On the December 14 season finale of “Survivor 43,” Mike Gabler won the $1 million grand prize by a 7-1-0 vote over Cassidy Clark and Owen Knight. The 52-year-old heart valve specialist from Meridian, Idaho played an under-the-radar game at the merge, particularly after Elisabeth “Elie” Scott called him out at tribal council as someone that should be targeted. Well, they didn’t listen to her, and now Gabler has become a millionaire — at least temporarily.
Gabler announced during the reunion show that he was going to “make history” on “Survivor” by donating his prize money to charity. “There are people that need that money more,” he explained to host Jeff Probst. “I’m going to donate the entire prize, the entire million dollars, in my father’s name Robert Gabler, who’s a Green Beret, to Veterans In Need.” The charity helps veterans who are dealing with psychiatric problems including PTSD and curbs the suicide epidemic.
Gabler is now the first man to win during this “new era” of “Survivor” that began after 2020’s epic “Winners at War” installment. (See the updated “Survivor” winners list.) He follows in the immediate footsteps of Erika Casupanan (Season 41) and Maryanne Oketch (Season 42). In all, males have now won 26 total seasons, compared to 17 victories for females.
By claiming victory on Wednesday night, Gabler (age 52) also becomes the second-oldest person to ever be named the Sole Survivor. Robert “Bob” Crowley (“Survivor: Gabon”) still holds the title, as he prevailed at age 57 in Season 17.
The three-hour finale started with Gabler, Cassidy, Owen, Jesse Lopez and Karla Cruz Godoy celebrating making it to the Final 5. After Karla earned an advantage in the immunity challenge, she failed to solve her word puzzle in time, and Owen claimed victory. Karla was voted out in fifth place, and then the Final 4 competed in the last immunity challenge where Cassidy persevered. She chose to take Owen with her to the Final 3, thereby ensuring that Jesse and Gabler would face off in fire. Gabler set a “Survivor” record by making fire in just over four minutes, and so Jesse was eliminated from the game. The jury then returned to question the Final 3, with the vast majority of them giving their votes to Gabler.
Are you happy that Mike Gabler won “Survivor 43”? In our recent poll, we asked viewers to name who “deserved” to earn the title and Jesse came out on top with a whopping 44% of the vote. Owen was next in line with 19%, followed by Gabler in third place at 16%, Cassidy in fourth place at 16% and Karla in fifth place at 7%.
Longtime host Jeff Probst recently announced that “Survivor 44” will premiere on CBS on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. Once again, the show will strand 18 brand new castaways on a deserted island in Fiji, where they will vote each other out until only one remains as the ultimate winner.