‘Survivor’ Season 39: Winners Sandra Diaz-Twine and Boston Rob Mariano Are Back! Here’s What You Need to Know About the Champions

The winners are back! Last night, champions Sandra Diaz-Twine and ‘Boston’ Rob Mariano made their return to the island. Though it may sound like it, this season is not to be confused with All-Stars or Heroes vs. Villains as only Diaz-Twine and Mariano are former champions of the show. Everyone else will be brand new.

This season is called Island of the Idols, and instead of having Mariano and Diaz-Twine compete for the prize money, they will be acting as mentors for the rest of the players.

Boston Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine
Boston Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine | Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images

Though they can’t win the money, they will still have to survive the elements just like all of the other players.

“We offered to build them a shelter but they were adamant that if they were going to be preaching the life lessons of Survivor to new players, they too had to be living in the same conditions,” host Jeff Probst told Entertainment Weekly.

So, what do you need to know about these two returning vets?

Who is Rob Mariano?

Mariano is a reality competition veteran. He first appeared on Survivor Season Four, Marquesas. In the beginning of the season, he was in a majority alliance but quickly became the first person voted out at the merge.

He came back in season 10 for All-Stars. There, he formed an alliance with his future wife Amber Brkich. This time, he chose to go a more villanious route and lied to get him and his partner to the end. He eventually lost to Brkich.

Ten seasons later, Mariano came back to the show for Heroes vs. Villains. He became the leader of the villain tribe. Things were going good for Mariano until Tyson Apostol decided to vote against the plan they had come up with which ended up causing Apostol to be voted out. Mariano was sent home at the next tribal council.

Finally, Mariano was able to redeem himself on a season aptly called Redemption Island. Mariano became a leader in his tribe once again and fought until he ultimately won the season.

Who is Sandra Diaz-Twine?

The main thing to know about Diaz-Twine is that she is the only player to ever win the competition twice! She first came onto Survivor during the seventh season, Pearl Islands.

She played pretty dirty, meaning that she promised whoever whatever to get herself further in the game. In the end, she beat Lillian Morris at the final tribal council and won the game.

Diaz-Twine came back in season 20 for Heroes vs. Villains, just like Mariano. She was put in the villains’ tribe. She was nearly eliminated ahead of the merge but was able to lie her way out of being voted off. When the merge happened, she stuck around and beat out Russell Hantz and Parvati Shallow at the last tribal council.

Diaz-Twine also appeared on season 34, Game Changers, another season that brought back past players. But with two wins under her belt, she became a quick target for the rest of the players. She was voted out before the merge.

It’ll be interesting to see how both Mariano and Diaz-Twine use their experiences to help the rest of the players. Let the games begin!