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Florida Watermelon Queen joins South Seas 'Survivor'

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A Gainesville nature guide who was the National Watermelon Queen joins a judge, a bowling-alley owner and a fishing-boat captain as contestants in Survivor: Marquesas, CBS announced Wednesday.

Gina Crews, who turns 29 today, is the Central Florida entrant in the fourth edition of the high-rated reality series. She was born and raised in Alachua, took courses at the University of Central Florida and graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor of science degree in wildlife ecology and conservation.

Crews, who is single, is a member of the Sierra Club and an avid Gators football fan. She was crowned Florida Watermelon Queen in 1996. She became National Watermelon Queen in 1997 by spitting watermelon seeds 37 feet, 11 inches.

Survivor: Marquesas will air at 8 p.m. Thursdays, starting Feb. 28, and conclude with a special, two-hour Sunday edition and one-hour reunion show May 19. The winner collects $1 million and joins the company of previous victors Richard Hatch, Tina Wesson and Ethan Zohn.

Setting the new series on the South Pacific island of Nuku Hiva seems an attempt to recapture the inviting atmosphere of the first Survivor. That program, based on Pulau Tiga in the South China Sea, became a national phenomenon in the summer of 2000.

Later editions had harsher backdrops and sturdy ratings. The second series, Survivor: The Australian Outback, was the most-watched series last season. The third series, Survivor: Africa, went against top-rated, rejuvenated Friends but stands as the fifth most-watched series this season.

Hal Boedeker can be reached at hboedeker@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5756.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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