Sonja Christopher, first person voted out of “Survivor”, dies at 87

Christopher made show history as the first to have her torch snuffed by host Jeff Probst on "Survivor: Borneo" in 2000.

Sonja Christopher, the first person to be voted out of Survivor, died on Friday at 87, Entertainment Weekly has confirmed. A cause of death was not disclosed.

Christopher, a former music therapist, competed on the reality competition's first season, Survivor: Borneo, at 63 years old in 2000. She won over fans and fellow competitors when she attempted to boost her tribe's morale by playing the ukulele and singing "Bye Bye Blues" to eventual winner Richard Hatch before she was voted out at Tribal Council, making Survivor history as the very first person to get their torch snuffed by host Jeff Probst.

"Sonya [sic] was one of the kindest people to ever play Survivor," Probst said in statement on the show's Instagram account on Saturday. "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."

News of Christopher's death first broke on Friday, with multiple Survivor players sharing tributes to her on social media. "She paved the way for every person to ever play Survivor," Rob Cesternino, who finished in third place in season 6's Survivor: The Amazon, wrote on X. "We will always smile when we think of Sonja Christopher. RIP to a legend."

Liz Wilcox, who is currently competing on season 46, shared a photo on X of her recent meeting with Christopher. "Today, the legend herself Sonja Christopher of Season One passed away," Wilcox wrote. "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."

<p>Justin Kahn/WireImage</p>

Justin Kahn/WireImage

Christopher competed on Survivor just three years after battling invasive 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," Christopher previously told EW . "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."

After she struggled in the first challenge, the Tagi tribe voted her out on day three. "I had mixed feelings, that's for sure," Christopher told EW about her exit 20 years later. "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."

In 2017, Christopher revealed that she was still Survivor's biggest fan in a video shared on social media. "I may have the dubious distinction of being the first person ever voted off Survivor, but I have not missed one episode watching it in the past 17 years," she said. "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."

Watch her video below:

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Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.