Football star and pop culture icon Mikayla Wingle aimed for Second Chance at Survivor

Mikayla Wingle (also known affectionately as Miki) is best remembered by sports fans for her time competing in the football hotbed of Florida with the LFL. Although she no longer graces the gridiron, Wingle’s impact as a fan favorite was certainly not forgotten. When TMZ Sports collaborated with the LFL to issue a list of the 50 Hottest Players of All-Time, Wingle ranked 16th.

Originally from the Garden State of New Jersey (growing up in Stanhope), Wingle’s aspirations for a modeling career would eventually lead her to Florida. Unforeseen at the time, the relocation would result in an opportunity to take part in a unique chapter of female football.

With a lifelong love of sport, Wingle’s athletic drive and competitive nature on the field of play made her a perfect fit for the launch of the incipient LFL. Competing for the Tampa Breeze franchise (in later years, they would relocate to Jacksonville); Wingle played alongside the likes of quarterback KK Matheny, two-sport star Saige Steinmetz and the very popular Liz Gorman.

Taking into account that games from the 2011 season were broadcast on cable network MTV2, Wingle became part of a football sorority whose influence went far beyond the gridiron. Earning a celebrity status and a large gathering of fans via social media, Wingle became part of a sporting revolution. The result of such popularity led to Wingle’s first brush with popular culture, when she landed on the cover of Playboy (she would also get the opportunity to meet founder Hugh Hefner). Inside the pages, she set pulses racing as she appeared in a complete state of undress along with several other competitors from the LFL.

Appearing on the Playboy cover would prove to be the springboard to future opportunities, including the chance to be a contestant on the very popular and groundbreaking Survivor TV show airing on CBS. A cast member on Survivor: South Pacific, Wingle was a member of the Upolu Tribe. As a side note, Wingle is not the only athlete to have appeared on the program. Former Cardinals quarterback Gary Hogeboom and former WWE Diva (and Playboy cover girl as well) Ashley Massaro also competed in previous seasons.

Mikayla Wingle, during the second episode, of SURVIVOR: SOUTH PACIFIC Wednesday, September 21 (8:00 - 9:30 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. #Survivor Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. (Obtained from: http://survivor.wikia.com/wiki/File:Mikayla_Wingle_-_South_Pacific_2.jpg)

Mikayla Wingle, during the second episode, of SURVIVOR: SOUTH PACIFIC Wednesday, September 21 (8:00 – 9:30 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. #Survivor Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. (Obtained from: http://survivor.wikia.com/wiki/File:Mikayla_Wingle_-_South_Pacific_2.jpg)

Although Wingle was one of the earlier contestants to be eliminated, the chance to be on the program strengthened the bond with her mother. Having mentioned in promotions for the season of Survivor: South Pacific that her mother was a source of inspiration, (along with her brother, they were both raised without a father), and it definitely made her an emotional favorite with fans.

Of note, Survivor debuted in 2000 when Wingle was 10, and it had been her mother’s favorite show ever since. As it was mandatory viewing in their household, the chance for her to actually become a contestant on a program that she grew up watching resulted in feelings of jubilation and excitement for her proud mother.

From the outset, she was perceived as one of the strongest women among the competitors. Having not made an alliance, Brandon Hantz convinced others to vote her off as rumors indicated that he felt awkward around her. Sadly, she was voted off on Day 16. Despite the bitter end, her popularity on Survivor led to being featured in Sports Illustrated’s popular Extra Mustard feature. As a side note, Las Vegas Sin competitor Cynthia Schmidt has also earned the Extra Mustard treatment.

Competing on the bodybuilding tour (Image obtained from: http://gallery.rxmuscle.com/index.php?contest=31&year=1017&bodybuilder=59715)

Competing on the bodybuilding tour (Image obtained from: http://gallery.rxmuscle.com/index.php?contest=31&year=1017&bodybuilder=59715)

Earlier this year, she was one of 32 former contestants that were eligible for a chance to participate in a special season of Survivor titled Second Chances, to be filmed in Cambodia. Although she was not able to secure enough online votes to earn a spot, her presence would have made for great television.

Currently, Wingle is engaging in her aspirations to become a professional body building competitor. As a side note, other LFL stars such as Christine Moore (Seattle Mist) and Ashley Richter (Regina Rage) have also engaged in similar paths. She would finish in third place at the 2014 NPC Junior USA Championships.

From her gridiron career to her status as a television reality star, Wingle’s popularity does not stem just from her beauty. The secret of her success comes from the strength and independence that makes her an empowered woman.

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