Woman with Kenyan roots wins Sh118m in popular ‘Survivor’ TV series

Maryanne Oketch

Maryanne Oketch.

Photo credit: Courtesy

A 24-year-old Kenyan-Canadian woman has won $1 million (Sh118 million) in an American TV competition series called “Survivor”. She becomes the second black woman to win in the long-running show.

Maryanne Oketch, won the 42nd season of the series after defeating Michael "Mike" Turner and Romeo Escobar in a 7–1–0 vote.

She was born in Germany and raised in Canada, and according to her bio, she has lived in several cities, including Ontario, London, Toronto and Kingston.

Oketch’s mother was born in Kenya before moving to Canada to raise her family.

Oketch told CBS that her hero was her mother. “She was born into poverty in a village in Kenya as the youngest of five. My mother is so hardworking and managed to get herself out of poverty and became a doctor in Kenya and was able to provide for her mom,” she said. 

Maryanne Oketch

Maryanne Oketch.

Photo credit: Courtesy

“She then gave up all that to support my father’s dreams, but then became a doctor in Canada while having three young children while dealing with the systemic racism in academic medicine. My mom sacrificed and worked so hard to give her family a better life and never faltered from her dreams. I aspire to be like her. She changed my life.”

After being named winner of the fierce competition, Oketch explained that she did not capitalise on her young age to convince the jury to vote in her favour.

“When I came into the merge, I realised that there was a trend. If you were young, like under 25, you seemed strategic and you would be voted out," Oketch explained.

“So, I basically had to pretend that I had no strategy, and when there were fewer people, I would then show my strategy in the game.”

She explained after the final episode how her infamous on-screen crush actually improved her love life – just not in the way fans might think. 

Seminary school

Oketch is in seminary school and says she considers herself “very religious”.

“I think what’s super important is to make sure that I’m always prepared in my spiritual side (on ‘Survivor’),” she told Parade. “I’m always praying and just being like, ‘God, give me strength. Make sure that I see another day. Make that that I go and make those right decisions to keep me grounded’.”

Season 42 of ‘Survivor’ premiered on March 9 on CBS in the United States and Canada and concluded on May 25.

The series places contestants on a remote island and they try to survive it and face challenging tasks to win the grand prize.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Oketch said she felt she could win after walking away from the Tribal Council.

“Going into the final Tribal Council, I felt as if I probably was gonna win. I felt like since it was Mike at the end and not Jonathan that would be harder competition, but I really felt as if I would be able to go and speak and articulate the way that I won,” she said.

“I then wavered a little bit at Tribal because people kept on just talking to Mike, and I was just basically dead in the water. But then when they started talking to me, I started giving answers and was able to articulate my game. And the jury seemed that they were vibing with it. I really felt as if then I kind of won.”

She said it did not hit her at first that she had won the title and had to sit on the news for some time.

“People were talking, and I just realised that I won, and honestly, coming to the game, I didn't think I was gonna win. So this was just a surreal thing. I wasn't in the moment. It was just screaming in my head, Jeff was talking, people were talking. Like, I couldn't tell you.”

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