'Survivor: South Pacific' crowns Sophie Clarke million-dollar winner
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/19/2011
Survivor: South Pacific's $1 million grand prize was claimed by Sophie Clarke during the live portion of Sunday night's finale broadcast on CBS from Hollywood, CA.
"I thought I had a good chance. I mean, ["Coach" Benjamin Wade] got demolished in the final Tribal, but [Whitney Duncan] gave me a piece of her mind too. I had a feeling, but you never know," Sophie, a 22-year-old medical student from Willsboro, NY, said when Survivor host Jeff Probst asked her whether she thought she had a real shot at winning the game.
"I think that right away, I started sizing people up. You saw me do it with [Brandon Hantz]. I think I had my finger on the pulse of the game the whole time and I tried to just figure out other people's motivations and kind of worked within the framework of the game. They created this religious framework -- this idea of being loyal and being trustworthy -- and I just kind of worked within that. I'm always kind of the last one to speak up... I find myself to be more of an observer than anything else. I'm really excited right now!"
Sophie beat Albert Destrade, a 26-year-old "baseball/dating coach" from Plantation, FL, and Coach, a 39-year-old former Survivor: Tocantins and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains castaway who currently resides in Susanville, CA, in the season's final jury voting results, which Jeff revealed live during the broadcast.
Sophie won in a very close jury voting after she received five votes and Coach received three votes.
During the subsequent live reunion show, Jeff also revealed that "Ozzy" Oscar Lusth, a former Survivor: Cook Islands and Survivor: Micronesia -- Fans vs. Favorites castaway, had won $100,000 as the winner of the season's "Player of the Season" home viewer vote by the biggest margin in Survivor history.
Survivor: South Pacific's special two-hour finale broadcast began on Night 35 on Redemption Island.
Brandon, a 19-year-old oil tanker crewman from Katy, TX, arrived to Redemption Island and told Ozzy, a 30-year-old currently residing in Venice, CA, he was blindsided at Tribal Council and got "stabbed in the back" by his "closest friends."
He told Ozzy he gave his individual immunity necklace to Albert, and Ozzy said he was playing a "blind faith game" as if he was playing with God. However, Ozzy noted that in reality, Brandon was just playing with greedy people who wanted money.
Meanwhile, Sophie thought Albert's failure to give Brandon his immunity necklace back at Tribal was a cowardly move after Brandon had put himself on the line to save Albert in the game because Brandon knew without immunity, Albert was going to be the one sent to Redemption Island. Coach was also annoyed with Albert and told him he felt like he was being lied to.
"Today has been the most humbling day for me and it has put me on kind of a precarious spot. If I can't find a way to repair my alliance right now and get back in good standing with my tribe, then I'm going to be in a lot of trouble, man," Albert said.
On Day 36, Brandon and Ozzy learned that whoever was going to win the next duel would earn the right to rejoin the remaining castaways and get back into the game. Ozzy wanted to win so badly because he had spent more than two weeks on Redemption Island, and although he said he was happy there and felt like being on the island had become a new home for him, he wanted to fight for the million dollars.
Later on, Ozzy and Brandon met with Jeff , who then explained the rules to what would be the final Survivor: South Pacific duel. For the duel, Jeff told the castaways they would be required to hold onto a pole for as long as they could. The last person hanging onto the pole would get back into the game and have a one-in-five shot to win the million dollars. The only rule was that they could not hold onto the top of the pole.
Brandon and Ozzy gave the challenge everything they had, but Brandon showed signs of struggle sooner than Ozzy. Brandon ended up losing the duel and Ozzy earned the right to re-enter the game.
"I may have lost the game of Survivor, but I won. In the beginning, I came out here to win the million dollars, but about seven days in, I had a heart-to-heart with God. I hold no bitterness toward nobody and I'm going to hold my head up high," Brandon told Jeff when asked why he was so jubilant despite losing the duel.
"I have to thank the [remaining castaways], actually, for sending me to Redemption. I've spent the last 15 days just pushing myself every single day with the hopes that if I do make it to this last final stretch, that I'll come harder than I've ever been able to in this game Survivor," Ozzy said.
Jeff then told them their next Immunity Challenge was soon approaching and that Ozzy would be joining the remaining Te Tuna castaways at their camp. Sophie, especially, wasn't thrilled that Ozzy was going to be competing again.
After the duel, the four castaways welcomed Ozzy back, but Albert admitted everyone wanted him out and they'd have to beat him in the next Immunity Challenge to accomplish that goal.
Coach told Ozzy he'd give him his hidden Immunity Idol or his immunity necklace if he won the next challenge in order to secure his safety in the game and take him to the end, but Ozzy was skeptical and wasn't sure if Coach was telling him the truth. Ozzy thought he himself had posed a big threat in the game and didn't understand why Coach would ever want to go up against him in the finals.
"There's a big part of me that really wants to play this game with Ozzy and go to the end with Ozzy, but I think my alignments in this game are so secure with so many different people, that right now, it's like the NBA Finals and I'm up by 14 and there's four minutes left on the clock," Coach said.
"This is my game to lose right now, and I say that because [Rick Nelson] wants to take me to the Final 3, Sophie wants to take me to the Final 3, Albert wants to take me to the Final 3, and Ozzy wants to take me to the Final 3. It's my game to lose."
The next day, the castaways met with Jeff for their ninth Individual Immunity Challenge. Jeff told them that with one hand, they must steady a balancing board while simultaneously building a house of cards with the other hand. The first person to build a stack of cards high enough to reach the finish mark would receive immunity and be safe at the next Tribal Council, while the defeated players would risk getting voted out.
With Redemption Island now gone, the person voted out would automatically become the eighth person of the Survivor: South Pacific jury.
Sophie made a structure that caused her to need more tiles because she couldn't reach the finish mark, while Coach's tower did not stand. Ozzy was in the lead but he failed to reach the mark as well, so he had to start over again.
Sophie told Albert to stop stacking his tower and help pick up her pieces that fell. However, not only did Albert refuse, but Jeff explained it was an individual game and no one could offer help to another player.
Sophie and Coach had to start over numerous times, but once Ozzy started over again, he did quite well finishing up the task and ended up winning individual immunity.
The results of the challenge would break up the tight group of four former Upolu members, consisting of Albert, Sophie, Coach, and Rick, a 51-year-old rancher from Aurora, UT, as one of them would have to get voted out. Ozzy was thrilled with his victory, while Sophie was very angry because she felt she should have won the challenge with ease.
On Day 37, Ozzy said he was going to be a facilitator in the process of turning the other four members against each other and watching them "eat each other" up. He said he was going to look like the good guy.
Coach, who was considering joining forces with Ozzy regardless of his immunity win, said the decision was going to be a gut-wrenching one because he didn't want to even think about having to vote someone in his alliance out. However, Ozzy's victory left him no choice.
Coach then told Albert that Rick would probably win if he made it to the Final 3 because he had a good argument.
"I was leaning more towards Albert going next, but now I'm thinking that the Final 3, putting Rick in there -- good old boy, everyone loves his stories, he hasn't pissed anybody off -- the jury might look for a very likable person that's been a hard worker that just says, 'Aw shucks, I kept my word,'" Coach said.
Albert agreed with Coach that Rick should be the next person to go. However, Ozzy told Albert he felt relieved and said they should vote out Sophie because she was "a frickin brat." Albert also agreed with Ozzy and said Sophie had been acting ridiculously, especially referencing her behavior at the prior Individual Immunity Challenge.
Albert then said he had a big decision to make of whether to vote off Sophie or Rick because Sophie was very outspoken and intelligent and could talk her way to a victory -- presumably being more capable of winning the million dollars over Rick.
Coach warned Rick that Sophie had turned on him but then calmed his nerves by insisting he'd vote for Sophie to help him out. Ozzy and Albert then discussed how likable Rick was, but Ozzy insisted they should take Sophie out.
Ozzy then informed Albert about Coach's promise to take him to the end. He even gave away that Coach had given Ozzy his "word as a Christian man."
"If you just follow Coach's traditional play book, conventional wisdom would tell you he'd be interested in maybe bringing Ozzy to the end. He always wants to say that, 'I want to surround myself with the strongest players,' and it's undeniable that Ozzy has played the strongest game," Albert said.
Albert confronted Coach and asked him about Ozzy's claims, but Coach said nothing and just walked away in silence.
That night, the five remaining castaways met with Jeff and the jury for their eighth Tribal Council as a merged Te Tuna tribe. Ozzy admitted he would have been going home had he not won individual immunity.
Coach was technically safe because he still had the hidden Immunity Idol he had previously found and it would be a bad move to not use it if it guaranteed him a spot in the Final 4. As a result, the vote came down to Rick, Sophie and Albert.
Albert said they should keep him around because he could compete with Ozzy, while Sophie said she should be kept around because she was a threat to beat Ozzy in the next Immunity Challenge because she had won more individual challenges than any of the other remaining players.
Rick then said he should be kept around because he couldn't beat Ozzy and had won zero Immunity Challenges. Sophie stayed strong in her opinion that Ozzy should be the next person to go, and then Coach told Jeff he didn't want Ozzy to survive because he had made a bond with his former tribemates and they were a family.
However, Ozzy called Coach out for telling him they could make it to the end together. Sophie then said it wasn't just about old loyalties that made her want Ozzy gone but rather because Ozzy didn't show her any respect from Day 1.
Countering her claims, Ozzy said Sophie acted like a "spoiled brat" throughout the game because all she did was eat and sleep and call him "arrogant."
Sophie felt Ozzy was personally attacking her character, while she claimed to never have done that to anyone. She insisted she had made personal relationships with a lot of the people, and Ozzy saying that other castaways agreed with his opinion really hurt her feelings.
Sophie then admitted she was losing her thick skin and was worried she was coming across as an "awful, disloyal, selfish b-tch." She was in tears and Jeff told her the more emotional she got, the more reason the others would have to get rid of her.
Jeff then revealed the votes. Coach didn't play his hidden Immunity Idol and there were two votes for Sophie and three votes for Rick. Rick was eliminated and Jeff extinguished his torch.
"All the honesty, integrity and all this stuff and Coach stood up and said, 'Oh, don't be that way.' It's like, 'Sit down. Don't whisper down my back and tell me it's raining. I wish I made a bigger move, but I was just blinded [by] thinking that Coach was playing true to his word. Ozzy's got my vote," Rick said following his ouster.
On Day 38, Ozzy was so happy about making it to the Final 4 and he said he could sense victory. He just wanted to win and he attempted to fuel his body and get ready for the upcoming Individual Immunity Challenge.
Coach told Ozzy he felt betrayed because their Final 3 plans were supposed to be kept a secret but Ozzy had exposed everything at the previous Tribal Council session. Ozzy said he got burned in the game before by trusting people too much, especially those whom he cared for.
Coach then admitted he felt for Ozzy's pain and got over what had happened between them because of that. Ozzy told Coach he still wanted to go to the end with him and he wanted to force Albert and Sophie to have to "make fire" at the next Tribal Council session by forcing to 2-2 vote that would result in Albert and Sophie competing in a tiebreaking firestarter challenge.
Coach said he liked that idea and Ozzy liked that Coach knew where he was coming from. Ozzy said he was going to put everything he had into the next challenge because it was potentially a million-dollar challenge.
Later on, the castaways met with Jeff and he explained the rules to what would be their tenth Individual Immunity Challenge. They were required to race through a giant flower-shaped obstacle course to collect five bags of puzzle pieces, which would then be used to solve a puzzle.
The first person to solve the puzzle would be declared the winner and be guaranteed immunity and a spot at the final Tribal Council session, where he or she would be given the opportunity to plead his or her case to the jury of why he or she should win the million dollars and the title of "Sole Survivor." The other castaways would face possible elimination.
The challenge ultimately came down to Ozzy and Sophie, but Sophie pulled it out more timely and ended up winning.
"Ahh, so close yet so far away -- yet again," Ozzy said, expecting his fate.
Sophie's victory was her third Individual Immunity Challenge win.
Afterward, Ozzy was upset he lost the challenge, and he felt like the game was going to come crashing down on him. He was hoping Coach would take him to the end but worried he'd change his mind.
"Everything was riding on this challenge. Beating Ozzy was crucial. Ozzy had to be out of this game, and I think beyond that, being the one to beat Ozzy is something to hang my hat on come final Tribal," Sophie said.
Sophie then said there could be a 2-2 tie between Albert and Ozzy at the upcoming Tribal Council because Coach could have been playing a game neither herself or Albert were aware of. Sophie saw Coach talking to Ozzy all the time and didn't know if he could be trusted. Coach then admitted he was battling his word between what he had told Ozzy and his alliance, but he claimed Ozzy had betrayed him.
Ozzy, however, suggested Albert had betrayed Coach. Coach ultimately said he wanted to take the best warriors to the end, so Ozzy told him to keep him around so that Coach could experience a battle amongst fighters -- an ending Coach had seemingly envisioned throughout the entire game.
Coach called it an "anguishing decision" that was going to "rip his heart out."
That night, the four castaways arrived for the season's penultimate Tribal Council and Ozzy felt he had lost a million-dollar puzzle. Coach said Ozzy deserved to and should make it to the end, so he claimed it would be heartbreaking if Ozzy got voted out. Coach then admitted he could vote for Albert, make it a tie vote and force a fire-making challenge. Coach said Ozzy's return to the game was a nearly impossible feat and it made his decision more difficult.
Albert was worried to square off against Ozzy in the fire-making challenge, but he told Jeff he hoped Coach wouldn't "turn his back on him."
Jeff then revealed the votes and three castaways voted for Ozzy, while one voted for Albert. Ozzy was eliminated and his torch was extinguished.
"Man, I had a good ride. Thank you guys. Thank you guys so much. Third time is the charm baby, thanks a lot for the chance," Ozzy said upon his loud exit.
Following Tribal Council, the Final 3 celebrated and Coach said his decision was a "no brainer" and he was on Cloud 9."
On Day 39, the Final 3 enjoyed a big rewarding breakfast. Sophie told Coach it should be between the two of them to win and Coach told her he had nothing bad to say about her. Sophie said she didn't want to get emotional at the final Tribal Council and hoped to enter it logically instead.
Albert felt confident because he thought he had played the best game of the three remaining castaways. He said he was going to feel poised and not be defensive.
Coach was looking forward to the "third and final chapter" in his Survivor journey and wanted to move from "destruction to victory." He desperately wanted a happy ending.
That night, Sophie, Coach and Albert arrived for their final Tribal Council session and the entire jury joined them. The nine people held the Final 3's fate in their hands. Each final castaway was given the opportunity to offer an opening statement and then the jury would have a chance to address and/or confront them by asking questions or stating their opinions.
After Coach, Sophie and Albert all stated their cases, the jury members didn't hold back. Ozzy asked Coach if he thought he had stuck to his guns and truly played his Survivor game loyally, honorably and with integrity -- practicing what he had preached -- because Ozzy felt he hadn't due to his elimination when Coach had made promises to him.
Coach admitted he stayed honest and loyal for most of the game but got stuck in moments where he had to compromise his word a couple times.
Albert told Jim Rice that Coach shouldn't win the game because he didn't bring Albert and Sophie to the end. Albert said Coach was carried to the end and he had made moves to ensure Coach's survival, while Sophie allegedly did not play a very good social game.
Sophie then told Dawn Meehan that Coach had offered her blind loyalty like a "little girl" to fix his image and the person he was in the beginning of the game, while Albert was a strategic player. She claimed that's why she had aligned with them.
Rick basically cursed the Final 3 out for being liars and stabbing him in the back, while Brandon admitted he was hurt. But Brandon forgave Coach for previously voting him off.
Brandon then asked Albert whether he knew Brandon was going to be sent home after he gave him his immunity necklace. When Brandon asked for a "yes" or "no" bluntly, Albert said he didn't know he would get voted off. Brandon, unhappy with his answer, called him out for lying.
Whitney Duncan then called Albert "sleazy" and told Coach he used religion to manipulate his tribemates and instill fear into them. She told Sophie she was condescending and never tried to get to know anyone personally in the game.
Edna Ma was furious at Coach's use of Christianity and had little to say to anyone, while John Cochran told Coach he looked up to him but felt tricked. Cochran said he was impressed how Coach convinced everyone they would go to the Final 3 with him, but he didn't like how Coach had preached honor when he didn't act on it. Coach apologized and said he wasn't a strategist and it came back to bite him.
The jury then cast their votes for which person they believed should be the winner of Survivor: South Pacific.
During the live portion of Survivor: South Pacific's finale episode, the Final 3, the jury, Jeff, and the studio audience gathered in Hollywood at the CBS Television City to discover who had won the million dollars.
Jeff then revealed the votes and five castaways voted for Sophie, while three people voted for Coach. The ninth vote was not shown.