Reality TV Star, First To Be Voted Off, Has Passed Away

In 2000, Sonja Christopher was cast on the reality TV series “Survivor: Borneo,” the first season ever of the popular reality show. She was 63 years old at the time and had recently moved to a retirement community. When she saw an article about “Survivor” in the newspaper, she jumped at the chance to go on a new adventure.

Christopher is most memorable because she was voted out just three days into the reality competition, which makes her the very first person ever to be voted off of “Survivor.”

Now, Entertainment Weekly reports that at the age of 87, Christopher has passed away. In her memory, Jeff Probst, the show’s host, shared kind words about Christopher on the “Survivor” official Instagram page. Probst wrote, “Sonya 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.”


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Rob Cesternino, who competed on season 6 of “Survivor,” shared a tribute to Christopher on X. He wrote, “She paved the way for every person to ever play Survivor. We will always smile when we think of Sonja Christopher.” He also included an emoji of a ukulele which was a reference to that fact that Christopher played the ukulele on the show and sang “Bye Bye Blues” to contestant Richard Hatch, who ended up winning the show that season.

Being the first person voted off the show didn’t make Christopher dislike the show. In fact, in 2017, she explained, “I have not missed one episode watching it in the past 17 years.” She also shared that she planned “to watch the next 17 years” and then she would “happily hike off to the giant Tribal Council in the sky.” You can watch her video below.

Before retirement, Christopher worked as a music therapist. Then, three years before she was cast on the show, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. During that time, her significant other of 11 years “got consolation elsewhere.” Being alone and a survivor with her only son all grown up, it definitely caught her eye when she “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.” She will forever be a big part of “Survivor” history.