After weeks of twists, turns, returning contestants, a number of advantages and too many Tribals to count, a winner of “Australian Survivor: Blood V Water” has finally been crowned.
Although the season started on a strong footing, gaining the attention of many American fans due to the inclusion of American two-time winner Sandra Diaz-Twine and her 24-year-old daughter Nina, both were eliminated pre-merge. Sandra was voted out by her tribe (including Nina) in episode 7, and Nina had to be medically evacuated in an emotional episode several days later, due to an avulsion fracture.
Here’s what you need to know:
The 9th Winner of ‘Australian Survivor’ Is…
On Monday, April 4, 2022, a winner was crowned in the finale of “Australian Survivor: Blood V Water.” The episode started off with the final 4: Shay Lajoie, Chrissy Zaremba, Josh Millgate, and Mark Wales. This came right on the heels of Kate “KJ” Austin’s elimination the previous episode, which aired the night prior. KJ ended up being voted out after Shay, who, along with KJ, was in the minority, won immunity, and Mark, feeling vulnerable after playing both of his idols the past two Tribals (one of which proved to be entirely pointless after it was revealed he received no votes), felt he needed a “shield” in the form of Josh, in the event that Shay win another immunity the following day.
Mark’s decision proved to be judicious, as Shay did indeed win the long and grueling final 4 immunity challenge (in which each contestant had to grasp onto wooden blocks above a precious drop into a waterfall below). Then, in an “Australian Survivor” first, it was announced there would be a final 3 instead of a final 2, and Josh was voted out unanimously.
After an intense round of questioning by the 10-member jury (which included Mark’s wife, Sam Gash), the votes were read live on set (as is typical in “Australian Survivor”), and it was revealed that Mark won in a unanimous 10-0-0 vote, winning the AUS $500,000 prize. This is the second unanimous jury vote in “Australian Survivor” history (after Pia Miranda beat Baden Gilbert in season 6 in 2019), and naturally, the first in a final 3 scenario.
Mark & Sam Have Competed on ‘Australian Survivor’ Before
Sandra was not the only returning “Survivor” contestant to appear this season. Apart from Andy Meldrum, who competed on season 6 in 2019 and was voted out first in “Blood V Water” – Mark and Sam were the only returning contestants from “Australian Survivor” to appear on “Blood V Water.”
Mark and Sam, then 37 and 32, respectively, first met in May 2017, while filming season 4 of “Australian Survivor.” On their tribe, they bonded quite strongly, and quickly became a target due to the threat level they posed as a couple. Their tribemates soon turned on them, and they were voted out successively, Sam in episode 6 (Day 16), and Mark in episode 7 (Day 18), shortly before the first tribe swap.
Like Rob and Amber Mariano in “Survivor: All-Stars,” the two proceeded to get married shortly after their “Survivor” appearance. Now, also like Rob and Amber, (at least) one of them is a winner. Together, they have since had a son, Harry Locke Wales, born March 2018, according to Who magazine.
In a pre-season cast assessment for “Blood V Water,” host Jonathan LaPaglia said that they were a “couple to watch out for:”
The silver lining to [Mark & Sam’s] story is that they fell in love and got married and have a child now, so that’s a great story. So they come back and they learned from their previous mistakes, so they’re definitely a couple to watch out for.
Clearly, LaPaglia was quite well in tune with the contestants he would be overseeing for the next 47 days. Sam and Mark are now half a million dollars richer.
American “Survivor” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on CBS.