Survivor: One World crowned its winner Sunday evening, and the $1 million prize went to 29-year-old bridal shop owner Kim Spradlin. After winning four immunity challenges and strategizing her way into multiple alliances, no one exemplified Survivor's slogan "outwit, outplay, outlast" better than Kim. We caught up with San Antonio-based Survivor champ after the live reunion show and found out the first thing she plans to buy with her million, what the contestants did on the island for fun, and why she thought there was no chance she would actually win.
Congratulations! What does it feel like being $1 million richer?
Kim: I didn't grow up with a ton of money. My dad was a football coach. I have a lot of friends that are independently wealthy, but I've never known what that feels like — to not have to worry about paying your bills. So the thought of being able to go home and being able to be generous... that sounds fun!
What's the first thing you're going to buy?
Kim: I'm trying not to think about the money. But I'm going to buy a dog when I get home next week — a Boston terrier. I'm going to name it Tuna.
Who won Survivor: One World?
Did you ever hesitate about taking Sabrina and Chelsea with you to the final two?
Kim: Absolutely. I hesitated all the time. But honestly, at the end, I just decided that if [the jury] hated me, anybody was going to beat me.
Have you stayed in touch with them?
Kim: I'm super close with Chelsea, Alicia and Kat. I talk to them every day, if not more than once a day.
During the reunion, you said that when you first left the island you were confident about winning, but after watching the season on TV, you didn't think you had a chance. Why?
Kim: When I was watching it at home, it seemed too obvious to me. I thought, "There's no way they're going to edit it to make it look like I was winning and then actually win." It's like when they kill the good guy at the end — at least, I think of myself as the good guy. But honestly, I just got paranoid.
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Did you expect to win by so many votes?
Kim: I felt like it was going to be 5-4 [in Sabrina's favor]. I really had started to believe that she had it. I had prepared myself.
I assume you've been thinking about that a lot since you left the island.
Kim: If I had to put a word on it, I would call it anxiety... walking away from that and having to wait eight months to find out, and everyday being like, "Maybe I won." It's this awkward thing too, though, because you kind of want comfort from the people that you backstabbed. So you sort of just feel alone in it, and you can't tell your close friends and family what happened so it's a very isolating experience.
The paranoia must also get to you on the island. What did you do to take your mind off of things?
Kim: We would play "sound orchestra," where we would sit in a circle and everybody gets a sound. My sound was "boing!"
What surprised you the most about being on Survivor?
Kim: I've been watching for so long, and watching those challenges, you're like, "Come on! Run faster! Do something!" But then you get out there and you realize how incredibly fatigued you are. And they're like telling you to dig for a bag for 10 minutes in the hot sun.
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So how do you even get through it? Adrenaline?
Kim: I think, for me, my dad being a football coach. No doubt about that. Before I left he was like, "Just win the day. Every day just wake up and win the day." So I really did think like that. If you start to think about it long-term, you're toast.
Was that your mantra throughout your time on the island?
Kim: Yeah. Every day, I was just like, I'm going to do everything I can today.
After being a fan for so long, how crazy was it to step foot on the beach for the first time as a competitor?
Kim: I kept thinking they were going to take it back. I kept thinking they were going to be like, "Oh, we have an alternate that doesn't have the personality of carpet fiber." [Laughs] No, I think the most surreal moment was when we all jumped off the truck and saw Jeff [Probst] standing there and I thought, "Wow. I'm really going to play this game."
Did you go in with a strategy?
Kim: My strategy was to not have any one strategy. I wanted to be able to adapt to anything and to read people.
Who was your favorite Survivor of all time?
Kim: I'm a big Richard Hatch fan.
During the reunion, he was in the audience and told you that you were one best players he's ever seen. You must have freaked out.
Kim: That was a really surreal moment. Even Jeff came up to me after and said, "You really were one of the best." I mean... there are no words for that.