The franchise crowns its first champion in 19 months.

Warning: This article contains spoilers about Wednesday's season finale of Survivor 41.

Five players walked into the finale of Survivor 41 with a chance at a million dollars. (Or, you know, four plus Heather.) But only one would leave with the loot and the title of Sole Survivor. Ricard Foyé, Erika Casupanan, Xander Hastings, Deshawn Radden, and Heather Aldret all had dreams of dollar signs and juror adoration dancing in their heads, but when all was said and done, the winner was… Erika!

Erika was not even supposed to make the merge, as she was sent to Exile Island and faced what appeared to be an almost unanimous vote to get rid of her on day 14. And then Jeff Probst handed her an hourglass. A new twist that allowed her to "make history by changing history" was introduced, giving Erika instant immunity. Instead of going home (and not even being on the jury), she forged an alliance of underdogs and rode it all the way to day 26 (the new endgame) and a 7-1-0 jury vote over Deshawn and Xander.

Survivor- Finalist
Deshawn Radden, Heather Aldret, Xander Hastings, Erika Casupanan, and Ricard Foyé of 'Survivor 41'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS (5)

Xander was left to rue his decision to bring Erika to the end after winning the final immunity challenge when he could have made her compete against Deshawn or Heather at the fire-making final 4 (or taken her on himself). Instead, he misread the jury and fast-passed her to the finals — and then received no votes for himself as a result. (Deshawn received a single vote, from island BFF Danny McCray.) Erika becomes the first female Survivor winner in 7 seasons, going back to Sarah Lacina in Survivor: Game Changers (season 34).

The episode began with Erika winning a challenge advantage, which helped her to the first immunity victory. This enabled the tribe to oust Ricard, the biggest threat to win. After Xander then won the second immunity contest and picked Erika to sit beside him, Deshawn and Heather battled in a back-and-forth fire-making contest. While Heather seemed to have the bigger, more sustained flame, she could not burn through her rope, allowing Deshawn to come back and win, securing his spot in the finals.

But, in the end, the real winner was Erika, who also became Survivor's first-ever Canadian champion. Read our full episode recap and stay tuned for post-game interviews with the final five. You can read our pre-finale interviews with the final five and the jury right here!

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