Danielle “Danni” Boatwright has returned to Survivor for the first time since winning Survivor: Guatemala, which was the 11th season of the show that aired in the fall of 2005.
Here’s what you need to know about Boatwright in our 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know below.
1. Danni Was Raised by Her Mother and Stepfather After Problems With Her Birth Father
At a 2010 Kansas Prayer Breakfast, the Topeka Capital-Journal did a profile on Danni that revealed her struggles growing up in a bad situation with her birth father.
He is not named, but the profile says he “was an alcoholic with a terrible temper,” according to Danni. She says he “he held a gun to his head and threatened to kill himself, he tried to tip over a car with her and a brother inside, and he threatened to burn down the family home.” Then after her mother, Vickie Cackler, divorced him, their home was broken into and Danni’s German shepherd was shot in the head.
Another article, this one by the Billings Gazette, says that Danni’s birth father was shot while on duty as a police officer. But through all those struggles, Danni says it’s her faith that keeps her going.
Danni told the prayer breakfast that her “relationship with Christ” is the most important relationship in her life. She also told the Billings Gazette that praying is what got her through Survivor
“I was praying through all of this, in the jungle, at night,” she said. “One of the biggest impacts of Survivor is that when everything is taken away from you, it’s just you and God.”
But it looks like Danni had a good relationship with her stepfather, posting a picture of them together on Facebook when he passed away in 2016.
2. She’s a Former Pageant Queen
Years before Survivor was even a TV show, Danni got her start in entertainment as a beauty pageant contestant. She won the 1991 Miss Kansas Teen USA pageant and went on to compete at the national Miss Teen USA pageant in 1992 where she finished in second place during the preliminaries and then finished second runner-up in the televised pageant.
Four years later, Danni won the Miss Kansas USA title and competed in the national Miss USA pageant that same year. She won the preliminary round, but then finished first runner-up behind actress Ali Landry of Louisiana, who won the title that year.
Danni’s Miss Teen USA trading card is for sale on Comc.com. Her profile on the back says, “Born on July 13, 1975, Danielle enjoys watching the Jayhawks basketball team, the Royals and the Chiefs. Danielle’s favorite movie is Gone WIth the Wind. Danielle has brunette hair, blue eyes and is 5’9 1/2″ tall.”
The world of pageants also got Danni into modeling. She appeared on Star Search at the age of 17 and has also appeared in ads for BioSilk, among other campaigns. And in an Instagram post, Danni revealed she was a cheerleader for the University of Kansas.
3. Danni Has Been Married to Two Famous Men
In 1999, Danni married Wade Hayes, who is a country singer that had a couple successful country albums in the 1990s. His single “Old Enough to Know Better” reached No. 1 on the U.S. country charts and he had four other singles chart in the Top 10. Danni also appeared in his music video for “Tore Up from the Floor Up,” but the two divorced in 2003.
Then in 2007, Danni married NFL player Casey Wiegmann, a center from the University of Iowa who played 16 seasons in the NFL, most notably with the Kansas City Chiefs from 2001-2007. He also had stints with the New York Jets, Chicago Bears, and Denver Broncos before returning to the Chiefs for his final two seasons, 2010 and 2011.
4. Danni Is Now a Sports Radio Personality and Entrepreneur
Danni and her family now live in Tonganoxie, Kansas, which is a western suburb of Kansas City. Danni works as an on-air personality for 610 Sports KCSP out of Kansas City where she hosts “Sports Rap” on Sunday mornings. She has also done some work for fantasy football show The Fantasy Show on ESPN2.
In addition to that, Danni started her own clothing label in 2013 called Sideline Chic, working alongside her partners, Jessica Lilja and Julie Zitlow. The idea behind the sports merchandise line is that “she wanted women to be able to show their fandom for all sports teams, from little leagues to the professional teams, and allow moms to create customized game day gear for their children’s teams,” Danni told the Tonganoxie Mirror in 2015.
At first, Danni ran the business out of her home, but two years later, it had gotten big enough to warrant a retail space, which opened in downtown Bonner Springs in August 2015. It has since closed, however. But the official website and Facebook page are still going strong.
It looks like the label never moved beyond featuring Kansas/Kansas City area teams: the Chiefs, the Royals, the Kansas University Jayhawks, and the Kansas State University Wildcats. In fact, the website primarily deals in Chiefs gear.
5. Danni Is Ready to Change Up Her Survivor Game
Her first time around, Danni really flew under the radar. It was like no one saw her as a threat, which she told the Billings Gazette really surprised her because she’s actually quite athletic — in junior high and high school, she played volleyball, basketball and ran track and as an adult, she has run several marathons.
Since this is her first time playing in 15 years, Danni acknowledges the game has changed a lot since her first season. She says in a preview video, “The game has evolved a lot since I played. I’m going to have to be one heck of an Idol hunter.”
She recently got together with fellow “Winners at War” contestants Wendell Holland and Sandra Diaz-Twine. Perhaps they are previewing an alliance? We’ll have to tune in to find out. Danni’s cheering section can head to her premiere watch party being held at The Other Place in Shawnee, Kansas, with 10 percent of sales going toward City Union Mission.
Survivor: Winners at War airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
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