The soft-core porn stud turned used-car salesman closed the deal Thursday night, triumphing over his fellow Survivors.
Brian Heidik (news), the 34-year-old from Quartz Hill, California, survived rats, snakes, food-stealing monkeys, whipping monsoon rains and, oh yeah, his fellow castaways to win the series finale of Survivor: Thailand
The rugged blond, whom even host Jeff Probst described as a player, glad-handed his way through the 39 days, made alliances he didn't keep, and, in keeping with tradition, swept the finale's immunity challenges.
Then how did he manage to go home with a Chevy trailblazer, the $1 million prize money and the title of solve Survivor? In the end, as Ted Rogers put it, Brian was the lesser of two evils against crusty Clay Jordan, who badgered the jury before they picked a winner.
Heidik, who became the de facto leader of the Chuay Jai, is the fifth million-dollar winner on the popular CBS reality game show, this time set in Thailand's Tarutao Islands National Park, a chain of 51 pristine islands dotting the Indian Ocean some 600 miles south of Bangkok.
And his fellow castaways who spent five weeks in the tropical jungles of Koh Tarutao midway through monsoon season, probably weren't the only ones kicking themselves Thursday. Heidik recently separated from his wife, Charmaine, who was arrested for spousal abuse last week. (Maybe the busty bruiser got tired of being kept in the dark about the outcome?)
Here's a recap of the two-hour finale:
The evening began with a rat-like race between remaining Chuay Jai team members Heidik, Louisiana restaurateur Clay Jordan, Rhode Island Navy swim instructor Helen Glover and Florida teacher Jan Gentry. Each one raced to release the food pellet. And that's where the challenge took a nasty turn. The Thai delicacy the Survivors had to eat to win immunity was a large hairy black spider. Heidik won the contest--but at what price to his digestive system?
With the immunity necklace back in his possession Heidik and Clay approached Jan with a proposed alliance against Helen. It took the perky teacher all of a few minutes to agree to turn on her fellow female tribe member. Helen's torch was extinguished that night in tribal council.
The next day the remaining conspirators paddled down the river releasing floral tribute floats to the 13 other Survivors. Cue the sappy montage and melodramatic music.
Next up, the trio met Probst in a candlelit cave, home to the pirates who originally ruled the island. Instead of the lengthy hold-your-hand-on-the-idol endurance test, producers used treasure to test the contestants' willpower. The final three were forced to stand, knees bent, with their hands in brackets holding six gold coins apiece between their fingers.
Perhaps spurred by the thought of the four beers and pizza she planned to have at home, Jan was the first to fold, Clay soon followed and Brian got to keep the immunity necklace.
Brian chose to take Clay with him and the final tribal council snuffed Jan's torch.
And then there were two.
Speaking before the final jury Clay suffered from a case of foot-in-mouth ("I'm a lucky guy. I'm sitting here, I'm not sitting over there," he said gesturing to the jurors), while Brian patted himself on the back for having kept "food in our bellies" and making sure people were "warm at night".
Payback's a bitch, and the seven jurors got to air their beefs with the sneaky twosome. Ted scored the Susan Hawk angry-speech-of-the-evening award when he called Brian a great used-car salesman. "You sold me your friendship." A lemon. And then told Clay he was an ignorant Southern hillbilly who rode Brian's coattails to the end. It doesn't get any better.
Despite Brian's sleazy motivational speaker shtick before the jurors, the "player" from California got the required four votes to win the game.
The reunion episode in front of a live studio audience at CBS Television City in Hollywood was tame in comparison to last year's live reunion party in Central Park. Gone were the tunes and last year's host Rosie O'Donnell (news). Instead, Jeff Probst emceed the subdued affair that recapped the season, including the most memorable moment: Ted's early-morning grope-fest of Ghandia Johnson.
Viewers who managed to stay tuned through the two hour series finale and the snooze-inducing post Survivor: Reunion party were able to catch all 16 Survivors presenting a special Top 10 list on the Late Show with David Letterman (news - Y! TV), alongside Academy Award winner Tom Hanks (news) and rock band Phish.
In the meantime, anyone thinking Survivor has run its course can think again. CBS recently confirmed the next installment would take place in the Amazon early next year. Host Jeff Probst promised more twists and warned contestants that they would encounter the most beautiful and the most dangerous animals in the world in the South American jungle, including the deadly Anaconda. Let the games begin.