Top 10 Youngest ‘Survivor’ Winners Ever

Fabio Birza Maryanne Oketch and Parvati Shallow

Getty/CBS "Survivor" winners Jud "Fabio" Birza, Maryanne Oketch, and Parvati Shallow.

Wednesday night brought not only the second black female to win “Survivor” in the show’s history, but also one of the youngest ever (fifth youngest, to be exact) in 23-year-old Maryanne Oketch. In addition, it also would have brought the series’ oldest winner, had runner-up Mike Turner been able to pull out a victory in the end.

So, who are the other youngest winners in the show’s history? Well, although the minimum age to compete was lowered to 18 from 21 in 2008 (around the show’s 18th season), and although there have been several 18- to 20-year-old contestants who have competed, no one under 21 has been able to take home the million dollar prize as of yet. Perhaps that’s just a coincidence, or perhaps Maryanne was right during the finale when she spoke about younger contestants being targeted as strategic earlier than others.

In any case, here are the 10 youngest people to have ever won “Survivor,” as of season 42. (Note: the ages listed here are in reference to the day the jury votes were cast, not the day of the reunion, when the votes were revealed):

10. Adam Klein, ‘Millennials vs. Gen X’ – 25 Years, 4 Months

Adam Klein’s placement on this list is appropriate, given how he represented America’s millennials in the 2016 season. He was not even close to the youngest on his tribe, however; his tribemate, 18-year-old Will Wahl, was the youngest person to ever compete in the show (and still is to this day). Adam was a little under 25 years and 4 months when he made it to the Final Tribal Council alongside 24-year-old fellow “Millennial” Hannah Shapiro, and 33-year-old “Gen X-er” Ken McNickle; Adam won in a landslide unanimous vote.

9. Parvati Shallow, ‘Micronesia – Fans vs. Favorites’ – 25 Years, 2.5 Months

Parvati Shallow

Getty“Survivor: Micronesia” winner Parvati Shallow at the season’s reunion show in 2008.

Parvati Shallow, often considered one to be of the greatest to ever play the game, was 25 when she returned for her second – and only winning – appearance in 2007 for season 16, “Micronesia – Fans vs. Favorites.” Clearly, she had grown in the year since she appeared in her first season, “Cook Islands,” attaining her most successful performance to date. By the time she made it to the Final Tribal Council alongside fellow “Favorite” Amanda Kimmel, who was only 23 at the time, she was 25 years and 2 ½ months (two months, two weeks, and one day, to be exact). 

8. Michele Fitzgerald, ‘Kaôh Rōng’ – 25 Years, 2 Days

Michele Fitzgerald appeared on the 32nd season of the show, “Kaôh Rōng,” where she was placed on the “Beauty” tribe. Although underestimated by fellow contestants and viewers alike, Michele ended up playing a masterful under-the-radar game and secured the prize money in a 5-2-0 jury vote only two days after her 25th birthday. She ended up returning for season 40, “Winners at War,” where she would make it to the Final Tribal Council, and become the only winner on that season to have never been voted out throughout their entire “Survivor” career.

7. J.T. Thomas, ‘Tocantins’ – 24 Years, 6 Months

J.T. Thomas

Getty“Survivor: Tocantins” winner J.T. Thomas at the season’s reunion show in 2009.

Although season 18, “Tocantins,” was shot during the first year in which 18- to 20-year-olds were allowed to compete, and although it produced the then-youngest ever contestant to appear on the show – 19-year-old Spencer Duhm – it did not produce the show’s youngest-ever winner. It did, however, produce the seventh-youngest winner (then fourth-youngest) in Alabaman farmboy J.T. Thomas, who was around 24-and-a-half (24 years, 5 months, 2 weeks, and 3 days, to be exact), when the final votes were cast.

Though he played a resolutely dominant game, becoming the first person to ever secure a so-called “Perfect Game” (i.e. not having a vote cast against them while getting a unanimous jury vote), J.T.’s prime was undeniably in his youth, as he proceeded to return to “Survivor” twice, and made foolish decisions that got him eliminated both times.

6. Aras Baskauskas, ‘Panama – Exile Island’ – 24 Years, 2.5 Months

Aras Baskauskas and Danielle DiLorenzo

Getty“Survivor: Panama” winner Aras Baskauskas kisses his co-finalist Danielle DiLorenzo at the season’s reunion show in 2006.

Aras Baskauskas is yet another young winner to appear on a season in which the tribes were initially divided by age (and sex); naturally, Aras was placed on the “Younger Men” tribe. He was a little under 24 and 2 ½ months by the time he reached the Final Tribal Council, alongside 24-year-old Danielle DiLorenzo (who is a little under 4 months older than Aras). 

5. Maryanne Oketch, ‘Survivor 42,’ – 23 Years, 5 Months

Our newest winner, Maryanne, is not only the second black female ever, the first Canadian ever (alongside Erika Casupanan), and the first female (also alongside Erika) to win in seven seasons, but she is also one of our youngest, taking home the prize at only 23 years, 5 months, and 10 days. In Wednesday’s finale, she spoke of how the younger people, naming Zach Wurtenberger, Swati Goel, Lydia Meredith, and Tori Meehan in particular, tended to be targeted early, and realized that she had to incorporate that into her strategy:

When I came into the merge, I realized that there was a trend. If you were young, like under 25, and you seemed like you were strategic, you would be voted out … So I basically had to pretend that I had no strategy, and then when there were fewer people, I’d be able to start to show my strategy further and further in the game.

4. Todd Herzog, ‘China’ – 22 Years, 6 Months

Courtney Yates and Todd Herzog

Getty“Survivor: China” finalists Courtney Yates (L) and Todd Herzog during the season’s reunion show in 2007.

Todd Herzog, also considered a legend of “Survivor” strategists, was only 22 when he put his superfan knowledge to work and dominated the season of “China.” Like Parvati, he also sat alongside Amanda in the Final Tribal Council, who on that day was one day away from turning 23. They were also joined by runner-up Courtney Yates, who was 26. Interestingly, Todd later briefly dated Spencer Duhm, the youngest-ever ‘Tocantins’ castaway, though the relationship did not last.

3. Sophie Clarke, ‘South Pacific’ – 21 Years, 362 Days

Sophie Clarke

Getty“Survivor: South Pacific” winner Sophie Clarke at the season’s reunion show in 2011.

One of only three 21-year-olds to win the game, Sophie Clarke was only three days away from turning 22 when she won season 23, “South Pacific,” beating out the older and far more experienced Benjamin “Coach” Wade, who was almost 40, and 26-year-old Albert Destrade, in a landslide 6-3-0 vote. She would return nearly ten years later for “Winners at War,” but would get blindsided on Day 28 and end up placing 10th.

2. Jenna Morasca, ‘The Amazon’ – 21 Years, 10 Months

Jenna Morasca

Getty“Survivor: The Amazon” winner Jenna Morasca at the season’s reunion show in 2003.

For a long time, 21-year-old Jenna Morasca was known as the youngest ever winner of “Survivor;” a title which wouldn’t be taken from her for another 7 years. Regarded largely as weak and spoiled at the beginning of the game, Jenna was applauded by the jury by the end of the 39 days for the growth and maturity that she demonstrated during her time on the island. This resulted in the first ever landslide 6-1 jury vote, where she beat out 33-year-old Matthew von Ertfelda. Like Sophie, however, she was 22 by the time the jury votes were read and she actually got to receive the money.

1. Jud ‘Fabio’ Birza, ‘Nicaragua’ – 21 Years, 1 Month

Fabio Birza

Getty“Survivor: Nicaragua” winner Jud “Fabio” Birza at the season’s reunion show in 2010.

In 2010, Jud “Fabio” Birza – nicknamed after the famous model for his aloof, laid-back, California surfer-dude attitude – became the youngest-ever winner of “Survivor,” a record that he holds to this day. Beating out 24-year-old Chase Rice in a close 5-4 vote, “Fabio” was only 21 years, 1 month and 10 days old when he secured the million dollar prize, having turned 21 only two days before filming began. To this day, he is also the only winner to be 21 when he received the check.

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