‘Survivor’ Winner Stuns Host by Announcing He’s Using the Entire $1 Million Prize to Help Veterans

The winner of this season’s “Survivor” is giving his $1 million prize to America’s heroes who battle wounds the world often ignores.

After being declared the winner, Mike Gabler, a heart valve specialist from Houston, Texas, shared his news with the other competitors and host Jeff Probst.

“There are people who need that money more, and I’m going to donate the entire prize — the entire million dollars prize, in my father’s name, Robert Gabler, who was a Green Beret — to veterans in need who are recovering from psychiatric problems, PTSD and curb the suicide epidemic,” he said.

A video clip of the moment showed Gabler telling the rest of the cast “all of us did this.”

“We’re gonna save lives. We’re gonna do something good … Million dollars is going to them. We made history guys,” he said.

Gabler later said he was not rich and has “worked very hard.”

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“But I realized being through this experience, I am rich at home,” he said, according to CBS.

“I have an amazing life at home. I have an amazing family. I have amazing friends. I need to be a better husband. I need to be a better father. I need to be a better brother, son. I’m going to do all those things just like all of us are going to do that when we go home,” he said.

“While I’ve never been in the service myself, to have the honor to serve them is pretty profound to me,” he said, according to KPIX-TV.

Gabler told Entertainment Weekly how he made his decision.

“I was talking with a buddy of mine who’s a veteran and my wife. And we were talking about, ‘What if you win this thing?’ You know, I’ve worked really hard my life. I’ve built a good financial set up around myself. I’ve got to work another eight years before I can retire. I’ve still got a kid in college, one more to go. I’ve still got a house payment, all that stuff the money would have helped, sure. But my father’s a veteran. My uncles are veterans. A lot of guys I went to high school and college with are veterans. And they need some help,” he said.

Gabler said he wanted to do something beyond himself.

“[T]o do something bigger than yourself gives you power in life,” he said, noting that on the show, “Every time I thought of something bigger than myself, I was able to persevere.”

He said the thought of giving the money to veterans was an inspiration when “Survivor” got tough.

“[I]f I’m thinking about people who are dependent on me, like veterans in need with a traumatic brain injury or PTSD, that lights a fire in you. And that drove me. It drove me day in, day out in the rain and the sun and the cold, the heat, everything,” he said.

“Our heroes drove me. I never had the honor of serving. I had the opportunity, but not the honor to serve, and the fact that I have the honor to serve those who served just fills my heart,” he said.

The website VeteranLife noted that during the show. Gabler spoke about veterans.

“Let’s do this next minute for Lester Tenny. He’s a war hero, passed now, survived the Bataan Death March, went to a prison camp, five years in captivity, made it home, found out his family was told he was dead. His wife remarried. He had to remake his life. Lester was one of our patients. We fixed him. I got to know Lester for six great years. I could do this all day for Lester,” he said during a challenge.

He said during another challenge, “I was so inspired by the people I was channeling because I’m playing Survivor for veterans who are suffering from traumatic brain injuries, who are suffering from PTSD.”

“The veteran community has been very special to me my whole life … Veterans are 1 percent of our population that take care of our 99 percent, so if I can give 100 percent for them, then I’ll be very proud and happy about that,” he said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.


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