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Sandra Diaz-Twine is returning to Survivor!

Sandra Diaz-Twine, the first person in Survivor history to win the show twice, competed most recently in Survivor: Winners at War, and was voted out on day 16, when she decided to bail on Edge of Extinction. (In my book, that makes her even more of a queen for refusing to participate in that dumb twist.)

After exiting, Sandra reflected on her five seasons of Survivor, four as a player, and said during her Ponderosa interview, “This is the end for me, and I’m on to bigger and better things. Adios!”

One of those bigger and better things may just be Survivor—but not the CBS version, the bigger and better Australian Survivor.

Australian Survivor host Jonathan LaPaglia
Australian Survivor host Jonathan LaPaglia. (Photo by Ten)

For its ninth season, which will premiere in February, SurvivorAU is using the Blood vs. Water theme, and Sandra is one of its players.

That won’t be the first time an American player is on the show: it previously cast an American contestant, Russell Hantz, for season five: Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders.

That season was one of the three Australian Survivor seasons recently added to Paramount+, so no spoilers, but you can watch to see if he did better or worse than during his CBS appearances.

Since Australian Survivor returned, its game has been considerably longer than the American version, ranging between 48 and 55 days. (The longest the CBS version ever went was 42 days in Survivor: The Australian Outback.) It also airs three episodes per week.

As the CBS version has been in creative decline, some American Survivor fans have turned to the Australian version, and really, really love it.

Perhaps if the new season ends up on Paramount+ too, Sandra’s presence could help draw even more American Survivor fans to its Australian counterpart.

Australian Survivor: Blood vs. Water’s cast

Sandra Diaz-Twine on Survivor Winners at War episode 5
Sandra Diaz-Twine on Survivor Winners at War episode 5 (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

The website TV Blackbox previously revealed that the SurvivorAU would be using Blood vs. Water as its theme, and also moving its location to Charters Towers in Queensland.

That became official yesterday, when the Australian government announced that the show would stay filming in Australia, instead of returning to Fiji, where it filmed seasons five through seven. It will receive “$3.9 million in funding” and “is expected to inject more than $29 million into regional Australia.”

Earlier, Jonathan LaPaglia all but confirmed the theme, telling TV Tonight in September, “it is a theme that has been done in the past in the US I can tell you that much.”

Yesterday, TV Blackbox reported that the cast would be “a mix of previous contestants and Australian celebrities,” and those celebrities include reality TV stars such as Instant Hotel’s Jay Bruno and MasterChef Australia’s Khanh Ong.

That report, published yesterday, didn’t mention Sandra as a celebrity player, but late Tuesday night, Daily Mail Australia did, quoting an anonymous source who said, “Sandra is a big deal in the Survivor world and is confident she’s more tenacious than anyone else they’ve had on the Australian show.”

Sandra is such a big deal the CBS version turned her into an actual statue:

Sandra Diaz-Twine and "Boston" Rob Mariano and the Island of the Idols giant heads on that are supposed to look like them
Sandra Diaz-Twine and “Boston” Rob Mariano and the Island of the Idols giant heads on that are supposed to look like them. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

The source also told the paper, “She’s been in Queensland for a few weeks now and has been instructed to keep a low profile and not post about why she is in Australia.”

Sandra hasn’t posted to Instagram since Sept. 15, and to Twitter since Sept. 2. But infrequent posts are also not a tell. Her previous tweet was July 30; she posts a little more frequently to Instagram, but not much.

It’s unclear which of Sandra’s family members she would be competing against, if anyone, in the Blood vs. Water format. Daily Mail Australia said that the Blood vs. Water format may be very different: “unlike the U.S. seasons in which each pair was made up of a veteran and a newcomer, it’s believed some of the Australia pairs will comprise two veterans.”

Sandra’s presence has already resulted in excitement on social media: As one person tweeted, “we went from Sandra might be on #SurvivorAU to Sandra is WINNING Survivor AU in less than an hour.”

Survivor Sandra GIF - Survivor Sandra Meh GIFs

About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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