Pennsylvania’s reality TV royalty: 6 winners who captivated the country

Pennsylvania’s Reality TV Royalty: 6 Winners Who Captivated The Country

Photo courtesy of Cam Anthony (Vision) via Instagram.

By Kalena Thomhave

May 6, 2024

Winners walk among us. These Pennsylvanians came out on top of their respective reality shows.

Whether you think reality TV is scripted or not, you can admit it takes skill — and a bit of luck — to win it all.

These Pennsylvania locals came out on top while on their respective reality shows, from “Survivor” to “The Voice.”

While not all of these TV personalities live in Pa. anymore, they all have formative connections to the commonwealth.

Amber Mariano

Reality TV Show: “Survivor,” Season 8

From: Beaver

Pennsylvania’s Reality TV Royalty: 6 Winners Who Captivated The Country

Photo courtesy of Survivor via Instagram.

When Amber Mariano, née Brkich, won Season 8 of “Survivor,” she did not merely win $1 million. She also went home with a husband, with whom she would have four children! Amber Mariano is married to her “Survivor” castmate and eventual fellow winner Rob Mariano, known to fans as “Boston Rob.”

Season 8 was “Survivor: All-Stars,” during which former contestants from previous seasons competed against each other. Amber and Rob formed a two-person alliance, taking care of each other throughout the game, which ended with an eventful finale. Amber won the jury vote to win the title of Sole Survivor, and then during the live portion of the finale, she accepted Rob’s proposal.

Joey Graziadei

Reality TV Show: “The Bachelor,” Season 28

From: Collegeville

Pennsylvania’s Reality TV Royalty: 6 Winners Who Captivated The Country

Photo courtesy of Joey Graziadei via Instagram.

Okay, Joey Graziadei didn’t win “The Bachelor.” He merely was the titular bachelor on ABC’s long-running dating show. However, the Collegeville native is still engaged to the winner of his season — considering the poor record of “Bachelor” relationships, that’s definitely a win! (According to my research, four final-rose couples out of 28 seasons of “The Bachelor” are still together. And three are from the past four years.)

Graziadei made his Bachelor Nation debut in Season 20 of “The Bachelorette,” where he was runner-up to win the heart of bachelorette Charity Lawson. The runner-up often becomes the lead in the next series, which is how Graziadei became “The Bachelor” in the season that ran earlier this year.

Cam Anthony

Reality TV Show: “The Voice,” Season 20

From: Philadelphia

Cam Anthony already had a taste of fame when he joined the cast of “The Voice.” The Philly native’s YouTube singing videos started going viral when he was just 11. As a result, he’d already sung at The White House and been approached by Dr. Dre. Anthony was only 19 when he auditioned for “The Voice.” He chose Blake Shelton as his coach and the duo went on to win the entire show.

Not long after his win, Anthony kicked off his hometown’s Wawa Welcome America Festival on July 4 with a performance with the Philly Pops. You can follow his unfolding music career on Instagram.

Ian Terry

Reality TV Show: “Big Brother,” Season 14

From: Shaler Township

Pennsylvania’s Reality TV Royalty: 6 Winners Who Captivated The Country

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia/CC BY 3.0.

Ian Terry, from Pittsburgh suburb Shaler Township, outwitted his housemates in the 14th season of “Big Brother,” the game where the contestants are subject to dozens of cameras and microphones recording their every move. He was just 21!

During the season, Terry was present for one of “Big Brother’s” biggest moments: Dan’s Funeral. A player named Dan waxed poetic about his time in the “Big Brother” house, essentially saying goodbye while throwing a couple of other players under the bus and inspiring general chaos. The idea was to get the target off his back — and Dan’s gambit was successful! Of course, he didn’t win —Terry did. Terry returned to the series in 2022 as part of “Big Brother: All-Stars” and exited about halfway through.

But don’t expect to see him on the show again — he said he’s not a fan of the modern incarnation of “Big Brother.”

Dustin Tavella

Reality TV Show: “America’s Got Talent,” Season 16

From: Pottstown

Pennsylvania’s Reality TV Royalty: 6 Winners Who Captivated The Country

Photo courtesy of NBC.

Dustin Tavella is the rare Pennsylvanian who is famous for being a magician. Tavella grew up in Pottstown in Montgomery County, and he’d sometimes travel with his grandparents to nearby Atlantic City, New Jersey, where he’d see casino magic shows. In 2021, he auditioned for the 16th season of “America’s Got Talent,” and ultimately won the competition. Tavella no longer lives in Pa. as he’s performing a show in Branson, Missouri.

Nicholas Elmi

Reality TV Show: “Top Chef,” Season 11

From: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s Reality TV Royalty: 6 Winners Who Captivated The Country

Photo courtesy of M. Fischetti/Visit Philadelphia.

Nicholas Elmi’s win of “Top Chef: New Orleans” was controversial among the show’s fanbase. The fan favorite was Nina Compton. But Elmi won, and he brought home the $125,000 prize in spite of his appearance as a season villain.

Elmi is not originally from Pa., but made Philly home when he became executive chef at the famed, now closed, fine dining restaurant Le Bec-Fin. Today, Philadelphians can visit his popular South Philly restaurant, Laurel, which serves American dishes inspired by French and Japanese cuisine. Laurel has previously been named the best restaurant in the city by Philadelphia Magazine, as well as one of the best restaurants in the country by GQ. Maybe the “Top Chef” judges knew what they were doing after all. Elmi is also behind Lark and The Landing Kitchen in Bala Cynwyd.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.6 reality TV winners from Pennsylvania6 reality TV winners from Pennsylvania




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