Archive for Thursday, December 15, 2005

Survivor’ crown fits fine on Tonganoxie’s Boatwright

December 15, 2005

A million dollars trumps a crown and a bouquet of flowers any day.

Tonganoxie's Danni Boatwright was voted the sole survivor on "Survivor: Guatemala" Sunday on CBS, a title that gave her $1 million and a new Pontiac Torrent.

In 1996, Boatwright also was vying for a title on national television. At the Miss USA pageant, representing Kansas, Boatwright was among the final two contestants.

On that night, however, she was named first runner-up.

But Sunday, Boatwright took the big prize.

She also finished as runner-up in the Miss Teen USA pageant, but said she preferred the "Survivor" title to either of the pageants.

"The title of sole survivor any day," Boatwright said Monday. "It also says you're a tough chick. I love pageants, but it's a whole other ball game."

During Sunday's season finale, fellow castaways voted the 30-year-old Boatwright as the sole survivor against Stephenie LaGrossa.

Boatwright was awarded $1 million for winning the competition, about $600,000 after taxes, according to her mother, Vicki Cackler.

"Third time's a charm there on national television," Boatwright said. "We got it done."

Deciding to compete

Boatwright and her family always have been big "Survivor" fans. That pushed Boatwright to make an audition tape and send it to CBS.

With roughly 50,000 tapes sent to producers for consideration, Boatwright was one of 18 people picked for "Survivor: Guatemala."

"My whole family, we're crazy," Boatwright said. "We're passionate about the Jayhawks and the Chiefs.

"That's how we are about 'Survivor.' I don't think there are bigger fans than my mom and stepfather."

In the past, the family has hosted "Survivor" watch parties during the final episodes. Of course, this season the family took center-stage for the finale.

The Tonganoxie resident did her homework after learning she would be a castaway for this season of "Survivor."

Boatwright visited Cabela's to learn more about fishing and other survival techniques. She also read up on Guatemala and trained, much of the time at Unlimited Fitness in Tonganoxie.

In addition, Boatwright watched previous seasons of "Survivor" to get an idea of what likely was in store for her.

Despite all the preparations, Boatwright was worried she hadn't prepared hard enough.

That turned out not to be the case.

"I got down there and realized no one prepared that hard," Boatwright said.

Looking to adopt

During her appearance on CBS' "The Early Show" on Monday, Boatwright fielded questions about "Survivor" and what she planned to do with her money. In the process, she talked about wanting to be a mother and using some of her money to adopt a child, adding, "I love kids so much."

In an interview Monday with The Tonganoxie Mirror, she said had pondered adopting a girl from China but after her stay in Guatemala, she's thinking about adopting a child from that country.

"Because of my age now, I really want to be a mom," she said.

Boatwright isn't married but is seeing someone.

"I am dating somebody and he's absolutely wonderful and it's very new, so we'll have to see what happens," Boatwright said.

Interview circuit

During her appearance on "The Early Show," Boatwright was presented with an oversized $1 million check.

Asked the usual television interview question - how does it feel - Boatwright answered, "Like a million dollars. It's awesome. It's Christmas. I'm going to have to do Christmas for my nieces and nephews."

Along with her appearance on "The Early Show," Boatwright also appeared on "Live with Regis and Kelly" on Monday, which is customary for "Survivor" winners.

She also appeared on "The Tony Danza Show" on Tuesday and will be appearing in "People" magazine.

Boatwright has been interning with the sports department at Sunflower Broadband Channel 6 in Lawrence and would like to pursue a career in sports broadcasting. She also has worked at 610 AM in Kansas City, Mo.

"Some people use reality TV as an avenue to become an actor or actress," Boatwright said. "That's a plus of it, but I just wanted to compete."

Pros and cons

Along with winning $1 million, Boatwright said forming new friendships and actually playing the game of "Survivor" were definite positives she brought back from Guatemala.

Of course, there were some drawbacks as well.

Contestants weren't able to brush their teeth or take showers - unless they won a challenge that included those as perks.

Their clothes never were washed, Boatwright said, and they didn't have many items of clothing to wear.

Although the castaways built a shelter, they basically slept on the ground while on the show.

"Sometimes it's better to sleep by the fire to stay away from the mosquitoes and spiders and stuff," Boatwright said.

On one occasion, a scorpion stung Boatwright, but she didn't require medical attention.

As for bathroom facilities, Boatwright said there were none - aside from an area away from the campsite that cast members used "as a bathroom area."

I'm hungry

Boatwright said the No. 1 drawback on the "Survivor" experience was lack of food.

"As soon as we got out of the game, I ate a whole bag of Cheetos and chocolate," Boatwright said.

Boatwright said she lost about 20 pounds in Guatemala.

While competing on "Survivor," she mainly ate corn, nuts and bugs. Toward the end of filming, maggots infested their corn - so they ate corn with maggots.

Getting used to the new diet bothered her stomach during the first few days, Boatwright said. When she was able to eat normal food again, her stomach again needed time to adjust.

"It took a while for my stomach to get used to all of that food because I wasn't pacing myself," Boatwright said about returning home. "My body kind of freaked out when I got back."

It took 39 grueling days, but in the end, she was the sole survivor.

"There wasn't anything cheesy about it," Boatwright said. "It was hard-core."


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