At the time of Survivor All Stars, Amber Brkich’s million dollar win was one of the most contentious in the show’s eight season history. Fast forward 26 more seasons and it is still one of the most highly debated and talked about wins in the Survivor fan community. Most people are under the impression that ‘Boston Rob’ Mariano should have won Survivor All Stars. And although the Marquesas man would have made for a great winner of that season, you’d be lackadaisical to forget about all the wonderful things that Amber Brkich did along the way to help her win the money.
Amber latched onto Boston Rob from the very first episode and never let go, but she was an equal part in all of the decision making and strategizing of their alliance. It was Rob who allowed their alliance to take control of the game when he swayed Jenna and Rupert onto their side, but it was Amber who sat back and let Rob get all the blood on his hands while she kept the target off of her back.
In an era of Survivor where Jeremy Collins’ meat-shield game-style is seen as the optimal strategy, Amber Brkich actually might just have been the first one to correctly use the tactic. Rob was Amber’s meat-shield through and through until the end of the game and if anyone was going to come after Amber, they were going to have to come after Rob first. Meanwhile while Sophie Clarke will always receive praise for brilliantly playing up to the ego of Benjamin “Coach” Wade, again Amber Brkich was the one who used the strategy first, strategically playing up to the ego of her soon to be husband Rob. In a way, the strategies that we love from some of our favourite winners came from Amber first, illustrating how good of a game she actually played.
Her social game is also highly underrated. For example, the highly talked about Lex-Rob incident would not have turned out the same way, with the elimination of Jerri, if Amber didn’t do such a good job at persuading them to keep her in the game. At one point the Australian Outback contestant even (jokingly) begged on her hands and knees! Although, it can’t be forgotten that both Rob AND Amber got bashed at final tribal council for their ruthless style of game-play, there was a reason why Amber ended up winning. Between the two of them, the Australian Outback contestant had the better social game and didn’t make as many enemies when voting their competitors out. When you actually look at Survivor All Stars as a whole, Amber’s game is actually pretty similar to Boston Rob’s, but she just has a better final tribal council performance and is able to get the respect of the jury. You may choose to look at every vote cast for Amber as a vote against Rob, but you can’t neglect the fact that it was still a vote for Amber and what she managed to accomplish in the game.
When you think of Survivor All Stars, you think of just one man, Boston Rob. But you can’t forget the fantastic role Amber Brkich actually played in securing the win for herself. Although she’s not one of the most celebrated winners of the game of Survivor, she is still a very good one and anyone who can best Rob Mariano at his own game is truly something special. Despite it being still highly contested and one of the most talked about final votes in Survivor history, Amber Brkich is a deserving winner of Survivor All Stars.