"Survivor: Philippines" aired its finale last night and crowned Denise Stapley its winner. Lisa Whelchel, whose faith helped get her on the show and through to the finale, was named the show's "Fan Favorite" and spoke about her surprise in winning the title.
"I would have voted for Malcolm," Whelchel told The Hollywood Reporter. "It was the 'player of the season,' and he played better than anyone. So I'm grateful but still shocked."
Whelchel, famous for her role on the hit series "The Facts of Life," was never "outed" to her fellow castmates, though at least one player deduced who she was and kept the information a secret. During the finale, though, Whelchel's past caught up to her and everyone learned who she truly was.
"By that point, I knew that people had already heard his [contestant Penner's] spiel at Ponderosa. It wasn't going to change. And now, I'm glad he said it because it tied up that unresolved, 'Do people recognize her? Don't they know who she is?' As far as the story goes, it is a better ending for him having outed me," Whelchel explained.
Now Whelchel will return to the small screen and co-host "The Jeff Probst Show." She developed a friendship with the man who also hosts "Survivor" and is excited to be on-air again.
"When I applied for 'Survivor,' they asked, 'Why do you want to do it?' I love 'Survivor' and I love Jeff Probst. I got to be on 'Survivor,' and now I get to guest host with him. I have thought about doing a talk show. My heart is in comedy, so I'd rather do a sitcom," Whelchel said.
"At the same time, I have thought about doing a talk show, and I can't imagine it being more fun than doing it with somebody like Jeff," she added. Whelchel is currently taping episodes of the show that will air in January.
All of this good news comes after a particularly rough year for Whelchel, who announced her divorce and that she was battling West Nile virus within a matter of months.