Welcome to the Challenge, Michele Fitzgerald! To those of you unaware, Michele Fitzgerald was the winner of Survivor: Kaôh Rōng (Season 32, 2015). She would appear again on the most recent all-winners Season 40 (Winners at War), where Michele once again made it to the end, coming in 3rd Place. As a fun personality with a record for success, fans have been clamoring for Michele to join the Challenge franchise, and finally, she will debut on Spies, Lies & Allies.
Introducing Michele: According to spoiler sources, Michele was supposed to debut on the Challenge a couple of years ago as a prospect on War of the Worlds 1. Unfortunately, production dropped her along with Jay Starrett a couple of weeks before filming began. Talk about her as a potential Challenge competitor went dead. She then filmed and appeared on Survivor Winners at War. In the process, Michele’s fan following tripled (which is crazy for someone who had already won a Survivor season). Around the same Winners at War aired, Jay Starrett debuted on Total Madness, her good friend Natalie Anderson followed suit on Double Agents. Now fans have been clamoring to get Michele Fitzgerald on the Challenge been rewarded.
From a lifestyle standpoint, Michele is one of the few Survivor players made for the Challenge. Michele is a former bartender who loves to drink and have fun with friends; she should be an excellent addition to the game’s house lifestyle and entertainment part of the show. Fans of Survivor clung to Michele because she consistently exceeds expectations while remaining relatable. Michele is exceptionally intelligent without being a total dork — she is ravishingly gorgeous without being the influencer type either. She is supremely talented yet plays that underdog role so well that you can’t help but root for her. Michele checks every single box you want for a future Challenge competitor except maybe one potential big one, and it’s whether she can physically keep up with this show’s best athletes.
Player Vitals & Stats
Michele Fitzgerald: 31 Years Old, 5'6* (Internet says 5'8 though), 2x Survivor Competitor, 4 Individual Immunities Won (Decently Impressive Figure)
Skills and Physical Strength: Some people criticized Michele’s winning game on Survivor due to her having immunity for most of the early team portion of the game. Michele had immunity because she was a solid contributor on her teams, especially in the mental aspect. She has four career individual immunities in the game of Survivor, which is nothing to scoff at; hell, the all-time female record is 5.
Although, when it comes to pure athleticism — speed, leaping ability, explosiveness, and so on, Michele does not have that. During Survivor Winners at War, there was a challenge where players had to throw a ball above them down a Shute, run through a mini obstacle, and catch it twice.
Every player who participated in the challenge completed it except for Michele, who could not get one ball (and was the only player not to complete the physical aspect).Excuses about this performance can be made, such as this was Day 30 of Survivor. That means malnourishment and heat exhaustion. Also, they don’t do stuff like this on the Challenge, so why does it matter?
It matters because daily challenges and elimination can often come down to footraces. Someone having the first step on their opponent can ultimately shift the direction of competition. When you always fall a few steps behind, you need to be consistently brilliant to take on that uphill battle, and sometimes it’s too much to overcome. Michele has a good spirit as a competitor, knows how to pace herself based on her limits. If she gets a bad partner (cough, Fessy) who pushes her too far, that could be an issue. Based on her performances on Survivor, Michele should be an above-average swimmer. It was challenging to figure out her height as almost all sites listed her at 5'8, yet, when looking at pictures of her, she was around the same size as people I’ve seen consistently listed in the 5'3–5'5 range.
SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game: Michele has played 78 days of Survivor and has never gotten voted out. Her social game is impeccable. She is a master at playing the underdog role and being able to skirt by. It is even more impressive when you account for the fact that Michele has played Survivor with a bunch of people in their 40s and 50s or more on the geeky side of life, whereas on the Challenge, she is with the party people that she would be hanging out with on Saturday nights.
The problem is on the Challenge; if people see you as physically weak, the only way you can avoid eliminations/targeting is if you become the likable lay-up. Even then, that role usually goes to long-time veterans, and there is a certain limit to how far in the game you can take that role. Michele’s success on Survivor shows she has the strategic abilities to do well if given power. Except the Challenge isn’t like Survivor. Survivor is like Chess. The Challenge is like Dodgeball; being strategic helps in Dodgeball, but you need to be able to catch some throws, dodge others, and ultimately be able to peg your opponent with a good throw for any strategy to matter.
In terms of mental challenges/puzzles, Michele is in the upper percentile for spatial recognition. There is a specific puzzle from Survivor that Michele is known for where she can gauge the size of items very quickly when putting together a puzzle. The question is, will she get to the point in the game where puzzles will matter?
Eliminations & Winning Potential: As mentioned above, pure athleticism is a weakness for Michele. My brain does not imagine Michele doing well in a headbanger elimination. The eliminations she would thrive in need to be more cerebral; if there is a mental or puzzle element, her chances of winning become instantly better. If the game is who is faster or more explosive, that is not what Michele is going to do well in.
Can Michele win? Not this season. Even if Michele exceeds expectations completely, I just don’t think she is quite ready for what a final entails. If Michele can form genuine friendships and connections that will help her chances for future seasons, gaining the knowledge of what she needs to train for physically on the Challenge could lead to her having a successful career on this show.