Kristie Bennett has been crowned the winner of Network Ten’s entertainment series Australian Survivor in a remarkable and unforgettable Grand Finale.
After 55 days stranded on the tropical island of Samoa with nothing but the clothes on her back and the determination to win, Kristie, 24, was able to outwit, outplay and outlast the 23 other castaways to win the $500,000 prize and the title of Sole Survivor.
The epic final showdown saw underdog Kristie defeat power couple Lee Carseldine and El Rowland at the final Immunity Challenge. Showing real courage and determination, Kristie remained in the challenge for a staggering six-and-a-half hours to win her first Immunity necklace.
Standing on a pole while touching an Immunity Idol, the three final castaways pushed themselves to their emotional and physical limits, as family members cheered them on.
After an unbelievable six hours, El’s knees buckled, she fell from her pole and was out of the challenge. Kristie broke down in tears, begging Lee to let her win. She appealed to his morality and loyalty, told him he reminded her of her father. They both cried as the waves continued to crash around them.
In a final plea, Kristie promised Lee that if he let her win the challenge, she would take him to the Grand Finale. As they both cried from exhaustion and pain, Lee suddenly fell, leaving Kristie the last person standing. Kristie collapsed soon after, but she had won immunity.
Kristie, Lee and El arrived at Tribal Council. The jury was stunned to see that Kristie had the Immunity necklace and could not be voted out. As Lee and El had to vote for each other, Kristie was the only person who could decide who would join her in the Grand Finale. After Lee and El each made a last ditch plea, Kristie stuck to her word and voted El out.
The next day Lee and Kristie woke at Fia Fia camp. They had reached day 55 and celebrated with a breakfast feast before heading to Tribal Council for the last time.
At Tribal Council, Lee and Kristie both addressed the jury to state their case for winning the title of Sole Survivor. In a surprise to many jury members, Kristie gave a passionate, articulate and persuasive pitch. She explained that her game was subtle but precise. She had survived 20 Tribal Councils and had only won one reward.
Lee explained that he had done his best to play the game with honour and integrity and despite being responsible for voting most of the people in the jury out, he had been as honest as he could be in the game.
Questions from the jury followed. El, Flick and Sue accused Kristie of not playing the game. Kristie explained that big moves and big personalities do not always mean big rewards, and her subtle and quiet approach was often more effective.
Nick, Sam and Jennah-Louise questioned Lee’s moral code, arguing that he did not play the game with honour.
The votes were cast by the jury and Jonathan delivered the result. After 55 days of blood, sweat and tears, it all came down to this moment. In a huge surprise, Kristie received the most votes. All but one jury member voted for Kristie. The exception was El, who voted for Lee.
Overwhelmed with emotion, Kristie said: “It was the hardest thing I've ever done but I’ve managed to achieve my lifetime goal at 24. I never thought that would happen and am so proud to say that I did it.
“When Jonathan read my name out, I don’t even know how to explain how I felt. It was as if every single moment was completely worthwhile, like it was always going to be leading to that exact moment.”
Lee said: “I'm so proud of Kristie and what she achieved. She’s got such an amazing story and I don’t think anyone is more deserving. She went through hell and after 55 days of it, for her to win it, I couldn’t think of anyone else.”