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Megan Behnke

The Story Behind Why Sia Gives Money To The Survivor Players She Loves Most

Sia performing on The Voice screenshot.

Survivor has crowned a lot of winners during its long run, and along with the title of Sole Survivor, they earn a big cash prize that some have donated to charity, while others have used it to change their own lives. Understandably, other castaways don't tend to bring in very much beyond the flat rates contestants earn just from being on Survivor. However, a lucky minority have managed to land quite a lot of cash even without securing the win, thanks to music superstar Sia.

The musician has proven herself to be a big fan of the long-running reality series, most notably through the "Sia Fan-Favorite Award," which gives a financial boost to her own favorite players. Most recently, Survivor 45 contestant and civil lawyer Katurah Topps shared on her X profile that Christmas came early in the form of Sia dropping excellent news in a pretty great way. According to Topps:

Omg omg. Today I got one of the best video calls of my life—@Sia told me that I was her FAVORITE PLAYER of #Survivor45 and she is awarding me $100,000! I’m so deeply honored, appreciative, and honestly, still in awe. #Survivor

It is definitely a sweet life-changing move for Sia to take such a direct interest in her favorite Survivor players, and the fact that she's still making it happen is a testament to her fandom. After Survivor 45’s doozy of a finale revealed the Sole Survivor to be Dee, Topps probably didn’t think she’d be taking home anything but the memories. But Sia was certainly quick to change that in the aftermath. But why did the practice even start up?

Why Does Sia Give Her Favorite Survivor Players Cash Prizes?

A past EW interview between Survivor host Jeff Probst and Dalton Ross included a discussion about Sia awarding multiple contestants money, and how that came about. Probst said the singer was sitting in the audience during a reunion special and spontaneously texted him during a commercial break to say she wanted to give money to a player right then and there. 

Since tha, she has donated almost a million dollars to her favorite contestants on the reality series. It’s a pretty remarkable and selfless thing for her to do, especially knowing how many lives she’s likely changing by doing it. 5,000 to a charity of his choice. The prize total was latest boosted to $100,000.a

Since that initial incident, Sia has donated upwards of $1 million dollars to her favorite contestants from the reality series. It’s a pretty remarkable and selfless thing for her to do, especially knowing how many lives she’s likely changing by doing it. 

In 2022 when Sia gave money to her favorite Survivor 43 contestants, she told the trio of players - Jesse Lopez, Owen Knight, and Ryan Medrano - why she chose them to be the recipients of the “Sia Award.” She noted their hard work and personalities were big reasons why she became so fond of them as the season went on. Jeff Probst told EW at the time why Sia does what she does, and how it came to be, saying:

Sia shared there are two reasons that inspired the idea. She gets a lot of joy from watching Survivor players take on such a personal and often vulnerable life adventure. And she has been incredibly fortunate in her own career and wants to share some of that fortune with others.

While a hundred grand may not be seem quite so huge after taxes are taken out, it's obviously a blessing for anyone lucky enough to earn it. Plus, the singer apparently also provides advice for the contestants on how the money can be split among family members or others, since $15,000 is the max limit for tax-free gifting.

Since Survivor doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon, it wouldn’t be surprising if Sia keeps her financial prizes going for next season and far beyond. With Survivor 46 coming as part of the 2024 TV schedule, where it will be sticking to those extended 90-minute episodes, there will be a lot to look forward to in the new year. 

Survivor 46 will premiere on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

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