Westman – Survivor : Palau

Few contestants have played such a dominant physical and social game as Tom Westman.  So much so that he viewed as the second biggest threat going into Heroes Vs. Villains (more on who was number one next).  Using a mix of likability, intimidation and challenge wins coupled with a knack for always staying one move ahead of his opponents, he played one of the most impressive and well rounded games to date.

BEST MOVE : Convincing Ian to step down from the Final 3 immunity challenge and allow himself to be voted out by nothing more than laying one amazing guilt trip on the poor boy.
FINAL SCORE : 6-1 (against Katie, who was one of the most useless Final 2 opponents ever)


Parvati Shallow – Survivor : Micronesia

And here we have the only player more feared than Tom Westmas when twenty best of the best players entered the wilds of Samoa last year.  A lot of weight is put on challenge wins and Hidden Immunity Idols these days, partially because they make great television and partly because they’re easily quantifiable.  But Survivor is, at it’s essence, a purely social game.  If you need to fight for immunity to avoid getting voted out, you’re already doing something wrong, no matter how many competitions you win.  Parvati went into the merge closely aligned with 7 of the 9 remaining competitors and managed to always keep herself in the middle of every single vote without ever being a target.  And at the Final Tribal Council she gave honest and open answers that won respect and votes whilst Amanda just blubbered away uncontrollably on the bench next to her.

Here’s a random clip of Parvati just being, well, hilariously awesome :-

BEST MOVE : Providing a Masterclass in how to be tightly allied with pretty much every other contestant playing whilst still getting their votes at the end – she never made an alliance for a spot that she couldn’t deliver upon.  Amanda was promised Final 2, Cirie Final 3, Alexis & Natalie Final 5, etc.. ; Blindsiding Ozzy and his Hidden Immunity Idol at the Final 9 thus eliminating both her biggest competition and closest ally and thus making her the bridge uniting the Fans and the Favourites.
FINAL SCORE : 5-3 (Against, once again, Blandmanda – who just really isn’t cut out for sitting opposite a jury).

So best of luck to Rob Mariano tomorrow, God knows he’s the only left who even deserves to win at this point!

Here’s a little treat for those of you who have ever wondered what it would look like if Coach and Danielle DiLorenzo ever made a C-Grade movie together.  Enjoy :-

21 Comments leave one →
  1. armchairstrategistblog permalink
    June 18, 2011 5:33 pm

    Nice compilation. I disagree with most of your rankings and opinions (SUGAR should have won Gabon?!?!?!), but they’re all well-stated. I’m most surprised that you ranked Amber where you did. She was Jerri’s lapdog in Australia and Rob’s in ASS. She did nothing either season. Rob did all of the work in ASS and she was painfully forgettable. She is absolutely nothing without Rob. I think I liked her even less than Natalie White.

    Also, I’m eternally annoyed with her ever since that “I ❤ Rob" shirt she wore at the reunion.

  2. June 19, 2011 11:46 am

    Yeah, Gabon was a hard one to pick because I don’t think anyone played a particularly good game. I definitely think Sugar is a flawed played but, while she would have driven me absolutely nuts, I always found it kind of impressive how she managed to literally direct every vote post merge (even if her choices were almost purely whimsical).

    Amber, whilst boring to watch, was quite aware of what she was doing in ASS. Not an exciting game to watch (or to really be able to respect) but if you watch all the Insider clips, she was hyper aware of letting Rob do all the dirty work and making sure she had strong social relationships with every single player. That being said, I always resented that she was even on the season in the first place (Sure, Colleen, Christy and Elisabeth said no, but there was still Neleh, Kelly Wigglesworth and Kelly Goldsmith, who was actually cut at the last minute for Shii Ann).

    How would you have done the rankings? To be honest, from 21 – 15 mine could be relatively interchangeable..

  3. TheRealDeal permalink
    March 25, 2012 7:28 am

    How do you give Parvati a number one vote? She got spanked on Survivor the first time she was on. I’m very surprised that Yul wasn’t at least top five. Even if the idol was viewed as a “get-out-of-jail-free” card, it doesn’t mean his game wasn’t craftily and subtly masterful. He by far isn’t the flashiest character, but he was definitely the most feared. Why you even had Earl ahead of Yul doesn’t make any sense. Earl was a second fiddle to Yau-Man the whole season besides Dreamz’ epic betrayal.

    • Holly Unholy permalink
      April 17, 2016 7:03 pm

      I’m not sure you read the numbers. The list is titled worst to first. Earl is #15, Yul is #7.

  4. russ permalink
    March 30, 2012 6:50 am

    Natalie is one of the best winners ever. You said it yourself — Russell’s social game was horrible. And that’s the most important part. Even his strategy wasn’t great; he just talked it up a lot. He lost because he was an ass.

    • Josh permalink
      August 24, 2012 8:33 am

      Russell should have won Samoa. He DOMINATED that season start to finish. All the people who were voted out (except for Yasmin) he voted out himself. How on earth is natalie one of the best winners ever? She rode russel’s coattails to the end, and that takes zero skill, and the jury voted AGAINST him, not for her. Natalie made one big move, getting rid of Erik (at russell’s bidding, I might add) Russell made many big moves. He flipped John and Shambo, blindsided Kelly, beat brett for immunity, he did EVERYTHING! The best player who never won. GO RUSSELL! YOU RULE!

    • Ray permalink
      September 30, 2012 1:20 am

      Tom should have been number 1, Parvati was playing to lose Micronesia, she only won because of the switch from final 3 to final 2. Parvati would have finished in third against Amanda and Cirie. Also Cirie should not have won Panama, Terry deserved to win way more than Cirie. Danni was a better underdog than Chris was, Danni’s social game got her in with Rafe and Steph, where Chris was lucky that the women turned on each other and that Twila needed his vote to get rid of Ami’s alliance. Other than that, I agree with everything else.

  5. Harry permalink
    August 24, 2012 8:25 am

    Amber should be below Bob. Bob flew under the radar and won challenges, but Amber rode coattails. Playing an under the radar game is very different from riding coattails, because you are getting yourself to the end. Bob got himself to the end, but Rob got Amber to the end.

  6. Nick permalink
    August 24, 2012 8:29 am

    Hatch, Brian, and Earl should be higher up. Hatch DOMINATED Borneo, and was only voted out because of the huge target on his back. Brian dominated thailand, and while earl wasn’t entertaining, he and Yau-Man dominated Fiji. They formed a partnership, and made their strategic moves together. It was Earl who convinced Stacy, Dreamz, Cassandra, and Boo to join their allience.

  7. frank permalink
    September 13, 2012 12:33 pm

    Why is fabio so high, he was clueless about the votes? He just floated along, zero blindsides, zero signiture moves other than challenges.

  8. frank permalink
    September 13, 2012 12:38 pm

    I don’t think sugar should have won gabon. Kenny should have. He controlled the whole game. Bob should be above amber, vecipea, and ethan for his challenge domination, as well as convincing sugar to tie the vote.

  9. November 1, 2012 12:09 am

    You know, out of all the players that I ranked, Amber is the one I’m most considering moving higher up. Shocker, right? I just rewatched All Stars last week and her game is a lot better and in control (albeit, more subtle) than I remember. Right down to her Jury performance, which I thought was lame at the time, was actually kind of brilliantly calculated. She said exactly what she needed to say to Lex, Tom, Alicia and Shii Ann to make sure she got those votes, knowing it didn’t matter about the other three. It’s a lot more interesting second go round, a lot like Vecepia (another winner that I’ve always kinda loathed..)

  10. Richard permalink
    November 4, 2012 4:46 am

    The thing about oranges juice, is once you’ve had fresh squeezed, you’ll never go back to packaged.

  11. Josh permalink
    November 6, 2012 8:51 am

    When will you add Kim, Sophie, and Rob?

  12. Josh permalink
    December 15, 2012 3:15 pm

    I was kind of surprised by the order of the six worst. I agree that they are all dud winners, but the order was a little surprising (Amber is better than Sandra?) Would I be correct in assuming that Natalie through Vecepia are more or less interchangable?

  13. December 18, 2012 3:40 am

    Here is the updated Winner Rankings through to Survivor 25 for all of those who asked about them –


  1. Glenny From The Block’s Greatest Hits : 2011 Edition « the from the block blog
  2. 13:49 Minutes Worth of Reasons Why Sophie Clarke Is (Probably) The Best Female Winner of Survivor of All Time. « the from the block blog
  3. Ranking The Past 25 Survivor Winners From Worst To First « the from the block blog
  4. Ranking The Past 28 Survivor Winners From Worst To First | the from the block blog
  5. Ranking The Past 35 Survivor Winners From Worst To First | the from the block blog

Leave a Reply to Josh Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: