Survivor Winners at War: Kim Spradlin details her gameplay and regrets

Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved /

Kim Spradlin recently got a chance to talk with Rob Cesternino, where she finally got a chance to expand on her experience in Survivor: Winners at War in far greater detail.

Winners at War featured several Sole Survivor’s that only played in one season. After having one of the most dominant winning games in the shows’ history, many fans were excited about Kim Spradlin’s return to Survivor. She didn’t have as much success as she did in One World, but she still made the merge in a stacked season despite her high threat level. In a podcast with Rob Cesternino, Kim revealed a lot about her game that we didn’t get to see in full detail thanks to the edit. Here are some of the highlights of Kim’s deep dive interview.

Came in with no pre-game alliances

Similar to Rob and Amber, Kim made a conscious effort to “follow the rules” and not form any pre-game alliances. That was part of the reason why she felt so out of touch in her first few days. There was that one scene we saw in the premiere where nobody wanted to talk to Kim. She said those frustrating moments were legit. Finally, after constantly following people around, her Dakal tribe members begrudgingly told her that she was safe and to vote for Amber.

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Since we didn’t get to see too much of Kim in the pre-swap game, she detailed her relationships with each Dakal member. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Tyson: Was tight at the start but realized the need to distance herself from him.
Sandra: Was willing to temporarily work together, but Kim knew Sandra kept her at arm’s length and wasn’t going to keep her for long.
Yul: Respected Yul but never got to form a real connection with him.
Wendell: Got along with him, but didn’t completely trust him.
Nick: Believed that he wouldn’t be loyal and would flip on her and other Dakal members to get ahead.
Sophie: Felt like she could trust Sophie, but did get the feeling she was holding critical information back from her.
Sarah: Developed a tight-knit bond as the swap drew near. First by talking about family and life, but then Sarah began to discuss some strategy with her.
Tony: Similar to Sandra, Kim would vote together with Tony, but she could tell he didn’t really want to work with her long term.

Survivor: Winners at War
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved /

Wished she paid more attention to those on the outs

It was interesting to hear how Kim approached the swap and the merge. Her goal was to cement her position with the people who had power, so that included Sarah, Sophie and Tony. As a result, she began to distance herself from those who weren’t as well connected, including Adam, Denise, Jeremy and Tyson. In hindsight, Kim would have rather tried to gain her own power by bringing these outcasts together as opposed to clinging to someone else’s power.

It may have looked like Kim was tight with Denise post-merge, but she never saw it that way. Watching it over actually surprised her to see how much Denise was on her side. At the tribe swap, when Kim first met Denise, she asked her who she was playing the game with. Denise responded with the generic answer: “everyone”, and that vague comment gave Kim cause for doubt in Denise’s commitment.

That said, she wishes she did open up to Denise, feeling that she could have been that tight ally to match up to Cops-R-Us. She also felt that she could have worked with Adam and believed voting him out at that point was a little unnecessary.

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Why Kim played her idol for Denise

One of the craziest Tribal Councils of Winners at War was at the Final Ten when two advantages and an idol came out. To the audience, it looked like there were two groups of five going at it. So when Jeremy used his advantage to get out of there, Sophie’s alliance had the majority. It wasn’t actually that cut and dry.

Kim was trying to stick with Sarah and Sophie, but Jeremy and Tyson were vying for Kim to work with them. As a result, Tyson woke up Sarah in the middle of the night to tell her that the Edge residents were all over Kim’s game. That ploy worked as planned, as it motivated Sarah and Sophie to distance themselves from Kim, forcing her to work with Jeremy and Tyson.

Now Tyson returned from the Edge casually putting up the perception that he brought a Hidden Immunity Idol with him. Kim even told Sophie and Sarah that he did have an idol. That’s why she played her idol for Denise instead of Tyson. Unfortunately for her, Sophie’s crew called the bluff and saw through Tyson’s lie.

Whispering at Tribal Council wasn’t for show

Being a fan of the game, Kim understood that many viewers were a little annoyed with all of the whispering that went on at Tribal Council this season. However, Kim wasn’t doing anything for theatrics. She was genuinely trying to secure her votes. That became clear at her final Tribal Council as she was determined to sway people to break up Ben, Sarah and Tony’s tight alliance.

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Following the Sophie blindside, Kim saw that trio as a dangerous force that needed to be split up. She was able to get Michele and Denise on her side, but the problem she encountered was that Jeremy wasn’t going to budge. He thought Tony was his ticket to get further, not realizing how much power that trio held.

Survivor: Winners at War
Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved /

Explains why she stepped down for peanut butter

One moment that Kim deeply regrets was stepping down for peanut butter and cookies in what would turn out to be her final Individual Immunity Challenge of the season. Kim explained how she did the same thing in One World, and it worked out great because it played a key role in proving her trust in her alliance. She was hoping for a similar result in Winners at War, thinking that letting Denise win immunity and putting her confidence in Nick would strengthen her plan to take out Tony or Sarah.

Will Kim ever return to Survivor?

At first, Kim was a hard no on this question. However, she did say that she isn’t “retiring” from Survivor. Based on her response, I’m thinking it would take a special theme or perhaps season 50 to get Kim to consider a return.

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She did mention how much of a learning experience this was because she wasn’t used to not being in control or having to work from the bottom. She didn’t have the same result as in One World, but to make it five votes into the merge after being on the outs because of her reputation is a strong showing from one of the best to play the game.