Survivor: Game Changers

Sandra Diaz-Twine Retrospective

A look back at the previous game of Sandra Diaz-Twine, one of the returning castaways on the upcoming Survivor: Game Changers.

Sandra Diaz-Twine, 42, South Carolina, Survivor: Pearl Islands and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains.

Age: 42
Hometown: Stamford, Connecticut
Previous Season(s): Survivor: Pearl Islands, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains
Previous Placing: Winner | Winner
Days Lasted: 39 | 39
Correctly Voted for Boot: 10 | 9
Votes Received: 0 | 3*
Individual Immunity Challenge Wins: 0
Most Memorable Moment: Winning twice.

*Includes two negated votes due to an idol play.

What happened in her previous season(s):

Survivor: Pearl Islands

Sandra returns to Survivor: Game Changers as the only two-time champion in Survivor history. It’s hard to believe Sandra was only 29-years-old when she first played Survivor, the same age as Jonny Fairplay, as she’s always seemed like this older sassy mama type. She started Pearl Islands as part of the dominant Drake tribe and immediately proved to be an asset. Sandra’s ability to speak Spanish helped Drake secure great deals during the rush for food and supplies at the Panamanian village. Even Sandra’s future arch nemesis Fairplay complimented how great Sandra performed at the market.

Despite her efforts at the village, Sandra wasn’t the best challenge performer. However, Drake was a strong tribe and won the first three immunity challenges. Early on in the game, Sandra butted heads with Fairplay; the two argued over which of them were weaker in the water, with Sandra claiming she made it to shore before Fairplay. With her screams of “I CAN GET LOUD TOO, WTF?”, Sandra’s arguments became infamous and showed that she wasn’t a character who would back down easily. Even though she clashed with Fairplay, Sandra got on with most of the other people on her tribe, particularly Rupert Boneham and Christa Hastie. The tribe sent Sandra as the first person to loot the Morgan tribe, where she took their tarp in a hilarious scene where she single-handedly ripped apart the Morgan shelter.

On Day 12, Burton Roberts came up with a plan for Drake to the throw the immunity challenge to eliminate one of the tribe’s weaker members. The tribe reluctantly went through with it, but a twist would see the Morgan tribe kidnap Rupert from the Drake tribe, abstaining him from the vote. Burton’s plan backfired, and he ended up being blindsided by the tribe. Rupert decided to return to Drake, but after their “thrown” win, the Morgans found some self-belief and were able to mount a comeback. Sandra was firmly in the majority on Drake and was able to send Burton’s former ally Michelle Tesauro home at the next vote. When Drake returned to tribal council on Day 18, Fairplay and Trish Dunn tried to form a plan to blindside Rupert, but when Sandra learned about this she spoke with Christa, and they decided to direct their votes toward Trish. Rupert received two votes and was furious with Fairplay.

The next day, the Outcasts twist was revealed, a tribe comprised of the first six people voted out. If the Outcasts were able to win the challenge, both the Drake and Morgan tribes would have to attend tribal council and vote someone out, while two of the Outcasts would be voted back into the game. The Outcasts won, sending Drake and Morgan to tribal, where Sandra joined the rest of Drake in voting out Shawn Cohen. Burton and Lill Morris returned to the game, Burton rejoining Drake and Lill back to Morgan.

Both tribes entered the merge with five people each. Burton reintegrated back into his old tribe, forming a tight bond with Fairplay. Due to the Morgans treatment of Lill, Burton was able to persuade her to vote with Drake, allowing them to get the upper hand, eliminating Andrew Savage and Ryan Opray at the first two merge tribal councils. On paper, it seemed like the Drake tribe would continue to pick off the old Morgans, but Burton and Fairplay saw an opportunity to blindside Rupert. Using Lill and the remaining Morgans, they were able to eliminate Rupert, blindsiding Sandra for the first time, who had thrown a personal vote at Fairplay, believing that Darrah Johnson was going home regardless.

After returning to camp, Sandra was angry that her ally Rupert had been voted out, and so attempted to hide the fish which Rupert had caught earlier. But she accidentally dropped the bucket, spilling the fish all over the floor. She was able to deflect suspicion by arguing with Fairplay, causing her ally Christa to take the blame instead. At the loved one’s challenge, where Fairplay pulled off his dead grandma lie, Sandra was the only person suspicious and refused to throw the challenge to him (which caused her to be eliminated first). Sandra tried to convince Tijuana Bradley to flip on the two men, even dragging her into the bushes to spy on Burton and Fairplay mid-strategy talk. It seemed like Tijuana was considering flipping, but later Burton and Fairplay made amends with the Drake women, and they all voted Tijuana out instead.

The two men flipped again at the next tribal council, voting out Sandra’s closest ally Christa. But Burton and Fairplay began to get too cocky, and while off on a reward, Sandra formed an alliance with Darrah and Lill. Fairplay made Sandra swear on her kids that she wasn’t going to turn on them, which she did, but in confessional said, “…under my breath and in my head, I was saying ‘I swear on my kids that I’m gonna screw you and Burton.'” With Darrah winning her third straight immunity, the women blindsided Burton at tribal council. Fairplay was able to turn Lill and Darrah against each other at the next reward, and with Darrah vulnerable at the next tribal council, Sandra joined Fairplay and Lill in eliminating Darrah as the biggest immunity threat.

Sandra was first out of the final immunity challenge, which Lill ended up winning. Sandra said she would be shocked if Lill took her to the Final 2. However, Lill respected that Sandra was playing for her family and felt she was more deserving than Fairplay, who was voted out that night. The jurors questioned how much Sandra worked for her position, but she expertly answered all their questions, talking up how she remained loyal to her allies and worked hard at camp. She easily beat Lill in a 6-1 vote.

Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains

Sandra would return for the 20th season, Heroes vs. Villains, as a member of the Villains tribe. There was some initial confusion as to why Sandra was considered a bad guy, but that was soon put to rest when she undid Sugar’s bra in the very first challenge, proving her villainous ways. Much like in Pearl Islands, Sandra started on a tribe which won the first couple of immunity challenges; this allowed her to work her social game and get in the majority. She was closely aligned with Boston Rob Mariano and Courtney Yates, who made up the majority alongside Tyson Apostol, Jerri Manthey, and Coach Wade.

The Villains lost their first immunity challenge on Day 8. Even though Coach and Jerri pushed for Parvati to go, Rob, who was acting as tribe leader, felt that Parvati would be more helpful in challenges. The entire tribe, including Sandra, voted out Randy Bailey 9-1. The Villains won the next two immunity challenges, avoiding tribal council. During this time Russell Hantz had started to grate on his tribe members, particularly Sandra and Rob, with his constant scheming and searching for idols. On Day 15, both tribes had to attend tribal council, with a player from each tribe winning individual immunity. Rob had immunity on the Villains and formed a 3-3-3 split-vote plan to guarantee that one of Russell or Parvati would go home, even if an idol was played. Courtney, Jerri, and Coach voted for Parvati. Sandra and Rob voted for Russell, with Sandra saying “You need to get in the ocean and wash your ass,” as she cast her vote. Tyson was also supposed to vote for Russell, but second guessed himself and foolishly voted for Parvati. In a shocking moment, Russell played his idol on Parvati, causing Tyson to be eliminated.

This vote rocked the Villains and shook up the alliances within the tribe. They continued on a losing streak, sending them back to tribal council three times before the merge. Jerri and Coach ditched Rob’s alliance for Russell’s, first sending Rob home. Sandra and Courtney were on the chopping block next, so Sandra crafted a lie, telling Russell that Coach was coming after him. Russell’s paranoia got the better of him, and Coach was blindsided. Even though Sandra got to enjoy her favorite meal, Outback Steakhouse, on Day 22, the Villains lost the immunity challenge on Day 24. Sandra’s “bestie” Courtney was unanimously voted out, with Sandra even casting a vote against her to show her loyalty to the Villains heading into the merge.

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Much like Sandra’s first season, the two tribes came into the merge with five people each. The Heroes mistakenly thought they had Russell on their side, with JT Thomas even passing his idol off to Russell at the previous challenge, believing he was in danger due to a perceived all girls alliance. Sandra, sick and tired of Russell, tried warning the Heroes that Russell wasn’t on their side and that she was willing to flip to them to make a move. While Rupert started to believe his former Pearl Islands ally, JT refused, sure that Russell was voting with them against the Villains. In perhaps the greatest tribal council of all time, Parvati played two idols, one for Sandra and one for Jerri, negating the Heroes’ votes, while the Villains planted their five votes on JT, sending him to the jury.

Sandra continued to try and work with the Heroes throughout the merge, but obstacles were always thrown in her way. When Sandra was willing to flip to the Heroes, Candice Woodcock decided to flip the other way, to Russell and the Villains. Without Candice on board, Sandra refused to stick her neck out, and so stood by the Villains in voting out Amanda Kimmell. Russell would then turn on Candice and Danielle DiLorenzo at the next two tribal councils, as he tried to regain control of the game after it seemed Parvati was usurping his position. Sandra voted with Danielle and Parvati at the tribal council where Danielle went home, hoping to eliminate Rupert after the Heroes proved to be a lost cause. Sandra would find a hidden immunity idol and kept it secret from the rest of the tribe. Sensing danger after voting Rupert at the previous tribal council, Sandra played her idol, negating two votes against her, but Rupert went home regardless with four votes.

Sandra stuck by the Villains while feeding Russell’s ego, letting him believe that he would easily beat her at Final Tribal Council. Colby Donaldson, the last remaining Hero, would be eliminated next, leaving Sandra, Jerri, Parvati, and Russell, an all Villains final four. Russell wanted Jerri out next, while Jerri wanted to get rid of Parvati. Only Parvati considered the option of eliminating Sandra, seeing her as the biggest jury threat. But after Russell won the final immunity challenge, he got his way, and Jerri was voted out. On the final day, Sandra and Parvati took great pleasure in winding up Russell, openly mocking his ego and chances to win. Sandra also burnt Russell’s hat on the fire, showing him “that’s how much game I got.”

At the final tribal council, Russell received a ton of negative feedback, rendering it practically impossible for him to win. Some respected Parvati’s game but she was criticized for aligning so closely with Russell and undermining the Heroes and their efforts. Sandra presented herself as Russell’s arch-nemesis, stating that she tried several times to work with and help the Heroes, and what an achievement it was to make it to the end despite losing her closest allies pre-merge. In the end, the jury awarded Sandra a historic second Sole Survivor title in a 6-3 vote.


Biggest Strength: Sandra’s biggest strength is her ability to go with the flow. She is the master of the “as long as it ain’t me” strategy. She is rarely the one controlling the vote, but she is nearly always aware of where the vote is going, which lets her know when to ditch a plan or when to move forward with it. Of the 24 tribal councils she’s attended over her two seasons, she’s voted for the right boot at 19 of them. Sandra also has a solid social game where her tribemates somehow appreciate her brash honesty.

Biggest Weakness: Obviously Sandra’s major flaw is her lack of ability in challenges. She has been lucky in her previous two seasons to start on a winning tribe, giving her time to work her social game and form alliances. She’s also never been in a season with a tribe swap. It’s hard to say how Sandra would fair if her tribe attended the first tribal council of the season. And, of course, her big weakness coming into Season 34 is the fact she’s the only two-time winner. Just that title alone will cause people to target her.

Sandra is one of twenty returning castaways who will compete on Survivor: Game Changers which premieres March 8 on CBS. Stay tuned to Inside Survivor for more cast retrospectives and other pre-season content.

Written by

Martin Holmes

Martin is a freelance writer from England. He’s represented by Berlin Associates for comedy writing and writes about TV and entertainment, currently for TV Insider and Vulture, previously Digital Spy, ET Canada, and Yahoo. A finalist for the Shortlist Sitcom Search in 2012 for “Siblings,” Martin received his BA in English with Creative Writing from The University of Hull. Martin is the owner and editor-in-chief of Insider Survivor.

4 responses to “Sandra Diaz-Twine Retrospective”

  1. Sandra don’t go care about her perfect record or her legend status. Ssndra just loves this game and wants to play again. Even though I still think Parvati deserved more the HvV title and two times winner status, you just can’t not love Sandra personality and appreciate the way she played both seasons and be excited with her playing again. I wonder if she attempts the strategy that people often forget she mastered – finding the real villain of the season and presenting herself as his arch nemesis, it worked with FairPlay and Russell, let’s see if it works again.

  2. I love Sandra and her personality, but I think it is safe to say she will not win. She can potentially make to merge, but she won’t make the final tribal.

  3. I would love to see her win a 3rd time, but would anyone be foolish enough to let her near the end. If they do, they deserve what they get.

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