12/15/2013 AT 11:00 PM ET
Survivor: Blood vs. Water pitted returning players against their loved ones in a gut-wrenching series of blindsides and big moves. Sunday night, the show crowned this season’s winner.
Keep reading for results.
Former pro-cyclist Tyson Apostol, 34, took home the big prize.
Apostol faced off in the show’s final tribal council against season 1 vet Gervase Peterson and season 25 contestant Monica Culpepper. The final tribal council got emotional, as both Apostol and Culpepper broke down in tears talking about their loved ones who had left the game.
Apostol won seven of the jury’s votes, with Culpepper gaining a single vote from Vytas Baskauskas, who had promised not to vote for Apostol. Peterson was shut out.
Going into the finale, Apostol had seemingly all the cards, after playing a solid strategic game and holding two hidden immunity idols. He also won the crucial last two immunity challenges. Even with three contestants on Redemption Island, there never seemed to be much question over who would sit in the finals.
The show’s family twist injected a new emotional heft into the reality TV stalwart, as brother fought brother and daughter betrayed mother. The season resonated so much with fans that Survivor host Jeff Probst has already vowed to try to bring the twist back.
After the final vote was read, Apostol’s girlfriend Rachel Foulger – who was the third person off the show – ran onto the stage for a big hug.
The next season of Survivor premieres in February. As revealed Sunday, the season will feature three tribes – one of brains, one of brawn and one of beauty.