After 39 days and dozens of challenges Ethan Zohn was voted winner of Survivor: Africa.
Zohn, the curly-headed soccer pro from Lexington, Mass., edged out Kim Johnson, the retired teacher from Oyster Bay, N.Y., on Thursday's two-hour finale to win the "Sole Survivor" title and pocket $1 million from his African adventure.
Though the series was taped last summer, the final tally took place live on a Los Angeles sound stage. Zohn whooped as the vote was announced, while Johnson threw her arms around him in an excited hug.
The extravaganza concluded an elimination process started in October when the full slate of 16 castaways was seen arriving in Kenya's Shaba National Reserve.
to see all of the Survivor: Africa players, plus
Richard Hatch and Tina Wesson.
Somehow it all seemed like a bigger deal when Richard Hatch won the original "Survivor" in summer 2000, or when Tina Wesson claimed the prize last May on "Survivor: The Australian Outback."
But viewers still hooked on CBS' game-in-the-rough can take heart: It all starts again when "Survivor: Marquesas" with a tropical setting, like the first edition premieres Feb. 28, the network announced.
Thursday's finale narrowed four contestants down to one.
With trusty "Survivor" host Jeff Probst presiding, Tom Buchanan, the folksy cattle farmer from Rich Valley, Va., was voted out at the first tribal council.
After never winning an immunity challenge, Kim Johnson, who at 57 was the oldest player, won both of them on the finale: a quiz about fellow castaways, then an endurance contest that involved standing for hours in the 100-degree heat.
Winning the latter competition meant Johnson would single-handedly determine who faced her at the last tribal council. She voted out Lex van den Berghe, the excitable, multi-tattooed marketing manager from Santa Cruz, Calif.
That left Zohn to join her in confronting a jury of their peers: seven ousted players maybe looking for payback.
Zohn's former soccer coach watched the final episode from home in West Yarmouth, Mass.
"Can you bloody believe it? Oh my God," Englishman Paul Turner, head coach of the Cape Cod Crusaders, said moments after Zohn won.
"I thought he was going to be too nice to win the whole thing," Turner said. "He stayed under the radar and did unbelievably well. He's very unassuming."
Zohn, 27 and single, played for the Crusaders in 1997 and 1998.
This "Survivor" followed two wildly popular predecessors, including the original edition, which galvanized the nation, and "Survivor: The Australian Outback," which was TV's highest-rated series during the 2000-01 season.
"Survivor: Africa" tied (with the CBS sitcom "Becker") for ninth place in household ratings for the 2001-02 season to date. That qualifies as a solid hit, with more sequels guaranteed.
Next up: "urvivor: Marquesas," set on the island of Nuku Hiva, a distant neighbor of Tahiti in the South Pacific.
CBS had to quickly change plans after Sept. 11. A Middle Eastern locale in Jordan was considered the leading contender for the fourth "Survivor," said CBS President Leslie Moonves.
"It became obvious that doing `Survivor' in Jordan was not a great idea," Moonves told reporters.
After Thursday's broadcast, a post-game "reunion" was hosted live by Bryant Gumbel.
But that wasn't all for the former castaways. On CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman," they were seen ticking off the "Top Ten" List Complaints of `Survivor 3' Castaways.
The No. 2 complaint was Kim Johnson's: "Jeff Probst is all hands."
No. 1 was Tom Buchanan's: "Jeff Probst is all hands."
Here are the profiles of the four Survivor: Africa finalists:
- Ethan Zohn, 27, a professional soccer player from Lexington, Mass.
- Kim Johnson, 57, a retired teacher from Oyster Bay, N.Y.
- Tom Buchanan, 46, a goat and cattle farmer from Rich Valley, Va.
- Lex van den Berghe, 38, a marketing manager from Santa Cruz, Calif.
On Thursday during CBS News' The Early Show, they counted down to the big finale. Guests Richard Hatch and Tina Wesson, the two previous million-dollar winners, correctly predicted that the winner would be Ethan, and that Lex was doomed to lose.
©MMII CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report