The numbers were in Sandra Diaz-Twine’s favor again on “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains.”
The brazen 34-year-old bank teller from Fayetteville, N.C., overcame fellow villains, sneaky 27-year-old former boxer Parvati Shallow and sinister 37-year-old oil company owner Russell Hantz, to win the CBS reality competition’s $1 million grand prize Sunday. Diaz-Twine also claimed the ultimate bragging right: She’s the first person to win “Survivor” twice.
“It makes me the queen,” Diaz-Twine said of her two-time win.
The 20th season stranded 20 veteran contestants, divided into tribes of good guys and baddies, in Samoa. Diaz-Twine (“Pearl Islands”), who never won a physical challenge, maneuvered into the final three after hercatty alliance on the villains tribe had been previously dismantled by partners Shallow (“Cook Islands,” '‘Micronesia”) and Hantz (“Samoa”).
“If she can win the game twice, there is a flaw in the game,” a disgruntled Hantz said.
The lone hero left standing, 35-year-old former rancher Colby Donaldson (“Australian Outback,” '‘All-Stars”), was quickly dispatched to the jury by the four villains at the beginning of the finale when the proud Texan failed to win immunity. Donaldson didn’t go without a fight. After delivering a surrender speech, he haggled to be saved by Hantz.
“I’ve never quit anything in my life,” said Donaldson, “so when the time was right, I made one more attempt.”
Hantz won the final immunity challenge, which required the final four to navigate blindfolded through a maze. Hantz, Shallow and Diaz-Twine picked off 38-year-old original “Survivor” villainess Jerri Manthey (“The Australian Outback,” '‘All-Stars”), securing themselves a spot in the final three. However, Hantz received no votes from the nine-person jury.
“I do what I can do,” said Hantz, “and I make it to the end every time.”
Hantz and runner-up Shallow, who has played “Survivor” a record 114 days, dominated the good-versus-evil edition by winning physical challenges, playing hidden immunity idols and coordinating the dismissals of some of the strongest players, such as “Boston” Rob Mariano (“Marquesas,” '‘All-Stars”) and Rupert Boneham (“Pearl Islands,” '‘All-Stars”).
“I like going out being called one of the heroes,” said Boneham during a reunion of the castaways.
At the end of the finale, host Jeff Probst paid tribute to Jennifer Lyon (“Palau”), who died earlier this year at the age of 37, and revealed the location for the 21st season: Nicaragua. Unlike “Heroes vs. Villains,” the fifth installment to feature former contestants, Probst teased that “Survivor: Nicaragua” would star “a brand-new set of survivors.”