The Ultimate Survivor: Tina
A tension-filled night at the final Tribal Council marked the shift in power from the tribe members still in play to the Jury, the seven people previously voted out who would determine the ultimate Survivor.
Given one final chance to express why each of them deserved to be the winner, Colby Donaldson and Tina Wesson expressed their views: Said Colby, "In this game you have to be a jack of all trades but not necessarily a master of any. I don't feel that I was a master of any, but I do think I played pretty well." Said Tina, "Strategy played a big role in getting me here today. The strategy of Survivor is to Outwit, Outplay and Outlast. I'm not going to sit here and tell you why you should vote for me. I will say that I hope you don't cast your vote based on that you got your feelings hurt. That is the nature of the game."
After intense deliberation, the Jury cast their vote one by one. And then host Jeff Probst returned with the vote urn in hand and a surprise: Tina, Colby, and the Jury would be waiting a while longer to find out who won because the vote would be revealed live in Los Angeles at the end of the finale. The stunned Survivors watched as Jeff boarded a helicopter that flew him off Tribal Council and into the skies.
And then in the end the votes were revealed live, to the Survivors and to all of America: In a 4-3 vote, the ultimate Survivor was Tina!
Many believed that Tina was the mastermind behind the original Ogakor alliance and perhaps the most strategic, playing both sides of the coin by flying just enough below the radar so that she didn't seem too strong, or too weak to the others. Even Jerri acknowledged that Tina's best play was somehow convincing Colby, who had won the final immunity challenge, to keep her in the final two and to vote off Keith, who, many felt, would have likely lost against Colby.
And so in the end the often soft-spoken mother and personal nurse from Knoxville, Tennessee, became the sole Survivor in the Australian Outback and the winner of one million dollars.
While determining what little food the three remaining Survivors had left to eat, Colby Donaldson had a chance to think about the hardships that he and his fellow tribe members endured in the Outback. "Whether you want to admit it or not, you deteriorate, and Day 40 is 10 times as hard as Day 20 was. You are weaker, you're tired, you're sick of dealing with everything you have to deal with. On top of that, you still have to deal with people and put yourself in a position to win."
Tina Wesson took a moment to realize just what an accomplishment making it to the final three meant to her: "Being here becomes this overwhelming surprise. I cannot believe I am still here. I never thought I could get this far." She added, "I think that I have evolved, who I started out as in this game is not who I am now. I have developed a sense of strategy, and it has gotten me from 16 to the final 3!"
Later that day, Colby, Keith, and Tina were given the opportunity to return something symbolically to the Outback land, which had given them so many experiences that would enrich their lives.
Each person was to carve and paint an idol as a gift to the land. The idol-making process was a long day's event, which gave Keith Famie time to reflect on several memorable moments that he had encountered. "I thought about crossing the river for the first time, eating my first fish, loved ones back home. It's been a real healing process and helped put me closer to everything." Proud that she was the only woman left in the game, Tina constructed her idol to reflect her femininity.
The three finished their idols and continued through the night talking about their near-ending time in the Outback and wondering what was waiting around the corner.
On day 41, one of the three would be voted out of the tribe, and yet a calmness permeated the air. Chef Keith made a breakfast filled "with love and compassion." Then the three walked to receive their final tree mail, instructing them to begin their "rites of passage," a walk through the Outback during which they would pass torches commemorating each of their former tribemates. At the end, they would arrive at an appropriate location to make their "offerings" (the idols) to the land.
As their monumental journey began along the banks of the now raging Herbert River, the final three came upon the torch of the first person voted out, Debb Eaton. Keith, Tina, and Colby continued their passage, acknowledging each of their fellow tribe members and remembering the impact that they had on their lives in the Outback.
At the end, they met host Jeff Probst on the top of a cliff above a powerful waterfall. He explained that it was now time to sit alone and reflect on the impact that the game of Survivor had on each person. Afterwards, each would throw their idol over the cliff into the raging river. Jeff Probst explained, "This is a chance to give something back to a land that has given so much to you."
Keith Famie reflected, "The time that I have spent here has been a cleansing process. The last five days, I have realized that this is not about the money; it is something far more valuable. I am so at peace with everything I have gained from this experience." Tina Wesson learned an important lesson about herself and added, "I think for the first time in my life the Outback has taught me just how important family means to me. When I go back home, I am going to really nurture my family." Colby Donaldson acknowledged, "Being here for 42 days has made us realize that all the things we take for granted back home that we don't appreciate are now going to be important to us. That's what making these idols is about, so we appreciate and remember why we are here."
Later that night, Colby, Keith and Tina arrived at the Tribal Council area to compete in their final and most important immunity challenge, "Fallen Comrades." The game is simple: Tina, Keith, and Colby must answer a series of personal questions about their tribemates who had been voted out in the first 39 days. The person who answers the most questions correctly wins immunity. Once again, Colby proved too strong for the others as he won his fifth consecutive immunity challenge, guaranteeing himself a spot in the final two.
With Colby having immunity, it was clear that Tina would vote for Keith, and Keith for Tina. So Colby was the only member of the remaining Barramundi Tribe to cast a vote: Alone, he would decide who would sit next to him in the final two. And in a surprise move to most, he voted out Keith Famie, the 40-year-old professional chef from West Bloomfield, Michigan, making Keith the fourteenth person voted out of the Outback and the final addition to the Jury.
Many had believed that Colby would vote out Tina, who would likely be a more competitive opponent in the final two. But Colby stayed true to an alliance he had made with Tina, and so in the end Keith was gone.
The Final Day
Day 42 was met with hopeful anticipation as Colby and Tina awoke from their final night's sleep in the Outback. They couldn't hold back their excitement. "It's a great day, and each hour that goes by, it's only going to get better," exclaimed Colby. Later, while sitting on a bluff atop a majestic ridge, Tina and Colby soaked up everlasting mental images of the vast land they had called home for the last 42 days. "This is the appropriate place for Tina and I to be, literally feeling as though we are on top of the world in more ways than one," reflected Colby.
Later, they burned much of what remained of their camp and began to pack for their final hike to Tribal Council. Tina hugged Colby to thank him for everything he had done for her. While walking away from Barramundi, Colby told Tina, "Let's make tracks and don't look back." Barramundi is no more.
The Jury Deliberates
As the two headed for the final Tribal Council, the seven-member Jury panel had a moment to reflect on the power and position that they found themselves in.
Amber Brkich, the 22-year-old administrative assistant from Beaver, Pennsylvania, said, "I'm not really liking the feeling at all--the fact that I have the chance to give someone a million dollars. I hate the feeling, I want the million. It comes down to two people very difficult to choose from." Others also expressed similar anticipation at the difficult vote to occur.
The fiery 30-year-old actress from Los Angeles, Jerri Manthey, explained her anticipation by saying, "I'm finally in a position of power again, and I like it. I am ready to go and vote. The two people that are left are two people that backstabbed me several times. I want them forced to look at what they have become while playing this game to what they are like in the real world."
At Tribal Council, Colby and Tina addressed the Jury, and the Jury addressed them. After Colby and Tina were given one last chance to make final comments, the Jury voted.
And the rest is history.
Tina Wesson's Biography
Tina Wesson(The Winner): currently works as a private duty C.N.A. nurse while also working as a full-time mom. Formerly, she worked as a community education director, flight attendant, substitute teacher and a swimming instructor. Wesson obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in therapeutic recreation from the University of Tennessee in 1983. An avid athlete, she is most proud of having completed the Dublin, Ireland Marathon, placed first in the Tennessee State Racquetball Tournament and placed first in her age division in her hometown mini-triathlon, all in the same year (1998). Her quest in life continues to be to "live the life less ordinary."
Wesson describes herself as happy, content, adventurous, outgoing, and very much in love. Her favorite hobbies are racquetball, paddleball , running, swimming, and motorcycling. Her favorite television show is Rosie, while her favorite feature films are Out of Africa and Shadowlands. She prefers classic, contemporary Christian, and pop rock music, citing Match Box 20 as her favorite band. While rooting for the University of Tennessee Volunteers, she's always game for a round of Balderdash. Her perfect day consists of eating a good breakfast followed by a ride on her motorcycle to the mountains with her husband and her best friend. After a hike, she'd play racquetball, take a shower, have dinner, see a movie while eating a big bag of popcorn and then head home to bed. She's an early riser.
Born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, Wesson currently resides there with her husband, Dale, and her two children, Katie and Taylor. She is a member of the Outstanding Young Women of America and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Her birth date is December 26.