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Erika Casupanan made Survivor history Wednesday night when she became the first Canadian to win the long-running reality show.
The final three in the COVID-shortened 41st season consisted of Xander Hastings, Deshawn Radden and Erika, with the Toronto-based communications manager receiving all but one of the final votes for Sole Survivor. In addition to pocketing the $1 million in prize money, Casupanan is the first woman to win Survivor in seven seasons.
Unlike past editions, Casupanan’s win wasn’t revealed in front of a studio audience. Instead, host Jeff Probst read the winner’s name in Fiji at the last Tribal Council.
“There’s no filters,” Probst said. “This is exactly what it felt like for them moments after the season ended.”
In a post-finale interview with Entertainment Weekly , Casupanan admitted she had mixed feelings about how she was portrayed on the show.
“It kind of sucks that the edit made me unrootable for some people in a way,” she said. “But at the end of the day, I won in a commanding lead, so who knows, maybe the edit is a signal to people to kind of let go of their existing beliefs of how Survivor normally needs to go and let go of their systems and really just be open to the twists and terms that the game gives the audience.”
Telling EW that she plans to take care of her parents with her winnings, Casupanan was also asked what was a bigger achievement: becoming the first Canadian to win the competition since the program opened up the competition in Season 39 or being the the first woman to win Survivor after six consecutive men.
“I wanna say that it’s actually a three-way tie between breaking the drought of a woman winning, being the first Canadian winner, and being the first person of Filipino descent to win American Survivor ,” she said.
Casupanan wasn’t the only Canadian to compete this season. Toronto-born pastor Shantel Smith also appeared on the show.
A self-avowed Survivor superfan, Smith told the Sun that playing the game and watching the game were two drastically different things.
“I’m sure there are going to be moments when I’m going to say, ‘Why did I do this or that,’ but when you’re in it, you’re in it,” Smith said. “You don’t realize how important the connections you’re making are and how intense they become.”