Sonja Christopher was the first ever contestant to be voted of the hit reality competition show, Survivor. Debuting in 2000, at the age of 63, Christopher helped pioneer the hit CBS reality series that now sits at its 46th season.

She died Friday (April 26) at the age of 87.

The official Survivor social media page confirmed the somber news, sharing a photo along with a note from the show’s host, Jeff Probst.

“Sonja was one of the kindest people to ever play Survivor,” he shares. “Every interaction I had with her over the years was lovely.  She would always greet you with a smile on her face and joy in her heart. I’m honored that our paths got to cross.”

Christopher’s cause of death has not been shared publicly at publication time. Current castaway Liz Wilcox was the first to break the news of her death.

With a screenshot of Wilcox FaceTiming Christopher, signed ukulele in hand, she took to X to share her sentiments.

“Today, the legend herself Sonja Christopher of Season One passed away,” she writes. “I had the pleasure of meeting her on Christmas. She had so much spunk + love for Survivor and what the show brought to her life. I hope you’re singing + playing your heart out somewhere beautiful, Sonja.”

During her time on the show, fans could find Christopher strumming away at her ukulele. Possibly her most memorable moment was singing “Bye Bye Blues” to Richard Hatch.

Wilcox wasn’t the only member from the franchise to express grief. Fellow Season 1 and 27 castaway Gervase Peterson also shared a few words.

“RIP to the OG Sonja Christopher,” he writes. “The impact you have made on so many people will not be forgotten. You’re a legend and I’m thankful for the memories we made. I can hear you playing your ukulele with that big smile.”

Christopher would step back into the spotlight in 2020 with an interview for Entertainment Weekly. There, she took a step back into her time on the show.

"I was pretty beaten up... To this day, I still have bruises that don't go away,” Christopher said. “Someone once asked me if I thought my being voted off early was due to ageism. And I said, 'Oh, no.' And you know why, is because I had no concept of ageism.”

Wilcox advises against fans sending flowers. Instead, she asks for donations to be sent to Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church (Walnut Creek, Calif.), the Cancer Support Community of the San Francisco Bay Area or the Sjogren’s Foundation.

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