The night is finally upon us – purveyors of reality TV, champions of love’s young dream, fans of Iain Stirling’s hilarious voiceover commentary: the Love Islands final aired tonight.
But the show's rushed finale left long-term fans confused when there was no split or steal - a mainstay and something fans were particularly excited by, with everyone speculating if Ekin-Su might finally be the person to make the iconic move.
Fans took to Twitter upset, with some claiming they felt cheated.
Following an emotional meet the parents episode, the remaining four couples – Dami Hope and Indiyah Pollack, Luca Bish and Gemma Owen, Andrew Le Page and Tasha Ghouri and Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu and Davide Sanclimenti – entered the explosive finale which each year sees one couple walk away with £50,000 between them.
But herein lies the catch: when host Laura Whitmore announces Love Island’s winners, they're usually given the option to either ‘split’ or ‘steal’ the prize fund.
Instead, this year, when Laura announced the winners (Ekin-Su and Davide), the rest of the gang ran on stage to celebrate... and the show ended.
Why didn't they do Split Or Steal this year?
While we've yet to hear from ITV2 about why, many viewers missed that earlier in the evening, presenter Laura Whitmore had actually announced the iconic twist to the show wasn't happening.
She said: 'The winning couple will split a huge £50,000!’ Adding: ‘And this year we’re not even asking them to choose between love or money, but who that winning couple will be is all down to you guys.’
According to reports, the format has changed to keep the show interesting. 'This has been a series with a number of format changes, including the viewers’ choice in the first recoupling, just to keep the show feeling fresh,' an insider told The Sun.
What does Split or Steal mean on Love Island?
After getting crowned first place, the winning couple are usually each presented with an envelope. One of them is empty, and the other contains the coveted £50k prize fund. The individual with the money will then be asked if they want to pocket the money for themselves, or share it with their other half.
As the old adage goes, their choice will indicate whether they were in the competition for love, or money (which is kind of a moot point in 2022, given they'll inevitably go on to make their millions as influencers in a matter of months).
Has anyone ever ‘stolen’ the Love Island prize fund?
After winning over the hearts’ of the nation and hurtling to fist place on the world’s favourite dating show, it would certainly be a controversial move to hog the cash, right?
Which is probably why no one in the show’s seven-year history in it’s current guise has actually done it – but there’s certainly been some close calls.
In 2019 Amber Gill was a firm favourite from episode one and her tumultuous relationship with Michael Griffiths only served to cement her place at the top of the bookies’ odds to win. When she eventually coupled up with Greg just two short weeks before the final and went on to win the show with him, it would have been a surprise to precisely no one if she’d pocketed the money for herself. She didn’t, but when she and Greg split a couple of weeks later, she wasn’t shy about branding herself ‘the first solo winner of Love Island’.
And it was speculated that this year’s favourite to win Ekin-Su told a friend she would be ‘tempted’ to steal the money if she won, writing on WhatsApp, 'It’s a game show at the end of the day, it’s business. If it’s not genuine I’d be tempted.'