Not even halfway into the night, Oscar “Ozzy” Lusth had made a total turnaround.
In one last but not least-grueling duel on Survivor: South Pacific, he outlasted Brandon Hantz, 19 – who, just a week prior, made a lethal decision to yield his immunity necklace – on a challenge that required each competitor to hang onto a pole for as long as he could.
No longer a resident of Redemption Island, his domination continued. Lusth, who has competed on the reality show two other times, won the first challenge of the finale, where each castaway had the delicate task of building a house of cards while steadying a balancing board – a win that earned him immunity in the first round of elimination.
“Plan A: win,” Lusth, 30, said. “Plan B: win.” Also competing for the $1 million-prize and sole survivor-title: Benjamin “Coach” Wade (also a Survivor veteran), 39; Albert Destrade, 26; Rick Nelson, 51; and Sophie Clarke, 22.
But with an alliance forced to break on the heals of a season filled with strange strategies and betraying blindsides, did his winning streak continue Keep reading to find out who won:
The third time was not the charm for Lusth, and after 39 days, Clarke, a medical student from Willsboro, N.Y., is the winner of the 23rd season of Survivor, host Jeff Probst announced lived from Los Angeles Sunday night.
“The Pulse of the Game” After Nelson was the first to be eliminated by the remaining members of the Te Tuna tribe, Clarke beat out Lusth to score the final immunity necklace in a part-obstacle-course, part-puzzle-building challenge. In the second elimination of the finale, the tribe spoke again, this time eliminating Lusth with three votes (Destrade received one).
The final three were then brought back in front of eight members of the original tribe to make their final case. “When it comes to out-playing,” Clarke said, “I feel like I held out my own.”
Ultimately, Clarke received five votes, and Wade received three.
“I had a feeling, but you never know,” she said in a reunion special after the big reveal. “I think I had my finger on the pulse of the game the whole time.”