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Federal Way man takes all in STAR-vivor
"This time, Rich got second place. Seventeen days after entering the STAR-vivor glass house at the Puyallup Fair, Federal Way resident Scott Sparling, 27, beat Rich Struxness of Silverdale to win the grand prize of $10,000 and Ikea furniture. The results of an on-line vote were announced on Star 101.5 FM's morning show on Monday. The other Federal Way competitor, Amber Lewis, 23, left the house voluntarily on Sept. 13 to be with her boyfriend, Art. Lewis had hit it off with contestant Adam Michelman, 21. Her boyfriend learned the pair had cuddled and he came to the house to straighten things out. Lewis walked out with him. Modeled after the enormously popular television show Survivor, STAR-vivor placed six men and six women in a 20-by-20-foot room at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. Judges from a Seattle radio station, 101.5 FM, selected 11 people to compete for the prize. The 12th spot went to a radio personality. As in Survivor and Big Brother, another CBS reality TV show, the STAR-vivor competitors were required to vote on the next person they believed should leave. Someone was required to leave every weekday. Although the first three days of the contest, when no voting occurred, amounted to one long party, the following 14 days grew tougher as the numbers dwindled, Sparling says. Alliances formed and broke apart. Suspicions grew. Sparling says he believes he made it to the final four - when it became the public's responsibility to vote for who to boot - because of his suspicions an alliance had formed before the group entered the house. Based on that hunch, Sparling convinced Struxness, John Stewart of Shoreline and Kathy Elofson of McCleary to form their own alliance. He later talked the radio personality, Jim Severn of Seattle, into joining. It turned out the other alliance was a figment of my imagination, Sparling said. I was the first one with an alliance. I was the ringleader. For that, Sparling earned a reputation as STAR-vivor's version of the manipulative Rich on Survivor. He attributes that, in part, to the biting comments of two contestants voted out, Elofson and Severn; Sparling says his alliance voted for them after they switched alliances. Star 101.5 disc jockeys, he says, contributed to his dark reputation. Some of the radio personalities who hadn't even gone inside the house, had no idea what the competition was like, had never met me were using words like 'manipulator,' saying I was the dark side, I was the puppet master, I was this dark character, he said. That image doesn't jibe with the man Christy Sparling has known since high school, where they were sweethearts. She describes him as a loving husband, a doting dad to their 22-month-old daughter, Glaysia, and an adept performer for their family-owned entertainment company, A Giggleworks Production. When the house shrunk to four contestants - Sparling, Struxness, Stewart and Gail Cookie Higman of Kenmore - the matter of who to banish switched from the competitors to the public. Christy and her large family began rallying support for Sparling through e-mails and fliers. Employees at The Game Store in Federal Way let customers get on-line to vote and gave people $4 off their purchase if they voted for Sparling to win, she says. It was a huge game everyone got involved in, Christy said. It made the victory seem like it was everybody's, not just ours. Sparling's in-laws, Norman and Sharon Frelinger of Port Orchard, baby-sat Glaysia so Christy could visit him at the fairgrounds and so she could continue giving magic shows through the couple's business. And we also made sure all our friends and acquaintances voted for Scott, short of going down and standing on a street corner with a sign, he said. Sparling's win surprised no one more than himself. Before entering the house, Struxness, a Navy submariner, convinced fellow Navy members to vote en masse to ensure his win. Scott knew Rich had won, Rich knew he had won and they were comfortable with that, Christy said. I think it came as a real shock to everybody but me. Christy's cousin, Wendy Frelinger of Federal Way, says Sparling's win didn't surprise her. I watch 'Survivor,' and the one person that nobody liked and got the biggest bad rap was the winner, she said. I kind of thought Scott compared to that. He was kind of like the Rich of 'Survivor.' He played hardball. He was getting a bad rap from the media. Sparling says he played STAR-vivor like the game it was, though voting for people he'd become friends with did at times feel like betrayal. He plans to use the $10,000 to pay off a business loan. He will invest the money he would spend monthly on loan payments to help pay for his daughter's college education. Sparling says his wife's support makes her just as much of a victor. On the radio, I handed the check to her and said, 'She's the one who played the other half of the game,' he said. I got myself to the final four. I did a good job doing that. It came down to my wife's, I don't know what to call it. She's amazing. "