Sonja Christopher’s Survivor winnings became seed money for church’s $1 million

The very first person voted off Survivor, breast cancer survivor and lesbian Sonja Christopher, donated the $2,500 she received for her three days on the show to her church. More than seven years later, that initial donation helped her church raise $1 million to build a fellowship hall.

Sonja intended to “win big and give the money to her church to build a new hall,” the AP reports, but after being voted off with such little prize money, still made good on her plans, giving it to the Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church.

Its reverend, Diane Miller, tells the AP, “It was the generosity of it. It wasn’t waiting until we had some big giant gift. That’s really what’s so unusual.” One church member, Joan Redding, said that Sonja’s gift “touched my heart very deeply that she would do that. It really was our seed money.”

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.