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'Survivor' crowns its 27th champion

"Survivor: Blood vs. Water" was full of surprises this season, but the cycle ended on a rather unsurprising note when Tyson Apostol, who dominated the game, was named the show’s 27th winner on Sunday. 

The 34 year-old bicycle-shop manager from Provo, Utah, broke down in tears as host Jeff Probst revealed that he had earned all but one of the jury votes, and had defeated his former alliance members Gervase Peterson and Monica Culpepper for the $1 million prize. 

Tyson, the three-time player viewers first met in 2009 on “Survivor: Tocantins,” said he went into the season in the Philippines just looking to have fun. But he became a force to be reckoned with after girlfriend Rachel Foulger’s elimination on day seven. He had then angrily warned his competitors, “None of you have a chance in hell.” Even a nasty shoulder injury couldn’t stop him, and during his time in the competition, managed to find both hidden immunity idols and orchestrate numerous blindsides.

“I’d already had the experience of getting voted out twice ... for me to make (Rachel’s) sacrifice worth it, I had to fight and scrape to get to the end all the time, 24/7,” Tyson said after his win.

But before becoming the champ, Tyson helped protect his greatest ally and fellow finalist Gervase by playing his hidden immunity idol to keep the cigar-lounge owner in the game. Although Monica threatened to stray from her alliance, she ultimately helped the two men vote Ciera Eastin out of the game to advance the trio to the finale.

In what may have been one of the friendliest final tribal councils in the show’s long history, none of the final three chose to bash their opponents. They even listed the reasons their opponents should win after being prompted to do so by jury member Aras Baskauskas.

“I feel like he’s been a charging horse for 39 days,” Monica said of Tyson, who praised Monica’s social game.

“It was amazing how well it worked,” he said.

Although Monica did manage to get Vytas Baskauskas’ vote (Gervase earned zero), she failed to make the big strategic moves that Tyson did throughout the season, which he did all while staying mostly true to his core alliance.

“I’d try to have an ‘A,’ ‘B’ and ‘C’ plan in place all the time,” he told Probst after his win. “When I was lying awake staring at the sky, all I was thinking about was how can I get one step further with the people I need to.”

After a chat with this season’s players, Probst revealed that the next season of “Survivor” will see the contestants divided into three teams: beauty, brains and brawn. 

"Survivor" returns to CBS in February.