Davie Rickenbacker received $13,999 from Sia for his game play on "Survivor: David vs. Goliath."

Sia bestows Atlantan Davie Rickenbacker (‘Survivor: David v Goliath’) $13,999 for his game play

Originally posted Wednesday, February 27, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Atlantan Davie Rickenbacker, who finished sixth on “Survivor: David v. Goliath” last season, didn’t win the $1 million but he got a lovely consolation prize: mysterious singer/songwriter Sia (“Chandelier,” “Cheap Thrills”), a “Survivor” super fan, gave him a $13,999 gift.

Rickenbacker said she appreciated how he played the game and how his faith guided him in Fiji. (The dollar amount, he said, was the most Sia could give him without federal taxes kicking in.)

She has in the past given similar prizes to other “Survivor” contestants, notably animal lover Tai Triang from season 32 and Donathan Hurley from season 36, whose story about being gay in a small town touched her.

Rickenbacker was a fill in for a player who quit at the last second. He literally had 48 hours to get from Atlanta to Fiji. This also forced Rickenbacker to abruptly leave his job in communications at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Once he came back from Fiji, he could only cobble together free-lance work and had to get financial help from his parents.

Recently, though, not only did 31-year-old Rickenbacker pocket the Sia gift, but he got his CDC job back. He can pay back his parents, reduce his student debt and take acting lessons because he has ambitions to do voice acting. 

How he got his gift was amusing. He received what seemed like a random email from someone claiming to be Sia. 

Hi, Davie, I really admired your spirit and was moved by your faith and so I wanted to give you this gift. I’m sorry you didn’t win, you were my choice to win. I love you, keep going!

Part of him thought this was a scam but part of him felt like it was the real deal, having met her in person during the live reunion show. So he sent her his bank information. 

But then Rickenbacker panicked, wondering if it was a crazy fan who now had access to his bank account. He immediately contacted “Survivor” producers and within an hour, executive producer and host Jeff Probst assured him it was legit. Prost had passed Rickenbacker’s email to Sia. He just forgot to tell Rickenbacker. 

Since then, Rickenbacker said, he has become a huge Sia music fan and they exchange emails on a regular basis. “I think we’re on a friend level,” he said. His mom even wrote her a thank-you note in calligraphy, which she appreciated.

He decided to publicize the gift now because, he said, “I had a spiritual awakening once the CDC called me back. God has continued to bless me. When it rains, it pours!” 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.