‘Survivor 40: Winners at War’: Tony Vlachos Clarifies Why He Considers Himself a ‘Huge Threat’

After playing a dominating and flashy game in Cagayan, Tony Vlachos’ attempt to do the same in Game Changers resulted in him getting voted out pre-merge. Back for his third season, the fan-favorite police officer has put himself on “probation” and is focusing more on his social game this time around. In Winners at War, Tony has a “lions vs. hyenas” theory where he feels the under the radar players are targeting big threats such as himself. He explained in a Twitter post why he classified himself as such.

Tony Vlachos
Tony Vlachos | Robert Voets

Tony Vlachos won ‘Survivor: Cagayan’

In 2013, then 39-year-old New Jersey-based police officer Tony Vlachos competed in Cagayan (Season 28), also known as Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty. Initially placed on the Brawn tribe, he quickly allied with fellow cop Sarah Lacina and pilates trainer Trish Hegarty.

Additionally, he found an idol and built his notorious spy shack. Until the tribe swap, he never attended a Tribal Council. The police officer easily made it to the merge and decided to flip on Sarah after she refused to work with him.

Tony eventually found a Hidden Immunity Idol that had “special powers,” much like Yul Kwon’s idol from Cook Islands. Although it expired at the final five, Tony claimed it lasted until the final four, and it prevented players from voting for him.

His ally, Woo Hwang, won the Final Immunity Challenge and chose to honor his word and bring Tony to the end over beatable Kass McQuillen. Even though the jury blasted Tony for his multiple betrayals, they applauded the police officer for running the game and awarded him the victory in a dominating 8-1 vote.

Tony Vlachos returned for ‘Survivor 40: Winners at War’

After his victory and a short-lived stint on Game Changers (Season 34), the Cagayan champ returned for Winners at War (Season 40). Because he played such a flashy game in his first season, Tony adopted a more social game and put himself on “probation,” which meant he would not leave camp and look for idols.

He quickly became well-liked among his tribemates with his hilarious antics, including building a ladder to retrieve several pieces of breadfruit for everyone.

When the tribe lost their first immunity challenge, Tony did not want to get rid of Amber Mariano as he knew that she and her husband would always be larger targets than him.

A few episodes later, the police officer attempted to halt the elimination of Tyson Apostol as he feared he, another big target, would be sent to the Edge of Extinction next.

The police officer finally got his way during the merge when Wendell, a “hyena,” was eliminated. Although he didn’t engineer the vote, he did align with other self-proclaimed big threats, such as Ben Driebergen, Jeremy Collins, and Tyson, who recognized they were the primary targets for under the radar players.

Tony Vlachos clarified why he considers himself a threat

After the episode, many fans didn’t understand why those group of men considered themselves big threats, especially Ben. Additionally, they were confused as to why no women were included in the discussion.

After the episode aired, Tony took to Twitter to clarify why he put himself in the big threat grouping. He explained he doesn’t “consider myself a ‘huge threat’ because I think I’m some ‘great’ top-notch player.”


Instead, Tony classified himself as such due to the “untrustworthy, disloyal, flip-flopper, do-whatever-it-takes type of game” he played in Cagayan. Many of his followers commented on his post praising his gameplay during the 28th season.

In response to one fan about his carefree game, Tony explained, “amazing things can happen when you play this game for the first time, and no one knows you.” Survivor 40: Winners at War airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.