May 23, 2024 - News

Charlotte salon owner wins $1M on "Survivor"

Kenzie does a challenge

Photo: Courtesy of CBS

A Charlottean has joined the rankings of 44 people, and just 18 women, to win the title of sole "Survivor" on the ultra-competitive CBS reality show.

Why it matters: When other contestants asked Kenzie Petty how she would spend the $1 million prize during the season finale, she spoke of her salon in Camp North End.

  • Petty, who started working at age 15 out of necessity, said she runs her business to provide jobs and makes no money off renting her salon chairs.
  • "If a business person looked at my business plan, they would lose their minds," she told the jury made up of players who were voted out. "The business is not about the money. It's about providing people an opportunity. So this money would be mine, for me...I'm trying to set myself up to have a family."
  • A year after filming, she's pregnant with a boy.

The big picture: Petty's journey united a fan base and created a community in Charlotte that, for years, has watched the long-running show mostly alone on their couches.

  • Watch parties took place at venues throughout the city as the season progressed, and it became clear Petty would make it far in the show.
crowd of people watching a projected screen outside
Camp North End "Survivor" finale watch party on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. Photo: Alex Sands/Axios

Driving the news: A large crowd turned out to support the Charlotte player at Camp North End Wednesday night for the finale. Viewers were cheering on their feet at moments when Petty's game changed.

  • As Petty was close to winning one challenge, another castaway ditched her puzzle and jumped in to help Petty win immunity, securing her spot in the final four. The moment was evidence of the strong social game Petty played.
  • During an intense fire-making challenge to make it to the final three, it seemed Petty might crack under pressure, but she grew her flame high enough to burn a rope before her competitor.
  • After that, Petty's last task was to convince a jury of people she had a part in voting out that she was deserving of the crown. She won five of eight jury votes.

What she's saying: "It sounds so corny but I was just being myself ... I made a lot of friends along the way that helped me get to the end," Petty told QC Life Thursday morning, speaking about her social strategy. "I'm a hairstylist. All we do is gab."

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