|Born||(1983-04-22) April 22, 1983
Van Buren, Arkansas, U.S.
|Education||University of Central Arkansas (BBA)|
|Occupation||Pharmaceutical sales representative, television personality|
|Television||Survivor: Samoa (winner)|
Natalie White (born April 22, 1983) is a former reality TV personality known for being the winner of Survivor: Samoa. A native of Van Buren, Arkansas, White has a background in marketing and pharmaceutical sales.
White is the daughter of Ken and Diane Powell of Bryant, Arkansas. She graduated from Bryant High School and went on to Arkansas State University in Jonesboro for two years. She then transferred to the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, where she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing in 2005. She later went to work for Teva Pharmaceuticals as a sales representative; after 15 months on the job, she suddenly left the company to pursue another dream in the islands of Samoa.
White was cast on the television series Survivor: Samoa, the 19th season of the American version of Survivor. She was initially placed in the Foa Foa tribe, which lost five out of the six immunity challenges prior to the merge. She survived all those rounds without her name ever being written down for elimination. After the merge, she orchestrated the elimination of Erik Cardona by swaying Laura Morett, Kelly Sharbaugh, and Monica Padilla to convince the rest of Galu to vote for Cardona in a blindside. At Tribal Council, White’s plan came into fruition and Cardona became the first member of the jury. The day after Tribal Council, White came across a rat at camp. She subsequently clubbed the rat to death and presented it to her fellow tribe members for consumption, shocking them all.
On the tenth episode, there was a 5–5 tie between White and Morett. Shannon “Shambo” Waters flipped to Foa Foa to vote against Morett, while the five remaining Galu members voted against White, expecting a deadlocked tie and purple rock tiebreaker. On the revote, John Fincher of Galu flipped his vote from White to Morett, ensuring Morett’s elimination and avoiding the possibility of drawing a purple rock.
In the Survivor Auction, White won a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and a shower. She later bonded with Brett Clouser, over things that they both enjoyed, such as Christian books and excerpts. She went on to choose Clouser first to be on her team at the reward challenge. Although Russell Hantz was suspicious that something was forming between them, White assured him that everything was proceeding as originally planned.
At the Final Five, White was told by Hantz that if Clouser were to win the next immunity challenge, she would be the next one leaving. Hantz wanted to get Clouser out before the Final Three, and needed all of the strongest men to beat him. Clouser went on to win the next immunity challenge, but Hantz’s mind changed, as he felt he needed White to go with him to the Final Three. Jaison Robinson was voted off in that Tribal Council. In the final immunity challenge, White placed third out of four. Hantz went on to win that immunity challenge, leading up to Clouser’s elimination.
At the Final Tribal Council, White was criticized by Hantz and the jury for being a coattail rider and not doing much except to follow Hantz. White responded that she could not have made the moves that Hantz did because that would lead to her being voted out. She said that her best move that would keep her in the game was to align with Hantz, so that he could take all the damage and she would leave in everybody’s good graces. Cardona finished the Final Tribal Council by stating that fellow finalist Mick Trimming had not lived up to his leader position, and that Hantz was arrogant. He stated that White might call herself the least deserving of the title “Sole Survivor,” but that “maybe the person who thinks she is the least deserving is probably the most.” Cardona went on to say that he would be voting for her, and he hoped that she would get four more votes to win.
On December 20, 2009, during the live finale, it was announced that White had won the title of Sole Survivor. She won by a vote of 7–2–0, defeating runner-up Hantz and third-place Trimming. Hantz, after realizing that he had lost, announced live on the air that he would offer her $10,000 USD for the title of “Sole Survivor,” but said that she could keep the $1 million prize. He then increased his offer to $100,000. White declined both offers.
According to blogger Rhys Desmond of The Mastermind, in the years since White won the title of Sole Survivor, she has gotten a reputation as being one of the “worst winners” of all time. Dalton Ross of Entertainment Weekly panned the jury’s decision to award her the $1 million prize, calling it a “travesty,” a “joke,” “absurd,” “ridiculous,” “lame,” and “the worst jury vote ever.”Survivor host Jeff Probst wrote that, in his opinion, Russell Hantz dominated the game, but lost to White because of a “jury of bitter people.”
But former Survivor player Stephen Fishbach, in his People Magazine blog, defended White’s game play while criticizing Hantz’s, even pointing out that Hantz was the one who made the jury bitter. Even Desmond, in his own blog, called White a “perfect winner” while praising her social game and elaborating on the social aspects of Survivor.
Other media appearances
Later that year, White was mentioned by Dr. Sheila Embry in a book about ethics and leadership. In it, Embry pointed out that White won Sole Survivor by not sacrificing her integrity or ethics, in contrast to Russell Hantz, who did everything unethically and dishonestly during the game. Embry went on to say that the final jury vote that season was a vote against “greed and entitled arrogance.”
At the time of the filming of Survivor: Samoa, White was dating Justin Thomas, also a resident of Van Buren. As of 2014, she has made limited speaking engagements and purchased a new home in Blanchard, Oklahoma.