It was another phenomenal season finale of 'Survivor' Wednesday night on CBS. Tony Valachos was voted the winner by the other contestants on the show, and you certainly couldn't disagree with the choice, despite Iowans cheering for two women from the Cedar Rapids metro.

Valachos beat out Cedar Rapids' Sarah Lacina in a fire challenge to get into the final three. He then received more votes than the other remaining finalists, Natalie and Michele, to claim the $2 million prize.

Our other local contestant in the final six, Denise Stapley (above left), was voted out when the remaining contestants could only vote for Sarah or Denise. All the other contestants were protected from votes by immunity idols or immunity earned at a challenge.

Congrats to both these local women for representing our community, and the state of Iowa beautifully throughout the season.

You can watch the 3-hour finale HERE.


[ORIGINAL STORY]: It all comes down to this. It's the finale of the 40th season of 'Survivor' on CBS. I've watched ALL of them over the last 20 years.

This season started some three months ago with 20 contestants who all previously won $1 million on the show. Tonight, past champions from Marion and Cedar Rapids are among the final six vying for a $2 million prize, the largest in reality show history.

Denise Stapley, a certified sex therapist from Marion, won 'Survivor: Philippines' in the fall of 2012. Season 25 is the only other season she has appeared. This season, she single-handedly voted off Sandra, the contestant who called herself 'The Queen.' You should know that going into this season, Sandra is the only competitor that's ever won the show twice. That will change tonight.

Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

For the most part, Denise has been a contestant that's stayed under the radar of her competitors this season. That's good. When she volunteered, if you will, that she knew she was going to be voted out last week but wanted a full belly of rice when she left, I was like 'What are you doing?!' She sold it so well at tribal council that members of the jury were already debating if she was being genuine. Maybe she'll be an actress when this is over because it worked. If Denise makes the final three and gets to state her case to the jury as to why they should vote for her, she'll have two very large moves to sell them with.

Sarah Lacina, a Cedar Rapids police officer, is making her third appearance on 'Survivor.' She took part in season 28 and season 34, which she won. Today, Hollywood Life called her the "social queen" of this season.

Sarah Lacina; CBS
Sarah Lacina; CBS

Sarah is in an alliance for the second time in her 'Survivor' career with fellow police officer Tony Vlachos. He's an officer in New Jersey. Tony is a wild card. In a previous season, he broke his alliance with Sarah, helping to send her home. So far, so good this season but trusting Tony has to be difficult. It definitely is as a viewer but, then again, at this point, the players can't trust anyone.

I think Tony, Sarah, or Denise wins tonight. As a matter of fact, I'd put them in that order as far as what I consider to be the likelihood of who wins. However, 'Survivor' is always unpredictable which is why I still love it after 20 years and 40 seasons.

Tonight's finale begins at 7 p.m. on CBS 2. Here's a look at the final five contestants, and Natalie, who I think gets back into the game at the beginning of tonight's episode. Good luck Denise and Sarah. I hope one of you wins and the other finishes second!

Survivor Season 40 Finalists

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