Survivor is full of 'What could have been' moments, and unfortunately none of these are bigger than those of contestants who make blunders during what is the most important challenge in the season - the Final Immunity Challenge. If these contestants could have managed to pull out a win, they could have secured a seat at the Final Tribal Council, and potentially enough votes to secure title of Sole Survivor. This week our esteemed East Coast Ozelt, Bridget Velturo, bring a tragic little list about people that could have won the game, but choked at the Final Immunity Challenge. Read on for more!
10. Lex van der Berghe – Africa
This is the first time that the result of the final immunity challenge really determined the winner of the game. Think about it, in Borneo, the final immunity came down to Rudy vs Kelly. Even if Rudy had managed to pull off the victory, he realistically would have brought Hatch and the result would be the same (unless the jury based their votes purely off of U.S. Military Merit or age. And this was the first season, so actually that was a possibility. Throwing shade your way, Dr. Sean. Totally something you would have pulled). And does anyone even remember Keith Famie? Half of you said no and the half who said yes probably thought I was referring to Keith Nale from SJDS. Well Keith Famie had about as much game as a 12-year-old boy on social media so even if he had won the final immunity in Australia, he most likely would have taken my homegirl Tina and she would have won anyway.
So the Lex-Kim showdown at the end of the final immunity challenge in Survivor Africa really was the first time the winner of the final immunity determined the winner of the show, and thus it clinched the #10 spot. Also it was just the perfect end to Lex’s cocky story-arc. His choke not only possibly cost him the million dollars, but it was also hilariously entertaining. He was a fit guy with a DGAF-attitude and tattoos everywhere and he couldn’t last longer than a 56 year old elementary school teacher. Oh and he was being watch by basically an unprecedented amount of reality TV viewers. Epic. Definitely deserving of a spot on the list. (Don’t get me wrong, Ethan, a 27 yr-old professional athlete, choking against Kim is equally funny. But, in the end, it didn’t affect him becoming a millionaire.
9. Rafe Judkins – Guatemala
Ugh, Rafe! Writing this post still makes me sad and your immunity loss happened 10 years ago. However, I’m still upset about Marissa Cooper’s death and that also happened in 2005. But I digress. The worst part about Rafe’s immunity loss was the visual appearance of it: the struggling to hang on to the ropes was a really, not-too-subtle visual metaphor for the game. Actually, scratch that. The absolute worst part of Rafe’s immunity choke was the mental choke that came after his physical failure. He let his emotions get the better of him and released Danni from her final 2 pact (Which she totally would have honored) just because Steph shed a few tears.
8. Ian Rosenberger – Palau
Another mental choke! These are a unique brand of immunity challenge chokes, but Ian definitely didn’t drop out of the immunity challenge purely for physical reasons. And it’s real shame because a Tom-Ian final two was what I was looking forward to all season and instead we got a boring landslide. But I guess the whole season kind of operated under a “winning by a landslide” theme.
7. Johnny FairPlay – Pearl Islands
If I were ranking these chokes based on how funny they were, this would be at the top of the list, no DOUBT (followed by Lex’s #leDUH). The best ending to any story-arc since Roger’s in Survivor:Amazon, this was the perfect way to end the tale of Johnny Fairplay: losing a physical competition of leg strength to a 51 yr-old scoutmaster with Queen Sandra watching (and probably flipping him off off-screen). Fairplay’s face hadn’t looked that hilariously agonized and scrunched-up since he heard of his grandma’s “death”.
6. Kathy Vavrick-O’Brien – Marquesas
Kathy! You had it! You had a deal final 2 pact with Vecepia all you had to do it focus and beat out Neleh! AND NOT TINKER WITH YOUR JEWELRY!!!! That’s what makes this choke ultimately SO tragic and so deserving of the #6 spot. Kathy was one of my favorite players back in the day; her endurance and survivor spirit made her the most deserving to win the game amongst the final 5 in Marquesas. But, one lost moment of concentration and the million dollars slipped right through Kathy’s fingers.
5. Cirie Fields – Micronesia
This one cracks the top 5 mainly because of my EXTREME bias toward Cirie. Homegirl deserves a Survivor victory more than Shane deserves a second time around and that’s saying something. Another reason this incident cracks the top 5 chokes is that, ultimately, this final immunity challenge was probably specifically chosen to give Cirie the best odds to win. As a nurse, she spends hours of her day standing with her hands still and steady while hold tiny objects. This was hers to lose. And, sadly, she did, or else she had the game in the fudging* bag.
*Unbreakable Kimmi Schmidt anyone?
4. Rob Cesternino – Amazon
As much as I could have predicted that Rob would have lost the final immunity challenge (both Matthew and Jenna were way better physical competitors), it’s still tragic that his amazing gameplay was not ultimately rewarded with the million dollars. Also what makes this choke so worthy of the #4 spot is the fact that crazy Matthew acted surprisingly sane and threw the immunity challenge to Jenna, eliminating his biggest competition/ best friend, Mr. Cesternino. Looks like you taught your prodigy a little too much about Survivor strategy, Rob.
3. Malcolm Freberg – Philippines
The only reason this one cracks the top 3 is for the same reasons Cirie’s cracked the top 5. I love Malcolm and also this challenge was literally tailored to be Malcolm’s to win. As people get older, their hands shake more, and up against three middle-aged humans definitely gave mid-20s Malcolm an advantage. Oh, also, HE HAD AN ADVANTAGE. Straight up, a “you get to pick up the ball and start over it you drop it” super-sized advantage! And he was still out first. Literally this is the definition of a “choke”.
2. Ozzy Lusth – South Pacific
This one clinched the #2 spot because of the challenge history leading up to the final immunity. Ozzy had fought his way back into the game after 6 duels and going into this final immunity he had won 14 individual challenges over the course of his Survivor career. So the deck was definitely stacked in his favour. And he lost it all to a Russian Studies major whose most known for being the winner that the jury criticized for being a brat (harsh, but semi-true). Ozzy’s final immunity challenge choke was a sad end to a sad season (and a sad end to Oscar’s Survivor legacy).
1. Terry Dietz – Exile Island
Terry’s final immuity challenge choke has it all. It has the challenge history of Ozzy’s choke (he’s tied for most individual immunity wins in a season with 5). It also has the advantage aspect of Malcom’s choke (he got a cot to sleep on and a full the meal the day before in case you had forgotten) and the sad, visual struggle of Rafe’s. AND his choke resulted in an anti-climactic final 2 ala Ian’s. Yes, Terry’s Dietz’ loss encapsulates all the tragic elements of a final immunity challenge choke and that’s why it clinched the numero uno spot on the list!
Honorable Mentions: Tina Wesson (Survivor: Blood vs. Water), Keith Nale (Survivor: San Juan del Sur), Brett Clouser (Survivor: Samoa), Kass McQuillen (Survivor: Cagayan), Ashley Underwood (Survivor: Redemption Island), Eddie Fox (Survivor: Caramoan), Holly Hoffman (Survivor: Nicaragua), Matty Whitmore (Survivor: Gabon), Yau-Man Chan (Survivor: Fiji)
What do you think of the top 10? Do you agree? Disagree? Is it in the wrong order or are there non-winning finalists that didn’t make the top 10 that you feel should’ve? Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!
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