Survivor: Guatemala's winner announced!

Last night's finale of Survivor: Guatemala brought what was arguably the series' most punishing season to its conclusion, and Kansas radio host Danni Boatwright outlasted the opposition to take home $1 million and a new car.

Survivor's Web site details Sunday's episode. After 39 days in the sweltering Guatemalan jungle, four exhausted castaways woke among Mayan ruins for one of the last times. Weeks of excruciating physical challenges, near starvation, bloodthirsty insects, and twisted mind games had brought Danni, Lydia, Stephenie, and Rafe to the end of their ropes--but their toughest days of competition still lay ahead.

After a morning visit from a group of Mayans left a tempting, but forbidden, roast chicken carcass near the campground, the day's challenge began. After a race through what the show's Web site calls "the most complex Survivor maze ever constructed," Rafe emerged with the coveted immunity necklace. The three women then succumbed to the attractions of the chicken carcass and devoured it, but regretted their indulgence when a brutal tropical storm battered the area shortly after their feast. Was the tempest sent by Mayan gods as punishment for their lack of respect?

Though Rafe and his alliance partner Stephenie agreed that it would be safest to take Lydia into the Final Three with them, Rafe had made a promise to Danni that he could not bring himself to break. When the group arrived at Tribal Council that evening, Lydia was sent home.

The remaining three awakened to a campsite in shambles after another night of pouring rain and buffeting wind. The morning's Tree Mail instructed them to take a walk through the Mayan pyramids, where they discovered photographs of their eliminated teammates and the torches they'd left behind. One by one, the Final Three burned the photographs as they reflected on their time in the Guatemalan jungle. When each image had been reduced to ashes, the players were ready for their last Immunity Challenge

Survivor host Jeff Probst showed Rafe, Danni, and Stephenie a trio of wooden platforms, each complete with a grip rope for each hand and a supporting pole that they could lean on but not grab. The players had to balance on the wobbly platforms while using the ropes and pole for balance, but after one hour were forced to let go of one rope. Thirty minutes later, they had to release the second rope, leaving them with only the pole for support. Rafe was the first to be eliminated, followed by Stephenie, which left Danni immune from elimination. Rafe immediately freed her from her obligation to him, allowing his friend Stephenie a fighting chance at the prize.

After struggling with a very tough decision, Danni decided that Stephenie would be the less formidable foe, and eliminated Rafe from the game. The pair deconstructed their shelter and burned it, then headed to the final Tribal Council. After facing a jury made up of their eliminated foes, it was time for the ultimate decision to be made. Though the atmosphere was fraught with tension, it soon became obvious that members of the jury carried grudges against Stephenie. After just five of the votes had been read, Danni had accumulated the four she needed to go home with the $1 million check.

CBS recently announced that Survivor, a ratings juggernaut, will be around for at least three more seasons. Though rumors of Jeff Probst's departure recently flew, the Associated Press is reporting that he's signed another multiyear contract with the show.

Survivor: Panama, Exile Island--currently in production--will be the 12th installment of the much-loved series and will air in the spring of 2006.

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