Survivor 42 Brings Back Sia’s Fan Favorite Award, But What About The Season 41 Snub?

screenshot survivor 42
(Image credit: CBS)

I’ve always loved the tradition on Survivor where a contestant (who didn’t necessarily win the game but made the biggest impression amongst fans) received some secondary recognition later on. It used to be called the “Sprint Player of the Year” or “Fan Favorite Award” with dollar amounts ranging from $100,000 to $1 million. But in subsequent years, it eventually turned into the “Sia Award,” a.k.a. the award doled out by the namesake pop singer to a standout favorite of her own choosing. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen last year as was hoped. Sia did ultimately revive it for the recently concluded Season 42, but I can’t help still wondering about that Season 41 snub.

A Survivor 42 Sia Fan Favorite Is Crowned

It was a mad dash to Survivor 42’s finale night on May 25. The frontrunner in the minds of fans didn’t make it there, which left the door wide open for Maryanne Oketch to snatch the win from the remaining players (and gain a love interest in the process as well). Almost a week after Oketch’s victory, Sia surprisingly crowned a winner of her own with the renewed fan favorite accolade: Drea Wheeler. Check out Wheeler’s reaction to the decision on CBS’ official Survivor Twitter account here:

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Sia gave Drea Wheeler props for her “smooth” strategy and also noted the “graceful” way she exited the game. Indeed, Jeff Probst had even applauded Wheeler at the time of her elimination for how sportsman-like she handled the blindside. The Survivor 42 player immediately broke down in tears over the $100k award and told the singer she was “literally speechless.”

But Again, What About My Survivor 41 Favorite?

I don’t mean to rain on Drea Wheeler’s parade – I’m genuinely happy for her getting the Sia Award in Season 42. After all, her penchant for finding advantages and being eerily omniscient at times was astounding to witness. But I have to bring up this old chestnut of mine, which is that Survivor 41’s Shan Smith was robbed of the same accolade last year. (Some speculate that the reason it wasn’t awarded then was due to Sia’s music video controversy just prior to, while some say the reunion not being a live event affected the timing of these things.)

With the sudden emergence of the Sia Award again now, I’m haunted by the fact that the infamous pastor from Washington, D.C. hasn’t to this day gotten the proper recognition that she deserves. Her villain's strategy in Survivor 41 hadn’t been seen since the likes of perhaps Boston Rob himself. I mean, she talked multiple people into either telling her about or flat-out giving away their advantages right before booting them out the game. Only a blindside from Shan’s own alliance members (not unlike Drea Wheeler’s situation) could get her torch snuffed in the end.

Obviously, though, these are subjective matters, of course. Many fans might even disagree with me and think that the favorite in Survivor 41 was actually Xander Hastings, considering his own loss on finale night prompted a fan-made GoFundMe to bring back the unofficial award in his honor. More than likely, too, there are viewers out there who favored contestants other than Drea Wheeler throughout the course of Season 42.

Again, personally, I’m just saying that I think Shan Smith deserves her flowers. If Sia won’t give them to her, then I’ll continue to do so...sans $100k – sorry, Shan. I'm no Sia.

Lauren Vanderveen
Movies and TV News Writer

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