'Survivor: San Juan del Sur -- Blood vs. Water' crowns Natalie Anderson champion
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/18/2014
Survivor: San Juan del Sur -- Blood vs. Water revealed Natalie Anderson as the winner of its $1 million grand prize during the live portion of Wednesday night's finale broadcast on CBS from CBS Television City in Los Angeles, CA.
"I think my game was definitely better playing without [my twin Nadiya Anderson]. That doesn't mean it was easier for me, but I think the push to do something for Nadiya and make her proud and say, 'You know what? You guys are going to vote her out first? I'm going to be the last one standing,'" Natalie, a 28-year-old student and Crossfit coach from Edgewater, NJ, said during the live reunion special after her victory was announced.
Natalie beat runner-up Jaclyn Schultz, a 25-year-old media buyer from Las Vegas, NV, and third-place finisher Missy Payne, a 47-year-old owner of a competitive cheerleading gym from Dallas, TX, in the 29th season's final jury voting results, which Survivor host Jeff Probst revealed during the live broadcast.
"I wouldn't have sat in the Final 3 unless I convinced Jaclyn that [Keith Nale] was the bigger threat. I think having Missy and Keith with me in the Final 4 allowed me to put the target on themselves -- tell Keith it was Missy, tell Missy it was Keith, and then the target was off me," Natalie continued.
Natalie earned four votes from the jury, Jaclyn received two votes, and Missy earned one vote. One vote was not shown but it probably also belonged to Natalie. Jon Misch obviously voted for his girlfriend Jaclyn, Jeremy Collins was shown voting for Natalie, Reed Kelly was shown voting for Jaclyn, and Baylor Wilson clearly voted for her mother Missy.
"Man, she played me," Jaclyn, who entered the Final 3 by winning Individual Immunity, said of Natalie at the reunion. "During the game, I had no idea she had an idol, for one. And for two, I literally thought Keith would have all the jury votes. I came into Huyopa where he was strong with all the guys. I was like, 'He is the biggest threat if I'm in the Final 3 with him.' If I knew different, I would've voted Natalie, but I had no idea."
Survivor: San Juan del Sur -- Blood vs. Water's finale broadcast began on Night 35. Jaclyn called the Tribal Council in which Jon got voted out "brutal." Jaclyn admitted to Natalie and Missy she never saw the move coming.
Missy then noted she's loyal to a fault, which Jaclyn countered by saying "so is he," meaning Jon. Natalie then chimed in and said "not really," which prompted Jaclyn to snap at her for not knowing who Jon is in real life. After Natalie insisted she was just talking about Jon in the game, Jaclyn screamed at her and later cried to the cameras about how she lost her cool.
Natalie said any shot Jaclyn had to work with any of the girls went down the tubes after that. Natalie felt she just needed to trust Missy and Baylor to take her to the Final 3 with them.
On Day 36, Baylor still thought about going to the end with her mom, who was struggling with a foot injury, and Natalie. They wanted to stop Keith, a 53-year-old fire captain from Shreveport, LA, and Jaclyn from winning immunity.
The castaways then met Jeff for a Reward Challenge. Attached to a rope, the players were required to race to unspool the rope, head out and assemble a bridge, and then use sandbags to knock down a series of blocks. The first person to finish the series of tasks would win an advantage in the next Individual Immunity Challenge.
Because of her foot, Missy was not cleared to compete in the challenge. In the end, Keith won and had to determine whom to send to Exile Island. He opted to send Jaclyn to exile. Natalie was upset a 55-year-old man beat her.
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While at Exile Island, Jaclyn received her hidden Immunity Idol clue, saying it was the same clue everyone else had already received. She got emotional knowing that either herself or Keith was next to go. She found the isolation difficult and wished Jon was there to give her a pep talk.
Back at Huyopa's camp, the women agreed they needed to send Keith home immediately as long as he didn't win immunity.
Meanwhile, Keith read his advantage and was given a table featuring paddles, balls and four handles with which to practice the challenge ahead of time. He had to use a series of metal spoons to transfer balls through a series of obstacles from one side of the table to the other. Keith told the cameras it was "a big advantage" and he'd continue practicing until dark because he knew he might be next to go.
On Day 37, Natalie had a hidden Immunity Idol to play for herself if she needed it. She knew she could determine who should get eliminated.
The castaways then met Jeff for the next Individual Immunity Challenge. Jaclyn returned to the group and said it was a terrible to be away from her tribe. The tables were larger than what Keith had practiced on and featured only two paddles for maneuvering balls. No one knew what type of advantage Keith had been given.
The first person to transfer three balls through the series of obstacles would become an automatic member of the Final 4, while the castaway to be voted out at Tribal Council that night would become the seventh member of the jury. Missy was able to participate this time.
After some tough competition, Keith won the coveted immunity necklace and was thrilled.
Once everyone returned to camp, Keith said in a confessional there was no doubt that Jaclyn was headed for the jury and she started to scramble. Jaclyn then pulled Natalie aside and said she'd assist in getting either Missy or Baylor out with the promise to keep Natalie in the game the following Tribal Council. Jaclyn suggested getting rid of Missy because Baylor did whatever her mother told her to. Natalie told Jaclyn she trusted Missy and Baylor 100% but they're "blood" at the end of the day.
Natalie then talked with Baylor, who asked her friend to play her idol for Missy. Baylor insisted Natalie was safe regardless because everyone was targeting Jaclyn. Natalie started thinking about only herself and wanted to make impactful, big moves. She could risk the Final 3 by getting rid of either Missy or Baylor, or just play it safe by ousting Jaclyn.
At Tribal Council that night, the jury gathered.
Missy said she was "confident about the idol situation," which worried Jaclyn because she knew absolutely nothing about an idol in the game. Missy felt her alliance with the girls was very strong although acknowledging her relationship with Baylor might be viewed as "a danger zone."
Before Jeff read the votes, Natalie decided to play her hidden Immunity Idol. Instead of using it on herself, she asked Jaclyn if she had voted for whom Natalie said. Jaclyn nodded her head yes and then Natalie shockingly chose to use her idol on Jaclyn. Jon noted he had always liked Natalie with a big smile on his face. Jaclyn was relieved and ecstatic, while Baylor had a look of shock and terror on her face. Missy then whispered to Keith and Baylor, "I'm going home."
Keith, Baylor and Missy voted for Jaclyn, but Natalie and Jaclyn voted for Baylor.
"I feel surprised. That was a really good blindside. I'm super proud of myself and I'm not mad at Natalie. That was a really good move," Baylor said following her ouster.
That night, once everyone returned to camp, Natalie told the cameras it seemed extremely dangerous to trust two family members as a pair, and if Keith won immunity again, he'd probably want to vote out Missy over her. Natalie liked the fact she didn't have to put her faith in Missy and Baylor's hands. She also thought Missy would have a tough time pleading her case to the jury without Baylor at her side.
Although sad, Missy was relieved she never had to write her daughter's name down. She wasn't angry with Natalie, who insisted it was the only thing she's ever kept from Missy. Missy's fate in the game no longer belonged to her.
Missy said, "I know. You told me more than anyone else has come close to telling me in this game."
Jaclyn thanked Natalie for making such a big move, and then Natalie explained her plan was to go to the end with her and Missy. The girls' goal was to stop Keith from winning immunity -- once again.
The following day, on Day 38, the remaining castaways met Jeff again for the final Individual Immunity Challenge of the season.
Jeff instructed each player to race down a giant tower and maneuver through a series of obstacles while collecting bags of puzzle pieces as they go. Once they had collected three bags each, they had to run back up the tower, drop them, and then head back down to get two more bags. Those puzzle pieces would be used to solve a puzzle, but three pieces would not fit the puzzle. The shapes of those pieces would reveal the three numbers they needed to solve a combination lock.
The first person to get it right and raise his or her flag would win immunity, an automatic spot in the Final 3, and a chance to plead his or her case to the jury as to why he or she deserves to be crowned the next "Sole Survivor" and win $1 million.
Missy could not compete in the challenge. Jaclyn completed her puzzle before anyone else but took a major spill coming down the tower. Natalie was right on her heels.
Jaclyn fought hard in the challenge and ended up winning immunity. Jeff said the turn of events proved that no one should ever give up in this game.
Keith saw no reason why Jaclyn would try to get rid of Natalie after Natalie just saved her at the last Tribal, so Keith said it meant "big trouble" for him. Jaclyn couldn't wait for Jon to see her wearing the necklace because she won the most important Immunity Challenge after failing to win a single one all season.
Jaclyn decided to "talk out" whom she should take to the Final 3 with her. She realized she could make a million-dollar decision or mistake. Keith then gave Jaclyn his pitch, saying Missy would get sympathy votes for her ankle and already had one vote from Baylor -- who was probably also already working the jury. Jaclyn said it made sense.
Jaclyn told Natalie she'd take her to the end for sure and then needed to decide between Missy or Keith. Natalie hoped Jaclyn's "power trip" wouldn't go to her head. She told Jaclyn that Keith was scarier than Missy, hoping she'd just make a quick decision and not overanalyze anything or think things through too hard.
But it was wishful thinking. Jaclyn asked Missy how she felt about voting Natalie because Natalie seemed to have the strongest gameplay. Jaclyn was aware Natalie had been behind both Jon and Baylor's blindsides as well as being responsible for splitting up their former alliance of five. Missy was interested.
Jaclyn thought about how Natalie could probably beat her with her gameplay but Keith had a lot of guys on the jury who would probably support him. Jaclyn thought Jon would've told her to vote Natalie out of the game.
At Tribal Council that night, Jaclyn expressed how she didn't necessarily owe loyalty to Natalie, especially because Natalie had been behind Jon's elimination.
Jeff asked Natalie why it would be smart to get rid of Keith, and she said everyone loved Keith and everyone loves a fireman. In turn, Keith said Natalie had a lot of jury votes because she played the game very well and was a huge threat. Natalie explained she had a great chance to win the game and was very happy with the way she played.
Jeff then revealed the votes. Everyone voted for Keith and Keith had voted for Missy.
"So, all three of them voted for me. It wasn't a blindside. It was three women. I can barely handle one woman at the house much less three of them here. No hard feelings, I love them all!" Keith said following his ouster.
On Day 39, Natalie, Jaclyn and Missy enjoyed a feast. Seven men were on the jury but Missy wasn't intimidated by that because she had been married and divorced three times. Natalie learned a lot about herself by going through the journey basically alone without Nadiya Anderson, her twin sister and other half. Meanwhile, Jaclyn said she couldn't give Jon the family they wanted without the money. However, she wanted the title of "Sole Survivor" even more to inspire women just like her who cannot have children.
Three women made it to the very end in a season that started out with 10 men and only eight women.
That night, at Tribal Council, the power shifted to the jury. Each of the Final 3 castaways got to make an opening statement and then the jury was allowed to ask questions.
Missy went first. She insisted she was loyal from beginning to end, and if someone didn't trust her, they needed to go. Missy said her biggest move and hardest decision in the game was voting Jon out. She also broke her foot and finished challenges and the rest of the game in pain. Missy claimed she played the game "consistently with integrity, dignity and mainly loyalty."
Jaclyn spoke next. Jaclyn said she began the game on a tribe that had her on the chopping block since Day 1. After the tribe swap, she and Jon served as a swing vote for most of the game, making tough decisions along the way. Jaclyn took full credit for switching from the Reed and Josh Canfield alliance to the Missy and Baylor one instead. If it wasn't for that decision, Jaclyn noted neither of her Final 3 competitors would be sitting next to her. Jaclyn also shared her story of how she was born with only half her reproductive organs.
Natalie was up next. She argued she had outwitted, outplayed and outlasted the other two ladies. She said she had made smart, risky and scary moves by herself, represented well in challenges, went to Exile Island twice, and always pulled her weight around camp. Natalie said if her opponents made the right decision, she would've gone home instead of Keith, and she was therefore very thankful for her position in the Final 3.
The jury -- Josh, Reed, Jeremy Collins, Alec Christy, Baylor, Wes Nale, Jon, and Keith -- then got to address the Final 3, looking for information to help them make their million-dollar decision.
Jaclyn told Jon and Josh a big move she had made in the game solely be herself was getting Josh out and flipping alliances.
Keith put down Natalie for lying so much, saying he went through most of the game without lying or even making alliances to be loyal to.
Alec asked Natalie what her biggest move in the game was, and she said it was getting him out. She targeted Alec instead of Keith so that Keith could help her get Jon out. After she succeeded, Natalie took out Baylor to break up all the season's couples of loved ones.
Josh also asked Jaclyn if she was in the Final 3 on her own merit or as a result from choices stronger players in the game made. Jaclyn argued she strategized constantly and overanalyzed the pros and cons of everything with and without Jon.
Jeremy asked the jury to give Natalie the credit she deserved, and then Reed went into a lengthy speech about how Missy was the "Wicked Stepmother all season" in that she felt entitled, spoiled her children, performed worse than anyone in challenges yet received so many gimmies, and treated the jury members rudely.
The voting then commenced.
During the live reunion show, Jeff discovered that had Keith made it to the Final 3 with Jaclyn and Missy, he would've won with four votes.