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December 18, 2014

'Survivor: Samoa' Winner Revealed

by Jason Hughes, posted Dec 20th 2009 10:12PM
Natalie WhiteWho won 'Survivor: Samoa'? Find out!

After 39 days in which the winner of 'Survivor: Samoa' manipulated, controlled and dominated virtually every aspect of the game, especially when his team had their backs against the wall, it was his strongest ally who earned the votes necessary to secure the title of the nineteenth sole survivor and the $1,000,000 prize that goes along with it.Natalie WhiteWho won 'Survivor: Samoa'? Find out!

After 39 days in which Russell Hantz manipulated, controlled and dominated virtually every aspect of the game on 'Survivor: Samoa,' especially when his team had their backs against the wall, host Jeff Probst announced it was his strongest ally, Natalie White, who earned the votes necessary to secure the title of the 19th sole 'Survivor' and the $1,000,000 prize that goes along with it.

Russell was one of the most powerful presences in the history of 'Survivor,' almost single-handedly determining the majority of the eliminations throughout the season. But he did so in a cold, arrogant and calculating way that ignored the importance of the social aspects of the game.

Going into tonight's two-hour finale, Brett Clouser was the only former Galu member left standing. After winning the last two immunity challenges, he stood the best chance of denying the "Foa Foa Four" a chance at the final four intact. And he came out of virtually nowhere to do it. He seemed to get no more than five minutes of screen-time before the Thanksgiving recap special, and suddenly he was looking to spoil everything. All he needed was two more immunity wins and he would be virtually guaranteed a million dollars. After all, the jury was almost all his former Galu tribemates.

He got the first one. Brett has proven adept at puzzles, and despite not getting to the puzzle portion of the challenge first, he whizzed through it. This forced the "Foa Foa Four" to eliminate one of their own. Russell chose to do so by telling both Jaison Robinson and Mick Trimming that it would be the other one. That way he and Natalie could make their choice at their leisure.

As a result, Jaison felt betrayed by Russell when he was blind-sided and eliminated. It is at this point that Russell may have been underestimating the importance of the social game. He made a quick alliance with Brett, just in case Brett won the last immunity challenge, to ensure his position in the final three.

But he needn't have worried, as he won it himself. The challenge was to balance a statue on a platform with an ever-extending handle. After Mick and Natalie fell quickly, it was up to Russell to outlast Brett. At tribal council, though, he started talking about possibly taking Brett to the finals with him because he wanted to "beat the best." Again, this was not a good strategic move for his relationship with Natalie and Mick. At one time, at least Natalie was believing Russell deserving of the prize.

If he hadn't let his arrogance start to come out, she may not have fought so hard. However, based on how the jury responded to the three of them, it likely would have made no difference at all. Despite playing a great strategic game, he played a poor social game. It's as important to anticipate what your jury values in their winner than it is to play the best game you can.

At the final tribal council, the opening statements can be summed up in a few words. Mick cited his strong moral game, Natalie said she gained confidence in herself, and Russell laid out all the big moves he'd made along the way.

As for the jury questions, most of them appeared to have already made up their minds. Shambo called Mick's gameplay feckless (which means ineffective, or incompetent), while she felt Natalie rode coat-tails. Kelly thought Natalie didn't rely on herself enough, while refusing to believe that Russell wasn't as duplicitous or horrible in his everyday life.

While most of the jury was attacking Russell for playing too aggressively, or Natalie or Mick for not playing aggressively enough, it may have been the final two jury members who sealed the victory for Natalie. John demanded a "hard sell" from Mick and Natalie as to why they feel they should have won. Natalie made the statement that she quickly saw that strong and aggressive females were getting eliminated, she she played a more passive game. John said that he felt she just revealed a bit of her strategy that everyone was looking for.

Then, the last person who spoke was Erik. He had no questions for anyone. He thought it was deplorable that Russell is proud of the unethical way he played the game, while he never saw any leadership in Mick (he was chosen as leader of his tribe on the first day). He then asked why Natalie's strategy is being lambasted. He then called her out saying that he thinks even she feels she is probably the least deserving to win, which might just be the reason she's the most deserving. He then guaranteed her his vote.

At the live reunion, Jeff revealed seven of the votes, and five of them were for Natalie. The other two went to Russell, with the last two remaining a mystery. Considering how lopsided it turned out, it's likely they were for Natalie as well.

She then revealed that her strategy was to be underestimated. She also added credence to her claim that she gained a lot of self-confidence when it came out that she almost copped out of even being on the show. She had to quit her job, which offered a company car as well as health insurance, to do it.

Russell was clearly upset that he didn't win, saying that he felt he played the best strategic game in the history of 'Survivor.' The audience largely agreed with him, and we have to support that he was definitely the most dominating player yet. But though he may have played the best game in the history of 'Survivor' to make it to the final two or three, but he didn't play it the right way to win the votes.

As a consolation prize, Russell did win the Sprint $100,000 Player of the Season prize, as voted on by viewers of the show. His closest competition for this prize was Shambo and Brett.

Probst closed the night by revealing that next season, for the 20th edition of 'Survivor,' they are again bringing back some of the most memorable players in the history of the game for a "Heroes vs. Villains" edition.

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