Most memorable moments from Survivor: Nicaragua

Judson Birza, the winner of "Survivor: Nicaragua," (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
Judson Birza, the winner of "Survivor: Nicaragua," (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images) /

The new school era of Survivor began with Survivor: Nicaragua, the show’s 21st season, which aired in the fall of 2010.

A new era of Survivor began with the conclusion of Heroes vs Villains and that was season 21, Survivor: Nicaragua. It’s a season that doesn’t have a great reputation amongst the fans and it’s still not enjoyable on a rewatch.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane and revisit the best moments from season 21.

Old vs Young

The big twist right off the bat was that the tribes were divided by older people vs younger people, which went about as well as one could imagine, with the younger tribe winning three of the four immunity challenges.

We’ve seen another variation of this that worked much better and that was Millennials vs Gen X, season 33. The age gap between the two tribes wasn’t as large and it was a fair fight from both sides.

Medallion of Power

Oh the Medallion of Power… One of the worst twists we’ve even seen on Survivor. For those who haven’t read my post on the worst twists ever, here was what the Medallion of Power’s purpose was,

"The concept of the Medallion of Power was that it would provide an advantage to a tribe during a challenge. Sounds fun, right? Well, the twist here was that once a team used the Medallion of Power, it’d then belong to the other team and they’d get a chance to use it."

Unsurprisingly, the two times the Medallion of Power was utilized, the team who played it won the challenge. It was so lackluster that production gave up on it after four episodes and it was never heard from again. It’s fitting that this twist was conceptualized during Nicaragua because it fits the season to a tee.


By far, what people remember most about Survivor: Nicaragua is that it had not one, but TWO people quit on Day 28. These two quitters were Na’Onka Mixon and Kelly Shin (aka Purple Kelly), who just couldn’t take anymore and both expressed their interest to quit at the reward challenge that day.

Jeff Probst gave them the day to think about it and at tribal council that night, the two made it official – They’d be laying down their torches and exiting the game with 11 days left.

The biggest fallout from this was that they both got to be on the jury and they played a huge role in deciding who win win that season, as Jud “Fabio” Birza won the season in a 5-4 vote. Both women voted for Fabio to win and if they weren’t included on the jury, Chase Rice would have been declared the winner instead (yikes).


Survivor: Nicaragua is one of my least favorite seasons because the most memorable thing about it is that two people quit the game on the same day. The cast was largely unlikable and only Brenda Lowe has returned from this cast (and she was basically invisible until the final few episodes of Caramoan), making it even more of a forgettable season.

A lot of Survivor fans have Fabio’s win ranked in the bottom tier and I definitely agree with that ranking. He’s a nice guy and was only 21 years old on the season (he’s the youngest player to ever win Survivor, as Jenna Morasca from Survivor: Amazon was 22 years old when the votes were read live), but he was pretty clueless throughout the season.

Holly Hoffman said on Russell Hantz’s YouTube series of the best players ever that Fabio definitely doesn’t win on any other season and she’s right. No one one Nicaragua really understood the game that well and if anyone in that final three deserved it most, it was most definitely Sash Lenahan, who got zero jury votes.

Oh, and this season also had current country music singer Chase Rice, who almost won the season despite being indecisive throughout. It’s a good thing he didn’t win because he always seems ashamed of being on the show whenever someone brings it up to him. Fans do not like him because of that.

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There really isn’t much else to say about the travesty that was Survivor: Nicaragua and it was the start of the “dark ages” for the show.