Pia Miranda during Survivor's brutal final challenge, which lasted for more than six and a half hours.
Pia Miranda during Survivor's brutal final challenge, which lasted for more than six and a half hours. Nigel Wright

Australian Survivor winner crowned

Pia Miranda has been crowned the winner of Australian Survivor 2019, following a brutal final challenge the actress compared to childbirth.

Underdog competitor Baden was the surprise winner of that near-seven-hour challenge, winning immunity and voting out Harry at a final tribal council.

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But when it came time to plead their cases to the jury of their ousted tribemates, Baden was no match for Pia. Here's how it all unfolded …

'I WAS IN CONSTANT PAIN'

Earlier in the episode, the final three were reunited with their family members - Harry, his girlfriend and mum, Baden's mum, dad and brother, and for Pia, an emotional reunion with her two young children and husband.

"Sometimes you don't think about how lucky you are. And I think every single moment that I get to spend with these kids and (husband) Luke is going to be even more special now because I appreciate it on such a high level," said Pia.

 

They’re only getting started. NIGEL WRIGHT.
They’re only getting started. NIGEL WRIGHT.

The happiness is short-lived: As their families watch on, the three must battle it out in a painful endurance challenge with only the winner ensuring a spot in the final two.

In what looks more like an instrument of medieval torture, the trio have to stand barefoot on two tiny pedestals while holding weighted Idols. Slip off or drop the idols, and they'd be out of the challenge.

Somehow, despite intense pain, all three beat the Australian Survivor challenge record of six hours and thirty minutes, battling it out well after nightfall.

In heartbreaking scenes, Pia's husband Luke chokes back tears as he coaches his wife, grimacing in pain.

 

Pia digs deep well after the five-hour mark.
Pia digs deep well after the five-hour mark.

"Hey, P, sweetie. I'm not gonna get any more proud of you, OK? All right. so whatever you need to do, you just do it, OK? But I love you and I'm so proud of you, OK? " he tells her.

At the six-hour forty mark, Harry is the first to crack - his leg shaking uncontrollably, he needs host Jonathan LaPaglia's help to get down. He sits weeping on the ground as his girlfriend consoles him. Pia follows shortly after, making Baden - who has somehow smiled and chatted through much of the challenge - the winner.

 

Jonathan LaPaglia helps Harry down.
Jonathan LaPaglia helps Harry down.

"I just found out the challenge is called 'holy hell' and that probably speaks to the experience I had. It was BRUTAL," Baden told news.com.au today.

"I was in constant in pain, especially towards the end. I honestly don't know how I lasted that long. On the one side, I had Harry comparing it to the pain of breaking his leg, and on the other side I had Pia comparing the pain to childbirth. I haven't done either of those things, but oh my god," he said.

 

Like medieval torture. Picture: NIGEL WRIGHT.
Like medieval torture. Picture: NIGEL WRIGHT.

Pia today told news.com.au that she went "further than her body to take," saying her legs felt "paralysed" by the time she begged to be assisted from the challenge.

"That's the incredible thing about Survivor - it pushes you to do things you never thought you'd do. I'm a bit of a scaredy-cat, I can get a bit anxious, but Survivor's helped me find strength I didn't know I had," she said.

 

This photo hurts just to look at. Picture: NIGEL WRIGHT.
This photo hurts just to look at. Picture: NIGEL WRIGHT.

PLEADING THEIR CASE

Having played as hard as they could for seven long weeks, Harry and Pia suddenly have to do the opposite - downplaying their game to Baden in the hope he'll view them as the lesser threat and take them to the final two.

Harry argues that while Pia's played a deceptively "subtle" game, and her deception is dangerous for Baden.

Pia in turn tells Baden that everybody has been wanting to vote out Harry - cruelly dubbed the "cockroach" of the season - and that it would be Baden's final big move to get rid of him.

As Baden goes to vote, Harry whispers just two words to Pia: "You're good."

Ultimately, Baden agrees, sending Harry to the jury and taking Pia to the final two.

 

 

 

 

 

FACING THE JURY

 

The final two. Picture: NIGEL WRIGHT
The final two. Picture: NIGEL WRIGHT

It's time for the final two to make their pitch to the jury, explaining why they alone deserve to win the $500,000. Pia notes that she's got an uphill battle - her only true ally on the jury is Janine, and she voted out every other jury member. "I'm ready to give the performance of my life," she says.

The jury file in - with newest member Harry sporting a so-bad-it's-good porn star mo:

 

 

Baden speaks first, focusing on his transformation from a "super-shy" contender to someone who ultimately chose who to take to the final two.

"I knew that my best bet was to play from the middle - Get into good relationships with as many people as possible and hold as much information as I could. I knew what the plays were going into every single tribal council," he says.

Pia goes next, telling the jury her plan had always been to be "underestimated but always fiercely strategic."

"I put most of you on that jury except for you, Janine. I did go to 20 tribal councils, my name only came up in four and I was never under threat. I was always that slippery little sucker that was there and you didn't know you needed to get me until it was too late. As lovers of Survivor, I hope that you will vote for the person who played the best strategic game, and I think we all know 100% that that was me," she says.

Pia Miranda, Australian Survivor. Picture: NIGEL WRIGHT
Pia Miranda, Australian Survivor. Picture: NIGEL WRIGHT


Then it's time to face questions from the jury - supermodel David in particular goes hard, declaring that the final two are "goats" compared to the strong players sitting on the jury.

In Survivor, "goat" is a disaparing term to indicate a weak player who coasts to the end.

"A goat is someone who follows. I definitely didn't follow people. If you are calling me goat, like, does me blindsiding you not count?" Pia asks David.

"Dave, you need to know where to sit and how to make big moves without being at the forefront because this is Australian Survivor and it's very different to American Survivor. And in Australia, if we see someone taking control, you're going to end up sitting on the jury. That's why you're there."

 

 

As their grilling from the jury wears on, Pia and Baden turn on each other, arguing about who played a better game as the jury watches on.

It was hard not to think Pia made the better pitch to the jury:

 

 

The final question goes to Luke, who asks Pia why he should vote for her to win after she'd just voted him out last episode. Pia got emotional as she answers.

"Luke. Voting you out was one of the hardest things I had to do because I know we've spoken about how much we wanted to win this for our families, and I will never get over having to take that dream away from you. Last night, when I was standing on that podium for 6 hours and 40 minutes, I wasn't doing it so that I could break a record, I was doing it so that... if I took away your chance to be here, I was gonna make damn sure that I was here instead. Because I didn't want voting you out to be futile. I was ready to die up on that thing."

The jury cast their votes - and Pia's the winner.

 

PIA'S 'ROUGH RIDE'

Pia Miranda reacts to her win as her husband, children and at right, runner-up Baden comfort her. Picture: NIGEL WRIGHT.
Pia Miranda reacts to her win as her husband, children and at right, runner-up Baden comfort her. Picture: NIGEL WRIGHT.

Speaking to news.com.au earlier today, Miranda revealed she felt "mixed emotions" about winning the season, saying Survivor had taken a toll on both her career and her health.

"It was definitely a rough ride. Survivor's very exposing and way more intense than I could've imagined, but it's been a 20-year dream for me," Miranda said of her time on the show.

"As far as my career goes, I definitely felt like I had more to lose than gain from this. And it has been a rocky road for me - people have really come at me at times, which has been a shock. I've just tried to hold my head high and play a game with a lot of integrity."

THE PEOPLE'S WINNER?

 

Fans loved Luke Toki. Picture: NIGEL WRIGHT.
Fans loved Luke Toki. Picture: NIGEL WRIGHT.

As the finale aired, the GoFundMe page for fourth-place getter Luke Toki - a much-loved father to three young children with special needs - just kept climbing. As at 9pm AEST, fans had raised more than $350,000 for the reality star.

"I never would've started one myself … there's still a couple of people left in the game who deserve (the money) just as much as me. But I think my story resonates with a lot of people who have family members with autism or cystic fibrosis," Luke told news.com.au today.

"I'm extremely thankful to my core about the donations. I hope the message gets out there that I am thankful, it is going to help my family, and I'll try to give back as much as possible."



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