The last person to leave the game, the person so close to the end they can taste the money but has their opportunity to plead their case taken away at the very last moment. That person becomes ingrained in their respective season as the final recipient of “The Tribe Has Spoken” and earns a place in a very special group in Survivor history: The Day 38 Club.
Inside Survivor contributor Ian Walker continues the countdown of the updated and revised Day 38 Club rankings. The list takes into account the strength of a player’s game, character, and the power of their story.
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No. 11 – David Wright (Millennials vs. Gen-X)
From the outset, David Wright seems like an atypical Survivor castaway. A smaller guy with more than a healthy dose of anxiety does not seem like the ideal mix to outwit, outplay, and outlast all the rest. Yet, in many ways, David turned out to be the exact kind of castaway that fits so snuggly with the show because of the story he brought with him to the island.
David stepped into Millennials vs. Gen-X not only wanting to play a great game of Survivor but also to use the game as a springboard to allow him to embrace what life has to offer, rather than living in fear of it. Through a game filled with passion, cunning, compassion, and warmth, David did learn to embrace life again, making for a satisfying 38-day journey.
The early days on the Gen-X tribe were not good for David. Everything around him made him uncomfortable. The bugs. The dirt. The looming vastness of the ocean. The loud thwack of the machete against bamboo. These things contributed to David being a big ball of nerves during the first three days, convincing himself he was a goner going into the first Tribal Council of the season.
Fortunately, David avoided that first one out fate, largely because behind that socially awkward veneer was a guy that was warm, funny, and endearing, and those guys typically don’t get voted out first. And once he got comfortable, it was off to the races.
David put together quite an impressive Survivor resume during his 38 days because he was not afraid of playing a big game despite being fearful of the many things on the island. He became a surprise challenge star, winning a couple of individual Immunities, one of which did not include a puzzle. And not only did he find two idols, but he also played both of them on other people, memorably saving key ally Jessica Lewis at a pivotal pre-merge Tribal.
At the final ten, the most strategically raucous point of the season, David waged war against former ally Zeke Smith. He helped instigate a deadlock tie, forcing him to put his hand into a bag of rocks and allowing fate to decide whether he would stay or go. Placing trust in the hands of Lady Luck with such high stakes is a scary thought for any player, but David was willing to take the gamble because of the trust he put in his allies, and vice versa.
For all the cerebral strategy that David seemed to excel at, the true hallmark of his game was his ability to form deep social relationships with the right people, namely Ken McNickle and Hannah Shapiro. After the rock draw, those two were rock solid with David and stuck by him even when his late-game rival, Adam Klein, was beating the drum of getting him out. Although, those rock solid allies ultimately crumbled at the end.
Eventually, Adam, Ken, and Hannah came together to take David out at the final four, not allowing who would be the sure-fire victor from advancing any further. Adam did win unanimously, but David would have won 100-0-0.
The guy who never thought he could make it past Day 3 eventually got all the way to Day 38, becoming the front-runner he never thought he could be, giving us a memorable journey along the way. We, as Survivor fans, give in return one big Vinaka.
Stay tuned to Inside Survivor as the Day 38 Club rankings continue over the coming days. Check out the previous entries here.