6:00am PT by Kimberly Nordyke
'Survivor' Finale: Sia's Surprise, Winner's $1M Plans and 11 Burning Questions Answered
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the Survivor: Kaoh Rong season finale.]
Another Survivor contestant is $1 million richer.
Michele Fitzgerald was named the winner of Survivor: Taoh Rong, the 32nd season of the CBS reality show, on Wednesday night, beating out runner-ups Aubry Bracco and Tai Trang to take home the $1 million prize.
Following the live finale, The Hollywood Reporter caught up with the final four contestants — Cydney Gillon came in fourth place — to answer some burning questions.
What was the final vote?
The final vote was five for Michele and two for Aubry. Joe and Nick voted for Aubry, and Michele got votes from Debbie, Jason, Scot, Julia and Cydney. Tai did not receive any votes.
What does Michele plan to do with her prize money?
"I'm first going to pay off my car, and then, I don't know, maybe travel a little bit, but eventually I'm just going to save up. I'm young right now and so that can go a long way in the future. I don't want to impulsively spend; I want to make sure I put it in the right place."
The finale introduced a twist wherein the winner of the final reward challenge was allowed to vote off one person on the jury. Michele won and chose to eliminate Neal, an ally of Aubry's. Does Aubry think that she could have won had Neal had the chance to convince the other jury members to vote for her?
"Well, the vote was 5-2, and so that would make me think it probably wouldn't," she said. "But I always thought Neal would pull something out in the end, the way Scot did for Michele, possibly for me, but who knows if that would have made people feel good feelings toward me or that might have made them annoyed at me. You never know."
How did Tai convince his fellow contestants not to kill the Mark the chicken and cook him up for a (much-needed) meal?
"I worked really, really hard," he said. "I work around camp; I go get coconuts, pick mango, vegetables. A couple hours a day, I'd go gather food for the tribe so they don't feel hungry and look at him as meat. And secondly because he had a name, he was no longer tied up, walking around like part of us, he became a pet, like family. I'm really proud that he got to live that long."
Sia (yes, that Sia) jumped out of the audience to surprise animal lover Tai with a $50,000 cash gift along with another $50,000 donation to the animal charity of his choice. "I could not let Tai go home without saying that your authenticity and your care for animals really inspired me," she told Tai. What was his reaction as that was happening?
"I had no idea," Tai said of being surprised. "And this is terrible. She's going to hate me. I don't know who she is. But I heard she's a really big pop star, and I remember now that [she] looked familiar. [But] I think it's important to be aware, we live here but [the Earth] is not human-centric. There is a whole ecosystem, there's insects and animals, and I'm so glad she can see that and support that." Sia is actually friends with host/executive producer Jeff Probst, who is said to have also been genuinely surprised at her gesture.
Is Sia really a Survivor fan?
Apparently, she is. She not only sat in the audience for the entire three-hour show, but she also took photos with some of the contestants backstage (see below). And it's not the first time the singer has been in the audience for the show's finale. Incidentally, on Wednesday night, Sia was seated — sans wig and hat — next to past winner John Cochran, who regularly attends the live finales (the two at one point posed for photos together). Meanwhile, sitting next to Cochran was Yvette Nicole Brown, who co-stars in CBS' The Odd Couple and was capturing her own photos of the Survivor competitors onstage from her position in the audience.
Which animal charity does Tai want to donate the money to?
The third-place finisher hasn't yet decided which charity he'll choose, but he did say he may also donate part of his own $50,000 gift to a charity that works to fight HIV and hopes to use a portion of that surprise gift to take a trip with his boyfriend, Mark.
What happened to the other Mark, the chicken (named after the show's executive producer Mark Burnett)?
"I gave it to Jeff [Probst] after tribal, and he said he'll make sure some local family will take care of him. For all I know, he's living happily." In case you missed it, the other chicken that did get eaten earlier in the season was named Jeff, after the host.
Does Cydney wish she practiced building a fire? And maybe not trusted Michele, who told her she didn't need to?
"I think she really meant that," Cydney said of Michele's advice. "She trusted Tai and that bond that they created. I told her. 'I trust you, I don't trust Tai.' I had a vibe it was going to come down to that. I don't think it came down to practice; I think it came down to luck. But I do wish I had practiced rather than just winging it the day of."
Is Cydney's mother, interviewed during the live finale, also a bodybuilder?
Yes. And her dad is too.
Would the final four go out and play Survivor again if asked?
Without hesitation, all replied yes.