Michael Skupin

S25 Michael Skupin

S2 Michael Skupin

Contestant Profile
Born: January 29, 1962 (1962-01-29) (age 55)
Hometown: Farmington Hills, Michigan
Occupation: Software Publisher; Part-Time Professional Speaker
Survivor Career
Version: United States
The Australian Outback
Tribe(s): Kucha
Finish: 11/16
Challenge Wins: 6
Votes Against: 0
Days Lasted: 17
Tribe(s): Tandang
Finish: Co-Runner-Up (2/18)
Alliance(s): Tandang Alliance, Fulcrum Alliance
Challenge Wins: 10
Votes Against: 0
Days Lasted: 39

Michael David "Mike" Skupin (often referred to as Skupin in his second season) is a contestant from Survivor: The Australian Outback and Survivor: Philippines.

Skupin holds the distinction of being the first person to ever be medically evacuated from Survivor, after he passed out and fell into the fire at camp. His wounds were too severe to be treated on location so he had to be medically evacuated from the game, causing him to narrowly miss out on the merge.

He returned in Philippines as a self-consciously strategic player, positioning himself as the the swing vote in almost every Tribal Council after the merge. He also excelled in challenges and managed not to have any votes cast against him until the Final Tribal Council. However, his lack of enduring loyalty to any player beyond Lisa Whelchel, as well as what some of his competitors viewed as a socially unaware, even quixotic approach to the game, caused the jury to vote the more sure-handed Denise Stapley the winner in a 6-1-1 vote.


Retrieved from

Michael Skupin co-founded a software publishing and distribution company in 1992 where he currently serves as president. He also founded the CCA, which is a motivational speaking company. He attended Western Michigan University where he earned a bachelor of business management in 1984. His previous employment includes office equipment sales, surgical and operating room equipment sales, and a water-ski instructor. He is most proud of his wife Peni and his three children, Michael, Kalyn, and Emily.

Skupin describes himself as adventurous, a thrill-seeker, and a risk taker. His favorite television shows are ESPN's SportsCenter / Primetime (to compare notes with his son) and Seinfeld, while his favorite motion picture is Meet Joe Black. Although he's a big fan of Faith Hill, he listens to a variety of music including Top 40, Country, Christian, and has a soft spot for Oldies. His favorite sports teams are any team from Michigan, especially the University of Michigan Wolverines. Amid his hectic schedule, Skupin finds time to hunt, barefoot water-ski, and play ice hockey. He'll also play a good game of Scattegories if time permits.

Originally from Farmington Hills, Michigan, Skupin currently lives in White Lake, Michigan with his wife and three children. They have 2 Black Labradors, Thor and Simeon, and lots of wild fish and wild birds. His birth date is January 29, 1962.[1]

Name (Age): Michael Skupin (50)
Previous Season: Survivor: The Australian Outback
Previous Finish: Medical Evacuation due to severe burns received after passing out into a fire from smoke inhalation. After inhaling a thick cloud of smoke, I passed out and fell forward into the fire suffering severe burns all over my body, the worst of which was on my hands.
Tribe Designation: Tandang
Current Residence: White Lake, Mich.
Occupation: Professional speaker, author and coach
Personal Claim to Fame: I have seven of them that I feed everyday – my children. And, ranking 23rd on TV Guide and TV Land's List of the 100 Most Unexpected TV Moments. It's an honor to have been there when it all started!
Inspiration in Life: My dad, a true warrior who lost a battle to cancer when he was 28 and my mom who battled emphysema for 17 years and never complained. She taught me what "tough" was.
Hobbies: Sports and fitness, coaching my kids and anything to do with water… in it, on it, over it, looking at it or listening to it.
Pet Peeves: Negativity and pessimism. The glass is always full.
3 Words to Describe You: Adventurous, spontaneous and competitive.
If You Could Have 3 Things on The Island What Would They Be and Why?
1) Animals to hunt for food.
2) An impenetrable shelter.
3) An unbreakable alliance.
Reason for Being on SURVIVOR: To avenge a long-standing internal battle, wondering if I can win this game in spite of the changes and my 12 year absence. No matter what any returning player may say, you never stop thinking about going back. And: 7 cars when they turn 16, 7 college educations, 7 weddings… I want to be there for my kids at all times when they need me.
Why You Think You'll "Survive" SURVIVOR: The physical part I'm ultra prepared for. I never stop moving. The survival part won't be an issue. I grew up in the woods. My crazy family life has prepared me exceptionally for the mental part. I'm surviving seven kids!
Why You Think You Will Be the Sole Survivor: There is no other returning player in the history of this game with more to prove than me. I'll find a way to win, whatever it takes! I won't give up… ever, ever,  ever, ever![2]


The Australian Outback

Skupin proved useful to the Kucha, being able to carry heavy loads to their camp. He tried to take control of the building of their shelter on Day 1, despite Rodger having more experience in the field of construction, though it didn't seem to annoy anyone except for Debb, who voiced her resentment of him taking control. After losing the first Immunity Challenge, Skupin participated in the unanimous ousting of Debb.

On Day 4, Skupin woke up early and put rice on the fire. This upset some of his tribe because they were not hungry and considered it a waste of their limited food supply. Skupin claimed he was trying to make food for the tribe before they woke up, but some tribe mates thought he made the rice just for himself.

The rice turned out bad, but Skupin was shocked that they not only didn't appreciate it, but they didn't like it. He claimed that his tribe was getting edgy without food, and that they weren't aware how bad it was going to get. He decided to go fishing to at least provide his tribe a full meal. Another reason for his fishing was because during Kucha's first Tribal Council he claimed he was made the tribe leader, a position he wished to avoid, although some of the other castaways privately said they thought Michael made himself the leader. By catching fish, he hoped to shy away from the leadership position and to focus on that one activity. However by doing this, he only further put himself in a bad position, though, by referring to himself as the leader and focusing on his accomplishments.

On Day 6, still on his quest to provide food for the camp, Skupin set out in hunt of a wild pig, generating controversy among fans. He crafted a spear with a stick and a knife, which only worried his tribe because it was their only knife and they did not want to lose it.

After Kucha won chickens in the fourth Reward Challenge, Skupin felt threatened he might become useless as a food provider now, and decided to kill and eat the chickens as soon as possible, which openly disturbed tribe mate Kimmi as she was a vegetarian.

On Day 17, while tending the camp fire, Skupin inhaled some smoke and passed out, accidentally falling into the fire and burning his hands. He immediately jumped into the cold Herbert River waters to ease the pain and tribe mates Alicia and Elisabeth got into the water to comfort him until medical arrived. The Survivor medical team arrived and immediately airlifted him out of the game. Before leaving, the five remaining Kucha members vowed to win to his honor.

Voting History

Michael's Voting History
Episode Michael's
Voted Against
1 Debb -
2 Kucha Tribe Immune
3 Kucha Tribe Immune
4 Kucha Tribe Immune
5 Kimmi -
6 No Tribal Council
Evacuated, Day 17

Survivor: Philippines

Skupin was put on the Tandang tribe, and right off the bat he recognized fellow tribe mate Lisa Whelchel as a former TV star, but he kept the information to himself. He had the best start out of the three returning players, finding himself in an alliance before either Jonathan Penner or Russell Swan. At the beach, he was approached by R.C. Saint-Amour to join her alliance with Abi-Maria Gomes and Pete Yurkowski. They targeted Lisa for being considered untrustworthy, despite Skupin personally liking her. He later informed her that he knew who she was, and they started to develop a friendship despite being on opposite alliances.

When Abi-Maria and Pete turned against their alliance and recruited Lisa and Artis Silvester into a new majority voting bloc, Skupin and R.C. were put in the minority, putting them in danger, although most of the pressure was on R.C. due to her conflict with Abi. However, Tandang continuously winning Immunity Challenges kept them safe from Tribal Council.

When the Matsing tribe was down to 2 people, Malcolm Freberg was absorbed by Tandang and was promptly accepted by the majority alliance, but Tandang was even stronger, and Skupin was able to reach the merge without attending a single Tribal Council.

The Tandang tribe dominated the pre-merge portion of the game and soon merged into Dangrayne where Pete, Abi-Maria, Artis, Malcolm, and Lisa sided with Kalabaw members Jeff Kent, Carter Williams, and Denise Stapley (also a former Matsing tribe member and an ally of Malcolm) in order to split their votes between Jonathan Penner since Jeff Kent, although aligned with Jonathan in the Kalabaw Alliance, didn't want a returning player to win and R.C. since Pete distrusted her from Day 1. Meanwhile, Jonathan and R.C. who knew that they were at the bottom of the Tandang Alliance attempted to appeal to the Kalabaw Alliance in order to vote out the other Tandang members, targeting Pete, but Skupin eventually shifted his vote to Penner who played a Hidden Immunity Idol, negating Skupin's and the 4 other votes, eliminating Skupin's ally R.C. after receiving 4 votes.

Without R.C., Skupin becomes a target next to Jonathan. After the next Reward Challenge, he, along with Penner, Malcolm, Denise, and Lisa, considered themselves the heroes of the game, while Artis, Abi-Maria, and Pete were portrayed as the bullies of the tribe, which would have meant that they would all stick together and blindside the 3. However, Lisa realized that she could have better chance of winning if she stuck with Tandang, deciding to still eliminate Penner. Their plan was foiled when Penner won the Immunity Challenge which changed the plans of the Tandang Alliance. With Skupin possibly being in danger for being the only returning player not having immunity and Lisa wanting to keep Tandang intact, Lisa planned to blindside Malcolm, knowing that Malcolm has Matsing's Hidden Immunity Idol, which Malcolm denied having to the Tandang Alliance. During the next very intense Tribal Council where Abi-Maria and Malcolm revealed their Hidden Immunity Idols, Skupin was put in the middle with Penner convincing to vote against Pete, while Lisa convincing to go with Pete's "Plan B", which is voting against Jeff. Skupin eventually sided with Tandang, voting out Jeff after a 5-4-1 split where Kalabaw and Matsing, except Jonthan, voting against Pete, Tandang against Jeff, and Penner against Abi-Maria, possibly thinking that Skupin will vote against Pete making Penner's vote useless or thinking that the others would target Abi-Maria to flush her Idol.   

With the returning players threat eliminated, Skupin (and Lisa) was wooed by the newly solidified Kalabaw-Matsing Alliance to join them due to Tandang's treatment of the 2. Lisa still voted with Tandang in the next Tribal Council, however Skupin eventually flipped on Tandang by blindsiding Artis (a plan of Denise due to Artis being the least likely receiver of Tandang's Idol), 

The next day, Lisa joined the new majority alliance with Skupin, deciding to split their votes between Abi-Maria and Pete since they knew that Abi-Maria had Tandang's Idol. With Pete and Abi-Maria neither winning immunity, they tried to sway Skupin back to their side by blindsiding Malcolm (possibly using Tandang's Idol to Pete as Skupin is going to vote against Abi-Maria). However, Skupin stayed loyal to the majority alliance, with Pete being voted out. 

During those times, Malcolm and Skupin talked about being in the Final 4. Skupin was then offered by Malcolm a Final 4 alliance with their alliance mates Lisa and Denise, where Skupin first asked Lisa about it. Lisa hesistantly thinks about the plan, and approaches Penner first to make a Final 4 deal along with Carter, but Penner refused (saying that it is to early to make such a move) prompting Skupin and Lisa to lock in the Final 4 alliance with Matsing. With Abi-Maria ended up winning the next Immunity Challenge with the help of the advantage she bought during the Survivor Auction, the six-person alliance turned on each other. Skupin ended up being the swing vote between Denise and Penner after Lisa said to Penner that she will stick with her new alliance, and even after Penner's rallying to vote with him, Skupin stuck with the Final 4 alliance voting out Penner.

Before the next Immunity Challenge, Skupin and Lisa, with the help of a self-esteem boost from Lisa's brother Justice (who visited the island for a Loved Ones Challenge) planned to blindside Malcolm with the help of Carter. This plan failed, however, as Malcolm won immunity, voting out Carter over Abi-Maria for being a physical threat. Skupin won the next Reward Challenge, where he was allowed to select 2 people to join him, choosing his closest ally Lisa, with Malcolm as well. During the reward, Malcolm made a Final Three deal with Skupin and Lisa and plotted to blindside Denise. After the next Immunity Challenge where Malcolm won immunity, Skupin and Lisa soon decided to either keep Abi-Maria for being the least likely to get Jury votes or Denise in order to have more competition against Malcolm to prevent him from getting immunity. During Tribal Council, Skupin was called a moron by Abi-Maria for not wanting to take her to the end. Even after Abi-Maria tried to get Michael and Lisa to her side saying that Denise or Malcolm would win over them, Skupin voted with the others against Abi-Maria, voting her out.

Down to the final four, Skupin thought of either voting out Malcolm or Denise, saying that defeating Malcolm would be honorable. Malcolm won the next Reward Challenge which would give him a huge advantage at the next Immunity Challenge, where they had to balance a small metal ball in between several sticks, revealing that the reward Malcolm won was a second chance in case the ball would fall. Despite Malcolm's advantage, he ended up being the first one out, while Skupin ended up winning the challenge. Even though Lisa and Denise decided to vote out Malcolm, Skupin was still undecided who to vote out. At the next Tribal Council, Skupin eventually decided to go with the women, voting out Malcolm.

At the Final Tribal Council, Skupin expressed to jury being a returning player and surviving each time saying that there was always a threat of him being voted out and that he exemplified the slogan of Survivor ("Outwit, Outplay, Outlast"). The jury, however castigated him for not really being in danger seeing that he had no votes against him ever since. Skupin eventually lost against Denise, tying for first runner-up with Lisa, earning his only jury vote from Carter.

Voting History

Michael's Voting History
Episode Michael's
Voted Against
1 Tandang Tribe Immune
2 Tandang Tribe Immune
3 Tandang Tribe Immune
4 Tandang Tribe Immune
5 Tandang Tribe Immune
6 Tandang Tribe Immune
7 Jonathan1 -
8 Jeff -
9 Artis Individual Immunity
10 Abi-Maria2 -
11 Jonathan -
12 Carter -
13 Abi-Maria -
14 Malcolm Individual Immunity
Jury Votes
for Michael
Co-Runner-Up, Day 39

^1 In Not the Only Actor on This Island, Jonathan used a Hidden Immunity Idol, negating Michael's vote against him.
^2 In Whiners Are Wieners, Abi-Maria used a Hidden Immunity Idol, negating Michael's vote against her.


  • Skupin considered running for senate in 2001.[3]
  • Skupin established a self-named company, Michael Skupin Ministries.
  • On May 14, 2001, Michael appeared on Hollywood Squares as a panelist for Survivor Week.[4]
  • Skupin released an autobiography entitled Fireproof in 2004.
  • On Feb. 23, 2013, Skupin was arrested for multiple driving violations. According to Michigan State records, he has had 20 license suspensions since 1999.
  • Skupin has since taken on a part-time career as a professional speaker.
  • In December 2013, Skupin was featured on Fox Detroit's "Hall of Shame".[5][6]
  • On February 5, 2016, Skupin was arrested with six counts of possession of child pornography after an investigation of a Ponzi scheme he made called Pay It Forward.[7]
  • On April 8, 2016, Skupin was officially jailed for breaking his bond agreement.[8]
  • On November 18, 2016, Skupin was found guilty of child pornography.[9]


Statistics of Michael Skupin
Seasons competed: 2
Days lasted: 56
Challenge Wins
Tribal wins: 13
Individual wins: 3
Total wins: 16
Tribal Council
Total votes received: 0
Exile Island
Times exiled: N/A
Redemption Island
Duels won: N/A
Days spent on Redemption Island: N/A