Last night, the 22nd season of the CBS reality show Survivor came to an end. Unfortunately, Lipscomb student Matt Elrod did not take home the one million dollar prize; however, Matt has good reason to hold his head high.
Matt made it 37 days on the island only to lose the in the last duel on Redemption Island. In the last challenge to see who would make it back onto the island, the four remaining contestants had to balance a vase on the other end of a beam while standing on one foot. Matt lasted for over an hour, and after losing his vase, the other two contestants followed shortly thereafter.
Matt spent most of his time on the show on Redemption Island, a new facet of the game thrown in this season. Matt lived on Redemption Island for 29 days this past season, more than any other contestant. Compared to the seven that he actually spent on the island with his fellow cast members, it was a lot. While on Redemption Island, Matt won 10 out of 11 duels, once again, more than anyone.
He accredited God with guiding him all the way to the end during the reunion show Sunday night.
“God was with me every step of the way,” Elrod said. “I praise His name for just letting me be a vessel for Him. That’s been my reward for all of the struggle and all the strife I’ve been through.”
Throughout the game, Matt also became a vessel through which many of his teammates expressed their views to. One of those people on the show was former Iraq War veteran, Mike Chiesl.
“Survivor transformed me as a human being and as a man. It helped me understand my purpose, what I’m doing with my life, I became closer with God,” Chiesl said. “It was great to have talks with Matt about everything.”
It was not all great, though. Matt had some very heart-wrenching moments on the island just like everyone else did.
“My lowest point was when I broke and you saw me crying and I was talking about God carrying me,” Elrod said. “It was after the duel with Julie that I was over the game and ready to go home.”
Matt also impacted contestant Julie Wolfe while on the island. Wolfe, a firefighter and mother of two from California, had a moment with Matt on Redemption Island where viewers across the country saw her faith renewed.
“I came short of the money, but I’m walking away with something bigger. My life is changed,” Wolfe said.”I see Matt’s story with God, and I am looking forward to going back home, finding a church and getting involved.”
“God does what he wants to, and we have to be respectful of that whether it’s what we want him to do or not,” Elrod said. “I’m just so thankful for the way that everything that came out and everything I learned.”
Matt was also a fan favorite during the show’s time. When it came time to announce the winner of the $100,000 cash prize for the person who garnered the most votes, it came down to two people, Matt being one of them. The other was the person that blindsided Matt twice and the winner of the show, Boston Rob.
Matt and Rob won 76 percent of all the votes; however, Matt came up short when Survivor host Jeff Probst announced the Rob had swept Survivor Nicaragua, taking 40 percent of all the votes.
“I started the game deciding that I was going to blindly follow my heart,” Elrod said. “I take away that following your heart does not necessarily mean ignoring logic and reason, but it’s important to evaluate the context of the situation you find yourself in and make an educated decision.”
“I spent a lot of time alone,” Elrod said. “I have a stellar Nicaraguan rock collection.”
Stay tuned to Lumination Network for more about Matt’s experience on Survivor Nicaragua.