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Sole Survivor

Sole Survivor

Kimberly Spradlin ex ’01 outwits, outplays, and outlasts, winning season 24 of Survivor

Long before Survivor winner Kimberly Spradlin ex ’01 was competing in reward challenges and searching for hidden immunity idols, she was involved in a different sort of competition: representing the freshman class in the Miss Mary Hardin-Baylor pageant.

Spradlin, who attended UMHB in 2001, recently appeared on season 24 of the popular reality TV series. She and 17 other contestants spent 39 days in the Samoan Islands fighting to become the sole survivor and claim the grand prize of a million dollars. Spradlin quickly rose to the top of the pack, winning four immunity challenges and strategizing her way into multiple alliances. Her physical dominance during the challenges, coupled with the strong relationships she maintained with her tribe mates, earned her the top title of Sole Survivor. The amiable spirit with which she played the game also led Spradlin to win fan favorite and an additional prize of $100,000.

Spradlin grew up in Midland. As the daughter of football coach Mike Spradlin (who currently coaches at Temple High School), Kim and her family moved around a lot. “I went to four different high schools, but we ended up in Austin my senior year. UMHB was nearby and a good fit. I loved that the campus felt sort of charming,” she said.

Spradlin quickly got involved on campus, joining First Year Council and participating in the Miss MHB Pageant.

“My experience as a freshman at UMHB was pretty dynamic,” she said. “Some of my favorite memories are Dr. Loutherback playing some really horrendous pranks on me in New Testament, and being a part of a secret water balloon launching squadron—this came in handy during the coconut slingshot challenges on Survivor!”

Following her time at UMHB, Spradlin’s love of adventure led her to Colorado, where she worked as whitewater rafting guide, and then to Thailand, where she worked in an orphanage. She later graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a degree in communications and opened a bridesmaid dress boutique in San Antonio.

Spradlin said she was always a fan of Survivor.

“Over the years, I’ve hardly missed an episode. I actually got really into it my freshman year at UMHB when my friend Richard Muske ’03 would host Survivor watching parties.”

Survivor contestants Kat Edorsson, Sabrina Thompson, Alicia Rosa, Chelsea Meissner, and Kimberly Spradlin discuss game strategy.

From watching parties to being selected as a contestant, Spradlin said the years she spent watching the show helped her play the game.

“My strategy was to not have a strategy, to be adaptable and willing the make the best of every situation. My goal was to ‘win the day’ each day. I think being a peaceful, level-headed person who loves and knows the game is what got me to the end.”

Since the win, Spradlin has returned to San Antonio, where she continues to run Bella Bridesmaid. Reflecting on her time on Survivor, she said the entire experience still feels surreal.

“I don’t know what finally made me send in that audition tape and get selected for the show, but I’m thinking God had a plan for me. I think I was meant to go, I really do.”

-Jennifer Meers Jones ’08