Nick, a 27-year-old public defender from Williamsburg, KY, who currently resides in London, KY, walked away with the $1 million grand prize through a 7-3 jury vote over Mike, a 47-year-old filmmaker from San Diego, CA, who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA and previously competed on The Amazing Race.
Nick's victory was announced by longtime Survivor host Jeff Probst during the live portion of the finale broadcast from CBS Studio Center in Los Angeles, CA.
"I tried to get on the show for so many years... And when they dropped the [flag] and it said 'David vs. Goliath,' I grew up in Sunday school and was thinking, 'This was the season I was supposed to be on,' and it felt like fate. And I guess my humble beginnings, as [Jeff] called it, they did help in the game," Nick, who began the game on the David Tribe, said during the live reunion show.
On his winnings, Nick explained, "I wanted to be a lawyer because I wanted to be rich because of the way I grew up... but then something changed for me where I felt like I had a calling instead of a career. So I made it back home to help people, and now I feel like if money's not an option, I don't have to try to work for a big firm. I can stay at home and do what I feel like is my calling to do."
Kara Kay, a 30-year-old realtor from San Diego, CA, finished the game in fourth place after she lost the fire-starting challenge to Mike.
Alison Raybould, a 28-year-old physician from Leawood, KS, who currently resides in Chapel Hill, NC, claimed fifth place, and Davie Rickenbacker, a 30-year-old social media manager from Orangeburg, SC, who currently resides in Atlanta, GA, placed sixth.
The Survivor broadcast began on Day 36, with all of the remaining castaways waking up early and parting ways in search of a hidden Immunity Idol.
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It was "a scavenger hunt with million dollar stakes," according to Mike, who said the Davids had "gotten crafty" since they were underdogs all season long.
Angelina ended up finding a clue to a hidden Immunity Idol that told her the idol was at the top of the rock behind the well. Buried underneath her feet was a ladder, so she had to dig up the ladder in order to retrieve her idol.
Angelina dug up the eight-foot ladder and tried to hide it so she could scope out the area around the rock wall, but then she discovered the clue had fallen out of her bra and she lost it.
Angelina realized since someone else could find her clue, she needed to retrieve the idol as soon as possible -- no matter who was around or who was watching.
Angelina failed to find the idol during her first attempt, so she returned to camp empty-handed and planned to go back when the coast was clear. Angelina cried upon seeing her fellow castaways, but she lied and said she had fallen out of a tree.
Angelina said she needed to find a way to return to the well and find her idol, and she wasn't going to stop until she was successful.
It then became time for the Final 6 castaways to compete in an Individual Immunity Challenge.
Each player was required to race through a series of obstacles and then use a ball to hook a target, releasing puzzle steps. They must use those steps to assemble a staircase and then race to the top of the staircase, where they would have to solve a "monstrous" 63-piece Survivor puzzle, according to Jeff Probst.
The winner of the challenge would be safe from the vote and guaranteed a spot in the Final 5.
In addition, the castaways were playing for Reward. The person to finish in first place would win a big plate of spaghetti -- with vegetarian or meat sauce -- alongside garlic bread and cake for dessert.
Although Nick was the fifth person to begin the puzzle portion of the challenge, he ended up placing first. It was a huge come-from-behind victory for Nick.
Nick was able to choose one person to join him for a feast back at camp, and he chose Angelina since she's a vegetarian. Nick was then afforded the opportunity to choose a second person to eat.
Davie announced that Nick owed him nothing, and so Nick picked Mike.
Alison hadn't been chosen for a Reward in quite some time. She called herself "starving" and said she had been "crawling her way through this game." Although Alison dubbed herself "a bag of bones," she was still smiling.
Alison was just growing tired of being stuck in the crossfire constantly.
After the challenge, Angelina, Nick and Mike just so happened to eat near the well, and all Angelina could think about was that her clue and the idol were right near them.
The trio, however, talked strategy, and Angelina said she'd like to be in a Final 3 alliance with Nick and Mike. Nick and Angelina then agreed Alison should be the next person to go, but Mike disagreed, insisting Davie had to be the next target because he could win if he gets to the end.
Nick admitted in a confessional Davie needed to stay so he wouldn't be the only David left in the game. Nick had also been trying to get Alison out for what seemed like forever.
Meanwhile, Davie told the cameras he would like to see Alison go next. Davie no longer had an idol, but he had Nick, and the two guys had each other's back.
Back on the Reward, Mike asked Angelina and Nick whether they thought Alison could have an idol -- and that's when Angelina broke down and told them about the hidden Immunity Idol she had yet to retrieve.
Angelina recognized she needed a little help and "man power." As a result, Mike and Nick went looking for the clue, and Mike ended up finding it. Angelina then climbed the ladder with Nick watching her from below, and she was finally able to snag the idol from the rock.
Alison knew she was on the chopping block, and so she approached Angelina for some support. Angelina bragged about how she basically served as a swing vote, as Alison cried about her fate in the game.
But Angelina didn't pity Alison at all, saying she had been wronged by Alison before and was out for revenge.
Mike then talked to Kara about how taking out Alison next would be a mistake because Davie was "a beast." Kara was onboard because Davie had played an impressive game and developed a solid resume thus far.
Afterward, Mike told Alison they just needed Angelina to work with them in order to take out Davie.
Mike acknowledged if he could make Angelina believe this was all her idea, she may vote for Davie after all. He begged her to consider the Davie vote, and Angelina confessed she was "so conflicted."
Part of Mike's plan was also to break up Nick and Davie, who were incredibly close in the game. Mike wanted Nick all to himself, and he also said it would be better for his game to have Alison, another Goliath, still around.
At Tribal Council that night, Alison announced the two names that had been thrown out were Davie and herself.
Alison hoped she and Angelina could fall back on the bond they had earlier in the game, as they went from allies to adversaries. Angelina pointed out, however, she could have gunned for Alison instead of Gabby or Christian.
Mike made it known he wanted to be on the same page as Nick, and then Davie admitted bonds were tight at this point in the game and an eliminee might become very bitter.
After the players cast their votes, Jeff read them aloud in the following order: Davie, Alison, Alison, Davie, Davie, and Davie.
"I didn't do it, bro. I'm sorry, I didn't know," Nick told Davie.
"Of course you didn't, Nick," Davie said on his way out.
After Davie's torch was snuffed by Jeff, he declared the person who had orchestrated his vote-off was going to receive his jury vote unless someone else could make a bigger move in the final days of the game.
Mike proudly whispered, "I orchestrated it" once Davie was gone.
"I had a hellified time out here playing this game of Survivor. I don't know who it was who orchestrated the move to get me out, but I'm satisfied with mySurvivor game," Davie said following his ouster.
"I want to see a good season; I want to see somebody playing this game hard, hard, hard -- because that's what I respect."
On Night 36, when the Final 5 returned to camp, Nick was feeling "sick" because of the blindside. He couldn't believe Angelina and Mike had lied to his face over their spaghetti mean about voting out Alison and being a Final 3 alliance.
Nick was ticked off and refused to play with people who had betrayed him. Angelina explained Nick that Mike really, really wanted Davie gone, and Nick no longer trusted Mike and appeared to back out of their Final 3 alliance.
"They're going to come for me now. I'm next," Nick insisted to Angelina. "He's been setting me up this whole 38 days."
Angelina asked Nick to not be so paranoid and it was either Alison or Kara going home next, but Nick felt his back was up against the wall and he needed to win immunity.
Mike told the cameras it was nothing personal, that he just had to get rid of Nick's "Plan B." And then Alison and Kara were shown calling Nick "a child" and "a little boy."
Mike hoped Nick wouldn't blow up his game, and so Mike determined Nick needed to go next before he could go after him.
On Day 37, the Final 5 met Jeff again for the next Individual Immunity Challenge of the season.
Each castaway was instructed to stand on a pole in the ocean, use a bucket with holes in it to retrieve water, and pour that water down a shoot, raising a key. Once a player could grab the key, he or she must dive into the water, swim back to shore, unlock a bundle of puzzle pieces, and then use those pieces to solve a block puzzle.
The first person to finish would be guaranteed a spot in the Final 4. It was a huge position to be in, because that person would either automatically land a spot in the Final 3 or have an opportunity to make fire and make it to the end.
Alison got off to an early lead in the challenge, but Nick quickly caught up and won his second Individual Immunity. Nick was thrilled to have that necklace around his neck and all of the power again.
"That's going to make revenge taste pretty sweet," Nick gushed in a confessional.
Later that day, Angelina wanted Alison gone and explained she hoped to make fireworks at the upcoming Tribal Council with the use of her idol. After all, the Final 5 Tribal Council was the last time she could even play it.
Angelina pitched to Mike and Nick that they convince Kara and Alison to vote for Angelina and then Angelina and Nick would vote for Alison. Angelina said she could play the idol for herself and then they could finally get Alison out.
Angelina wanted to "look like a badass" in the eyes of the jury. Mike felt like Angelina's plan was a little extra "catty," and so he wasn't comfortable about it, but Angelina admitted things were a little personal with Alison.
"Angelina'sSurvivor strategy, I don't know, is from outer space. We don't need the theatrics right now. We are all fried. It's Day 37. I don't need to have some showcase for Angelina," Mike told the cameras.
Angelina even considered planting a fake idol for Alison to find, but Mike didn't want to lie to Kara and potentially jeopardize their good relationship just so Angelina could put on a good show.
Mike therefore warned Kara that Angelina had a hidden Immunity Idol and wanted to use it "in some dramatic way." Mike called her "evil" and a "cruel psychopath."
Kara appreciated Mike telling her all of that, but she realized in that moment Mike had an incredible social game and was "the biggest threat left" to win. Kara thought Mike would win in the Final 3 and voting him out might result in $1 million in her pocket.
Kara then warned Alison about Angelina's idol, and the pair hoped to flip the script. Kara suggested voting for Mike, and she noted they needed to get Nick involved in order to make that happen.
Alison cared about Mike deeply, but she felt she didn't have another option other than to go after Mike. Since Mike and Angelina had betrayed Nick, he told Alison he was very open to different possibilities.
The vote came down to what Nick and Kara decided would be best for their individual games.
Angelina then planted a fake idol that Alison found.
On Night 37, the Final 5 castaways gathered at Tribal Council. Alison announced Mike was a threat, and then Mike repeated "whatever" and suggested she was losing dignity and pride in the game by throwing him under the bus.
Suddenly, there was a lot of tension and friction between Mike and Alison, who had been allies for quite some time.
When it became time to vote, Mike cast his vote for Alison, saying she had played a B+ game of Survivor, and then Kara said her vote came down to wanting a big threat out as well as preventing Angelina from impressing the jury with a correct idol play.
Jeff then tallied the votes and asked if anyone wanted to play a hidden Immunity Idol. Alison gave Jeff the shell with a clue she had found, admitting she was almost 100 percent certain it was fake -- and she was correct.
Angelina admitted she made a poorly-constructed fake idol, but then she whipped out her real idol and played it. Angelina told Jeff that she was confident she had rallied enough votes for Alison but she wanted to ensure herself a spot in the Final 4.
Afterward, Jeff read the votes in the following order: Mike, Alison, Alison, and Alison.
The only person who voted for Mike was Alison.
"I can't say I'm totally surprised, but it actually sucks a lot to be on the jury. I was on the edge of leaving at the last five Tribal Councils, and you can only chase away the Grim Reaper for so long. And the Grim Reaper, I always mean Jeff with his torch snuffer," Alison said following her ouster.
The game then picked up on Day 38, with the Final 5 castaways participating in the final Individual Immunity Challenge of the season.
Kara, Mike, Nick and Angelina were required to drop a ball down a chute. The ball would spiral down to the bottom, and the goal was to catch the ball at the bottom and then drop it back in at the top.
At regular intervals, more balls would be added to make the challenge more difficult. If at any point a ball dropped, he or she would be out of the challenge.
The winner of the challenge would automatically earn a spot in the Final 3 and be given the opportunity to take one castaway to the end and determine which two players must face off in an epic showdown. Jeff called the showdown a "do or die firemaking challenge."
Angelina was the first person out of the challenge, and then Mike and Kara followed. Nick won Individual Immunity for the third time, and Kara was extremely disappointed in herself. Kara cried and said, "I just failed myself."
Angelina was thrilled because Nick was her closest ally left in the game. It was quite a twist that the final David in the game could determine the fate of the three remaining Goliaths.
Mike, Kara and Angelina then had to pitch to Nick why they couldn't win the game, but Nick didn't trust anyone.
Before Final 4 Tribal, Nick announced to the whole group he had the best chance of winning with Angelina by his side so Mike and Kara would be making fire against each other. Angelina took credit for being manipulative enough to convince Nick that she was the weakest link in the group.
Mike had extreme anxiety about making fire, admitting he was in his head and it was his worst fear. Although both Mike and Kara were able to practice, Mike said he never felt more like a David in his life.
That night, the Final 4 attended Tribal Council with the jury, once again, watching.
Nick announced he had decided to take Angelina to Final 3, and Kara promised the jury a great show.
Mike and Kara were then instructed to each build a fire high enough to burn through a small rope. The person to burn through the rope first would win a spot at the Final Tribal Council, and that person was Mike.
Kara couldn't even spark a flame as Mike's fire raged high. She was bummed out, but Mike was overjoyed and very proud of himself.
"I'm proud for the Final 3 but disappointed it's not going to be me in there. But I'm taking my spot as the tenth juror very seriously and I'm proud of the game I played. I came out here to play as hard as I possibly could, and I know I did exactly that," Kara said following her elimination.
On Day 39, Angelina, Mike and Nick congratulated each other on their successes and accomplishments, and they enjoyed a giant feast of a breakfast.
At the Final Tribal Council, Mike was prepared to convince the jury that he was not the mouse in the wheel but rather the person steering other people in one direction or another. Mike thought his social game was "inspired" even though he had no physical game to brag about.
Meanwhile, Nick thought he excelled in every aspect of the game, from strategy to winning Immunity Challenges to making good friends.
Jeff then welcomed the members of the jury: Elizabeth, John, Dan, Alec, Carl, Gabby, Christian, Davie, Alison and Kara.
Angelina, Kara and Mike had to explain how they outwitted, outplayed and outlasted their opponents.
Elizabeth announced most of the jury was undecided and they wanted the Final 3 to be raw and real.
In terms of outwitting his competitors, Nick explained that he used information and timing as his weapons. Nick would build one-on-one alliances with people to earn trust and receive information, and then he would use such knowledge to execute moves at the right time.
Nick said his biggest move in the game was splitting the minority vote and taking out John when two idols were played. Nick also said once he lost his closest allies in Carl and Davie, he reconnected with his former Jabeni tribemates.
Angelina argued her reputation was in the dumps but she managed to get it in good with Carl and Christian after flipping on her original Goliaths. Angelina said her social game was "extremely adaptable" and she was able to secure rice for her tribe for the last 11 days.
"I was able to get myself from one of the weakest positions in the game to one of the strongest," Angelina said.
Mike then revealed he had a Final 2 deal with Alison, Kara, Angelina, Nick, and Christian. Mike said he would have approached Davie and Carl about doing the same but he always felt on the periphery of what they were doing.
Mike also felt Gabby was never going to work with him. Mike said he'd rather work with big threats in the game than get rid of people who wanted to work with him.
Mike also admitted he regretted telling Alison that she lost her dignity in the game and it was "a low blow." Alison did seem angry that Mike's sarcasm can sometimes come across biting. Mike noted he was hurt when Alison was gunning for him.
Mike expressed how the game had humbled him when he's usually a boss and a leader in his normal life. Mike said he played a character at times, but once the game came down to nine people, he became more cutthroat.
Nick then argued he has a similar story as Mike, as he played the game as an underestimated Kentucky boy. Nick stated, however, that Mike had Goliath allies to ride to the end with, while he had to fight tooth and nail for his position.
In terms of the "outplay" phase of the show, Mike was "stoked" with his performance in challenges even though he didn't win, and Angelina recalled her feat of retrieving an idol high in a rock wall with a ladder.
Nick's argument was obvious, as he won multiple Immunity Challenges. But Nick also found a secret advantage.
When it came to outlasting, Angelina said she was "the most battle-tested" player. The jury also seemed to respect the fact she's a woman who fought her way to the end and made some big moves since women in the game are often viewed as bossy if they are aggressive or emotional and weak.
Nick recalled fighting his way out of tough situations, including being one David against four Goliaths. The Davids were also outnumbered on his tribe after the swap, and Nick felt like an underdog for most of the game.
And finally, Mike said he outlasted everyone because he didn't get to the end as a goat.
Mike explained his personal struggle was figuring out what he stands for and who he is. Mike wanted Survivorto be a worthy endeavor and he was never playing for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow -- he was playing for the rainbow.
It then became time for the jury to vote for the winner of Survivor: David vs. Goliath.
John was shown voting for Nick because of all the decisions he had made throughout the game, and Christian was shown voting for Mike because he had played a "transformative game" that was very strategic.