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How SA's Kimberly Spradlin survived it all — and earned 1.1 million in the process

Photo: Josh Huskin, License: N/A

Josh Huskin

Deceiving looks: If you mess with Kim Spradlin, she'll outsmart you and cut you to pieces.

"I could totally win this," Survivor addict turned Survivor conqueror Kimberly Spradlin had been telling her sister for years. "I've only missed one season ever, and I need to rent it and watch it back." What drove Spradlin crazy was watching so many contestants making dumb mistakes. "I always felt like I could clearly see what to do and what not to do."

So she went, she saw, and she triumphed — on May 13, after 14 episodes and 39 days of grueling physical and mental competition in Upolu, Samoa, Spradlin won Survivor: One World, the 24th edition of the show and the first with all-female finalists. She got $1 million and an extra $100,000 for being chosen "Sprint Player of the Season" by the viewers. No installments: she got one big check. Or two, if you count the decoy check.

"The real check was in my purse and the whole time [going home] I'm thinking, 'I'm gonna get mugged.'"

Spradlin always keeps in good shape, but before Survivor she increased her sand volleyball games to four times a week and started kickboxing lessons. "I was trying not to bulk up too much and just kind of stay lean and mean so it wouldn't be that big of an adjustment for me," she said.

She knew all along that mental gymnastics would be as important as physical endurance. "You keep yourself awake at night just running through scenarios in your mind" while on the show, she said. "You can kind of drive yourself crazy." So she developed a strategy: ruthlessly take care of business while becoming indispensable for those around her.

"Everybody's so paranoid [of getting kicked out of the game] that if you can be a calming presence, a really good sounding board for people, I think they want to keep you around because you make them feel better in a kind of rough environment." Her strategy worked out, and now all she has to worry about is what to do with the money.

"I want to invest wisely and make it last," said the 29-year-old, who was born in Irving, grew up in Midland, and co-owns Bella Bridesmaid on Broadway. Her sudden fortunes won't make her move again after three years in San Antonio. "I am one of you," she says. "I plan to stay in San Antonio. I love it here."

With that in mind, she plans to invest in her SA store and maybe sell her Austin branch. I suggest she opens up her own gym, turn Saytown women into lethal weapons, and send them out to knock on Charles Barkley's door.

"Not a bad idea, I love it!" she said. "That sounds pretty badass. If I need a business partner, I'll call you up."

We'll see. I'm kind of busy here. •

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