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Latina mom survives it all on "Survivor.

December 15, 2003 -- For the first time in its seven-year run, a Latina has defied all odds to be crowned the ultimate survivor on the hit reality show, "Survivor."

Sandra Diaz-Twine, the 29-year-old office assistant, whose both parents were born in Puerto Rico, was awarded the title of 'Ultimate Survivor' and the million dollars that goes along with it on last night's finale.

Diaz-Twine beat Lillian Morris, the Scout Troop Leader from Ohio in a landslide 6 to 1 vote. Darrah Johnson, the 22-year-old mortician from Mississippi finished fourth while Jon Dalton, the art consultant and indy pro wrestler and promoter from Virginia came in third. Tijuana Bradley from the Morgan Tribe cast the sole vote for Morris because she had felt she had been the better strategist in the game.

"First of all, everyone was strategizing and I was like...Why waste my time strategizing? If they need an extra vote I will just go with whatever happens and everyone always had bigger fish to fry. Nobody worried about me so I just kept on...every three days, three days, three more days...until I made it to the end," Diaz-Twine told host Jeff Probst on the reunion show. As Probst noted, Diaz-Twine never had a vote cast against her in the game.

From the very beginning, she won her tribe over after using her friendliness and Spanish-speaking skills with the locals to get the most supplies for the money. Her openness and frankness allowed her to seem non-threatening and look like a good team player, which she emphasized at tribal council. The key to her game was to "look out for No. 1."

Going into Sunday’s dramatic finale, Sandra says the big shock for her was that scoutmaster Lillian Morris did not pick Jon Dalton for the final two. If she had been in the jury, Sandra says, there was no way Jon would have gotten her vote.

Sandra says, “Me and Jon hadn’t gotten along most of the time. I actually did hate Jon. There was no way after all that had happened - I felt like he stabbed me and slapped me in the face - that I was going to give him my million-dollar vote, that’s for sure.”

There were also no regrets for Lil either about her decision to make Sandra the winner. “I would not have picked Jon at all. I’m very pleased with my decision,” Lillian says, “I’ve gone over it a number of times. My husband and I have talked about it. No. It’s Sandra and if I did it again, I know it would have been Sandra.”

There was this consensus all through the game after Lillian came back that if she ended up in the last group, everybody on the jury was going to vote for her. Sandra says that's because Lillian was always very nice to everybody.

During the final immunity challenge, which involved balancing on small rafts that bounced about in the ocean. Perhaps most surprising, however, it was Lillian who emerged as a tough competitor, winning the immunity challenge and then choosing Diaz-Twine to join her before the jury on the final show.

Sandra received her check from executive producer Mark Burnett. He says, “Here it is for a military family, you know, she’s telling me she got a new job for $9 an hour and I'm very happy I’m giving her a million dollars.”

With the money Sandra says she plans one day to buy a house. But since she is always on the move as part of a military family, she says she is not going to do that just yet. The only thing she says she needed was a car, but that, too, was given to her as a prize. 

Probst also did not reveal any details about the upcoming 'All-Stars' edition which wrapped up filming in the Pearl Islands last week. 'Survivor: All-Stars' debuts on CBS after the Super Bowl on February 1st.


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