The single fact of "Survivor" is this: There is only one winner.
And unfortunately for Lisa Whelchel, she wasn't it. But while she didn’t attain the title of "sole survivor" or the $1 million prize, Whelchel said she achieved something greater. "I really did grow and learn so much. It was painful, but it was worth every moment of it," she said during the reunion. "As corny as it is, the 'Facts of Life' song is 'you take the good, and you take the bad, you take them both' … and learning both sides of me has been worth the million dollars."
Still, the former "Facts of Life" star lasted 39 days and made it to the final tribal council to plead her case -- despite the many odds against her.
But while Whelchel shed many a tear, she never gave up. She formed an alliance with Michael Skupin that lasted until the end. And after a visit from her brother, she began to play with more determination and less emotion. "I do believe I'm taking control of my own destiny," she said.
During her time in the Philippines, Whelchel relied on her faith, to the derision of some players and fans. But, she said, it was always personal for her and never intended as a strategy.
"I didn't plan on praying out there," she said. "God doesn't care who wins 'Survivor.'"
Hardship has followed her off the island. Since she finished filming in the spring, Whelchel has battled rumors about her divorce, as well as West Nile virus (contracted after her time on "Survivor.")
Even if the journey didn't end with winning "Survivor," she did win the hearts of the viewers: Whelchel took home $100,000 as the "fan favorite."
Lisa Whelchel on how she grew during the show: