Missy Byrd on Survivor: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Missy Byrd

Missy Byrd Instagram Missy Byrd is a contestant on the 39th season of "Survivor."

Missy Byrd is a contestant on the 39th season of Survivor. She is an Air Force veteran and has survived a brain tumor. She is now based in Seattle, Washington, and is working on an idea for an app.

To The Seattle TimesByrd said of her decision to try out for Survivor, 

“It’s something I’ve always watched — what other people do — watched and critiqued them, like, ‘Oh, that was a dumb move, why would you do that?’ So to get out there and to actually play and wear a buff, the majority of time it was surreal. It was like a different world. It was a really cool experience. I wouldn’t trade it. I cried more times than not. If there was a sunset, I would be like, ‘God, there’s a sunset and I’m on Survivor. ‘ It was crazy.”

As for whether there were any surprises to competing on the show? Byrd told The Seattle Times that she’d always thought producers would give contestants food if they were starving. That’s not true, she said: “If you faint, you faint.”

Byrd has been described as an “early favorite” to win the 39th season. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Byrd Is an Air Force Veteran From Georgia

Survivor Audition Missy Byrd2019-06-15T17:47:01.000Z

Byrd is an Air Force veteran originally from Georgia. She enlisted when she was 18 years old and attended the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, per Parade.

She was medically discharged and never graduated from the Air Force Academy after doctors found a tumor in her brain; more on that below.

Byrd is now based in Seattle, Washington, working on an app, the details of which she hasn’t disclosed. She did reveal to Parade that she won a grant for an office space near the Space Needle, and that she’s been working out of that lab.

2. Byrd’s Survivor Appearance Comes at the End of What She’s Called Her ‘Oprah Year’

Byrd has talked to multiple publications about the last year of her life, which she has described as her “Oprah year.” To Parade, she said,

“After everything was done [with my tumor], I was like, ‘[expletive] it. Let me make a list of everything that, had I died, I would never have done.’ I wrote down things like “Beyonce tickets” and ‘Buy a jeep.’ And I wrote, ‘Apply for Survivor.’ All of a sudden, these things started to fall into place. I got out of the military and finished my enlisted years. The first thing I did was buy Beyonce tickets because I could have died without ever hearing that angel’s voice in real life. The next day after making the list, her tour tickets went on sale. Then I decided to do a road trip across the country after the concert, from Georgia back up to Seattle. While I was In Georgia, I got to check up on my family and be like, ‘Not crazy, almost died. I’m going to leave again and experience all the crap I almost missed out on.'”

She added to The Seattle Times“I was just like, I’m super lucky, so I probably should start doing all the things that I have been wanting to do and just been putting off.”

3. Byrd Was Diagnosed With a Tumor in Her Brain When She Was in College

Halfway through her college experience, Byrd was diagnosed with a tumor in her pituitary gland. Byrd told The Seattle Times that doctors blamed some of her early symptoms (like weight loss) to her athletic lifestyle.

She said, “I didn’t know it was happening at all, I just started feeling minor changes in my body pretty much. And so I would go to basketball practice, I would go to class, and I would just suffer in some areas.”

She continued “I would do really bad on this test, or I would do something bad in basketball. I couldn’t stay at school. My dad died during that time, and the tumor messed with my emotions. Normally a parent dies and you cry, but my body didn’t let me have those responses. I was really out of whack, hiding from people, running away. Crazy stuff.”

Per The Seattle Times, Byrd was finally diagnosed by a doctor at Joint Base Lewis-McChord; doctors were able to give her medication that shrank the tumor and recalibrated her hormones.

4. Byrd Played Basketball at the U.S. Air Force Academy

During her time at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Byrd played for the basketball team, which is a Division One team. You can see clips of her playing in the video underneath fact one, which is her audition tape for Survivor.

In her Survivor bio sheet, Byrd reveals that her biggest pet peeve is “annoying human beings.” The accomplishment she’s most proud of is “always finding a way to travel the world regardless of budget. We all deserve to see what’s out there.”

As for what she thinks people might not know about her: Byrd writes,  “I rather enjoy a hot cup of tea and a good book.”

5. Byrd Is Now at Work on an Idea for an App; She Frequently Posts on Instagram

Though Byrd is now back in Washington and at work on an idea for an app, she often posts to Instagram about her time on Survivor. You can also see some of the highlights from her “Oprah year” on her feed.

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