25 Greatest Survivor players of all time!


Well it’s all been building up to this! The 25 greatest Survivor contestants as voted by not only the Survivor Oz team as well as the Survivor guests on our show and of course you, the listeners! And as well as the people you would expect, there are a few that may surprise you!

25. Tina Wesson (Australian Outback & All-Stars) – 3 Votes


The first ever female winner in the history of Survivor, and one of 13 winners to make the top 25, Tina just scrapes in on only 3 votes. Coming in at only 17th on the greatest winner’s poll, she obviously has enough fans out there to rank her amongst the 25 greatest players the show has ever seen. Let’s be honest: Tina had nobody really dislike her at all during her season in the Australian Outback, and only went home in All-Stars first because she had won before. Had she perhaps been on Heroes vs Villains instead of All-Stars, then who knows how far she could’ve gotten. Her alliance with Colby has to go down as one of the strongest in the history of the show, and considering she made the top 25 over her final 2 partner in season 2 says a lot about the level of respect she has in the game.


24. Stephenie LaGrossa (Palau, Guatemala & Heroes vs Villains) – 3 Votes


Stephenie once again cracks the top 25 and is one of only a few who has appeared on 3 polls that she could possibly appear on during our results reveal. Whether or not she has fans now is irrelevant, what is relevant is the fact in the three games she has played, she has generally always made somewhat of an impact. Be it lasting longer than anyone else from her dreaded Ulong tribe in Palau, finishing runner-up and vastly changing the opinions of most people in Guatemala to dislocating her shoulder and fighting hard to stay in the game despite being pushed out very early on in Heroes vs Villains. One of the toughest female competitors in the game’s history.


23. Rudy Boesch (Borneo & All-Stars) – 3 Votes


One of three people on this list who couldn’t even crack the top 25 greatest players never to have won, yet somehow end up on the list of greatest ever players, Rudy Boesch will always be remembered as the oldest player ever to have played the game and it’s a record that we are sure will never be topped. And he didn’t just play once, he played twice! Making him even older the second time around. An early target in Borneo, he survived again and again after his bond (not a gay one, remember) with Richard solidified and being part of the first ever alliance in Survivor history helped him get all the way to third. And he was only moments away from potentially making it to the final tribal council and walking away a millionaire. His time on All-Stars obviously wasn’t as successful, but he’ll go down as one of the most memorable contestants in the history of the game.


22. Mike Skupin (Australian Outback) – 3 Votes


Another person not to make our top 25 greatest non-winners list yet the top 25 greatest players of all time, Mike Skupin goes down in Survivor folklore as the first person ever to be evacuated from the game due to injury after his horrific incident falling in the fire in Australia. Before that, he was in a pretty handy position on his Kucha tribe. They held a slight advantage over Ogakor and despite him rubbing a few people the wrong way, had tight alliances that no doubt would’ve seen him go far and potentially rob the viewers of an even more epic ending to the one we saw. Mike has always been on the radar of CBS for a return, and despite numerous failed attempts to get him back on for a 2nd chance, the planets have finally aligned and we’re about to see him come back for the 25th season in the Philippines. How will Mike go in a game that has adapted so much over 11 years? We’re about to find out.


21. Jerri Manthey (Australian Outback, All-Stars & Heroes vs Villains) – 3 Votes


Another contestant who has made all 3 polls she had the potential to make, Jerri Manthey just missed out on the top 20 greatest players of all time. Considered a ‘bitch’ the first time around, she came back for a second go and didn’t really have a great time either and we potentially saw the end of Jerri and her Survivor career. But a third time around in Heroes vs Villains was a revelation for Jerri, as she became a crucial vote in pretty  much every tribal council and came so agonisingly close to an appearance at the final tribal council by going out in 4th place. Outside the game she has become one of the most recognisable faces from the game, and holds a deserving spot on the all time greatest list!


20. Elisabeth Filarski/Hasselbeck (Australian Outback) – 3 Votes


Well 6 people into our poll, and 4 of them made up from the second season in the Australian Outback. Elisbabeth cracks the top 20 based on a large following from her fellow Survivor contestants. And let’s not overlook her game either. Finishing 4th on the longest season in the history of the show, any other season would’ve seen her make the final tribal council based on days spent in the game. She was the last remaining Kucha member and not a single person had anything against her, which would’ve seen her walk away with $1 million had she faced the jury. Post Survivor though there is no doubting she is the most successful contestant from the history of the show, with her co-hosting role on The View shooting her into our lounge rooms on a daily basis. And she isn’t that bad to look at either!


19. Earl Cole (Fiji) – 4 Votes


We labelled him as an ‘underrated winner’ on our winners rankings, but obviously enough people think highly of him to put him in the top 20 greatest players of all time. A man who knew what he wanted from the start, Earl was always destined to make it to the end, and having a certain deal happen between Yau-Man and Dreamz helped him on his quest to become the first winner to get every vote from the jury. A fact that, let’s be honest, is often overlooked when these rankings come about. The first African American male winner too, Earl may be overlooked as a winner sometimes but certainly deserves a spot amongst the all time greats!


18. Benjamin ‘Coach’ Wade (Tocantins, Heroes vs Villains & South Pacific) – 4 Votes


Wow, Coach makes 18th ahead of 2 winners. That’s sure to cause some debate! We’ve read the reactions so far to him making the 25 greatest non-winners and even making the sexiest male list (we didn’t vote him in there guys) but how about the 18th greatest player in the history of the show? Well you know what we have had to say about him in the past, and a lot of his fellow Survivor alumni helped get him on this list so the respect definitely is there. And had things been a little different, then maybe he would’ve walked away a millionaire from his time in the South Pacific. Whatever it is, he cracks the top 20.


17. Chris Daugherty (Vanuatu) – 4 Votes


8th in our winners list, Chris can only manage 17th on the greatest players of all time list. Still, it is a top 20 result and fairly respectable given he is often very underrated for his win. There is no denying that Chris didn’t exactly play ‘clean’ during his time in Vanuatu, but there is also no denying that his game was something of brilliance and survival. A post merge causality it seemed, Chris worked every angle he could to walk away as a millionaire. Still a shock he has never received even a phone call asking if he wants to play again, we are not the only ones who hope to see him on our screens again in a future season of Survivor.


16. Amanda Kimmel (China, Micronesia & Heroes vs Villains) – 6 Votes


Another ‘three peat’ member of our results, Amanda just missed out on a top 15 place by one vote. One of the longest serving players in terms of days played, Amanda is often panned for her final tribal council performances and other strategic moves. But according to at least 6 of you, she is deserving of a spot on the greatest Survivor of all time list. Remember her beauty also speaks volume for her too, and who knows, had she been able to see her performance on China she might’ve put in a better effort in Micronesia. We say give her more popcorn and hidden idol clues to fight over with Danielle though for entertainment value!


15. Rupert Boneham (Pearl Islands, All-Stars & Heroes vs Villains) – 7 Votes

Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains

Is it that roar that gets him on this list? Or the bear? Or the tie die shirts? No matter what it is, Rupert does enough to crack the top 15 greatest players of all time. Sure, this may not sit well with some of you, but 7 people like him enough to put him on this list. And had we had this poll 8 years ago then he’d probably rank even higher than 15th on the poll, as at his peak he was pretty much the most popular contestant this game has ever seen. Now he is trying to be popular enough to be elected in Indianapolis as Governor, and if he doesn’t succeed, we may once again get to see him return for a 4th shot at glory.


14. Ethan Zohn (Africa & All-Stars) – 7 Votes


12th greatest winner according to our winner’s poll, Ethan makes the top 14 on the all time greatest list. Another ‘three peat’ contestant in our results, Ethan is a two time player who we don’t doubt has the opportunity to make it far should he ever return for a third shot. His win in Africa has always remained popular, and his never give up attitude on All-Stars saw him being the longest lasting winner when his fellow winners kept falling around him. Outside the game he is incredible, beating cancer and doing more for charity than most other contestants in the history of the show. Highly respected amongst his fellow Survivor contestants and one of the nicest guys you will ever come across.


13. Rob Cesternino (Amazon & All-Stars) – 10 Votes


Rob dominated the greatest non-winners poll but can’t manage to crack the top 10 greatest players of all time list. Still, he beat 4 winners and fell just behind 3 others, so it’s not the worst result for the hugely popular Amazon contestant. His game in Amazon is still talked about to this day, and had he been put on a tribe in All-Stars that either had a winner on it or people who weren’t sneaking off into the bushes to ‘form an alliance’, he might’ve gone a whole lot further than he did. The best thing though for Cesternino fans is that they can hear him whenever they want too from his insanely popular podcast show. We don’t doubt he’ll be pushing the top 10 next year as the backlash from his fanboys about this result hangs around for 12 months!


12. Tom Westman (Palau & Heroes vs Villains) – 11 Votes

Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains

Tom was 10th on the greatest winner’s poll and 12th here, so a fairly rounded result. He is highly respected amongst Survivor contestants and never looked likely to play for a 2nd time until the opportunity came for him in Heroes vs Villains. It’s hard to ever hear bad words against the New York fireman who now sells insurance, but for 11 of you he did enough to make our greatest players list. We just wonder if this result will mean he’ll now go out and celebrate by killing some sharks.


11. Todd Herzog (China) – 11 Votes


Well this could potentially be the biggest shock of this list. Todd not making the top 10? Just wow. 5th in the greatest winner poll, he falls behind 3 winners who were ranked below him in that list, as well as 3 people who haven’t even won! What is it about Todd that perhaps sees him be overlooked as an all-time great? Is it the fact he has only played once? Or the fact that some others from his season get more attention than he ever did? We recommend you go back and watch China and see his game for what it was, and his final tribal council alone should be enough for him to land a top 10 placing. Certainly a big shock on this poll.


10. Yul Kwon (Cook Islands) – 12 Votes


9th on the winners list, 10th on the greatest players list sees the popular Mr.Kwon stay around about the same spot as you may expect. Whether or not he is perceived as ‘boring’ by some should not take away from his victory, and another one of these players that perhaps had we seen play more than once could be higher. The biggest selling point for Yul has to be the fact he beat Ozzy in a final tribal council, and given the respect that Ozzy gets despite playing and failing three times, has to be held up in high regard. Can Yul finish higher in 2013? Watch this space.


9. Cirie Fields (Panama, Micronesia & Heroes vs Villains) – 18 Votes


One of three non-winners to crack the top 10 in the greatest player’s poll, Cirie beat 7 winners to finish in 9th place. A very decent effort and it shows the amount of respect for a player who has never even faced the final jury in any of her three times she has played. In fact, she is one of only 6 players in the top 25 to hold that ‘honour’ and the highest ranked of all of them. Surely a millionaire had Micronesia turned out the way she was expecting, Cirie has not only respect amongst our listeners but also amongst her fellow Survivor contestants as well. She even managed to beat the only person who beat her in the greatest non-winners poll in Rob C too. Pretty amazing effort all round.


8. Brian Heidik (Thailand) – 32 Votes


Once again Brian can’t come close enough to the top 5 to even have a sniff of finishing in there, but considering he won what is considered one of the worst seasons of all time, and that season happened nearly a decade ago, it is a decent effort from everybody’s favourite porn star cum used car dealer. Puppies and arrows aside, Brian still played nearly a flawless game and is one of the most intriguing people to have played the game. Sounds impossible that we’ll ever see him play again doesn’t it? Well stranger things have happened, and hopefully one day we’ll see him work his brilliant magic on our screens once again.


7. Russell Hantz (Samoa, Heroes vs Villains & Redemption Island) – 46 Votes

Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains

If we were to separate the winners from non-winners on this poll, then Russell would improve from finishing third on our greatest non-winners list to second on this list. In fact he beat the two people who beat him on that poll in Cirie and Rob C on this list as well, so that’s an improvement for Russell. However, it isn’t enough to see him crack the top 5, although he does only miss out on it by 5 votes. Loved and hated, Russell will always be talked about in the Survivor world no matter what, and even amongst his fellow Survivor contestants he gets just as much love and hate as he does from the fans. The negative comments said against him on our non-winners list were pretty much the biggest talking point when it came to that result, and we’re sure that they’ll come again (given also he is ranked higher than Rob C and Yul), but a three time player who has sat in the final tribal council twice has the statisticians nodding their head when it comes to this placement.


6. Richard Hatch (Borneo & All-Stars) – 49 Votes


Well if Todd was a surprise in 11th, how about Richard Hatch in 6th?! Not even a top 5 placing for Mr.Hatch, we are now terrified at even pressing the publish button on this article given Richard will more than likely hunt us down quicker than he would’ve for being placed 2nd on the winners list. The respect level amongst his Survivor contestants was massive, and that helped propel him up the list as he rightfully should be. But given he missed out on the top 5 by only 2 votes will not impress some of you. Maybe next year we’ll see the great Richard Hatch take out a spot there that he rightfully deserves. Just don’t tell him ok? Well, if you do, maybe mention he at least beat Russell.


5. Oscar ‘Ozzy’ Lusth (Cook Islands, Micronesia & South Pacific) – 51 Votes


Ozzy could only manage 4th on the greatest non-winners list and finishes 5th on the greatest of all time list, but the fact he can take out of it is that he is the highest places non-winner, an incredible feat. He beats 9 other winners to take a top 5 spot, including the great Richard Hatch and the guy who beat him in the Cook Islands, Yul. Something that will look good on his CV we are sure, the respect Ozzy gets amongst his fellow contestants is massive, and he also gets a bit of it from his fans as well. He has to be happy with a ‘three peat’ of list placing’s as well, and we’ll await to see what hairstyle he has to celebrate this result when he finds out!


4. Kim Spradlin (One World) – 54 Votes


She may have been listed as the greatest winner of all time in our poll yesterday, but Kim can only manage 4th in the greatest players of all time list behind 3 people she beat in the poll we just mentioned. Still, from a player we hadn’t heard of a year ago it’s an amazing feat to finish 4th amongst 371 players of the game and one that we know Kim will be immensely proud of. Some people claim her ‘edit’ helped propel her into a high spot on these lists, but surely that can be the case with every single contestant right? We only ever get to see an ‘edit’ of a winner, we never get to see the full story. If that’s the case maybe people like Richard Hatch, Boston Rob and even Parvati are only as good as their ‘edit’ paints them to be? It’s a ridiculous excuse to label on a person’s win, and given each of her fellow castaways on the season she played on will defend her win as one of the best, also speaks volumes for he victory. A deserving top 5 spot.


3. Parvati Shallow (Cook Islands, Micronesia & Heroes vs Villains) – 64 Votes


The hottest ever female completes the three peat for herself too and also completes a top 4 finish on every poll she has featured on during the last 6 days! So close to being a two-time winner, Parvati is so loved amongst Survivor fans that maybe her missing out on a top 2 is the biggest surprise here. But a top 3 to go along with her 1st on the sexiest women and 4th on the greatest winners is an amazing achievement, and gives her the highest average out of all our poll results. Her fellow Survivor contestants love her (some maybe a little bit too much) as do you, and with 64 votes she finishes 10 votes clear of 4th. But having said that, she is over 30 behind second place more than double off first place. That shouldn’t take away though from a great result for Parvati!


2. Rob Mariano (Marquesas, All-Stars, Heroes vs Villains & Redemption Island) – 97 Votes


The only 4 time player in the history of the show, Boston Rob is a player that everyone has an opinion on. Easily one of the all-time greats, Boston Rob’s game will see him either make it to the end or go out before the jury, never anywhere in between. Perhaps lucky to be even considered for All-Stars, Rob did enough a second time around to be considered a great player, and on his third time around looked likely to be heading in the same direction before being blindsided by Russell and his gang. Just like All-Stars, he was potentially lucky to be asked back for a 4th time, but he soon walked away a winner finally and joined his wife as a millionaire. One win out of 4 only gives him a 25% strike rate however, but for 97 votes, Rob takes a silver medal when it comes to the greatest players of all time.


1. Sandra Diaz-Twine (Pearl Islands & Heroes vs Villains) – 137 Votes


There was outrage that ‘the queen’ didn’t take out the ultimate prize on our winners list but we are here to say that all that has been put to rest, as Sandra takes out the most coveted prize of all: the greatest player in the history of Survivor! 137 votes spread across from our listeners to our Survivor guests, Sandra taking out this title was never in doubt. Look at the statistics folks! 2 times, 2 wins. You can’t even argue that puts her as the greatest because statistics don’t lie! One of the best things too about Sandra is that she isn’t afraid to come back for a third time and go for 3 from 3, which just goes to show the level of confidence she has in the Survivor world. Even if she was to return and go home first, her average would still be better than every winner who has played more than once, and who is to say she wouldn’t go far again? We applaud Sandra for taking out this award, and we’re sure that she is dancing around and wearing her crown in honour of it!


Well that’s it! A big thank you to every single one of the 551 of you who voted in the poll and helped contribute to the results! Do you agree with the final results? Do you think there are some that are just ridiculous? Let us know! Email us, comment to this post or send a carrier pigeon our way! The poll will return in 12 months time to see how much will change with the addition of 2 new seasons!

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38 Comments on 25 Greatest Survivor players of all time!

  1. Congratulations Queen Kim! Thanks for doing this Poll Survivor Oz and for the write-ups. Keep up the great work!

    • verbumreale // July 24, 2013 at 11:32 pm // Reply

      “Queen Kim” does not belong on this list. She certainly does not belong in the top 5. She played against some of the stupidest and most mindless players of all time. The fact that she is in the top 5 and JT (who literally played a perfect game) is not even on the list just shows that this list is nothing more than a popularity contest. That would also explain Rupert being on the list. Put “Queen Kim” in a Heroes v Villains, All-stars or even Fans vs Favorites setting and she probably wouldn’t even make it to the jury.

    • kim sux

    • James Diaz // May 9, 2014 at 2:31 am // Reply

      Worst, most inaccurate player ranking ever! Whoever created this wasted some good time of their life!

      • You best vote in this years poll James to ensure your picks make the list and so it can fit in with what you are after 🙂

  2. Cant argue with the top 3. Biggest surprise I that neither Colby nor Yau Man made the list at all!

  3. Guess I need a definition of greatest. Looks often here like a popularity contest. Ozzy is the greatest player in challenges by a huge margin and deserves his popularity. But his strategy? He shows up, feels that he is entitled to win and have things go his way, then gets mad when it doesn’t. Rupert? Perhaps the most popular player ever. Everyone likes him, even me. Strategy? Form an alliance and follow it to the end. No deviations. Rob Mariano? I love this guy for a variety of reasons. Number one being he knows he should be voted out first and understands its a game. But did anyone else get the feeling that the Producers would just keep bringing him back against rookies until he finally won? Don’t get me wrong, he is a good player, and very good at challenges, but top 5? So hard to argue Sandra being number one here, but I think Parvati is the best player. Luck comes into every season, and she couldn’t tell a jury full of hero’s how she tried to save them like Sandra could. My definition of best is if a game were started and Parvati was involved, she would be odds on favorite to win. Kim may join the elite if she plays again, but have to say perhaps the best played season for a newcomer ever. But nowadays, you really have to prove it twice. Once is not enough. And what about Cirie? Never made the finals? How is that possible. A great player.
    As for Hantz, there are two parts to this game. The strategy to get to the end, and then winning. He bats 1000 at getting there, but his social game is zero. Average 500. Logic here is even if you can get to the end everytime, but never get a vote, you are not good player, but a poor one.
    Loved the polls, don’t know if anyone will agree with anything I’ve said, and sure everyone has their own opinion. Looking forward to hearing what others say.

    • Kevin Taneyhill // May 30, 2014 at 4:29 pm // Reply

      Ur a fool Tony played the exact same game and won. Hantz is maybe the best player ever he got screwed by Erik’s jury speech in Samoa and he was playing with some dumbasses. Plus he did get a few votes in Samoa. The bitter Hero’s and Villains jury gave Sandra the money because they all hated Russell because he played them. ..well that’s survivor.

  4. Brenda Adkins // September 21, 2012 at 1:19 am // Reply

    Some I agree with and some I do not
    Billy Garcia, Big Tom, Lex should have been on that list.

  5. Sandra Definately not even in the top ten survivors. She gets dragged to the end every time. That’s suppose to be rewarded? Russell Hantz is # 1. But the only other person you could argue that is argueable against Russell is Paravati. Because she’s never fallen to the wrath of Russell. Russell’s never fallen to the wrath of Paravati. Had Paravati voted out Russell in Heores Vs Villians. I think it’d be no question that Paravati would be # 1 by a long shot of all time. But she didn’t.

    1.Russell Hantz
    2.Rob Mariano
    3.Parvati Shallow

    • I definitely agree, sandra is not a survivor she wins by the virtue of others mucking up their end game and she being there to pick up the crockery, i hate sandra. your top 3 is good but i think hantz is probably bellow russel in that rob had 99% of what russel has strategically plus a physical game.

    • People who overestimate Russell and underestimate Sandra.
      These people completely don’t understand what is survivor, like Russell didn’t understand what is survivor.
      and Sandra knows how to play survivor is million times more than you and Russell do.

    • Sandra won not only once but TWICE, she’s obviously doing something right, if you watch pearl islands you can tell she had a plan the whole time, Russel Hantz is a shity player he made it to the final 2 twice and did win…

  6. Wow this list is funky. I agree that this is a list of most popular and not best ever. Ozzy for example has played a terrible game every single time but won challenges to stay in the game, so you must rank Yual above Ozzy. I do not like putting Sandra #1, but its hard to argue with 2 wins, I would still rankk her lower though. Also Rob looses points for taking 4 times to win, and Kim looses points for completing against some of the worst players ever. Overall, in no particular order it is probably Russell, Hatch, Boston Rob, Parvati (also overrated) and Sandra are in the top 5

  7. I love it when people say Russell is the best survivor contestant. How can that be? Survivor at its core is a social game. It doesn’t matter if you get to the end, but if no one votes for you, then you’ve still lost. Russell has a terrible strategy for winning. It gets him to the end, but it alienates all his past allies who he has to betray and doesn’t appeal to jurors. It’s easy for us to say who the best player is and should have won when watching, but if we were in the game we’d most likely vote partly on emotions, our level of respect for a finalist and, if we were able to isolate our emotions at being betrayed, for who played the best game. Humans are emotional. And that’s what makes survivor such an incredible show. It really shows us the basis of human nature.
    Sandra deserves her two wins because she gave the majority of the jury what they wanted, she didn’t betray them, she gave the projection of being loyal even though she employed her anyone but me strategy. She plays an extremely social game, with a flexible strategy and a physical game that actually benefits her social and strategical game because it downplays her as a threat. Anyone who says that Russell deserved to win either season needs to disown themselves as a survivor fan because they obviously don’t understand how the game actually works. Russell has no social abilities and so he will never win. The man does not understand how the game works!

    • You clearly don’t know what you are talking about. Who did Russell disrespect in his first season. Zapatera was up 8-4 at the merge and decided to blindside Eric. Then Russell almost by himself took foa foa to the end. the jury was very bitter. Why would Laura and Dave ball vote for Natalie, because they were mad. who did he alienate.the entire foa foa voted as one. On tv they never showed Russell disrespecting anyone. In his second season he alienated Rupert and Danielle and I can see how he would not have gotten to four votes based off people being bitter but come on. You just sound like a person who from the first episode decided you were not going to be a Russell fan

    • Yep you are completely right. Russell is no more than Sherri is.

    • Kevin Taneyhill // May 30, 2014 at 4:41 pm // Reply

      Russell by himself took a tribe who had 4 people against a tribe with 8 to the end and you people are dumb if you think Russell didn’t deserve the money or not know how to play. of his main alliances the only person he ever betrayed was Danielle. Just because u hate him doesn’t mean he didn’t deserve to win.

  8. SurvivorFreak // January 23, 2013 at 11:43 am // Reply

    You many not think that he deserves final 25, but I think Yau-Man should be up there

  9. Where is Lex and Colby, are u kidding me ?

  10. I like Russell Hantz!
    He made me enjoyed the show!!
    Haha, villian Russell~

  11. Will I ever see Russell Hantz back to Survivor ?

  12. Boston Rob to me is the greatest overall player of all time. There’s no weakness in his game. All the other contestants are great, but they have holes in their game. Rob dominates Strategically, Physically, Socially, he finds hidden immunity idols excellent leadership. He’s the complete package.

    • is that why he got pwned by russell and didnt make jury in heroes vs villains, and didnt make jury in marquesas, dem hes a really good player

  13. Wyatt Luebber // May 29, 2013 at 7:24 am // Reply

    Survivor Rankings
    Top 50 Players (Individuals in Bold won their Season)

    50. Michael Skupin
    49. Natalie White – Samoa She used a strategy used by several others lately, which is align with someone more strategic than you, and then win the “bitter jury” vote in the end. It worked for those like J.T. and Amber, but Natalie will go down in history not as a great winner, but for being the person who stole the glory from Russell Hantz, who deserved to win Samoa maybe more than any other runner-up ever has.
    48. Colby Donaldson
    47 Matt Alrod
    46. Ian Rosenberger
    45. Tina Wesson – Australia Tina showed us in Season 2 that good people (or those with an un-Hatch-like approach to the game) could win Survivor. But she was more surprised than anyone when Colby chose to take her to the Final 2 instead of Keith. To most, Tina’s win seems to be remembered more for Colby’s bad decision than for Tina’s strength in the game.
    44. Edgardo Rivera
    43. Sash Lenahan
    42. Amber Brkich – All-Stars Amber’s masterstroke involved flirting and eventually falling in love with Boston Rob Mariano. She used what still seems to be one of the surest bets to win Survivor: align yourself with a high-profile strategic player, let him make the bold moves, and then collect a million dollars at the end when the jury casts a vote AGAINST him, not necessarily for you. Rob was the real winner here, as he married Amber (a priceless reward in and of itself), and most assuredly shared in the money.
    41. Rafe Judkins
    40. Matty Whitmore
    39. Burton Roberts
    38. Brenda Lowe
    37. Stephanie Lagrossa
    36. Lex van den Berghe
    35. John Carroll
    34. Danni Boatwright – Guatemala Danni was vulnerable for much of her season, yet was that one person that nobody felt threatened by. She made strategic moves when needed, and ultimately found herself in the end. She too, was the benefactor of some luck, as all winners need in order to get to the end. But Danni gets props for being the rare Survivor finalist to actually choose someone to go up against that they actually end up beating.
    33. Bob Crowley – Gabon The most unlikely of Survivor winners, bow-tie wearin’ Bob Crowley’s best move was his creation of a fake hidden Immunity Idol, that was played by Randy who was promptly voted off. But how did this 57 year old high school teacher make the Final 3? By winning a tie-breaking fire challenge against the much younger Matty.
    32. Danielle DiLorenzo
    31. Sabrina Thompson
    30. Jenna Morasca – Amazon Jenna is underrated as a game-player, but was immensely influential, using her flirtation and charm to get her far in the game. She was the last female standing however, and when needed she won the last two immunity challenges. I personally think she gets props for being responsible for Rob Cesternino’s ousting, when she refused to strike a deal with him in the Final Tribal.
    29. Chris Daugherty – Vanuatu Chris is up the list because there has been no bigger underdog to win Survivor. As the last male member standing, and a tight female alliance, Chris somehow made moves, or knew when to shut up, with brilliance. He took advantage of the catty jury and was rewarded the million.
    28. Ethan Zohn – Africa Recent “Survivor Hall of Fame” inductee Ethan has quite possibly left the greatest legacy of anyone to ever play the game, courageously battling cancer, and starting non-profit organizations like Grassroots Soccer. But in Survivor, Ethan benefited from being a part of the decision-making alliance, and being the least noticeable. When Ethan lost the final challenge, Kim Johnson picked Ethan to go to the Final 2 with her, saying he played a better game than good ole’ Lex. Lex would have been remembered as a great Survivor winner based on his gameplay…Ethan, however, is not.
    27. Jud “Fabio” Birza – Nicaragua. Fabio is the youngest winner ever, and employed a “just be cool” strategy, a mix of playing dumb and going with the flow. He was also perhaps one of the more likeable winners ever, and this carried him far in the game. He didn’t make any real big moves and often seemed surprised at what was happening, but he always ensured someone else had the target on their back. Late in the game when he finally was the target, he was able to pull of several Immunity Challenges in a row to ensure him a place in the Final 3.
    26. Yau-man
    25. Johnathon Penner
    24. Aras Baskauskas – Panama Aras played a good game overall, but was also the benefactor of great gameplay from others within his alliance, namely Cirie and Danielle, whom along the way determined much of his fate. Still he is this high because of his athletic ability, and his focus on nurturing his alliance, as well as knowing when to cut ties.
    23. Brian Heidik – Thailand After Richard Hatch miraculously won the first Survivor, the next three winners were Tina, Ethan, and Vecepia, all well-liked, stand-up players. At the time, it was thought that no one like Hatch could ever win again, now that people know the game and what to look out for. And then there was Brian Heidik. He manipulated, lied, and outplayed everyone. Like Richard, he seemed to be a step ahead of the competition and had it all figured out. Unlike Richard, he seemed to drift through the season without even caring, like it was easy. Maybe it was for Brian. He is so despised that he has never been asked to play again, which I for one thinks is a shame. His game is the blueprint that all “schemers” hope to achieve.
    22. Richard Hatch – Borneo The original winner, and arguably (?) the best…He tops nearly every “Survivor LIst” as being the original snake, the original strategist, the father of the “alliance” that has become a staple of every reality competition show, even outside of Survivor. Why is he ranked #3 then? Keep reading…
    21 Andrea Boehlke
    20 Stephen Fishbach
    19 Rob Cestrino
    18. Ozzy Lusth
    17. Sophie Clarke – South Pacific. Sophie seemed to receive less air-time than many other winners over the course of the season (she was playing with TV hogs Coach, Cochran, and Ozzy), and this may have played into our understanding of how involved she really was. But Sophie was a winner who was the “lesser of the evils,” up against Coach and Albert. Many of them admitted they didn’t want any of the 3 to win. Many fans thought Coach was the deserving winner this season. Still, Sophie did beat Ozzy, eliminating him in the last critical Immunity Challenge after he had just won 9 straight challenges. She also managed to fly under the radar using Coach as a shield, and had the ability to control alliance-mate Albert, who constantly wanted to make “big moves.” Sophie may have placed herself in a good strategic position, but her edit left us feeling that she may have been an undeserving benefactor of a bitter jury. Further, I don’t think she broke any new ground in how she approached the game.
    16. Cirie Fields
    15. Terry Dietz
    14. Amanda Kimmel
    13. Earl Cole – Fiji Earl won with a unanimous vote, and never had a vote cast against him. But his season was a sleeper coupled with the fact that he really didn’t do much to arrive at his fate.
    12. Malcolm Freberg
    11. J.T. Thomas – Tocantins J.T. ranks just above Amber for his impressive physicality. But “Heroes vs. Villains” reveals what would have happened to J.T. if not aligned with a brainy partner, a la Stephen Fishbach, who carried J.T. strategically through Tocantins. He was a likable winner and had the charisma to get the final votes, but without Stephen, J.T. would have been gone much sooner.
    10. John Cochran – Cameroan AND South Pacific
    9. Russel Hantz
    8. Todd Herzog – China Todd deserves props as one of the best for being a strategic player, who made bold moves. But unlike Russell Hantz, Todd’s best move was actually owning up to his actions in the face of the jury. He was deceptive, knew the game, and orchestrated much, and yet used his moves to flatter the jury by complimenting others as being “stronger” or “better” than him, which is why he had to get rid of them…What do you know, it worked. Keep that in mind, future Survivor players…
    7. Tom Westman – Palau Tom dominated his season, and is perhaps the most well liked Survivor in history behind maybe Rupert. It was hard not to root for Tom, and his gameplay in Palau changed the game forever…here was a guy who yes, played strategic, but somehow did it with honor, and looked people in the eye. The game continues to evolve, but Tom reminded us that you don’t have to “lie, cheat, and steal” in order to “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast.”
    6. Parvati Shallow – Micronesia: Fans vs Favs On the flip-side of Vanuatu, Parvati, in this her second season, was masterful at keeping together her “girl-power” alliance. Her best move was the Ozzy blindside, one of the best in history. She was also up against Amanda in the end, which is a sure-fire way to win the votes.
    5. Denise Stapley – Philippines. Denise was a “survivor” in the truest sense of the word. She is the only Survivor winner to have gone to every single Tribal Council (13 of them!) during her season, yet she was never voted out. Her ability to listen and communicate with others made her a strong social competitor and she was also one of her season’s strongest physical female contestants. But as for “outwit,” Denise didn’t have to do too much…hers was more of a game of survival, as opposed to the game of Survivor.
    4. Boston Rob Mariano – Redemption Island I’ve described it as the “perfect game” and there is no better way to refer to Boston Rob’s performance this season. All winners require a degree of luck (can you imagine of Rob had started off on Zapatera instead of Ometepe?) but Rob re-defined what it meant to play a “social game.” Others described his control over his alliance as “cult-like” and indeed he brought a Final 6 with him to the end, all of which firmly believed that Rob was taking them to the end. Even that phrase – “taking them” – shows the control Rob had…nobody was taking Rob with, he was “taking them.” He kept control of the game by constantly checking in, and not allowing opportunities for his alliance to discuss things with one another. He made all the right moves, said all the right things. He simply put on the best strategic performance we’ve seen. What hasn’t he done that keeps him from being the best winner in history?
    3. Sandra Diaz-Twine – Pearl Islands AND Heroes vs Villains Won the game not once, but twice. It is hard to argue with the cold hard fact that Sandra has now won Survivor twice. It can’t be called a fluke, and it was done in two different seasons, with two different groups of people. Even Richard, even Rob, couldn’t win twice. Nobody has, which by default puts Sandra in a league of her own. Is her strategy of “anybody but me” the key to winning Survivor? Only partially, in my opinion. It basically comes down to knowing, and using, your strengths. Sandra is not a physical threat, so is not often targeted early. She has a rare quality (Hatch and Rob had it too) where she knew when to speak, and knows when not to. Information is power in Survivor, and her tribe mates were always kept on a “need to know” basis. She also possesses a strong ability to sniff people out, like she did with Russell very early on in Heroes vs. Villains. Until another player wins twice (will that ever happen?), it is hard to argue against calling Sandra the top Survivor to have ever played the game….and win, twice.
    2. Kimberly Spradlin – One World Kim was an ideal triple-threat – with a strong social, physical and strategic acumen – and cruised to victory like few have ever done in the show’s history. Like Yul, she found an Immunity Idol early on and never found a need to play it. Like Todd, she knew how to read the jury to tell them what they wanted to hear. Most impressive at all, she managed to win by taking two other respectable players with her to the end in Sabrina and Chelsea, and she still won. Along the way she won four individual challenges tying her all-time amongst female players with Jenna Morasca (Amazon) and Kelly Wigglesworth (Borneo). She made the incredibly complex game of Survivor look easy, and that folks, is not easy. As a first-time player, she played one of the best games a woman has ever played, although her under-stated style also resulted in a boring run of episodes down the stretch. Boring to an audience salivating for drama, but still about as near-perfect of a game that one can play.
    1. Yul Kwon – Cook Islands Yul Kwon was intelligent, calculating….and well liked by his tribe, a rare mix for a Survivor winner. He had an Immunity Idol, yet never had to play it. His own tribe called him “Ringleader”, yet he went to the end. He is the rare Survivor winner who was well-liked despite strategic moves, and was ultimately rewarded for his hard strategic gameplay.

    • your list is very detailed and also pretty accurate. I don’t agree with having a first time player as your top choice. I think you have to come back and dominate in order for any one time player to be considered in the top 5.

    • In what universe is Kim Spradlin a better player than Parvati?? Spradlin doesn’t even belong on this list. You say she made it look easy. Thats because it was easy. She played with and against some of the stupidest Survvior players ever. Over the course of two seasons Parvati played against some of the best players ever like Ozzy, Amanda, Russell, Boston Rob and many others and she won one and came close to winning another (and frankly should have beat Sandra in HVV). Kim does not even belong in the same conversation as Parvati.

  14. KIm Spradlin top 5??? You gotta be kidding me. She doesn’t even belong on the list. She played with and against some of the dumbest players ever. If Kim ever played against Parvati, her only hope would be to latch onto Parvati’s alliance. She doesn’t even belong in the same coversation, let alone in the top 5 with Parvati. AndTHere is no way Rupert should be ranked higher than Amanda. And where is JT?? Tina Wesson but no JT?? What about Cochran??

    • I don’t think it’s fair that Boston Rob and Kim get the flack that they do for winning Redemption Island and One World. At the end of the day, you can only beat who you are put up against. While both have played with what many consider “stupid” casts, is it possible that Rob and Kim made them look stupid with the strategic choices they made?
      This doesn’t put Kim in my top 5, though. I think she’ll have to play again.

      Top 3
      1. Sandra – I don’t care what anyone says: two wins is two wins, and she did this by rarely being a target.
      2. Parvati – a brilliant mind with the physical prowess to back it up, she might have won Heroes vs. Villains if not for being linked to Hantz.
      3. Boston Rob – a triple-threat in every sense, he falls to #3 for taking four chances to win, even if attempt #4 was one of the most brilliant performances ever.

    • I can understand what you mean…
      I think kim is a good player.
      but yep….One world other players were really terrible.so she has never competed with good players.

  15. Survivorfan#1 // December 30, 2013 at 5:54 am // Reply

    The list in my opinion should have gone like this for the top three

    1. Rob Mariano
    2. Russell Hantz
    3. Yul Kwon

    Ill start with Yul Kwon. He played a brilliant social and physical game. He was loyal to his alliances, and they were loyal back. Russell Hantz is an evil mastermind. He was not always the best in physical challenges, but he played a fantastic social game. Out of three times playing, he was in the final three twice. And finally Rob Mariano. He was near impossible to beat in anything puzzle based. He was also a great physical player. He was always the leader of his alliances and he was always in control of them. Along with these factors, he was also a very likeable person, very charming, and fun to watch. This is why i think he is the best player to ever play the game of Survivor.
    Why Sandra Diaz-Twine is even on the list is beyond me. She rode on coat tails and didn’t make a difference in physical challenges. She was also very whiney and her bark was worse than her bite.

  16. Where the heck is Lex on this list?

  17. coach!! tyson this is the worst list i have ever seen. how is russel hantz no. 7. u r a dimwitt… call me when u actually watch survivor. TEAM VILLIANS

  18. Sandra deserves to be 1st because no matter how you look at it she won twice with her strategy, even if that strategy means hiding from the radar. If she won twice with that plan doesn’t that mean that is the most effective strategy in the game. She is also very good with handling the jury so she deserves it more than russel or parvati.

  19. So Natalie White plays for a second time and wins again.

    Therefore Natalie White and Sandra would be the best two Survivor players ever. Now if anyone actually thought that they would be insane. Sandra’s high rating defies belief, Voted for by idiots who actually believe that winning overrides all other criteria.

  20. Kim is 100% better than sandra and so is Boston Rob, Russell and Parvati. Although i do believe they should be named the Big Four 1.Rob2.Parvati3.Russell4.Sandra
    My other favorites who should be in another season are: Richard hatch, Tyson, Cirie, Yul, Tony, Brad, Laura, Malcom, Abi Maria, RC, Kim, Troyzan, Cochran, ChaosCass, plus the big four

  21. kim got handed the title of sole survivor. No one even put of a fight she doesnt deserve this list. half of these people dont deserve this list and the people that do deserve it arent on here. this list is horrible.

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