Meet Sandra Diaz Twine — Two-Time Survivor Contestant Returning For 'Island Of The Idols'

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Who Is Sandra Diaz Twine? New Details On Two Time Survivor Contestant Returning For Island Of The Idols
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Survivor: Island of Idols, the 39th season of the franchise is back and fans will be excited to see a familiar face back on the island: Sandra Diaz-Twine, the only person ever to win the game twice, is coming back. But this year, she won't be a competitor. She and fellow alum Rob "Boston Rob" Mariano will be mentors to the new cast. In her official bio for the show, Diaz-Twine quips that she's "older and fatter" than she was when she first went on season 7 but she also notes that she has a lot to teach the others, citing "My ability to get to the end no matter what the situation and being straightforward. I won’t apologize for anything I do."

Who is Sandra Diaz-Twine? Read on for all the details. 

1. Two-time winner

Sandra has been three seasons of Survivor — Survivor: Pearl Islands, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, and Survivor: Game Changers. Her first time on the show she was focused on winning because she really wanted the million dollar prize. The show was her path to moving up in the world. When she came back for the second time, it was less about the money and more just seeing how far she could go on the show. She went all the way a second time but the third time around wasn't a charm for her. She was the sixth contestant voted off the island that season. 

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2. Gathering intel to win

Diaz-Twine's secret to the success of the show was building up relationships, gaining trust and finding out the information she could use to win, Men's Health reports. Famously, she was one of the only castaways that knew the truth about Jonny Fairplay's dead grandmother lie and didn't fall for his scams the rest of the season. 

In her second season, she made the most of her alliances and got go through the season with only three votes against her across 11 tribals​. That didn't work in her third go-round and she was voted off on day 16. 

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3. Setting up for success

Survivor producers know that bringing the same people back is risky, both because audiences might be tired of a person and because contestants might not want to risk failure more than once. In order to get Diaz-Twine interested in coming back, Jeff Probst came up with a new format to highlight her skills for Island of Idols, with no risk to her “Once you’ve played three or four times — and especially if you’ve won the game — it’s very hard to convince somebody to do it again because they know they’re likely to be voted out early,” Probst said. “So the pitch was, ‘Instead of competing against new players, where you’re likely to be voted out, what if we made you a ‘Survivor’ idol and brought you back as a mentor?’ And that pitch was pretty appealing because it’s giving you deity-like status in the game.” Diaz-Twine and Mariano will be on their own Island and will help train the contestants on how to play the game. The only downside is that the two mentors won't be competing for the prize money at the end of the show. 

There is a massive statue of her face on the island.

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4. Doing it because she can

As a two-time winner, Diaz-Twine already feels like she has more than proved herself. She told the LA Times that the money wasn't the object. “The second time I played, I was like, ‘OK, I’m expecting to get voted off,’ and then that never happened,” she said. “It became more of like, ‘How long now can I last? Because I know these people want to dethrone me. I know these females want my crown’ … it becomes a challenge for me to see how far I can really get in the game.”

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5. A sense of community

The thrill of the game isn't the only thing that keeps Diaz-Twine coming back to the islands for the game: she has met people she cares about and the sense of being part of a special community matters to her. “We have our separate groups, and there’s people you tend to bond with more, like, the winners usually always clique up,” she said to the LA Times. “But you tend to have your real family, and then you have this side ’Survivor’ family you’re always in the know with.”

6. Working with an old ally

The chance to work with Mariano was another selling point for Diaz-Twine. She told Men's Health that she had always enjoyed playing the game with her Heroes And Villains ally. "I’ve always felt like if there was anyone that I really, really would enjoy being out there with for that amount of time and I could get along with them very well with no issues, it would be Rob. So I said yes right away. I didn’t even have to think about it," she said.

Rob and Sandra are friends. 

Survivor: Island of Idols premiered on September 25. 

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.