By Dalton Ross
February 27, 2019 at 11:15 AM EST
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Here’s a fun fact about international music superstar Sia: She is a Survivor super-fan. And she expresses her love not just by religiously watching the CBS reality show, but by also giving money to her favorite contestants.

During the Kaoh Rong season, Sia was so moved by the story of Tai Trang and his love for animals — which included him saving a chicken from fellow contestants’ stomachs — that she appeared on stage at the season finale reunion show and announced she was giving him $50,000, as well as $50,000 to the animal charity of his choice.

But Sia wasn’t done. At the Ghost Island finale, Jeff Probst informed contestant Donathan Hurley that Sia was so inspired by his story of growing up gay in Kentucky and taking care of his sick grandmother, that she was going to give him $10,000 as well. The news got even better when Sia found out she could give even more tax-free, alerting Donathan via Twitter that she was upping the amount to $14,000.

As for what Hurley did with the money, he reveals, “She gifted me 14k tax-free, and what I did with it was took a cruise and the rest went toward buying me, mom, and Maw Maw a home. We have never had that before, and it was my first cruise!”

But it seems Sia still wasn’t done and has, in fact, gifted another $14,000 to her latest favorite contestant. And that contestant is… Davie Rickenbacker of Survivor: David vs. Goliath. How did it all happen? Well, allow Davie to explain. “I received so many messages privately throughout [the season] about how me not straying away from my faith and myself motivated strangers to do the same!” says Davie. “I could never had expected such an overwhelmingly positive response. Then God took it one step further with my meeting the artist Sia, and my purpose had finally come full circle.”

But the story doesn’t end with a mere backstage introduction. “About a week after the finale,” explains Davie, “I received an odd message from an e-mail address that seemed to be spam. It read: Hi, Davie, I really admired your spirit and was moved by your faith and so I wanted to give you this gift. I’m sorry you didn’t win, you were my choice to win. I love you, keep going! I wasn’t sure what to think of the message, but my adrenaline had already allowed me to respond with the information she requested to send me a gift.”

Robert Voets/CBS

At first, Davie was ecstatic. “Are you serious? I’m receiving the Sia award!” he recalls thinking. “An award so worthy of being held, following great players like Tai and Donathan, maybe countless others?” But then something else occurred to him. “After hitting send, I soon realized: Oh no, this could have been a crazed fan that somehow found my e-mail address and is baiting me as a sick joke! I panicked and e-mailed production telling them what happened and they knew nothing about the situation either, so at this point I’m imploding.”

Alas, good news was around the corner. “After a few hours,” says Davie, “I receive an e-mail back from production saying that they spoke with Jeff Probst and this is indeed Sia that I am conversing with and yes, it is real! Really, Jeff, did you just forget to tell me that you gave the amazing Sia my e-mail address? No big deal — huh, Jeff?”

All’s well that ends well for Davie, however. And it did end well. Not only did the sixth place finisher get $14,000 from a pop star, which — along with his earnings from the show enabled Davie to “pay off student loan debt, repay my parents for the support they gave me throughout the process, and of course give a donation to my God,” but he also got his old job back that he had to give up for appearing on Survivor in the first place.

Sounds like a pretty sweet deal. Maybe someone will write a song about it.

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Jeff Probst leads adventures in the ultimate (and original) reality series.
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  • 554
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  • 05/31/00
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