Warning: This article contains spoilers for Wednesday’s series finale of Survivor 43.
Five people walked into Wednesday night’s season finale of Survivor 43 (often walking in very dramatic slow-motion fashion, it should be noted). But only one walked out a winner when all was said and done, and that someone was… Mike Gabler.
The 52-year-old heart valve specialist from Idaho was hiding in plain sight the entire game, but the “AlliGabler” finally emerged and absolutely devoured the competition at the very end — winning over Cassidy Clark and Owen Knight in an overwhelming 7-1-0 jury vote. The decisive victory was a surprising result for a player that received no votes the entire game because nobody seemed to fear going up against him at the end in the final three.
CBS Jesse Lopez, Cassidy Clark, Karla Cruz Godoy, Owen Knight, and Mike Gabler of ‘Survivor 43’
Gabler’s path to glory began to be paved in the finale when Karla Cruz Godoy was eliminated in fifth place. Even though Karla had found an advantage for the final five challenge, she could not translate that to a competition victory, losing out on immunity to Charlie Brown/Owen Knight. While Karla tried to convince the others to take out Jesse Lopez instead of her, the tribe sent her to the jury instead (especially after Jesse revealed he had Jeanine Zheng’s hidden immunity idol).
But the key move to Gabler’s victory was when Cassidy won the final stacking bowls immunity contest and then granted his request to take on — and take out — the game’s biggest player in Jesse in fire making. (Part of Cassidy’s thinking was that a Gabler victory still would not be enough to help him beat her at the end. Whoops!) The AlliGabler ate up Jesse in the contest, setting a new fire record of four minutes and nine seconds and sending a tearful Jesse to the jury to be reunited with Cody Assenmacher. (Gulp!)
CBS The ‘Survivor 43’ final five
That victory helped boost Gabler’s résumé in a final three matchup against Cassidy and Owen, and when Cassidy was called out for taking credit on a move that was not hers (the elimination of Ryan Medrano) and Owen failed to articulate any big moves he orchestrated, it opened the door for Gabler to take control of the jury. And he did, making them laugh while also pleading his case as to how he never had a single vote cast against him and also helped orchestrate Elie Scott’s demise at the merge.
In the end, Gabler walked away with the million dollars, although he doesn’t even plan to keep it — vowing to donate the prize money to the Veterans in Need Foundation.
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