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Survivor 41: Was A Jury Member Robbed On Finale Night?

survivor 41 finale
(Image credit: CBS)

Spoilers below for Season 41 of Survivor!

A winner has been crowned for the Survivor 41 season – and it wasn't who most fans expected. Some might even say it was a clear upset that Erika Casupanan became the ultimate Sole Survivor over Xander Hastings and Deshawn Radden. (Casupanan has her own take on her Survivor triumph.) But speaking of who or who may not have been robbed of accolades, it would seem that a jury member might have also lost out big on finale night.

In Survivors past, more than just the million-dollar prize has been given out during the finale. For many years, viewers could weigh in with their own vote for the “Sprint Player of The Season,” which usually came with a $100,000 prize. It eventually went defunct, but pop singer/Survivor superfan Sia took up the mantle and started handing out her own $100K “Sia Award.” And like in the cases of Island of the Idol’s Elaine Stott or Edge of Extinction’s Rick Devens, it's typically been a good gauge of who fans really loved in a given season. Unfortunately, though, no contestant took home the honor for Survivor 41.

A few players certainly deserved the recognition this year. Despite his apparent lack of jury management, Xander Hastings was, in fact, the odds-on favorite Survivor 41 winner. He played with his heart and made some big splashy moves. Likewise, Ricard Foye has been applauded for his cunning strategy and frank nature. (Host Jeff Probst himself called out one of Foye’s ballsy maneuvers as the defining moment of the season.)

However, in my view, the Cirie Fields/Elaine Stott/Rick Devens of Survivor 41 wasn't Xander Hastings or Ricard Foye. It was none other than Pastor Shan Smith. Her strategic moves weren't just run of the mill, they were works of art. What's more is that her personality outshone both Hastings and Foye, even when she was gone. If she wasn't held back by her loyalty to certain male players, Survivor 41 would have ended much differently. The Sia Award of $100,000 should have then gone to Smith, who overall put on the best show out of all the finalists and jury members combined.

Don't mind me: I'm just as Shan Smith stan in an unfair world. The theft on Smith’s game, though, calls into question why there was no Sia Award at all to compliment the Sole Survivor winner. Some speculation has it that Sia – after facing down controversy early earlier this year – was not asked back to keep up the tradition. But the far more likely scenario is that since the Survivor 41 winner was awarded on location right after the jury vote (for the first time since Season 1), along with the reunion itself, it made it impossible to crown a fan favorite winner live.

Still, they could have been awarded the season’s favorite after the fact. There's still time, even! But if Jeff Probst or Sia won't give Shan Smith her official props, I will of course oblige. (She was robbed, I tell you!) Time will tell if this will become the new normal after Survivor 42 starts airing on March 9, 2022 on CBS.

Lauren Vanderveen

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.