Bataan-born Casupanan bested 17 other contestants to win the survival competition’s 41st season.
For the first time in the reality competition’s long history, a contestant of Filipino descent won “Survivor US” — Filipino-Canadian Erika Casupanan was voted unanimously by the jury to become the “sole survivor” of the show’s 41st season.
Casupanan clinched seven out of eight votes from jury members, besting fellow tribe Luvu member Deshawn Radden and tribe Yasu’s Xander Hastings in a 7-1-0 vote.
In the process, Casupanan also became the series’ first Canadian winner and the third of Asian descent, after Survivor Season 13 winner Yul Kwon and Season 29 winner Natalie Anderson, who are born to South Korean and Sri Lankan parents, respectively. Casupanan is also the first female winner since Season 34’s Sarah Lacina back in 2017.
In an Instagram post following her triumphant exit off Fiji’s Mamanuca Islands, Casupanan took to social media to prove that the show has entered “a new era.”
“If you want any proof that we’re in a new era of ‘Survivor’ is that I am the winner. I’m a Filipino immigrant woman who lives in Canada, and I won the game,” Casupanan said on camera. ” I was able to make my dream of dreams come true and I won the game. And what I want to say is, if I can do it, anybody can do it.”
So I don’t care what you look like, what you sound like, where you’re from, your background, what you believe in. I’m telling you, you can win the game. I’m proof.”
Casupanan also hopes to witness diversity flourish in the show through future winners. It was last year when shows such as Big Brother, Amazing Race, and Survivor pledged to have a cast where at least half are people of color.
“I hope that if you’ve ever wanted to play Survivor, you’d throw your hat in the ring. Because it’s such an adventure, you’re going to learn so much about yourselves. And I would love to see so many more beautiful, diverse winners.”
Born in Hermosa, Bataan, Casupanan competed in the survival series for a shortened 26 days instead of the traditional 39 days, as the cast and crew had to undergo mandatory quarantine for two weeks.
Disguising herself as a lamb with her quiet demeanor at the start of the show, Casupanan unleashed her inner lion later on. She dodged every attempt to evict her up until the traditional tribal merge and overturned the results of a challenge post-exile to her favor and to those of her fellow underdogs.
The reality competition series that has aired the most season, “Survivor” flies contestants out into the wilderness where they must survive the elements, conquer challenges, and navigate social politics to become “the sole survivor.”
Three seasons of the show have filmed in the Philippines, with the consecutive 25th to 28th seasons taking place in Caramoan, Camarines Sur, and Cagayan, respectively.
Art Macky Arquilla