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In Survivor, whenever tribes have an uneven number of castaways, the tribe with the most have to sit someone out in the challenges so that every tribe has the same amount of members competing. Before Survivor 40: Winners at War began, Courtney Yates held the record for most challenge sit-outs with 12. While Sandra Diaz-Twine is currently the only two-time champ, she did not win based on physical merit as she also has a reputation for sitting out of challenges.

Courtney Yates Sandra Diaz-Twine
Sandra Diaz and Courtney Yates | Robert Voets

When Sandra returned for her fourth season, she beat Courtney’s record and now holds the title for most career challenge sit-outs.

Sandra Diaz-Twine on ‘Survivor 40: Winners at War’

The 45-year-old Pearl Islands and Heroes vs. Villains Sole Survivor, Sandra Diaz-Twine, returned for Survivor 40: Winners at War in quest of her third title. Initially placed on the dominating Dakal tribe, she avoided almost every Tribal Council except for two. Additionally, she bought an idol from Natalie Anderson on the Edge of Extinction that she could use for the next three Tribal Councils.

In Episode 5, the tribes swapped, and Sandra stayed on Dakal in the majority with Kim Spradlin-Wolfe and Tony Vlachos. Former Sele members Jeremy Collins and Denise joined them to form NuDakal.

After winning their first immunity, a twist forced the bottom two tribes to vote someone off at Tribal Council. Not wanting to waste her idol but wanting to get rid of a target without getting blood on her hands, Sandra struck a deal with Denise.

She told the Philippines champ that everyone on the tribe would write her name down, but would give Denise immunity in exchange for two fire tokens. Denise agreed on the basis that she gave Sandra one token before and one after Tribal Council.

Because the two-time champ thought the Philippines winner would vote out Jeremy or Tony, she wrote down Denise’s name. Instead, Denise played Sandra’s idol on herself, and played an idol she found on Sele for Jeremy. She wrote Sandra’s name down, single-handedly sending the queen home.

Courtney Yates used to hold the ‘Survivor’ challenge sit-out record

Survivor: China and Heroes vs. Villains star, Courtney Yates, was known more for her attitude and sarcastic confessionals than her physical ability. Already a thin woman, she did not offer much strength in challenges.

Therefore, her tribe usually asked her to sit out when they had too many people. Out of the 38 team challenges throughout two seasons, Courtney has not participated in 12. 

Sandra Diaz-Twine passed Courtney Yates’ challenge sit-out record

Because Sandra Diaz-Twine sat out of the immunity challenge in Episode 6, she officially beat her former Heroes vs. Villains ally and now holds the record with 13. Even though Sandra has sat out more, she has been eligible to compete in 62 challenges throughout four seasons.

Once Courtney found out that Sandra was closing in on her record, the China star jokingly called it “an outrage” because she achieved the record “by doing the least in only two seasons.”

Unless Courtney comes back for another all-stars season, the Queen currently holds the record for most career challenge sit-outs. Philippines star Abi-Maria Gomes is third with eight sit-outs, and Katie Gallagher (Palau) is tied with fan-favorite Cirie Fields with seven.

Winners at War airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.