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'Rich' emerges victorious in final 'Survivor' vote
Two-hour finale wraps up show, for now
(CNN) -- Rich, the corporate trainer from Rhode Island who often walked around in the buff, prevailed as the winner on 'Survivor' and claimed its $1 million prize.
Richard Hatch, 39, who had orchestrated a voting alliance that helped him outlast the others, won over Kelly Wiglesworth, 23, a river guide from Las Vegas, as the wildly popular CBS show wrapped up its first season on Wednesday night. The two-hour finale whittled down the grand winner before an estimated audience of 40 million viewers.
"The million dollars is a heck of an opportunity -- I hope I don't waste it," he said.
During the run of 'Survivor', CBS late night talk show host David Letterman frequently referred to Rich as "the naked fat guy." Now maybe he can afford to buy some clothes.
Sixteen contestants up for the $1 million prize not only had to fight the sun, surf and pesky rats of a tropical Malaysian island, they had to battle each other. Each week, island residents gathered together to oust one of their own until a final four remained -- Richard, Rudy, Susan and Kelly.
Susan Hawk, 39, a truck driver from Palmyra, Wisconsin, was the first to fall after a tribal vote.
Kelly had the sole power to drop either Richard or Rudy in a second vote. She voted out Rudy Boesch, 72. "I don't blame her," he said before walking off into the darkness.
Richard and Kelly next packed up their belongings and left camp for the last time to stand before a jury of their cast-off peers.
"I don't know that the best person is sitting up here, but I hope the better person will win," Kelly said.
"Instead of who's the better person, it is about who played the game better," Richard countered.
A island adventure recap
Just in case you only saw the finale or missed the whole season entirely, here's a primer on the summer's most engaging soap opera:
"Survivor" first aired in June with 16 contestants made up of a cross- section of Americans culled from 6,000 applicants, all vying for a chance to win $1 million by lasting longest in the wild. The first to go was 63-year-old Californian Sonja Christopher.
The competition was taped earlier this year on the Malaysian island of Palau Tiga, 20 miles off the coast of Borneo, with the Pagong tribe assigned to one end of the island and the Tagi tribe at the other end. The island is home to the comfy Palau Tiga Resort -- not quite as remote as CBS would have you believe.
Led by the laughably solemn Jeff Probst, the islanders would trudge with torch in hand to the Tribal Council, where one by one they voted off friend and foe.
By the fifth episode, scheming Richard Hatch had masterminded an alliance with Kelly Wiglesworth, cantankerous ex-Navy SEAL Rudy Boesch and Susan Hawk to systemically vote their opponents off the island. It worked, too: the four survived until the last show.
Rather than being nibbled by rats, "Survivor" contestants bit back, roasting the rodents and dining on them. "You just skin them, gut them, put them on the stick," basketball coach Gervase Peterson told Newsweek. "They were pretty good. I was surprised. They tasted like chicken." Yet rat was more the exception than the rule. Island fare mainly consisted of rice, usually eaten out of coconut shells, and whatever they could fish out of the water.
Survivors were allowed to take one luxury item with them. Their choices included a Bible, a razor, a toothbrush, a ukulele, tweezers, soap, shampoo and a Frisbee.
Each week, the contestants played a game that would earn the winner immunity from being voted off the island that night. The lucky castaway would don a tribal necklace, a sign of protection, and sit smugly at the campfire as ballots were cast.
Long Island neurologist Sean Kenniff tried to stay above the fray by voting people off the island according to the alphabet. He cast a crucial vote in episode No. 9, unwittingly saving Hatch and joining an alliance against college student Jenna Lewis.
Speculation abounded as to who would last longest. Early on, it centered on ex-Air Force survival instructor Gretchen Kordy, but she got the boot in the seventh episode. Then the official "Survivor" Web site "accidentally" suggested that Peterson was the winner. Not so: He was gone after episode 10.
The show regularly topped the Nielsen ratings. Mercifully, it pushed the phrase "voted off the island" past "Is that your final answer?" as the nation's No. 1 cliche. It also spawned an array of imitators, including "Survivor: The Australian Outback," which airs early next year.
'Survivor' castaways cash in as series ends
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