Skip to main content

Survivor 41's Xander Hastings Unpacks Who He Would've Voted For On Finale Night, And I’m Here For It

screenshot survivor 41 xander hastings
(Image credit: CBS)

The most common reaction to Erika Casupanan coming out on top as the winner of Survivor 41 was surprise. Simply put, a lot of fans believed that Xander Hastings was going to best Casupanan and Deshawn Radden. (They have made that fact plain in the weeks following the upset, making their own GoFundMe campaign as well.) However, Hastings is now weighing in on who he himself would have voted for in the end, and I'm here for all the points he’s making.

The Survivor 41 frontrunner, who also gained a bit of a heartthrob reputation amongst fans, shared his insight on the Survivor News podcast recently. He was asked, if the final three turned out to be Erika Casupanan, Deshawn Radden, and Heather Aldret instead, who would he have voted for? Xander Hastings stated that the choice would be “a tough one” for a lot of reasons. But, to start, Aldret’s name was left out of the discussion entirely. About Radden, Hastings said,

I think something that was interesting is that Deshawn didn't get a lot of votes, even from his own alliance – when I really valued Deshawn’s ability as a spokesman. He's an amazing speaker, very passionate, very genuine, very real, and I really appreciated that because I appreciate the show as art and he's an artist, so to speak, in the way he talks at tribal council. He was great at that.

Though he’s been left slightly out of the finale debate, Deshawn Radden did indeed have some merit in the game. Most importantly, he co-orchestrated the major turning point in Shan Smith’s ouster. When he was met with pushback for it, he successfully championed himself, citing the struggle between playing for oneself and playing for the Black community as a whole. His speeches weren't always successful, though, as with that Erika Casupanan “truth bomb” that completely turned off at least one Survivor 41 jury member.

Yet when considering just Erika Casupanan against Deshawn Radden, Xander Hastings illustrated the overarching picture. Without him in the Survivor 41 running, he stated,

I can also value Erika's gameplay and her strategy and laying low. The fact that her story, too, and just like being a woman in the workplace and being underestimated…She was the other underdog and I know how hard it is to be an underdog and just scrap your way. So I, of course, would appreciate her gameplay in the sense that it was very similar – to a certain extent – to mine, in the role at least. She was never the ‘kingpin,’ whereas Deshawn did have a lot of power throughout the game.

In short, Xander Hastings respects the contrast between Erika Casupanan’s subtle strategy and Deshawn Radden’s go-for-broke game. It's interesting, too, because we can think of it as Hastings having played right in between those two diametric opposites – and still losing. Overall, though, the 21-year-old finalist has an inkling who he might have voted for, with some caveats. Hastings continued,

I think to cast my vote in the end – probably Erika. That's the thing about groupthink on Ponderosa, if you know everyone else is voting for Erika, it's a lot easier when you're on the fence to just say, ‘I guess I'll just give it to Erika.’ I really like them both and it’d be a super hard decision. I really wouldn't know unless I were in the moment with the raw feeling. They both had so much going for them...

Another excellent point is bringing up the sway of the jury majority over the others, which could possibly explain Erika Casupanan’s upset in Survivor 41. Contestants did actually have a negative impression about Xander Hastings before going into jury. It didn't help, either, that Casupanan was way more eloquent than Hastings in her answers at the final tribal.

At the end of the day, Xander Hastings gave the ultimate Season 41 winner some credit, but likely the debate will keep on keeping on no matter what. Some fans will undoubtedly agree with him, while others will be ready to keep the argument going. 

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