Ever since its debut on CBS back in 2000, Survivor has been both an icon and a staple in the reality television genre. Even though Survivor has evolved over its 39 seasons, one constant has remained: there's always one winner of the title of Sole Survivor.
Looking back on the series' past 38 winners, which castaways truly were the best of the best in this game of outwit, outplay, and outlast? Let's take a look at the 10 best Survivor winners, ranked.
10 Pavarti Shallow - Micronesia
Flirting was Pavarti Shallow's modus operandi in Cook Islands; but her style of gameplay became an absolute force in Micronesia and Heroes vs. Villains. Pavarti charmed allies and lured them into false security while always playing two steps ahead.
In Micronesia, Pavarti was critical in orchestrating a powerful women's alliance. While she didn't win the final immunity challenge, Amanda chose Pavarti to go to the Final Two where she won the game with a vote of 5-3.
9 Yul Kwon - Cook Islands
Despite a season most remembered for tribes divided by ethnicity, Yul managed to accomplish the impossible by today's Survivor standards. He won the title of Sole Survivor with class and his integrity intact, and he beat Ozzy in the Final Three.
Highly intelligent and athletic, Yul also defied the odds as a member of the Aitu Four. This tight group survived elimination despite their small numbers after tribemates Candice and Penner both mutinied.
8 Tony Vlachos - Cagayan
High-energy Tony was a police officer who had no problem playing the criminal. He constructed "spy shacks," searched for idols, blindsided his allies, lied without reservation, and confessed to spending his nights on the island working through every possible scenario instead of sleeping.
After convincing tribemate Woo to take him to the Final Two, he won over the jury in a landslide vote.
7 Chris Daugherty - Vanuatu
From costing his team immunity in the first challenge to being the only man left in the game against six women, Chris fought to survive from day one. Despite his poor luck, Chris masterfully played the different women against one another winning their loyalties while highlighting their weaknesses.
He also won three individual immunity challenges and used that position to oust popular players. For the final tribal council, Chris played Twila persuading her to own her game. The move helped him beat the odds yet again as the female-dominated jury voted him the Sole Survivor in a 5-2 vote.
6 Boston Rob - Redemption Island
Due to his masterclass performances in All-Stars and Heroes vs. Villains, Boston Rob was a huge target when he stepped foot on the beach for Redemption Island. However, Rob used his reputation to his advantage through a brilliant, skillful social game and the manipulation of eccentric, federal agent Phillip.
Few players have been able to control a tribe as expertly as Rob, but he also earned himself extra insurance through four individual immunity challenge wins. His game coupled with the two tribemates he brought to the final tribal council finally secured Rob the title of sole survivor. The only reason he's ranked so low on this list is that it did take him four times to win.
5 Richard Hatch - Borneo
Not only is Richard Hatch the first Survivor winner; he's also the first-ever true player. Hatch began playing the game the moment his tribe reached the shore; and by the time the other castaways figured out the game, he had already played them. He set the precedent for how to play Survivor and invented the use of alliances.
Why isn't he at the top of the list? It's a lot harder to win the game nowadays, and Hatch was so far ahead of his fellow castaways that he wasn't tested with much competition.
4 Kim Spradlin - One World
Kim began her game playing under the radar and quietly and strategically took control through her multiple alliances and strong social play.
Kim also dominated physically with four individual immunity challenge wins. Not only did she win over the jury, but the audience considered her the best as they voted Kim Sprint Player of the Season for an additional $100,000 prize.
3 John Cochran - Caramoan
Cochran began Survivor: South Pacific as a self-described Survivor superfan with translucent skin who quickly became the outcast of his tribe. His big move in betraying his team resulted in a snuffed torch; but for Survivor: Caramoan, Cochran did his homework.
Cochran returned to Survivor: Caramoan and skillfully diverted attention onto others while he assumed the strategic and social control of the game. He also emerged as a physical threat winning two individual immunity challenges and surprising himself in the process. Cochran's performance secured him a unanimous vote, a perfect game, and made his dream come true as the winner and sole survivor.
2 Sarah Lacina - Game Changers
After being played by fellow police officer Tony Vlachos in Cagayan, Sarah returned in Game Changers with a new aggressive approach. Sarah snatched and used the Vote Steal advantage from the sit-out bench, even though she participated in the Reward Challenge. She then orchestrated the blindside of a player with Legacy Advantage knowing the player would will it to her upon elimination.
Sarah also built real relationships with her tribemates which won their trust, but she used her police training to separate her feelings from the game to make huge strategic moves and orchestrate blindsides. Her sincerity and gutsiness, coupled with a winning speech to the jury, secured her the title of Sole Survivor.
1 Sandra Diaz-Twine - Pearl Islands & Heroes vs. Villains
Yes, Sandra is the only survivor to have won the game twice. Even though she claims her game is "anybody but me," Sandra is an expert at maneuvering herself to safety and power through her self-awareness and ability to read others. Her most impressive win was in Heroes vs. Villains where she competed against experienced players who already knew her.
While placed on the Villains tribe, she tried to help the Heroes with the goal of voting out Russell Hantz. While these attempts failed, it would win their votes. She then adapted her game and capitalized on Russell's weaknesses and Pavarti's relationship with him to win the million and the title for a second time. As she would say, the queen stays queen.