‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst Breaks Down the Sia Awards and If Contestants Pay Taxes on the Prize Money

Since the 32nd season of Survivor, famous singer-songwriter and superfan of the show, Sia, has given away a total of nearly $450,000 to castaways in her unofficial Sia Awards.

Typically awarded to someone who did not win and moved her in some way, she gifted six deserving contestants with the prize money in the last two seasons.

Host Jeff Probst broke down why the “Chandelier” singer feels compelled to give and how she ensures the contestants “receives all of her gift, without paying any tax.”

Sia Award
Tai Trang, Sia, and Jeff Probst | Neil Jacobs

Which ‘Survivor’ players have received Sia Awards?

The first Sia Award went to fan-favorite Tai Trang of Survivor: Kaoh Rong (Season 32). He raised a chicken on the island, Mark, who became the only chicken to make it to the Final Tribal Council.

According to host Jeff Probst, the singer-songwriter texted him during a commercial break and said she wanted “to give some money to a player” in the middle of the reunion.

The Survivor superfan and animal rights activist wanted to thank Tai “for showing America how to be kind to animals” and awarded him $50,000 as well as an additional $50,000 to his “choice of animal charity.”

She then continued to give money to fan-favorites, creating her unofficial Sia Award. Donathan Hurley of Survivor: Ghost Island (Season 36) received the next Sia Award of $14,000, tax-free after his story moved the singer-songwriter.

For Survivor: Edge of Extinction (Season 38), Sia gave away three awards. The highest prize of $100,000 went to fan-favorite Rick Devens, who finished in fourth place after playing an exciting and entertaining game.

Additionally, she awarded Aurora McCreary $15,000 as the contestant’s difficult childhood growing up in foster care moved her. Sia also offered Survivor veteran Joe Anglim $15,000 if he cut his signature hair and donated it to charity. The castaway accepted on the conditions that Sia also gave the $15,000 to charity.   

Which ‘Survivor 39’ players won the Sia Award?

Sia also gifted three awards in Survivor: Island of the Idols for a whopping total of $215,000. First, she gave Jamal Shipman $15,000 as he had a profound and unique mark on the season with his powerful words.

Fan-favorites Janet Carbin and Elaine Stott, who fans rooted for the hardest but placed 5th and 6th respectively, both received $100,000 from Sia. All three recipients were overcome with emotion, and host Jeff Probst called the moment “very powerful” in an interview with EW.

‘Survivor’ host Jeff Probst breaks down the Sia Award

The Survivor host, who is also real-life friends with the singer, says the generous act “comes directly from her heart” and wants to “share her good fortune with others through random acts of generosity.”

Probst explained Sia “has already paid tax on the money she earned,” and “will go to great lengths to ensure” the contestants “receives all of her gift, without paying any tax.”

Because $15,000 is the most one can gift tax-free, Janet and Elaine “would have to pay a steep tax.” Therefore, the singer suggests the recipient divide the prize money among family members “so that no one single person gets more than $15,000, thus avoiding tax.”

Probst promised it’s “not some crazy tax loophole” and “perfectly legal.” He closed by praising Sia as a “global, iconic, singer-songwriter who not only gives you money, but then advises you on the best tax strategy.”