- The Washington Times - Monday, December 4, 2000

These are the words you never expected former "Survivor" castaway Susan Hawk to say about herself: "I'm such a wuss."

She's looking out the window of her home in Wisconsin, and she dreads what is coming. It is about to snow. Temperatures are dropping, and Mrs. Hawk, a 38-year-old ready-mix concrete truck driver who still lives in the area where she was born, has become used to warmer climates in recent months.

For almost 39 days last spring, the tough-talking, self-professed "redneck" lived on a tropical island in the South Seas. The days were humid. The nights were rainy. There were bugs pestering her all the time, and whining fellow castaways trying to make alliances.

Mrs. Hawk was there to win $1 million by lasting the longest. She was voted off the island during the final 48 hours, and she was not a happy camper. Close to 40 million TV viewers last summer witnessed her anger at castaway Kelly Wigglesworth, whose vote ousted her.

"If I should ever pass you along in life again, and you were laying there, dying of thirst, I would not give you a drink of water," she fumed at Miss Wigglesworth. "I would let the vultures take you and do whatever they want with you, with no ill regrets."

It was an unforgettable television moment from the summer of 2000, the kind of flash that has made Mrs. Hawk a celebrity even months after "Survivor" ended.

She discovered how much she is entrenched in pop culture while visiting the University of Utah. "I was informed at the university that … when people tell people how they feel, when someone tells someone how wrong they are, the kids [refer to it as] 'Pulling a Sue,' " Mrs. Hawk said.

These days, she is busy on the lecture circuit, hitting mainly colleges and talking about her "Survivor" experience. She also is appearing on talk shows with the likes of Rosie O'Donnell and Regis Philbin.

When she isn't doing that, Mrs. Hawk, who has been married to a real estate agent for 19 years, returns to driving her truck, more as an obligation to her boss than for the money. "I owe him a lot," she says, but she also likes the benefits: "At my age, I need the insurance. One good [accident], and everything I have is gone."

As this year's construction season ends in Wisconsin, she thinks her days as a truck driver will as well. She has retained an agent and has landed acting roles:

• She plays a redneck waitress in an upcoming Disney feature film called "Bubble Boy." The movie is scheduled for release in the summer.

• On the NBC White House comedy "DAG" with David Alan Grier and Delta Burke, Mrs. Hawk plays a drill sergeant, a role for which she auditioned. The episode airs at 9:30 p.m. tomorrow.

"At first, I was like, 'Oh my gosh.' But then I thought, 'Ah, it doesn't matter. They put on their pants the same way I do,' and I got over it."

• In the TNN action series "18 Wheels of Justice" at 10 p.m. on Jan. 31, Mrs. Hawk will play a role closer to her heart and one she would not mind reprising. "I play this truck driver that keeps meeting Lucky [the lead character] every year at a truck stop. He told me: 'If they don't kill you in this episode, there's always a chance you will come back,' " she said.

"I got this chance to drive this really cool truck. It's this thing with hot yellow flames on it. It's a hot-looking truck. It doesn't even touch the plain old white Freightliner I used to drive."

• A possible World Wrestling Federation televised match between Mrs. Hawk and Miss Wigglesworth has been entertained, though no firm plans have been made.

"I would do it," Mrs. Hawk said.

"Survivor" winner Richard Hatch has said he would face Mrs. Hawk in a match if the opportunity arises, she said. She isn't sure if Miss Wigglesworth would be interested. Mrs. Hawk, who has reconciled with Miss Wigglesworth since the show ended, said hard feelings remain between the two at times.

"I'm over it," Mrs. Hawk said, "but Kelly is young. She's 22, and my vote help cost her the money." Mrs. Hawk was part of a jury of seven ousted castaways who voted between the final two contestants, Mr. Hatch and Miss Wigglesworth, to determine the $1 million winner. Mrs. Hawk voted for Mr. Hatch, who won 4-3. Miss Wigglesworth won the $100,000 consolation prize.

Mrs. Hawk's reality TV fame has brought her opportunities that she never before considered: During her co-host stint on "Live with Regis," she interviewed Texas Gov. George W. Bush. "As for G.W., I thought, 'So what?' He was just a presidential candidate when I talked to him. He wasn't the president yet, you know?"

• Distributed by Scripps Howard

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