Lauren O’Connell has had to fight HARD to earn her spot in the Survivor: Edge of Extinction finale. She started off the show on the Manu tribe, and quickly aligned with Kelley Wentworth, who was an immediate target as a veteran player. They eventually added Dan ‘Wardog’ DaSilva to the mix, and somehow made it through the first three episodes, even though Manu lost every challenge. At the tribe swap, Lauren landed on the Lesu tribe with several of the Manu castaways, and survived two more tribal councils before making it to the merge. Even after her strongest allies, Kelley and Wardog, were voted out, Lauren prevailed, and is now a finalist alongside Victora Baamonde, Gavin Whitson, Rick Devens, Julie Rosenberg, and whichever player wins their way back in the game from the ‘Edge of Extinction.’ Lauren also still has an immunity idol in her pocket, which she found during episode two.
1. She had a medical scare earlier this season. Throughout the beginning of the show, Lauren struggled with lack of food on Survivor. Some of her tribemates even wanted to vote her off at one point because she was so sick and weak. However, she never gave up. After the merge, Lauren even fainted while in the MIDDLE of an immunity challenge. It took her several minutes to come-to, but once she did, she was immediately ready to get back in the game. Needless to say, it was super impressive.
2. She’s a college athlete. Lauren plays on the women’s soccer team at Baylor University. Despite suffering major injuries throughout her first couple of years on the team, she persevered and was an “integral part” of the team’s run to the NCAA Elite 8 in 2018.
3. She’s well-educated and has major career aspirations. Lauren has a bachelor’s degree in Medical Humanities major from Baylor, and plans to have a career as a dentist one day. After Survivor, she will be starting dental school, and is hopeful that, if she wins the show, she’ll be able to use the money to pay for it. “As a dentist, I plan to change lives by instilling confidence through beautiful smiles, and winning this game will help me to achieve this without the burden of debilitating debt,” she said in her Survivor bio.
4. She’s given back to her community. Lauren has done a ton of volunteer work in Waco, Texas. She’s worked at a Family Abuse Center, helped facilitate victims of sex trafficking back into society, volunteered as a hospice worker and more.
5. Lauren’s been a fan of the show for years. Lauren admitted in her Survivor bio that she’s been “studying the show” since at least season two — she even named her Barbie and Ken dolls Tina and Colby, after the two finalists from that season!