The decision still haunts Domenick Abbate to this day.
Dom had won the final immunity on Survivor: Ghost Island. The problem was, he knew that neither Laurel nor Angela were likely able to defeat Wendell at the new final four fire-making challenge, meaning that he was going to have to go up against his only real competition in the final three anyway.
But there was one other option, and it was an audacious option at that. What if he gave up his final immunity and took on Wendell himself? If he won, then he was assured of winning the million dollars. But if he lost, he would not even make the final three and would never find out how he would have done in a jury vote. It was a million-dollar gamble, and in the end, Domenick chose not to take it. And the history books will now read that Wendell defeated him when Laurel broke the jury deadlock with her tiebreaker vote.
Ask him, and Dom will tell you that he regrets not making that move, but it’s hard to fault him for not giving up a guaranteed spot in the finals, especially because there was no sense that Wendell would definitely win if he made it there. Of course, by not taking Wendell on, Dom gave his biggest competition one more notch in his belt of accomplishments — a weird wrinkle in the new final four fire-making rules that essentially punishes the winner of the final immunity challenge.
Considering that weird wrinkle that boosts the résumé of folks like Wendell and Ben (from Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers, who also ended up winning after making fire) along with the chance to take out your biggest threat, will we someday see someone do what Dom did not and give up their final immunity to go to fire anyway?
Jeff Probst thinks so. The host told us that out on location in Fiji. “I think we’ll see someone do what Domenick thought about doing, mainly because Domenick thought about doing it,” says Probst. “He put it out there. It was a risky thought to even have and he put it out there, regrets that he didn’t do it. Somebody’s going to do it, because the more we play, the more in their head is my voice — which people keep making fun of — but there is only one winner. It is a zero sum game. Forget about second place. So, yes, Domenick, you were a gambler your entire game until the last minute and you went conservative and that’s the one regret you have. Proof of concept! Play big. If he takes him on, he wins. If he loses, same result — he loses. So I think it’s going to happen and I think it is the right move. Go for your competition and take him out.”
The next season of Survivor — titled David vs. Goliath — premieres Sept. 26 on CBS, but that season was filmed before the finale of Ghost Island aired, so those players would not have seen Domenick mull over the move and may therefore be hesitant to even consider it. That means season 38 (which will air in early 2019) would be the first chance for someone to actually follow through on Dom’s all-or-nothing gambit. Regardless, at some point, Probst thinks it will happen — for better or for worse.
To see Probst talk about Dom almost aborting his immunity and the possibility of it happening in the future, watch the video at the top of the post. And for more Survivor scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.