Producers of Survivor say they never intended their series to be an extreme form of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, but competitors are finding island life a great incubator for love. So which two contestants from Australian Survivor's second season are an item in real life?
Spoiler alert — one of them got eliminated in Sunday's episode! Keep reading to find out...
Marathon runner Samantha 'Sam' Gash, 32, and former special operations commander Mark Wales, 37, are dating, the two confirm in a statement provided by Network Ten.
“We had a great connection on the island and got along really well," the pair say. "It was such a unique experience. We formed a strong alliance in the game, which was obviously seen as a threat to others."
Back on home turf, the two say, "It's been nice to get to know each other outside the game. We are now in a relationship.”
Their spooning, flirting and strategising got fellow Asaga tribemate Henry Nicholson to throw the immunity challenge to target them for elimination, partnering up with his alliance member Jacqui. "From day 2, I thought, 'Let's get a plan against Sam,'" said Henry on the episode. "Sam and Mark are the power couple. They're big threats. Mark's a physical threat. Sam's a strategic threat. They've got to be split up."
Sam admitted on the series, "I think Mark and I can fortunately lean on each other, which puts a target on our back. They might presume we are a power couple, but I don't see us that way. I see us as two mates who have each other's back in the game." Mark said in a separate interview, "We're close. Sam and I clearly talk quite a bit about life in general but about the game as well."
Although Mark suspected something was amiss when Asaga headed to tribal council on Day 16, he could not prevent the ouster of Sam, who said, "I hope me being out helps him to flourish in the game."
Last season, Australian Survivor runner-up Lee Carseldine and third-place finisher El Rowland ended their nearly two-month run with the promise of something deeper than a strategic connection. So Rowland, an Army corporal, reached out to Carseldine, an aerial photographer, and the two have become a strong couple. The pair are doing charity missions together now and very much in love, as seen in El's recent Instagram post below.
"I knew there was something special there that I wanted to pursue," Rowland told WHO at the end of the first Australian Survivor season last October. "I gave it all I got and we got to know each other, and it's all history from there."