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Without The Hourglass Twist, Would Erika Casupanan Have Won Survivor 41? Here's What She Thinks

survivor 41's Erika Casupanan speaking with Jeff Probst
(Image credit: CBS)

After being sent to exile island right on the precipice of the merge, Erika Casupanan was given a new power in the game of Survivor. Everyone was going to tribal, with one “team” safe and the other not, and Casupanan could “change history” by flipping which group had safety. She ultimately did, messing up a lot of plans as a result, including the one to simply vote her out upon her return. The Canadian native went on to snag the $1 million win at the Survivor 41 finale night, but would things have turned out quite the same without the so-called hourglass twist? Well, the recent champ has an answer.

Out of all the new changes Jeff Probst had up his sleeve for the new season, the hourglass twist is probably the most decisive one of them all. Sydney Segal, the casualty of Erika Casupanan’s decision, talked a lot of smack about it afterwards. Former NFL player Danny McCray even apparently called out Probst for the seeming unfairness of it in unaired footage. We can definitely say the twist changed the trajectory of this season, but Casupanan agrees there was a potential that she might not have won her crown without it. She told TV Line:

If the hourglass twist didn’t happen and I was out of the game for two days unable to talk to anybody or build any connections of my own, of course, I’m toast! All of these people are on edge because they just merged. They don’t want to be the merge boot, so of course they would target the person who’s not there. Hello, it’s a no brainer! But my theory is if there was no hourglass, there probably wouldn’t have been a two-day exile, and I probably would’ve been on the field with the rest of the players, and who knows what would’ve happened.

However, she also considers the twist just another integral change in the touted “new era” of Survivor. While it “benefited” her specifically, it was also part of the game's effort to try “something new with the format.” Case in point being Deshawn Radden wouldn't have made it next to her in the final three without he himself surviving his Do-or-Die gamble. Fellow finalist Xander Hastings likewise benefited not only from the hourglass flipping his group into safety but also from the new super idol twist that everyone knew he succeeded in. In other words, there were many new advantages for all the finalists to play with – so it isn’t quite fair to suggest that the newly crowned winner wouldn't have won without hers in particular.

Conversely, though, there is the perception that Xander Hastings shot himself in the foot on finale night for taking the champ to the end. If she had gone into the fire-making challenge, it’s just as possible she would have lost it like Heather Aldret did. Still, many watching on the outside were betting on Hastings to pull through with the win, given his flashy resume. According to him, the reason he didn't has a little something to do with voting out his former ally, Ricard Foye.

So many shoulda coulda wouldas in the game of Survivor! So many in fact that it's really impossible to say that things might have turned out differently because of just one smashing of an hourglass. Erika Casupanan earned the title of Sole Survivor, end of story, and by doing so she broke the 4-year-old curse of there being no female winners.

Lauren Vanderveen

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