NJ officer wins 'Survivor' for second time, takes home $2M
Officer Tony Vlachos was one of 20 past winners competing in 'Survivor: Winners at War'
PoliceOne columnist Dan Marcou lists the 10 cop skills “Survivor” champ Officer Tony Vlachos used to become a two-time winner.
NJ Advance Media
JERSEY CITY, N.J. — New Jersey police officer Tony Vlachos has again emerged as the winner of “Survivor," winning the $2 million prize.
Vlachos, 46, was one of 20 past winners of the reality competition show to square off against one another for the 40th season of the series, which premiered in February as “Survivor: Winners at War.”
This “Sole Survivor,” who hails from Jersey City, where he works for the police department, and lives in Allendale, previously won “Survivor: Cagayan” in 2014.
Vlachos’ prize money is reportedly the largest amount in reality show history.
“I promised my kids if I won I would get them go-karts, little ones with gas in them," Vlachos told “Entertainment Tonight" after his win. “They’re so excited about that. One pink one, one blue one.” He noted that many are facing financial hardship during the coronavirus and said he invested the first million dollars he won on the show in “a lot of properties ... the best thing to do is to pay off those mortgages and be secure."
Vlachos is the show’s second two-time winner, after Sandra Diaz-Twine won “Survivor: Pearl Islands” in 2003 and “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” in 2010. (Diaz-Twine also competed this season.) He also competed in “Survivor: Game Changers” in 2017, but was voted out on the sixth day.
“Winners at War," which ended with a three-hour episode on Wednesday night, marked the 20th anniversary of “Survivor.”
In a post-show interview for CBS, Vlachos said one of his favorite moments of the season was finding a tree above a water well so he could build a spy nest.
“A spy nest? That’s like next-level ‘Survivor’ playing," he said. “Spying on people from above? Oh man, that was amazing.”
Vlachos triumphed over two other contestants in an all-New Jersey final: Michele Fitzgerald, 30, a business development manager who is from Freehold and lives in Hoboken; and Natalie Anderson, 34, a CrossFit trainer who lives in Edgewater and won “San Juan del Sur” in 2014 (her twin sister, Nadiya, had also competed).
Anderson, who ended the game as runner-up, was a castaway who made it back from the Edge of Extinction to vie for the title in the Final 3 alongside Fitzgerald and Vlachos. Fitzgerald was second runner-up.
New this season, players were given fire tokens, a type of currency they used to buy advantages on the island.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Survivor” drew the series’ best finale ratings since 2017, averaging 7.95 million viewers in the 18 to 49 demographic.