It’ll be interesting to see how history judges “Survivor: One World” winner Kim Spradlin. Sure, she faced a cast of players who didn’t seem to put up much of a strategic fight, but she can hardly be blamed for that, can she?
At the end of the day, the Texas-based bridal shop owner did everything a winner can hope to do. She found an idol but never had to use it, she won four out of the five final immunity challenges, and she earned jury votes from people she had stabbed in the back.
And to top it all off, America appreciated her game enough to award her the Sprint Player of the Season award.
I spoke with the new champ (far too early) the morning after her big win. While I struggled to get my eyes to open properly, we discussed Kat’s post-elimination breakdown, Alicia’s delusions of grandeur, Troyzan’s bitter vote, and more…
Gordon Holmes: Good morning, Kim.
Kim Spradlin: How’s it going?
Holmes: It is too early for me.
Spradlin: (Laughs) It is way too early!
Holmes: Hopefully you had a chance to do a little celebrating last night.
Spradlin: A little bit. I tried not to celebrate too hard knowing this was in front of me.
Holmes: Well, let me be the…probably 40th person to congratulate you.
Spradlin: Yup, that’s the exact number. I’ve been taking notes on it.
Holmes: I have a knack for that.
Spradlin: That is unbelievable.
Holmes: Part of the drama headed into last night’s episode was, who is Kim going to take to the final three? For how long had you known that Sabrina and Chelsea were going to be the ones?
Spradlin: I feel like the yacht was the moment where I decided to choose something and just go with it. For so long I had been playing both sides and I wanted to be so logical, I didn’t want to like people so much that I couldn’t just sit down and see everything really clearly. But at that point I turned the corner and decided that’s what I was going to do. And, it felt really good not going back and forth every day.
Holmes: So, during the family visit when you told your sister you were considering taking Kat and Alicia, that was still a possibility?
Spradlin: Yeah, and that was my thing the whole time is I wanted to have choices. That day with Alicia and Kat, and you heard one side of that conversation, I’d mentioned Sabrina and Chelsea too. But to come back and hear, “We’re voting Kat out, “ I thought cool, I can go with Sabrina and Chelsea or Christina and Alicia.
Holmes: I’m a big believer in all is fair in love and “Survivor” and whatever happens on the island it’s all part of a game. However, when Kat was voted out, she broke down in tears. I don’t recall that dramatic of a reaction before. That had to be rough on you.
Spradlin: That was by far my hardest vote out the entire season and mostly because I knew she wasn’t going to get it. Kat and I were really tight in the game, maybe a lot closer than you saw. And Kat did not get it. She felt like I was her big sister and she’d say in her confessionals that “Kim is my only plan.” I thought she was never going to get over it, but to have her stand up at the very end and say what she said was incredible.
Holmes: Speaking of her speech, when we first saw the cast photos in January, her surgery scar was impossible to miss. Was that something that she had talked about before?
Spradlin: Definitely. She had hinted at it before that she was going to talk about it at the end.
Holmes: During the final Tribal last night, you said you’d pick Sabrina over Chelsea because you thought Chelsea would get more votes. We later learned that Chelsea didn’t get any. Were you shocked?
Spradlin: Yeah. I wasn’t shocked last night, but I was shocked during the final Tribal Council. I had thought for a very long time that Chelsea was the J.T. (Thomas) to my Stephen (Fishbach). And if anything people were going to say, “Screw you. At least she was honest and told us to our face.” That was always my greatest fear that if they were mad at me that they’d throw votes her way.
Holmes: Alicia seemed to have a very high opinion of her game.
Holmes: Which is maybe the nicest way to put it. Whereas when I’m watching, I think she’s making enemies left and right. Did anyone else think she had a chance to win the game?
Spradlin: I don’t know. That was always a big part of my game was I knew how she saw herself so I’d speak into that. She’d say that to me, “I’m running the show.” And I’d say, “I know, it’s crazy! You’re doing awesome!”
Holmes: Something I want to give you an over-the-phone high-five for is, I always think that jury members want you to admit that you’ve lied, but not to apologize for it.
Spradlin: Totally. It was 100% true. I see it as a game, but you get attached to people and you feel badly, but I didn’t want to change one thing. I couldn’t say that I’d do anything differently. I took things into my own hands, I didn’t want to sit and wait for someone to hand anything to me.
Holmes: Troyzan said he’d vote for you if you could name the exact moment where you’d decided to turn on him. You said when you decided to get rid of Jonas. He voted for Sabrina, so obviously you were wrong. What do you think he was looking for?
Spradlin: I don’t know. I don’t think Troy would have voted for me if I’d read his mind out loud to everyone. I just think that was a vote for Sabrina no matter what.
Holmes: Leif also voted for Sabrina after you gave him a very honest answer. Do you think there was anything you could have said that would have won his vote?
Spradlin: You know, I don’t think so. Sabrina had prayed with Leif several times when he was low. And that was everything to Leif.
Holmes: Alright, championship word association.
Spradlin: Wait, I want to write this down!
Holmes: Nope, that’s against the rules. Let’s start with Kat.
Spradlin: This is horrible. I totally should have prepared for this.
Holmes: That goes against the purpose of this exercise.
Spradlin: (Laughs) Misunderstood…young.
Spradlin: Just quality.
Holmes: Let’s finish this with Christina.
Holmes: See, piece of cake.
Spradlin: I was afraid I’d say something mean on accident.
Holmes: This test is designed to provoke accidents.
Holmes: Last night you talked about how “Survivor” has helped renew your confidence since your divorce. You own a bridal shop. Is that the worst possible job to have while going through a divorce?
Spradlin: No, I think it‘s a cool place to sit and have relationships with all of these girls that are getting married and get to have great conversations. It’s not like I’m pro-divorce and counseling them not to get married.
Holmes: That’d be bad for business.
Spradlin: I have a different perspective now than when I was a 23-year-old who couldn’t wait to get married. I’ve seen the truth of what marriage is like and getting to share that with people who need to hear it is awesome.
Holmes: And you’re 28 now?
Spradlin: I’m 29 now.
Holmes: Did it bother you when Kat complained about losing to a 28-year-old? Cause it bothered me.
Spradlin: (Laughs) No, it was awesome. And actually while we were hanging there she was yelling, “Fall, you old hag, fall!”
Holmes: As a 35-year-old, I find that horrific.
Spradlin: I don’t think Kat has any friends that are older than her.
Holmes: And she’s not going to get any with that attitude.
Spradlin: No, she’s not.
Holmes: I know later today they’re going to give you a big check for a million dollars, then another check for a hundred thousand dollars. Any plans for the money yet?
Spradlin: I’ve been trying so hard not to think of the money because I didn’t want to go crazy if they didn’t read my name five times out of the nine, so I have some bills to pay and businesses that can use some help. But I’m looking forward to having some fun with it.
Holmes: We have had back-to-back winners who are strong, smart women.
Spradlin: It was cool watching last season and watching Sophie (Clarke). I know her edit was different because there were returning players, but I do think Sophie played a really good game.
Holmes: Without question you are the most dominant female winner ever. Tom Westman tends to be the measuring stick for first-time winners. “Boston” Rob Mariano arguably did as well during “Redemption Island” but I think that was his 50th try. You have to be talked about in these kinds of conversations now. What does hearing an accolade like that mean to you?
Spradlin: I honestly never know how to take it. Being such a big fan of the game, I can’t even put my name in a sentence with those people much less say I played as well as they did. So, I’m Kim Spradlin, I got incredible lucky, it went really well for me. But I have a hard time comparing myself to Tom and Boston Rob.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes