Mike Gabler will go down in Survivor history—for more than one reason.
With his win during Dec. 14's Survivor season 43 finale, the heart valve specialist, 52, not only became the second-oldest person to ever win the game—only coming behind Robert "Bob" Crowley of Survivor: Gabon, who was 57 at the time of his win—but also became the first person to donate the entire $1 million prize to charity. The self-nicknamed "AlliGabler" will be donating his winnings to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychiatric problems in honor of his father, Robert Gabler, a Green Beret.
Though Gabler had been telling cameras about his plan for days before final tribal council, he shared his intentions with his fellow castmates during the season's aftershow, filmed moments after his win.
"We're going to save lives and do something good," he shared with his tribemates in an emotional moment. "Season 43, all of us did this. A million dollars is going to them. We made history, guys."
His fellow castaways were blown away by the moment, including Ryan Medrano, who teared up after hearing of the donation.
"My dad's a veteran—has 100 percent VA because he's put his life on the line time and time again, and I've been sitting at home thinking, 'Is he gonna come back this time?'" he explained. "The fact that he's giving it all to the veterans that served our country—there's so much that we don't know that they go through. They're over there and they're fighting for us, but they could come back and not have a job, or be disabled and not cared for. The fact that he's giving that all to them is something that he's allowing me to be a part of, and it just touches me in a way."
Gabler won the season after defeating frontrunner Jesse Lopez in a fire-making competition, going on to beat fellow final three members Cassidy Clark and Owen Knight 7-1-0, respectively.
Now, the series is turning toward season 44, which will be premiering in March 2023 with an all-new cast. In a teaser for the upcoming season released during Dec. 14's finale, host Jeff Probst described the next chapter as "one of the most intense, unpredictable, inspirational and most entertaining seasons of Survivor."
In the meantime, you can catch up on Survivor season 43, which is now available to stream on CBS and Paramount+.