Chris, a 25-year-old district sales manager from Myrtle Beach, SC, who currently resides in Greenville, SC, walked away with the competition's million-dollar grand prize in a 9-4 jury vote over Gavin Whitson, a 23-year-old YMCA program director from Erwin, TN.
Chris' victory was announced by longtime Survivorhost Jeff Probst during the live portion of the finale broadcast from CBS Studio Center in Los Angeles, CA.
Although Chris had to betray his closest ally in the game, Rick Devens, to advance himself in the end, he told Probst during the live reunion special he has no Survivor"guilt" and did what he had to do to have a shot at winning.
The other member of the Final 3 was Julie Rosenberg, a 46-year-old toy maker from Baltimore, MD, who currently resides in New York, NY.
Rick, a 33-year-old morning news anchor from Blacksburg, VA, who currently resides in Macon, GA, finished in fourth place after losing the firestarting challenge to Chris.
Lauren O'Connell, a 21-year-old student at Baylor University from Bakersfield, CA, who currently resides in Waco, TX, claimed fifth place, and Victoria Baamonde, a 23-year-old waitress from Bronx, NY, placed sixth.
Survivor: Edge of Extinction's finale broadcast began on Day 35 with Lauren, Victoria, Gavin, Rick and Julie meeting Probst and welcoming back the 11 players from Extinction Island, who had been waiting for their opportunity to battle for a spot back in the original game to win $1 million.
The 11 players were Reem, Eric, Chris, Aubry, Joe, Julia, David, Kelley, Ron, Aurora, and Wardog.
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Combined, the 11 players had spent 151 nights on the Edge of Extinction. Reem was the first person on the island, but she never gave up after 32 nights.
Probst then explained the rules for the comeback challenge. The Edge of Extinction players would be attached to a rope and must make their way through a series of obstacles. After unclipping themselves from the rope, they must build a build using pieces of rope -- and then cross it. Finally, a table maze with two balls awaited them at the end.
Eric started the rope bridge first, with Aurora, Julia and Joe following closely on his heels.
Aurora then began the table maze in first place, with Eric, Kelley, Joe and David not far behind her.
After some time, Chris, Joe and Aurora each landed one ball around the same time, and then the competition ultimately came down to Joe and Chris. Joe unfortunately appeared to choke and drop his ball off the track, and so Chris pulled out a huge win.
Joe cried and said he "blew it" but he'll be defined by how he bounces back from defeat.
The loss appeared to hit everyone hard, as Kelley and Aubry also had tears streaming down their face. Julia also gushed about how it took time on the Edge of Extinction to figure out how strong she is as a woman. The 10 players who didn't make it, however, felt grateful and humbled by their experiences.
Once Chris rejoined the game, he told the cameras he was going to do everything in his power to win the $1 million.
Later that day, Chris downplayed his game, saying he wasn't strong mentally or physically. However, he insisted to the Vata tribe he had knowledge he'd be willing to share.
Chris put on an act that he wouldn't mind losing the game of Survivor considering everything he had been through, but Victoria wasn't buying it. Victoria viewed Chris as dangerous and hoped he wouldn't want to team up with the two people who had gotten to know him.
Rick, who had a solid relationship with Chris on their former tribe, promised Chris that he wouldn't write his name down.
Rick shared with Chris that his hidden Immunity Idol was real and he was going to play it at the next Tribal Council if he couldn't win immunity, but Chris was probably skeptical of Rick's sincerity since Rick had already betrayed him once before.
That night, Chris spoke to Lauren about her hidden Immunity Idol as well. He informed Lauren that Kelley wanted her to use the idol correctly in order to build her Survivor resume, but Lauren wasn't sure she could trust Chris since he was obviously scrambling for an ally or two.
Lauren felt she was Chris' best option to move forward, and so she decided to trust him.
On Day 36, the castaways met with Probst again for an Individual Immunity Challenge.
For the challenge, each player had to race through a series of obstacles, race across a balance beam while collecting a bag along the way, and then use the tiles inside to solve a combination lock, which would release puzzle pieces to be used to solve a circular puzzle.
The winner would be guaranteed a one-in-five shot to get to the end, and Extinction Island was no longer an option.
In addition, the players were competing for Reward in the form of steak and chocolate cake for dessert.
Rick arrived at the combination lock first, but Victoria was the first player to start working on her puzzle.
The puzzle proved to be difficult. Julie had her puzzle complete but struggled to keep it together. Much to Rick's surprise, Chris coached and instructed Julie on how to prevent the puzzle from tumbling over, and then Julie won Individual Immunity for the second time this season.
Julie was able to choose one person to join her on the Reward, and she picked Chris since he hadn't enjoyed a good meal in about a month. Julie was then able to select one more person to eat, and she picked Lauren.
Rick was annoyed because he had "gone to bat" for her before and she never seemed to have his back. Rick also argued Julie and Lauren enjoyed more Rewards than anyone else on the beach that day.
"I'm disappointed," Rick announced, before venting to the cameras it "blew [his] mind" to watch Chris guide Julie through that challenge.
Julie said in a confessional while enjoying Reward she strategically picked Chris to join her so he wouldn't have an opportunity to get close to Rick, whom she "needed out" of this game.
While eating, Julie told the group Rick absolutely needed to be voted out next because they wouldn't have another chance. Julie was praying Rick's idol was fake, and Chris chose not to tell her it was real.
"The two biggest threats from the standpoint of the jury are Rick Devens and Victoria," Chris told Julie and Lauren. "[Let's] split the votes between [them]."
Lauren also wanted Rick gone, but she liked Victoria as the backup vote.
"If what Chris is saying is true, I have no intention to sit next to Victoria in the end," Lauren admitted in a confessional.
Meanwhile, Victoria discussed with Gavin how they should take out Chris next in case he was going to team up with Julie and Lauren as a voting block. Victoria knew getting rid of Rick would only give that three power, leaving Gavin and herself on the outs.
Victoria was desperate for Rick to go, but she believed they had to work together that night for Gavin and herself to have any shot to make it to Final 3.
Rick didn't want to betray Chris again, but he acknowledged Victoria's pitch made a lot of sense. A part of Rick also feared Chris was going after him out of revenge.
However, Rick was still planning on playing his hidden Immunity Idol that night, no matter what.
Once Chris and Rick reunited at Vata's camp, Chris told him that if Rick made it to the end without him, he would "fight and die" for Rick to win the game because of the bond they had made on Extinction Island.
"I am completely loyal to you," Chris swore to Rick.
Rick needed Chris to prove it to him, and so he asked Chris what he had received upon his return into the game. (When Rick came back from the Edge of Extinction, he had two halves of an idol and gave David half. When combined, the necklace had the power of a regular hidden Immunity Idol).
Chris whipped out the idol necklace and gave Rick half. If they were both around after the next Tribal Council, they could put the halves together and play it to keep one of them safe.
Rick knew he could trust Chris for at least that night because Chris wouldn't want to lose his idol, but he was also well aware Chris probably didn't like his chances of winning if they were to make the Final 3 together.
Rick therefore had a tough decision to make -- put his game on the line for his personal relationship with Chris or team up with Victoria and Gavin to take Chris out immediately.
Chris told Rick he was hoping Lauren and Julie were going to vote with him to send Victoria packing, but Rick feared the group was going to split their votes between Chris and himself.
Lauren was then shown talking to Chris about how her allies were going to put their votes on Rick. But if Rick played his idol and it turned out to be real, Lauren promised Chris that she'd play her idol to save him.
Chris vented in a confessional how he was not going to allow himself to be blindsided again but if Lauren went against him, he might be "screwed."
On Night 36, the six castaways attended Tribal Council together.
Chris declared he was learning how to play the game all over again, and then Rick broke down into tears, saying it was hard to be constantly told he's "Public Enemy No. 1."
"It breaks you down after a while," Rick cried.
Victoria said Chris would be the easy vote but everyone had their eye on someone else. Rick knew Victoria was talking about himself.
After everyone cast their votes, Rick decided to play his hidden Immunity Idol for himself. With that being said, Lauren opted to play her idol from Day 2 for Chris, which apparently shocked Victoria.
Rick gave Chris a pat on the back, happy they were both going to be safe that night.
Probst then read the votes aloud in the following order: Rick, Rick, Rick, Chris, Victoria, and Victoria. Victoria therefore became the eleventh member of the jury.
Lauren was a bit upset because she didn't even need to play her idol to keep Chris.
"I'm not sure which one of you did it, but Devens, good play. And Gavin, I'm voting for you, man," Victoria said on her way out.
Later that night, Rick went searching for an idol again while everyone else was asleep.
Rick decided to plant a fake idol he had made in a tree stump to hopefully throw off his competition. If someone else found that idol, Rick hoped he or she would no longer worry about Rick discovering one. It would also grant Rick more time to look for the real one.
Chris and Julie then woke up, and all three of them went searching for an idol.
Suddenly, Rick found another idol in the crack of a bent tree, and Chris and Julie saw it happen and couldn't believe it. Rick was thrilled his tribemates would have "no chance" to vote him out, and he was ecstatic about making Final 4.
To show some good faith and friendship, Rick then handed Chris the half of their joint Immunity Idol that initially belonged to him. Chris felt so relieved and acknowledged he had picked the right person to trust.
Meanwhile, Lauren vented about how she was "so, so stupid" to have played her hidden Immunity Idol for Chris.
But since two idols were played at the previous Tribal Council, Julie was convinced another one was out there, so she went searching for it.
Julie ended up finding the fake idol Rick had planted in the tree, and Rick couldn't help but laugh as Julie yelled, cheered and jumped into Lauren's arms.
Julie couldn't wait to play her idol, and Lauren confessed she was "screwed" unless she won immunity.
But seemingly seconds later, Lauren stumbled upon a clue inside a tree that eventually led her to the shelter, where a hidden Immunity Idol was placed up above the tribe's sleeping quarters.
Little did Lauren know, however, Rick had planted that clue and that fake idol as well. Rick watched Lauren celebrate from a distance and, once again, laughed at his opponents' misfortune.
It then became time for the next Individual Immunity Challenge on Day 37.
Probst instructed each castaway to race across six different obstacles over the ocean, collecting bags of puzzle pieces along the way. Once all the pieces were collected, the castaways must use them to solve a puzzle.
The first person to finish would be guaranteed a spot in the Final 4.
Rick came back from behind and defeated Gavin for the win, and he couldn't believe he won -- again.
Once everyone returned to camp, Rick pointed out Gavin was the only person who felt like he was in danger since both Lauren and Julie believed they had idols in their possession.
Rick told Gavin that he would play his idol for him as long as Gavin promised not to make him compete in a firemaking challenge. Gavin didn't want to help Rick get ahead, but he told the cameras he'd be "stupid to say 'no.'"
"I know a promise is a promise, but if I'm still here tomorrow, I might have to go against my word," Gavin said in a confessional, knowing Rick would be nearly impossible to beat in the Final 3.
Gavin, Lauren and Julie then discussed how they needed to stick together.
Lauren planned to vote out Chris that night, but since three idols had been found, she was skeptical they all were real. Lauren just hoped her idol wasn't the fake one.
Lauren then talked to Chris about teaming up with Gavin to vote out Julie. Chris, however, thought it was "a smokescreen" and he was "the real target."
The decision, however, was going to be up to Chris and Rick since they were both safe, and they needed to decide between Lauren or Julie.
Rick thought Lauren was playing the more strategic game, but Chris feared Julie was liked by the jury given she was on the former Kama tribe and had won two Individual Immunity Challenges.
All of the tribemates were also trying to determine who might beat Rick in a firestarting challenge if he managed to survive another Tribal Council. The girls thought Chris was their best bet.
The castaways then cast their votes, and when it became time to play a hidden Immunity Idol -- the last night to play one -- Julie stepped out to the plate and used it for herself.
Probst announced Julie's idol was fake and votes against her would still count. Lauren then played her idol for herself, and Probst declared it was also fake.
Rick then played his real idol for Gavin, which forced Chris to play his real idol for himself.
Probst subsequently read the votes in the following order: Chris, Chris, Chris, Lauren, and Lauren.
"That was really well played, Rick," Lauren noted on her way out of the game. "Bye guys, seriously. Good luck."
Afterwards, footage flashed to the final Individual Immunity Challenge of the season on Day 38.
Each person had to negotiate a rocking walkway while attempting to balance blocks on a wobbly ledge. The first person to build his or her blocks to say "Immunity" would earn a spot in the Final 3 and be afforded the chance to plead his or her case to the jury.
Chris maintained a steady lead and spelled "Immunity" first, winning Individual Immunity.
Probst pointed out that Chris' first Individual Immunity win couldn't have happened at a better time.
Chris acknowledged he was playing the game to win, and he'd have to make one of the biggest decisions of his life that night.
Chris was able to determine which player would be safe and which two castaways would be forced to start fire. Rick was afraid to make fire because he hated leaving his game up to "random" things, but he was going to do his best to convince Chris to take him to the end.
Rick asked Chris to remain loyal to him, but Chris confessed Rick had "played the million dollar game" and so he had to make fire or else everyone would lose to him.
As a result, Chris decided to help both Julie and Gavin make fire so one of them could beat Rick. Chris wasn't sure which player would receive a pass, but he prepared them both just in case.
Julie, Gavin and Rick seemingly practiced fire for the rest of the day. Rick felt a ton of pressure, and Julie insisted she had been underestimated in the game.
"Whether it's Gavin or Julie, it doesn't change what I have to do," Rick explained.
It then became time for the Final 4 Tribal Council.
Julie said she wouldn't mind proving herself with fire, but then Gavin asked Chris not to choose him because it would be a great opportunity for him to potentially take out the obvious frontrunner of the season.
Gavin knew beating Rick in the fire challenge would add to hisSurvivor resume.
But in a shocking twist, Chris gave Julie his immunity necklace and decided to face off against Rick in fire on his own. Chris was prepared to take the last shot, and he was well aware defeating Rick would probably solidify his Survivor victory.
Julie and Gavin therefore automatically advanced to Final 3, and then the firemaking challenge commenced at the voting booth.
Both guys started fire that went out. Rick got little bits of flame again, but they wouldn't catch. Chris then managed to spark a flame, and as it grew, Rick's fire started to burn.
It was super close, but Chris ended up winning the firemaking challenge.
"I had to earn my spot back to get back in this game, and I had to earn it against the best one who played this season," Chris told Probst.
Rick fell short and was ousted on Day 38.
"I didn't come out here to learn about myself. I didn't come out here to find out anything about myself. I just wanted to win a million dollars, but it has a way of teaching you things about yourself whether you want to learn or not," Rick shared following his ouster.
"I take a lot of confidence away; I didn't think I would perform as well as I did in challenges. I didn't think I'd find idols."
He continued, "I didn't think I'd have the guts to make fake idols. I put everything I had into the game and fended off elimination Tribal after Tribal, but I'm going home a better dad and a better husband. I think I can do a lot of things I never thought I could do before."
Rick told his tribemates he loved them on his way out of the game, and the jury clapped for him.
On Day 39, the Final 3 castaways enjoyed an epic feast.
Julie prided herself on the relationships she had built, and Chris said he had outlasted everyone by spending 28 days on the Edge of Extinction and then playing the game better in several days than Gavin and Julie did in the 39 days they had.
And Gavin boasted he was a strong, social player who didn't just ride a train to the end.
The three castaways later confronted the jury of their peers on Day 39 at the Final Tribal Council.
The players had to convince the jury they were most deserving of the $1 million and the title of "Sole Survivor."
David announced the jury wanted to simply vote for the best player.
Chris said he had tried to build sincere, honest relationships on the Edge of Extinction because, in his mind, he was still playing the game the whole time. He therefore built bonds by providing food and cooking for his fellow eliminees.
Gavin argued his social game was his strategic game, the fact he had developed friendships with so many people. But then Chris called Gavin out and suggested he built relationships as a goat, not a leader in charge.
"I'm not anyone's goat. I chose the route that I chose. No one dictated that for me," Gavin insisted.
Kelley then demanded the jury should ask the questions because Chris' comment "offended her" -- a statement Lauren totally agreed with. Lauren, in fact, called Chris "rude."
Julie owned her emotional outbursts and tried to say they turned into a strength for her social game, but Julia immediately shot that notion down.
Victoria, however, wondered whether the jury was not giving Julie enough credit for her game. Victoria asked Julie to divulge her biggest move, and Julie shared she had swayed the vote to get Julia out.
Gavin said his biggest move was voting out Aubry and Joe, whom he loved and respected. Gavin noted he had to separate his heart from the game.
And Chris explained his biggest move was to convince Lauren to play her hidden Immunity Idol for him. Chris said he used "a negative reverse" sales technique to do it.
Most of the jury was undecided deep into the Tribal Council, and a debate broke out as to whether being on Extinction Island was an advantage or disadvantage.
Gavin expressed how someone in the original game struggles with constant paranoia and fear of being blindsided or making a wrong move while someone on the Edge of Extinction gets to breathe and relax while also mingling and mending fences with players they might have betrayed.
Rick also gave Gavin props for going through the entire game without ever having his name written down once.
But Chris pointed out he played the best hand he was dealt, and once he re-entered the game, he won immunity, played an immunity idol and volunteered himself to compete in the firemaking challenge just so he could defeat the best player in the game.
Chris told the jury that he did everything he possibly could considering he had fallen victim to the Edge of Extinction twist.
There was an old game vs. new game mentality, and the jury didn't seem to have a good grasp on whether surviving life at Extinction or playing the original game quietly was more impressive.
The Final 3 were proud of their accomplishments no matter what, and it soon became time to vote.
In Survivor's reunion special, singer Sia -- a huge fan of Survivor -- awarded her favorite player of the season, Rick, $100,000. He appeared totally shocked and incredibly grateful for Sia's kind gesture to give back.