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17 Oct 2019 18:04
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  •   Home > News > International

    Survivor fans raise nearly $200k for 'King of the Jungle' Luke Toki's family

    Luke Toki, nicknamed King of the Jungle, was voted off the island on Monday night, prompting an outpouring of sympathy for the contestant whose family faces health struggles.

    It's the kind of thing that reminds you reality TV is, for the most part, just that: real.

    Luke Toki, a former miner from southern Western Australia, had been competing for a $500,000 cash prize that might have really made a difference to the life of his young family.

    The Australian Survivor contestant's two sons are on the autism spectrum, while his daughter, born shortly before he filmed the latest series of the show in Fiji this year, was recently diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

    This year, Luke became a fan favourite on the Champions vs Contenders series of Survivor, which is consistently a top-rated free-to-air show. He had previously appeared on the show in 2017.

    His popularity was partly based on his clear reason for playing the game. He had sacrificed time with his family and his career, he said, because of what the ultimate cash prize would mean for his kids.

    And so what was also real, once the tribe had spoken on Monday night, was the outpouring of sympathy on social media.

    One of the fans who was touched by Luke's story was Dave Skow, a real estate agent in Wagga Wagga.

    He said his household was "a bit more teary than we thought we would be" after Monday's episode, leading Mr Skow to create a GoFundMe page for Luke and his family.

    By Tuesday afternoon it had raised $162,000, well on the way to a target of $500,000.

    "It's insane," Mr Skow told the ABC of the reaction to his funding drive.

    "My inbox is out of control."

    His was one of 31 pages created to support Mr Toki in the wake of his departure from the show.

    Mr Skow has been in contact with Mary Toki, Mr Toki's wife, and on Tuesday afternoon Mr Skow received a video message of thanks from Luke.

    'It feels weird accepting it,' Luke says

    Luke, whose nickname on the show was King of the Jungle, told the ABC he was still coming to terms with the response to his time on Survivor.

    "I was happy when I went to bed last night [and] it was only around $5,000," the 32-year-old said.

    "Now, holy shit.

    "Maybe it might be better to come fourth and get a GoFundMe page than actually win it."

    He said the donations would allow him to get out of debt and finance the medical needs of his children.

    "With that money, you don't have to think about the costs," he said. "[My daughter] is already doing trials; it's the back and forth, up and down to the hospitals, and the medications.

    "It feels weird accepting it," he said, adding that he had donated his earnings from his previous appearance.

    "This time I think it is really going to help."


    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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