Survivor loser doesn’t deserve your cash
When Luke Toki was voted out in the second last tribal council of Survivor, I was devastated. He was so entertaining, so loveable, and so eminently deserving, that only a sociopath could fail to be moved.
So when a kindly soul started a GoFundMe page for Luke and his family (and when about 20 others started their own pages), I jumped online.
"Take my money!" I yelled. "You need it more than me!" My daughters looked alarmed as I rummaged around in the drawers for the deed to my apartment. "They need our home!" I shouted. "We can move in with Nana and Papa! Give it to them! Give it to them now!"
Eventually I calmed down, and made a small, but significant, donation to the Luke Toki fund. And I felt good about it. I watched, delightedly, as the total in the GoFundMe grew, from $50,000 to $120,000 to $180,000 and beyond.
But today, as Luke's fund pushes half a million dollars, I am feeling conflicted. And, as he looks set to surpass the prize pool of Survivor winner Pia Miranda, I can't help wondering if we've missed one key point.
Look, don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled for Luke and his wife and kids. With two sons on the autism spectrum, and a baby daughter with cystic fibrosis, the family can use every cent that comes their way.
But our compassion for Luke doesn't tell the full story. This is not why we all donated such a huge sum of money. We donated because we believe that Luke should have won. We believe he was ripped off. We believe Pia should have gone home instead.
That's certainly how I felt on Monday night.
But after watching the final episode, I realise we were all wrong. Luke didn't deserve to win, because he didn't actually win. The winner won. And the winner was Pia Miranda.
Look, Luke is a fabulous player, and a delightful human being. He is a champion of immunity challenges, winning four in a row. If he'd won two more challenges, he would have taken out the title.
But Luke didn't win more challenges. He lost the subsequent challenge. And he lost at that other vital part of playing Survivor, the part that Pia played so spectacularly well: the social game.
The social game of Survivor is more important than winning immunity challenges. You can win Survivor without ever winning an immunity challenge, but you cannot win Survivor without a top-notch social game. And no-one can win every immunity challenge, and the social game is what keeps you safe when you lose.
The social game involves making alliances, keeping alliances, being a strong enough player to win the jury's vote (sorry, Baden, you had no hope there), but remaining non-threatening enough to not be voted out (sorry, Luke, but you were too big a target).
Pia played the social game perfectly. She was brilliant at alliances, and brilliant at lying, and ruthless in blindsiding her opponents. And while she was 'saved' by Luke towards the end of the game, she was saved because she her social game was so strong. She moulded herself into the kind of player other players wanted to keep around, and that took her straight to the final vote.
She slept on the ground, and ate rice and beans, probably smelled really bad, and used god knows what horror for a toilet.
She jumped from towers and lay underwater and stood on a torture rack for nearly seven hours. And she got rid of Hot Dave! I could never have done that.
If you want to keep giving money to Luke, give money. I totally get it. I nearly gave him my apartment!
But don't think for a moment that he deserves the prize more than Pia Miranda.
Lukey, enjoy your new-found wealth. Your kids absolutely deserve it. But Pia, I hope you revel in yours. You damn well earned it. You're an absolute champion. You won Survivor! It is yours.
Kerri Sackville is a freelance writer and author of Out There: A Survival Guide for Dating in Midlife.
Do you think Luke deserves money from the public? Comment below or tweet @KerriSackville