Alumna aspires to be on the TV show “Survivor”


Laurel Deppen

After herniating two disks in her back, WKU alumna JoAnna Ehret wasn’t able to play golf for 18 months. Despite this, Ehret is currently working for the Professional Golfers’ Association of America in the Championships Department. Her next challenge: NBC’s “Survivor.”

A look at Ehret’s Twitter account shows she is absolutely committed to becoming the next “sole survivor.” An avid fan since the age of 12, Ehret said she has seen every episode.

She first auditioned for the show five years ago and got a call back. After that audition, Ehret was asked to participate in their season “Blood vs. Water.” To be involved, she was asked to bring a loved one to compete with her.

Ehret’s brother agreed to participate with her. When the “Survivor” production team found out that Ehret planned to compete with her brother, they denied them from participating.

“When I told them that, they rebutted that they don’t accept brother/sister teams because people who don’t know the backstory or haven’t seen the show from episode one, might mistake us for a dating or married couple, and it might be weird,” Ehret said.

Still determined, Ehret and her brother decided to try again.

“My brother and I submitted another video together anyway hoping that our totally epic audition video, which it was, would help them change their mind … but it obviously didn’t,” she said.

This didn’t stop Ehret. She has since submitted two more audition videos and travelled to live auditions. Though she still hasn’t received another call back, she has decided to take to Twitter in the hopes of gaining attention from the show.

Using hashtags such as #PutMeInJeff and #365TweetsToJeff, Ehret hopes to gain some attention for her cause.

“I know he has no decision-making in the casting, but I figure if I get on the ‘Survivor’ radar, I might still have a snowball’s chance of getting another call back,” Ehret said.  

Ehret doesn’t see her “Survivor” ambitions ending anytime soon. Competing on the show has been a dream of hers since she was a teenager.

“I can remember sitting on the couch as a teenager thinking, ‘Wow. I could live like that for the rest of my life,’ meaning living off of the land, building a shelter out of my natural resources, and hunting and scavenging for food,” Ehret said.

Even though Ehret can’t yet add “sole survivor” to her resume, she has still accomplished many other things in her lifetime.

Ehret was born and raised in Eagan, Minnesota. After receiving a golf scholarship, Ehret moved to Bowling Green which began her “migration south.” At WKU, she majored in interactive advertising and minored in sales and communications.

“Being a student athlete isn’t always easy,” Ehret said of being on the golf team at WKU. “Trying to balance a fierce passion for success in your sport as well as success in the classroom … but my teammates and the Athletic Advisory staff at WKU were always there to help us stay on track to be the best student athletes possible.”

Ehret was injured in the spring of her junior year. Doctors told her she would never be able to play golf again, but during her fifth year at school, she was able to continue her scholarship eligibility.

Megan Pendergraff has been friends with Ehret for 12 years. They played on the WKU golf team together and were roommates in college and while living in Florida.

Seeing JoAnna fight through her back injury was a true testament of just who she is,” Pendergraff said. “She never wanted to miss playing golf so she fought and trained hard and she still plays at a high level.”

Though she said she still experiences back pain, Ehret golfs regularly with friends and colleagues. She currently works for the Professional Golfers’ Association of America in the Championships Department where she travels to all major PGA championships. Her responsibilities include scoring, pairing players, and giving starting time information to media outlets.

“It is definitely the most fulfilling job that I have had in the Golf Industry thus far,” Ehret said. “I see myself staying at the PGA of America for a very long time.”

Ehret currently lives in Jupiter, Florida with her husband and her dog Kona. When she’s not working or enjoying “Survivor,” she enjoys weight lifting and doing chalkboard artwork.

Features reporter Laurel Deppen can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected].