updated 12/16/2013 AT 1:00 PM ET
•originally published 12/16/2013 AT 1:45 PM ET
Stephen Fishbach was the runner-up on Survivor: Tocantins and has been blogging about Survivor strategy for PEOPLE since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @stephenfishbach. Erik Reichenbach is a Survivor fan-turned-favorite, a comic book author and artist. He placed fifth on both Survivor: Micronesia and Survivor: Caramoan. This is his first season illustrating episodes of the show for PEOPLE.com. Follow him on Twitter @BloodyAmer1can
“When it comes down to it, I want that million dollars. Exotic, expensive furs on my shoulder. Jewels on these pretty fingers. We’re talkin’ big time.”
– Tyson Apostol, Survivor: Tocantins
Sunday night on Survivor, Tyson Apostol beat Gervase Peterson and Monica Culpepper for a million dollars, the title of Sole Survivor, and the highly-coveted Final Fishy.
After two seasons of over-thinking and self-destructing, Tyson played a dominant strategic game. That was capped off by his masterful jury performance, one of the best in the show’s history.
Tyson, who typically maintains an attitude of almost sociopathic sangfroid, broke down in tears talking about his girlfriend Rachel, who was the third person eliminated. Rather than swap places with Tyson at Redemption Island, Rachel had elected to compete, believing that Tyson had a better shot in the game.
“I [had] to focus every day and show her that I appreciated her sacrifice,” Tyson said. He made big moves, found idols, and won challenges, but “it wasn’t ever personal.”
Tyson was helped by poor performances from Gervase and Monica. Both struggled to get out of Tyson’s shadow. Monica got particular heat from the jury for being, in Hayden’s words, “fake.” She repeatedly insisted that the experience was one of growth and discovery – but eventually grew frustrated with the jury’s questions. “Have you all never met a nice person?” she demanded.
Gervase and Monica only lit up when asked to describe Tyson’s game.
“You can’t knock anything about his game,” Gervase said. “Hands down you have to vote for Tyson,” Monica said.
The jury obliged. Tyson won 7 of the votes, with Vytas voting for Monica because he had promised not to vote for Tyson.