'Survivor: Nicaragua' winner crowned

Posted December 19, 2010
Updated December 20, 2010

— Jud "Fabio" Birza romanced the jury to win "Survivor: Nicaragua."

The goofy 21-year-old model-student from Los Angeles overcame wishy-washy 24-year-old singer-jackman Chase Rice from Fairview, N.C., and sneaky 30-year-old real estate broker Matthew "Sash" Lenahan from New York to take home the CBS reality competition's $1 million grand prize Sunday. He earned five votes from the nine-person jury of dismissed contestants.

"From how I felt down in Nicaragua, going through all the angles or whatever, I really thought I was going to win by a little more," Birza admitted during a phone interview following the finale. "It's all good, dude. I would rather it be super close. Chase felt good about it. As you could see, I was sweating. My armpits were going crazy. I was nervous."

Birza, nicknamed after the romance novel coverman by his tribemates, secured his place in the final trio by dominating the last three immunity challenges and breaking up the alliance of Rice, Lenahan and 44-year-old swim coach Holly Hoffman from Eureka, S.D. The jury lashed out at schemers Lenahan and Rice, who came in second behind Birza with four jury votes.

"I am remorseful," said Lenahan. "I did have to backstab nine people."

Jane Bright, 56, of Montgomery County, N.C., won Survivor: Nicaragua's 'Sprint Player Of The Season' award and $100,000. 

The Nicaragua-set 22nd season, which began by dividing the 20 contestants by age, featured the show's first-ever double ditching: NaOnka Mixon, a 27-year-old gym teacher from Los Angeles, and "Purple" Kelly Shinn, a 20-year-old nursing student from Mesa, Ariz., quit the 39-day survival contest on the 28th day, though both still served as members of the jury.

"I had enough," Mixon declared during a reunion of the castaways.

At the end of the finale, host Jeff Probst revealed a new twist for the upcoming 22nd season. "Survivor: Redemption Island" will feature booted contestants living together and dueling for a chance to return in the game. He said those eliminated will have the same supplies as the other competitors. "Redemption Island" is scheduled to premiere Feb. 16.


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  • Scubagirl Dec 20, 2010

    I'm glad that he has made that new rule. I was quite surprised that those 2 were allowed to remain on the jury, and in the country (in relative comfort), until the end. They should both have been sent home the next day.

  • VikingTom Dec 20, 2010

    Why is this mess still on the air? I know they say "if you don't like it, change the channel" that's fine, but why do they take things off that I like, despite the ratings?

  • snowl Dec 20, 2010

    Jeff P. announced that the rules have been changed so that "anyone who quits the show will not be on the jury". That may keep some doing this again. Jud (Fabio) is a nice guy who finished first, for a change! Congrats!

  • The Fox Dec 20, 2010


  • me2you Dec 20, 2010

    Glad Jane won. Wish homeboy Chase had one overall. Wish Noonka would lose her teaching job.

  • Glass Half Full Dec 20, 2010

    kellypratz - I agree.

  • kellypratz Dec 20, 2010

    I don't think the 2 ladies who quit the show should have been on the jury.