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Survivor 43’s most-likely winner, based on the editing

Survivor 43’s most-likely winner, based on the editing
Survivor 43 finalists Cassidy Clark, Jesse Lopez, Karla Cruz Godoy, and Owen Knight. Not pictured: Gabler, because of course he'll get zero votes at the final Tribal Council. (Image from Survivor via CBS)

It’s very clear to me that AI is not good at predicting the winner of Survivor 43, considering it selected Ben Driebergen, who, of course, is not on this season.

But human choices may point to who among Survivor 43’s final five—Cassidy Clark, Jesse Lopez, Karla Cruz Godoy, Mike Gabler, and Owen Knight—will win the $1 million on tonight’s finale.

Based on how the previous 42 seasons’ winners were edited during their seasons, the most-likely female winner is Cassidy, while Jesse is the most-likely male winner.

That’s even despite the fact that Karla has had more screen time: 45 confessionals all season, compared to Cassidy’s 30 confessionals.

Compared to the rest of the cast, Karla has been over-edited by 18 percent, while Cassidy has been under-edited by 21 percent.

So why am I suggesting that Cassidy is the more-likely female winner? It’s because, over time, women who win Survivor have been dramatically and severely under-edited during their seasons compared to bros who’ve won.

How do Survivor winners’ edits compare?

Survivor 41 winner Erika Casupanan in episode 11
Survivor 41 winner Erika Casupanan in episode 11. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

The winner of Survivor 41 was an excellent example of that: Erika Casupanan’s win made her the first person of Filipino descent, the first Canadian winner, and the first woman to win the CBS show after a streak of six male winners.

Yet before the finale, Erika was under-edited by 27 percent, receiving an average of 2.2 confessionals per episode, for a total of 26. Yes, the editing really failed Erika.

Thankfully, Survivor’s editors and producers adjusted and did the opposite the next season: Survivor 42 winner Maryanne Oketch was over-edited by 15 percent.

Still: Of Survivor’s 19 female winners, 14 of them have been under-edited.

That’s according to the data-crunching work of Kosta Psaltis, who goes by Rob’s Fact Checker on Twitter and Survivor Fact Checker on Instagram.

He who published this data recently in these two beautiful charts, which make it easily to quickly see how differently the editors have treated winners based on their sex:

I absolutely laughed when I saw Rob Mariano there with 207 percent over-editing during the season when he finally won, mostly to stop myself from crying.

Kosta pointed out that the show “historically edits winners differently depending on their gender. The top 15 winner edits are all men while the bottom 8 are all women except Chris Underwood.”

Survivor: Edge of Extinction winner Chris Underwood was not in the game for nearly one month.

Chris Underwood, who won Survivor Edge of Extinction despite only playing for 13 days.
Chris Underwood, who won Survivor Edge of Extinction despite only playing for 13 days. (Image from Survivor via CBS)

To find out if players were over, under, or evenly edited, Kosta’s methodology involved “comparing the number of confessionals each player received in their season up until the finale vs. how many confessionals they would have received if confessionals were distributed evenly in each episode among all players still left in the game for the entire season,” he wrote.

Will Survivor 43’s winner follow historical trends?

Jesse, Karla, and Cassidy sitting on the ground during Survivor 43 episode 12, perhaps contemplating the lies they are telling each other
Jesse, Karla, and Cassidy on Survivor 43 episode 12, perhaps contemplating the lies they are telling each other (Image from Survivor via CBS)

Kosta analyzed the Survivor 43 finalists in the Instagram caption and this Twitter thread, noting that:

  • “Jesse being 31% over-edited actually makes his edit just below average for a male winner.”
  • “Karla being 18% over-edited would make her the female winner with the 3rd biggest edit heading into the finale” and “makes me feel like her wining is unlikely”
  • “Owen (with his near perfectly even edit) and Gabler who is 6% under-edited are both within the normal range of a male winner but at the low end of the spectrum”
  • “Cassidy being 21% under-edited is well within the normal range for women”

That makes Jesse a less-likely winner than Cassidy, based on historical averages!

It’s wild to think that Gabler has had more confessionals than Cassidy, but that still makes him less-likely to win than her.

The attention Jesse has received—and the glowing edit—is one reason why I suggested, weeks ago, that Survivor was setting us up for his win. But compared to Survivor’s other male winners, he’s below average in terms of attention.

Of course, these are historical averages; as the dramatic difference in editing women between Survivor seasons 41 and 42 demonstrates, the editors can and do break from their norm.

In general, I think it’s unfair to winners to not have the story of their game told throughout the season, and not have their character developed. That leads to fans thinking of them as undeserving or underwhelming winners, even after they received votes from the people who were actually there all season long.

We’re only seeing what Survivor’s producers and editors decide to show us, so these numbers are entirely within their control.

At the same time, some players are just bigger characters than others, and may have far more entertaining confessionals, and thus those get included, because of course the most-entertaining and most-interesting footage will get priority.

The question is whether Survivor 43 will have struck the right balance, illustrating the winner’s game and letting us get to know them over the season, instead of making their win seem like it came from nowhere.

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Wednesday 14th of December 2022

question: of those men that were over edited, vs women under edited that won the game... how many were also very vocal and present throughout the game. With my recollection of winner, most of the women that have won were background players. not many had a major voice, because a-la survivor game play if a woman behaves empowered, they get voted off.

The "best/greatest" player by opinion from a women's aspect is Sandra... she was loud at tribal, but her game play was sit back and as long as it isnt me. So they will always put in the confessionals, those that want to talk a lot about their strategy and what they are doing.

Look at Russell's editing, you would have thought he would win, but never did, but he played an over the top game. Michelle from brain, beauty, and brawn was a quiet player, so forth with others.

I truly do think the editing comes from game play.. Cassidy has less editing than Karla, but Karla has also played a more agressive game. Jesse has been under edited, but thats because Cody stole spotlight.

if anything, look at the first all-star season, and Amber of all people won, her edit was quiet, cause of all the other big players in the game.

MaryAnne that won last season was a big persona, so i dont think they did more with her edit cause she was the winner, I think its because of her presence and who she was.

thats my opinion