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North St. Paul native Carolyn Wiger places third on ‘Survivor’ – Twin Cities


North St. Paul native Carolyn Wiger made it all the way to the top three on the current season of “Survivor,” but ended up placing third with no votes from the jury.

Early on in the finale, which aired Wednesday on CBS, Wiger explained the importance of playing with emotion.

“In the entire game, it’s really been a lot about my gut, like trusting my gut and trusting my heart. I’m emotional, but it helps. It helps with connecting with people, it helps people see that I’m real. So I feel like people trust me because they see I’m just being myself. And that’s exactly what I wanted to do.”

The daughter of former state Sen. Chuck Wiger, the 35-year-old Wiger was born in North St. Paul and now lives in Hugo, where she works in substance recovery. On Friday, she celebrated her 14 years of sobriety in a social media post.

While many viewers — and her fellow castaways — initially dismissed Wiger as a scattered, goofy non-threat, Wiger’s savvy and stealth game play became more apparent in the latter half of the season. She entered the top five in a tight alliance with Carson Garrett, a 20-year-old engineering student who used a 3D printer to recreate practice puzzles from the show, and Yamil “Yam Yam” Arocho, an outgoing and openly gay 36-year-old who is the first castaway to be a current resident of Puerto Rico.

The unusually strong final five also included Lauren Harpe, a 31-year-old single mom from Texas and 43-year-old Heidi Lagares-Greenblatt, who immigrated from Puerto Rico with no money or English speaking skills and managed to become a successful engineer.

Wiger stumbled during the first immunity challenge, a series of physical challenges that ended with a puzzle. She was final one to reach the puzzle, but said she was happy that she got at least one puzzle piece in place. She didn’t fare much better in the second immunity challenge. Lagares-Greenblatt won and chose Wiger as one of the final three.

Before the second challenge began, Wiger began crying and said it was all so overwhelming to her. “We all dreamed about this,” she said. “We’re here. And I’m here.”

Prior to the final tribal council, where voted off castaways choose a winner, Wiger mused to the camera more about how she always dreamed about competing on the show. “Coming here was the dream,” she said. “I might as well just win. I’m ready.”

As the jury grilled the final three, Wiger returned once more to talk about being emotional but also trying to stay positive and be a role model for her son. While the final tribal council is often contentious, this one was not and host Jeff Probst said it was one of the most emotionally supportive ones he’s seen.

In the end, Lagares-Greenblatt landed one vote and Arocho swept the rest. But as Wiger has become a fan favorite who made for good television, it’s almost certain she’ll be asked to return for another season at some point in the future.

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