‘Survivor’ Winner Thanks ‘Survivor 41’ Cast In Heartfelt Letter

Denise Stapley at the "Survivor: Philippines" reunion.

Getty Denise Stapley after winning "Survivor: Philippines" in 2012.

“Survivor: Philippines” winner Denise Stapley recently took to Twitter recently to thank the contestants of “Survivor 41” for their participation in the ongoing season, in what she called an “open letter.” Here’s what you need to know.


Denise Aired Her Grievances on ‘Survivor’ Conditions

Denise Stapley in "Survivor: Philippines"

YouTubeDenise Stapley in “Survivor: Philippines” (2012).

Although most fans don’t truly know what it is like to experience the conditions on the beaches of “Survivor,” there are a select few, like Denise, who have experienced it firsthand and know how challenging it is. In the open letter, she explained how difficult the conditions were in the Philippines: “The rain we experienced for days on end was miserable. And the experience that comes with being constantly cold & wet with no perceived end in site was soul crushing.” It is also worth noting that one instance of physical torment Denise experienced was on day 36 of the season, when she woke up with severe pain in her neck, pain which she surmised to be from a bug bite. This event was included in the episode.

She went on to explain that she has experienced both physical and emotional anguish during her time on the show. Although she said her follow-up season, “Winners at War,” was a “cake walk” physically, she came home “emotionally spent…The depravation was completely different.”

Denise, who is a therapist, went on to give some words of advice to current, and future, contestants of the show. She said that, despite the suffering, everyone who applied did so for a reason. And that during their time in the game:

we GET something out of this. We do. And not just a paycheck. It may be a voice, it may be courage, it may be a reflection or a shift in perspective that we desperately needed. Maybe [it’s] the simple adventure of it all. But we get something.

She concluded by giving two major pieces of advice: one, that “Survivor” was simply a game, and that, “no matter the outcome…people on both sides of the island are going to suck…They’ll get over it…And if they don’t[,] it doesn’t matter.”

And two, “Above all else. Just do you.”

Denise also said that her time on “Survivor” was over, and that she would not be returning for a future season. She will, however, “haaaaaapilly continue watching from THIS side of the screen.” This tied into the essence of her letter, which she said was:

a thank you. A genuine & heart felt thank you. For every mosquito bite received. For every bite of coconut, rice, or papaya you ate. For every boat ride or “walk” you had no choice but take. I appreciate you. I appreciate you sooooo f#cking much.


Love For This Season’s Cast is Widespread

"Survivor 41" cast episode 7

CBS“Survivor 41” cast at a challenge in episode 7.

Although Denise did not mention this cast specifically, the love was clearly well-received on both sides, and her heartfelt thanks is reflective of fans’ thoughts as well. A post on the show’s subreddit earlier today expressed similar gratitude to this season’s cast, calling it “one of the all-time best casts I’ve ever seen,” and went on to list the positive qualities of each castaway.

One popular comment said that, “The cast is what makes this season watchable for me,” referencing, perhaps, the poorly-received number of twists and advantages in this and recent seasons. Another user said it was “really cool that there were no duds this season. Gives me the Cagayan vibes where pretty much everyone is memorable,” referring to season 28: “Cagayan,” which is generally regarded as having one of the best casts in the history of the show.

The open letter, which has amassed over 1.3 thousand likes in about 24 hours, has been warmly received by fans and contestants alike, with “Survivor 41” contestant Tiffany Seely, who was eliminated in last week’s episode, responding: “This is EVERYTHING!!! 🥰 so well said and received.” Contestant Evvie Jagoda, who is still in the game, also said: “Love this thank you Denise 💜”

Although Denise may not be returning to the beaches of Fiji, the current season is ramping up toward a dramatic finale. Be sure to tune in to “Survivor 41” Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS to see how it plays out.


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