This New ‘Survivor’ Fan Favorite Earned His Own Holiday

Survivor: Edge of Extinction is over, and that means we’ve got a new “sole survivor” on our hands. But not everyone is satisfied with the results. The finale for this season was controversial. There was a major upset and the fan favorite who had hustled hard to make it so far ended up earning fourth place after a major comeback.

Many fans chalked the victory, which went to Chris Underwood rather than fan-favorite Rick Devens, up to the season twist. However, Devens didn’t leave without receiving some reward.

Why all the controversy?

Rick Devens and Jeff Probst
Rick Devens and Jeff Probst | CBS via Getty Images

On Survivor: Edge of Extinction, getting voted off didn’t spell out the end for our castaways. Instead, the were given a choice. They could accept defeat and bow out, or they could head to the Edge, a relatively barren island where they had to survive until given an opportunity to get back on the show. For Probst, this was all about testing their limits.

“As we continue to evolve the show, it’s really important to us that we continue to see how far we can take this experiment. We’ve done a lot in the last few years about game play and advantages and twists and really wanting players to come in and play strategically. Lately, it’s also been occurring to me that we should try to get a little deeper psychologically, a little deeper spiritually. Let’s see how far people want to go. Is there a possibility of the spiritual death and rebirth that you seek in life, where you realize something deeper about yourself?” explained Probst.

Devens successfully returned from the Edge on day 17 out of 39, and had to claw his way to the final four with a target on his back. Devens went on to win four immunity challenges and use several hidden idols to avoid being voted out again. He even crafted two fake idols to keep folks on their tails.

Underwood, meanwhile, fought his way back from extinction on day 35 after being voted out on day eight. Many fans felt as if Devens played his heart out, and that Underwood, meanwhile, was barely on the show, only to end up winning.

Sia takes pity on Devens

Rick Devens
Rick Devens | Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

Pop superstar Sia is well-known for giving out what fans have come to call the “Sia award” at Survivor finales where she felt particularly moved. For example, in the past, she gifted castaway Tai Trang $14,000 because she loved his attention to animal welfare.

This season, Devens received the biggest “Sia award,” clocking in at $100,000 — the same amount the castaway in second place earns from CBS. Sia was a big fan of Devens, and loved his sense of humor and positive attitude.

“Sia single-handedly took what was a very depressing night, watching my demise, and turned it around. My wife broke down in the front of the audience. She was going nuts,” said Devens.

The hometown hero

David Wright, Rick Devens, Julie Rosenberg and Ron Clark
David Wright, Rick Devens, Julie Rosenberg and Ron Clark | CBS via Getty Images

To top it all off, Devens went home to a hero’s welcome. Back in Macon, Georgia, there’s officially a Rick Devens day. Macon-Bibb county has declared May 21 our titular hero’s holiday. The certificate that made Rick Devens day a reality commends Devens for being, “called one of the best players in the history of the show.”

When Devens isn’t out scrambling for idols in the Fijian jungle, he’s a morning news anchor in Macon. Devens is also a father and as a previous Eagle Scout, continues to support the organization in his spare time.