Minnesota still can't claim a "Survivor" winner. St. Paul's Carolyn Wiger came as close as anyone from the state has in 44 seasons, making it to the final three. But Wednesday's episode of CBS's hit series revealed that the St. Paul drug counselor lost out to Yamil "Yam Yam" Arocho, a salon owner in Puerto Rico, who took home the $1 million prize.
Wiger made the final tribal council despite never winning an immunity challenge, usually lagging far behind the others in any sort of physical challenge. But she emerged as a fan favorite by wearing her emotions on her sleeve. Fellow contestants slowly realized over time that she wasn't as kooky as she first appeared.
"I consistently underestimated her and I think everyone has else has underestimated her, too," competitor Carson Garrett said in an earlier episode.
Wiger, the daughter of former state Sen. Chuck Wiger, didn't hesitate to openly cry in both frustration and victory.
"I think there's nothing wrong with being an emotional player," she said earlier this season. "I promised myself and I promised my son I wouldn't apologize for crying."
The competition started with three Minnesota contestants.
Rochester native Sarah Wade was eliminated early. St. Paul's Frannie Marin, who now works as a research coordinator in Massachusetts, lasted long enough to qualify for the jury of eight that determined the final winner. She voted for Arocho, but did have kind words for her fellow Minnesotan after the results were revealed.
"Carolyn, you have changed my life. Genuinely," Marin said. "The way you are unabashedly yourself and so open to be you changed my understanding of how I move through the world."
Marin didn't take home the crown, but she may have landed a boyfriend. She admitted in Wednesday's episode that she had developed romantic feelings for fellow contestant Matt Blankinship.
"There was more chemistry than a pharmaceutical lab," Blankinship said as the finalists shared Champagne after the final tribal council. "The spark became a fire."
It's unclear if they've sustained the relationship; the show was taped last year.
No Minnesotan has ever won the long-running series. Laurel Johnson, a financial consultant from Minneapolis, was the second runner-up in season 36.
Iowa can boast two winners: Denise Stapley, a sex therapist from Cedar Rapids, and Sarah Lacina, a Marion police officer. Past champ Danni Boatwright is married to former Iowa Hawkeye center Casey Wiegmann.