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Scheming Tyson Outlasts Competition To Win 'Survivor'

LOS ANGELES (  — In the end, the guy who schemed with reckless abandon walked away the winner.

Tyson Apostol, who made and broke alliances without ever looking back, won "Survivor: Blood Vs. Water" and the cool $1 million prize.

This season, returning contestants (including former winners and fan faves like Aras Baskauskas and Tina Wesson) in a wild twist, played against family and loved ones.

When he wasn't scheming, Tyson was also adept at finding hidden immunity idols. On a few occasions, several other players (notably former "Big Brother" winner Hayden Moss and Vytas Baskauskas, Aras' older brother, made moves against Tyson that backfired.)

Tyson edged out fellow returning players Gervase Peterson (3rd jury member in "Survivor: Borneo") and Monica Culpepper ("Survivor: One World" voted out 5th.) Monica, incidentally, is married to retired NFL player Brad Culpepper who, like Tyson, played the villain role this season. Tyson won 6 jury votes to Monica's one. Gervase was shut out.

Tyson, a long-haired 34-year-old Utah native,  previously played in "Survivor: Tocantins" (the 2nd jury member) and "Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains" (voted out 6th.)

This season the former pro cyclist turned store manager played against his girlfriend, "Survivor" novice 33-year-old Rachel Foulger.

Tyson describes himself as "witty, charming and arrogant." His favorite movie is "The Jerk" and he has always recognized that's how people might perceive him. While he said he would play this round a little more mellow, shades of classic Tyson emerged early on -- including hiding secrets from his alliance and hoarding food.

In the end, it was his charm -- and the fact that other contestants thought they had a better chance against him in a finale -- that won him the prize.

Why was he returning to the series after two failed efforts? "To win some sweet cash," he said, "and to have a rad experience and an excuse to take all life's responsibilities off for a couple of months."

During an emotional finale, Wesson, 53, discussed losing her 25-year-old son Taylor,  just 12 days ago in Tennessee.

She said her son was looking forward to attending the finale with her and she came along with her daughter Katie Collins, who also competed this season, to not only honor his memory but to share her pain with what she called her "other family, they are my comforting family" --  speaking about her fellow contestants and the show's production team.

Wesson used the opportunity to tell people to wear their seat belts. "The driver walked away from the accident," she said, "my son did not."

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