“Survivor” Champion Danni Boatwright – “I’m Going to Act Like I Don’t Know What’s Going On”

“Survivor: Winners at War” (CBS)

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Editor’s Note: The players were separated by gender and didn’t officially know the theme of the season when this interview took place.

Another Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted across from the giant “Boston” Rob and Sandra heads at the Island of the Idols.


Winner of “Guatemala” (2005)

Name: Danni Boatwright

Age: 45

Hometown: Tonganoxie, Kansas

Current Residence: Shawnee, Kansas

Occupation: Owner of SideLine Chic


Gordon Holmes: Holy crap, it’s Danni Boatwright!

Danni Boatwright: (Laughs)

Holmes: What’ve you been up to since Guatemala?

Boatwright: Shortly after I won Guatemala I got married and started a family. And, I can’t just be a stay-at-home mom, so I started my own company. I own my own business. I make gameday apparel, licensed to several universities in our area. I make apparel for fan for Kansas City. For the Chiefs for the Royals…

Holmes: Is it pronounced like “SideLine Chic” or “SideLine Chick”?

Boatwright: Chick, Chic…either way. People call it both.

Holmes: As long as you’re buying it, I don’t care what you call it.

Boatwright: (Laughs) Exactly!

Holmes: I don’t mean to put a damper on this conversation, but… (Gordon reaches into his bag and retrieves a St. Louis Cardinals hat.)

Boatwright: Aww…that’s OK. When we faced off in the World Series back in 1985…we won.

Holmes: It was great talking to you.

Boatwright: (Laughs)

Holmes: Lori, I’m ready for the next contestant.

Boatwright: I like the Cardinals! My friend likes the Cardinals.


Holmes: When people think of Danni Boatwright and her time in the game, what do you think they remember?

Boatwright: As far as my gameplay, I think that they think that I’m a very underrated player. That can be very scary coming into a season that is all winners.

Holmes: How can you use that to your advantage?

Boatwright: Well, I’m worried that some of the bigger targets are going to stick together to vote out some of us. But, I do feel it’s something I can swing to my advantage because I can lay low for a little bit. It’ll give me a chance to assess the cards I’ve been dealt. But, I definitely think that Stephenie (LaGrossa) being on my season was a big advantage because the focus was all on her. That really helped because people didn’t see a lot of my moves.


Holmes: This is your first returnee season, there are others out here who have played several times. Is there anybody you asked for advice about playing a returnee game?

Boatwright: I talked to Brian (Corridan) from my season. We talked about the possible situations I could be in. And, he’s a super fan so we had a good time talking about how I should go about things.


Holmes: They haven’t told you guys a theme…

Boatwright: (Laughs) Hmm…

Holmes: But if you had to guess, what do you think you’re looking at here?

Boatwright: I always thought the only reason they would have me back would be for an all-winner season.

Holmes: Interesting theory.

Boatwright: (Laughs) It could be panning out that way.

Holmes: So, they’re just going to take ten women, put them out on an island, and then whatever happens, happens?

Boatwright: Nooo…I think there are going to be men out there.

Holmes: What?!

Boatwright: I think. I don’t know.

Holmes: Let’s follow that thought; if there are men out here, who do you think we’ll be seeing?

Boatwright: Tyson…Jeremy…Wendell…Ben…Nick…”Boston” Rob maybe. I don’t know, if Amber’s here I don’t see how they could both be away from their kids. Adam…maybe Richard (Hatch). He might have issues trying to get out of the country. (Laughs) I don’t know.

Holmes: Anybody you want to see, don’t want to see?

Boatwright: They’re all good, but they all know each other. I’m out of the loop. I don’t do any get-togethers. I just never have time because I’m busy with my business and my kids. They have a lot of relationships that have already been established. That would work against me. Maybe Tyson, I’m not a huge fan. The way he interacted with some people maybe wouldn’t be something I could relate to as well.

Holmes: Has anyone approached you about a pre-season alliance?

Boatwright: No, I just think you look too eager if you do that. Even the people I already know, I’m probably way on the outside of all of this. I think it can work against you. And the game changes so much. I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot of tribe switching. And if you pre-game too much you’re going to get paranoid. I’m going to feed that. Make them more paranoid.


Holmes: You’re in lockdown now, you’re not allowed to talk. But has anyone been giving you looks or winks or nods?

Boatwright: I haven’t, no. I haven’t got anything! (Laughs) That’s bad!

Holmes: Has anyone given you the finger across the throat? Cause that’s super bad.

Boatwright: (Laughs) Thank God I haven’t seen that.

Holmes: Have you spotted anyone sitting next to each other, nodding, winking?

Boatwright: I haven’t noticed anything.

Holmes: Do you just keep your nose in a book the whole time?

Boatwright: Yeah, I’m reading a book called “Memory Masters,” it’s fantastic. It helps you build a super memory.

Holmes: Super memory, but you’re missing out on some clues.

Boatwright: Yeah, maybe people are giving me signs and I’m reading.


Holmes: Alright, here are the nine ladies you’re about to square off against. We’re going to play Align or Malign. You need to give me the four people you’d work with and the five people you’d try to avoid.

Boatwright: I’ll work with Denise. I love her gameplay and she’s as loyal as you can be in the game. And we’re from the same area of the country. Iowa and Kansas people are the best people in the world. (Laughs) The corn belt here. I think Sophie might be on the outside like me. She might not have a lot of connections, she’s going to be the smartest person in the game. Well, not if Yul is back. It’d be nice to pair with her. Sandra is going to need some numbers and some allies out here. But, she’ll slit your throat the first chance she gets. But, I’d be safe with her for a while. And I don’t know much about Kim, but I like her from her season. I’d love to work with Kim, but I’m worried she’s tight with Rob and Tyson and Jeremy. There’s this little poker tour thing. I’m worried they have a pre-game alliance.

Holmes: I feel like you’re looking at me for answers.

Boatwright: (Laughs) I am! Your poker face is terrible.

Holmes: It is terrible. But I have no answers for you. I don’t know how this season is going to turn out. There are no spoilers yet!

Boatwright: Good point!

Holmes: Alright, malign the remaining five.

Boatwright: I think Parvati has had enough time on “Survivor.” She needs to leave. I like her though. Sarah, I would work with, my dad was a cop. But, she blew that theory out the second time she played. She’s very strategic. Natalie…Michele…I just don’t know anything about them. Amber…I think all of the women are neat people…I don’t know her at all…but if Rob is out here? You’ve got to break this duo up immediately. And, there’s the poker alliance.

Holmes: OK, of the four aligns, who is your ride or die?

Boatwright: Mmm…Denise.

Holmes: The fabled corn belt alliance.

Boatwright: (Laughs) Yes.

Holmes: And of the maligns, who is the first out?

Boatwright: Sarah, she’s going to play too hard, too fast. How’d I do?

Holmes: There are no wrong answers, I told you, I don’t have spoilers.

Boatwright: I know.

Holmes: OK, fine. You win. It’s a unanimous vote.

Boatwright: Yes!

Holmes: I didn’t want to ruin it for you, but you just kept pushing.

Boatwright: That’s what I was looking for!


Holmes: You’re the first person to come back from Guatemala.

Boatwright: Not counting Stephenie.

Holmes: Right, but she doesn’t count because her first season was Palau.

Boatwright: Exactly.

Holmes: What’s the deal with that?

Boatwright: I was talking to Jeff the other day and said to him, “We were boring because you almost killed us out there. During the day we just tried to find some shade to lie under because we didn’t have an ocean to cool off in.”

Holmes: That was the season with that monster hike in the beginning.

Boatwright: Yeah, we ended up going 15 miles because we went off trail a little bit because it was a compass and a map. Thank God we had Gary (Hogeboom), I would have never found my way out of there.


Holmes: I’d imagine your kids know you’re here, right?

Boatwright: Yes.

Holmes: What do they tell people who ask where you are?

Boatwright: The younger one says, “She’s on a riding retreat in the mountains.” (Laughs)

Holmes: She’s definitely not in Fiji.

Boatwright: It’s a good thing people know I don’t drink or do drugs because they’d think I was in rehab. (Laughs)


Holmes: Here’s the dumbest question you’ll get all day; if an alien landed who had never seen “Survivor,” which scene would you show them to prove to them that the show is awesome?

Boatwright: Probably Richard Hatch naked.

Holmes: That’s why “Survivor” is awesome?

Boatwright: (Laughs) Yeah! He started it all and I think everyone should run around naked.

Holmes: See, you’re assuming the theme is all winners. What if it’s all naked winners? You’d be so happy.

Boatwright: It’d be entertaining!

Holmes: If Jeff let you pick a twist, what would you choose? Clearly yours is full nudity.

Boatwright: (Laughs) I’d love to see America vs. Australia.

Holmes: Oh, that’s actually a really good one.

Boatwright: Thank you.


Holmes: Alright, we’re going to play Best Defense. I’ll give you a reason why…

Boatwright: The correct answer is “The Zone.”

Holmes: So sporty. But, wrong. I’ll give you a reason someone might use to try to kick you out of the game. You tell me why that’s ridiculous and why we should keep you.

Boatwright: Got it.

Holmes: Danni was really good in challenges. I remember her tearing up that basketball challenge. I don’t want to face her with individual immunity on the line.

Boatwright: She’s terrible at puzzles. And the final part of challenges is usually a puzzle. We’ll be fine.

Holmes: She’s a bit of an unknown commodity. She’s not a part of the larger community. I want someone I can predict.

Boatwright: If you saw her season you know she’s a loyal person and that’s hard to find out here. We need someone we know we can trust.

Holmes: I’m a former NFL quarterback.

Boatwright: (Laughs)

Holmes: I don’t want her outing me to the rest of the tribe.

Boatwright: (Laughs) I thought you were a landscaper.


Holmes: “Survivor” has evolved so far from the 15-mile hike days.

Boatwright: Definitely.

Holmes: You didn’t have to deal with idol nullifiers, extra votes, eliminate a juror, all of the business.

Boatwright: The game has evolved for the better. It’s so exciting to watch…as a viewer. I’m a little nervous because I’ve never had to play like that. But, I think that pulls the target off of me. I’ll let that be known. I’m going to act like I don’t know what’s going on. If you look too eager, then you become a target. But as far as idols go, it’s changed the game so much. I’ve been watching. But, how hard can it be to try to find an idol? And once you have it, how hard can it be to play it when you need to play it? But, I do get frustrated when people tell other people about the idol. I’m going to hide that in my underwear and it’s not going to be known.

Holmes: How are you going to hide an idol in your underwear during naked “Survivor”?

Boatwright: (Laughs)

Holmes: You have not thought this through.


Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Winners at War” – Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at 8 pm ET.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @GordonHolmes