‘Survivor’ Finale Recap: [Spoiler’s] Nail-Biter Win & Every Record Set in Season 46

Kenzie Veurink, Maria Gonzalez, Liz Wilcox, Ben Katzman, Charlie Davis and Jeff Probst in the 'Survivor' Season 46 finale
Spoiler Alert

[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for the Survivor Season 46 finale, “Friends Going to War.”]

Survivor 46 was a record-setting season in more ways than one, and now it has its winner. While the Nami tribe enjoyed a long winning streak in the first half of the season, none of its players made it into the final three. Two former Sigas and one Yanu got that honor. A Yanu player making it all the way to the end after the tribe’s record-setting bad start is everything you want to see on TV. Here, we break down the eventful Survivor 46 finale, how its winner secured the $1 million prize, and all the records this chaotic (and often confounding) season set.

Maria was one immunity challenge away from her fourth individual win in the first part of the three-hour finale. Had she won the challenge, Maria would’ve joined an elite group of just four women who had won individual immunity four times in the show’s run. Unfortunately for Maria, Kenzie, Ben, Liz, and Charlie collectively planned to make sure she wouldn’t win that immunity so she could be voted out of the game. Liz dropped her own puzzle to help widen the gap on Kenzie’s lead, making sure Maria had the odds stacked against her.

Ben’s game has relied on his social skills all season, but he pulled out his first immunity win and secured his spot in the final three. He brought Charlie with him and sent Kenzie and Liz to make fire. Liz wept, feeling she had no chance of winning at making fire. Season 46 set so many records, Jeff Probst wouldn’t let them set another record in the fire-making challenge (at 3 minutes and 2 seconds, Season 44’s Heidi holds the record for fastest fire made in this challenge). To raise the stakes, no fire-making kits were sent to the camp this season, which meant no meaningful practice for the three eligible players.

Liz’s downtrodden attitude caused a self-fulfilling prophecy. After both struggled for sparks, Kenzie eventually nurtured hers into a blaze and beat Liz. “I would’ve beat all of you!” Liz cried during her elimination. The camera cut over to the jury and their awkward silence spoke volumes.

Tiff laid the rules down plainly before the pitches began: no Taylor Swift lyrics, no pop culture or rock references, just plain and clear analysis of their games. Charlie gave the strongest pitch out of the gate, with some wobbles. Kenzie also made a strong case, but Q seemed to have a grudge against her that made him talk over her often. Other members of the jury had to tell him to let Kenzie answer the questions without interruption.

Ben had the odds most stacked against him in his pitch because his game was to fly under the radar. He started his pitch by saying he had a tough hand handed to him after the merge, which isn’t how you want to begin your plea for $1 million.

While this season was full of confounding decisions, the jury pitches and deliberation was some of the calmest in recent memory. In the end, the first vote went to Charlie, the second to Kenzie. The votes were continuously tied between the two, but eventually Kenzie won in a 5-3 vote.

Shockingly, Maria didn’t commit to voting for Charlie, her closest ally. Had she, there would’ve had to be a tiebreaker vote, which has only happened once in Survivor history. If there were a tie, Ben would earn the power of the deciding vote. Given that Ben chose to bring his Day 1 ally, Charlie, into the final three over Kenzie, who helped him through his night terrors, it’s easy to imagine Ben choosing Charlie again. Maria’s flip very well may have cost Charlie the $1 million.

With idols out of play, Survivor 46 got a lot more entertaining. But the constant idol blunders will not soon be forgotten. Here’s a reminder of the records the cast Survivor 46 cast either matched or set and some other wild stats:

Most players eliminated with idols in their pockets (five)

Five players were eliminated with playable immunity idols at their disposal this season. Four of these eliminations happened consecutively. The first idol flush was Jem’s elimination before the merge. The consecutive flushes began with Hunter, followed by Tiffany, Venus, and Q in immediate succession. Tevin was also voted out without using his extra vote advantage. Prior to Season 46, the Island of the Idols season held the record with four.

Most days without rice (23)

In the new era, you have to earn your food and other resources. Season 46 went the longest without earning rice.

Longest time without flint in the new era (11 days)

Yanu went a grueling 11 days during which they lost every challenge and therefore never earned their flint. It was a lot of cold, sleepless nights for that struggling tribe, but the tide eventually turned and one of their own won!

Nami never lost an immunity or reward challenge

Must be nice! But then again, none of them ended up in the final three. You win some, you lose some.

Stay tuned to TV Insider tomorrow for an interview with Kenzie, the Sole Survivor.

Survivor, Available now, Paramount+