Denise Staley, a sex therapist from Iowa, was declared the winner of “Survivor: Philippines” on Sunday.
Staley edged out “Survivor” veteran Michael Skupin and Lisa Whelchel, a former child star. Staley claimed the $1 million prize money in a “Survivor” finale that lasted two hours. The finale was delayed in some regions of the country for up to an hour. This was the result of a football game that ran longer than expected. It was also delayed due to the live telecast of President Obama's address at a memorial service for victims of Friday's elementary school shooting that took place in Newtown, Connecticut. A moment of silence was observed for the shooting victims.
Hostgot the ball rolling on the one-hour “Survivor” reunion show that was broadcast immediately after the finale.
Stanley, who emerged as a strong and feisty player, exclaimed that the prize would change her life. She said that her “Survivor” winning will make her do a lot of things back home in Iowa.
Stanley’s victory was somewhat unique, as she had the chance of playing on all the three tribes. She was successful in attending and surviving each season's tribal councils. She was voted in as the reality show’s winner by a jury that consisted of the most recent eight castaways that had been voted out of the game.
Whelchel played Blair Warmer in the sitcom, "Facts of Life”, in the 1980s and won the coveted Sprint’s player of the season award and collected a check of $100,000. The recipient of the award is chosen by online voting by the fans of the show on the Survivor website. Whelchel went relatively unnoticed on the show, as only two of the show’s participants were aware of her previous fame. One member managed to tell other members of the jury just before the final votes were cast.
Whelchel narrowly beat California bartender Malcolm Freberg for the Player of the Season honor. Freberg admitted that he had been a "Survivor" fan since he was 12 and proved his worth in the challenges as well as demonstrating a strong sense of strategizing. He was part of the final four and was only voted out of the game in the very last tribal council held on Saturday.
Another secret celebrity on this season of “Survivor” was World Series MVP Jeff Kent. He also managed to keep his identity secret from most of the castaways.