These Two ‘Survivor’ Winners Will be Returning for Season 39

Three things are certain in this world — death, taxes, and new seasons of Survivor. Jeff Probst just wrapped up Season 38, Survivor: Edge of Extinction on CBS, but have no fear, Seasons 39 and 40 are already in production. Season 39 is filming currently, and there have been rumors about the twists and themes that CBS might include.

As it stands now, there’s a strong indication that we might see two Survivor winners returning for Season 39. However, we’ve also learned these two returners might be stepping into a new role.

Return of the Queen

Andrea Boehlke and Sandra Diaz-Twine
Andrea Boehlke and Sandra Diaz-Twine | Jeffrey Neira/CBS via Getty Images

One of the two rumored returners is none other than “Queen Sandra,” or Sandra Diaz-Twine. Diaz-Twine’s claim to fame is big and well-earned. She’s the only castaway in Survivor (U.S.) history to earn the title of sole survivor twice — once on Survivor: Pearl Islands, and again on Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains. Diaz-Twine is considered one of the masters of the game.

Diaz-Twine is respected for her subtle play, which usually involves a strong social game, adaptability, and a keen awareness of how the tides are shifting among alliances throughout the tribes. Diaz-Twine had never been voted out until Survivor: Game Changers. When she was finally voted off the tribe, it marked 94 total days of Survivor play without getting her torch snuffed. That’s impressive.

“You miss it after so many years. When I got voted off of [Survivor: Game Changers], I was like, ‘I’m never going to do this sh*t again.’ But here I am,” explained Diaz-Twine to Hollywood Reporter.

Bostons Rob comes back

Rob Mariano and Natalie Tenerelli
Rob Mariano and Natalie Tenerelli | Jim Spellman/WireImage

Diaz-Twine will have some company on the show, with “Boston” Rob Mariano there two help her spice things up a bit. Mariano is another lauded Survivor winner, though he can’t claim to have won twice Diaz-Twine. Mariano has made four appearances on the show, however. Mariano was invited to participate on Survivor: Marquesas, All Stars, Heroes vs. Villains, and Redemption Island. Mariano finally came out on top on Redemption Island, winning the title of sole survivor.

Mariano is well-known for his devious gameplay, often called cutthroat by others. He’s not just charismatic, but also a contender when it comes to Survivor challenges. Mariano is definitely a fan favorite.

Season 39’s twist: Island of the Idols

Jeff Varner, Aubry Bracco, Michaela Bradshaw, James "J.T" Thomas and Sandra Diaz-Twine
Jeff Varner, Aubry Bracco, Michaela Bradshaw, James “J.T” Thomas and Sandra Diaz-Twine | Jeffrey Neira/CBS via Getty Images

“Boston” Rob Mariano and “Queen” Sandra Diaz-Twine won’t be playing the game this time. These two will be standing in as advisors in a role that’s only been seen before on Game Changers, and only very briefly.

Martin Holmes of fan-site Inside Survivor writes, “While details remain scarce at the moment, it’s believed that Rob and Sandra will be acting as ‘advisers’ rather than active players in the game. The Survivor veterans are there to offer advice and guidance to the crop of new castaways competing on the season currently filming in Fiji.”

The two previous winners will be residing on the Island of the Idols, a play on words as its been suggested that this island won’t just contain two real life Survivor idols, but also possibly opportunities to find immunity idols.

“Throughout the season, players will be sent to the Island of the Idols via various methods, and while there they have a chance to gain advice and advantages from the pair of past champions. Think of it as sort of like Ghost Island, except instead of being populated by cursed props of Survivor past, Boston Rob and Queen Sandra haunt the hallowed grounds,” explains Holmes.

Mariano told Hollywood Reporter, “The main premise is they’re coming over here. It’s called the Island of the Idols. Think of it like a Survivor boot camp or training camp, where they can come over and they can learn any kind of skill that they need. Any lesson, they can come and learn it over here. We can do anything, you know? We’ve been here over 200 days between the two of us. We can make a fire like that. We can teach them how to fish. We have everything that they would need to learn how to do any skill that it takes to survive out here.”