First ever ‘Survivor’ contestant voted out, Sonja Christopher, dead at 87

Sonja Christopher, the first ever contestant voted off the island on “Survivor,” has died at age 87.

The show’s official Instagram page confirmed the news with a message from host Jeff Probst.

“Sonya[sic] was one of the kindest people to ever play Survivor. Every interaction I had with her over the years was lovely.  She would always greet you with a smile on her face and joy in her heart. I’m honored that our paths got to cross,” Probst wrote in the caption of a photo of Christopher.

Fox News Digital reached out to “Survivor” and CBS for additional comment. No cause of death has been shared at this time.


Her death was first reported Friday, April 26, when several of the show’s alum paid tribute to her on social media.

Liz Wilcox, a current contestant on season 46, posted a message on X, writing, “Today, the legend herself Sonja Christopher of Season One passed away. I had the pleasure of meeting her on Christmas. She had so much spunk + love for ‘Survivor’ and what the show brought to her life. I hope you’re singing + playing your heart out somewhere beautiful, Sonja.”

Christopher competed on the very first season of “Survivor” in 2000 at 63 years old, and was known for singing and playing ukulele to boost tribe morale during her brief appearance on the show.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly marking the 20th anniversary of “Surivor” in 2020, Christopher recalled competing three years after surviving breast cancer.

“I was newly recovering from breast cancer treatment. And I had been in a 11-year relationship and my partner got consolation elsewhere during that time of the cancer,” she told the outlet at the time.

She continued, “So I had moved to a senior retirement community, and I was by myself, no ties, my son was grown and taking care of himself. I was reading the morning paper, and it said something in an article about CBS looking for 16 Americans to cast away on a deserted island and see who could survive for 39 days.”

When asked if she thought she had been voted out due to ageism after struggling ine the first challenge, Christopher admitted, “I had mixed feelings, that’s for sure.”

She continued, “I was pretty beaten up… To this day, I still have bruises that don’t go away… Someone once asked me if I thought my being voted off early was due to ageism. And I said, ‘Oh, no.’ And you know why is because I had no concept of ageism. I was always good at sports and very active physically. I just didn’t realize I was, to some of these people, an old lady.”

Regardless, Christopher remained a fan of the show, speaking in a video shared on X, then Twitter, in 2017 that she hadn’t missed an episode of the show in the past 17 years.

“I’ve recently turned 80 and I intend to watch the next 17 years of Survivor, and then I can happily hike off to the giant Tribal Council in the sky. I hope they don’t vote me off,” she wrote at the time.