Talk about a Christmas gift: Mike “Gabler” Gabler, a 51-year-old heart valve specialist from Houston, Texas, won Season 43 of Survivor. And he vowed to give all of his winnings to charity.
Host Jeff Probst revealed the winner in the jungles of Fiji, not in a Los Angeles soundstage in front of a studio audience. Even the aftershow took place minutes after Gabler’s win was announced.
Cassidy Clark, a 26-year-old designer from Plano, Texas, came in second and Owen Knight, a 30-year-old college admissions director from Bethesda, Maryland, was third.
Gabler vowed to give the $1 million in his father’s name, a Green Beret, to a charity honoring veterans struggling with mental health issues. “It has been a rollercoaster,” he told Probst. “Tonight was special because I got to tell all of the story …. Out here tonight, I was working it until the very last second. It feels bigger than you know, Jeff. We made history here this season. Only the second player in Survivor history over 50.”
“I have an amazing life at home,” he continued. “To take this million dollars … there is so much going on in the news that we don’t like to look at. That’s why we watch Survivor.”
The episode began with Probst sending the final five — Gabler, Owen, Cassidy, Karla and Jesse — to a new beach to start fresh. There, they were given the opportunity to vie for a final advantage, except it required their tired brains to unscramble a rather long message. Karla managed to solve it first and — though handicapped with an injured ankle — limped down to the beach to start her search for the hidden advantage. Owen was on her tail but he wasn’t fast enough; Karla found it.
But Owen had the final laugh! He ending up winning the challenge — another word scramble! — that guaranteed him a spot in the final four and a sweet meal of steak and baked potatoes. He chose Cassidy to come with him, leaving Jesse, Karla and Gabler to subsist on coconut.
Onto Tribal Council. After Jesse pulled a surprise hidden immunity idol out of his pocket, the final five broke up into smaller groups (or as Karla said, “let’s dance”) to discuss who goes home. The majority chose Karla, an educational project manager from San Diego who seemed fine to go. Karla was honored to be viewed as a threat.
The second hour began with the final immunity challenge, which ended up screwing two of the players. It required the final four to pile wood disks on a rebar structure that ultimately swayed in the wind. A strong breeze took out the stacks built by Gabler and Owen, which gave Cassidy the edge and her third immunity win. “This could be a million dollar necklace for me,” she told Probst.
Cassidy then chose Owen to sit with her in the final three, leaving Jesse and Gabler to duke it out in the traditional fire building challenge. Gabler not only won but broke Survivor‘s fire-making record by finishing in an impressive 4 minutes and 9 seconds. Poor Jesse was crushed and in tears. A family man with a Ph.D in political science, Jesse talked about how he did it for his kids. “I felt like I played a great game …. I’ve had to fight my entire life to get where I’m at,” he said.
Source : Deadline