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Survivor Wiki

Dean Kowalski is a contestant from Survivor: Island of the Idols.

Despite being on the outs on the original Lairo tribe, Dean managed to maneuver himself into a better position by building new relationships after the Tribe Switch, allowing him to make it to the merge. He used this time to make several under the radar alliances, particularly with Tommy Sheehan. With the end approaching, Dean began to play more aggressively, winning two individual Immunity Challenges, playing an Idol Nullifier to eliminate Janet Carbin, and beating Lauren Beck in a fire-making challenge. Dean's Final Tribal Council performance impressed the jury, though the majority felt that Tommy's social game was stronger, resulting in Dean finishing as the runner-up in an 8-2-0 vote.


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Age: 28
Hometown: Westfield, New Jersey
Current residence: New York City
Occupation: Tech Sales
Hobbies: Basketball, crafts, and DJ-ing.
Pet peeves: People honking in dead-stop traffic, people from the back pushing up a couple rows upon airplane landing, and roommates leaving dirty dishes in the sink for a prolonged period of time.
Three words to describe you: Jovial, observant, and likeable.
What accomplishment are you most proud of? Achieving the highest success rate of all Miami Algebra 1 teachers for students passing the end of year exam.
Who or what is your inspiration in life? Shirley Manzanares. Shirley was one of my 9th grade Algebra 1 students in my first year teaching. Shirley was an A+ student and the most respectful and loving soul. What you didn't see was her two jobs to help pay for prom, her caring for her two younger siblings while her mom worked at night, and her dedication to community service. Shirley will be the first in her family to attend college.
What's one thing we wouldn't know from seeing a photo of you? I have recently grown to appreciate astronomy, physics, and our place in the universe.
Which Survivor contestant are you most like? Wendell for his quiet leadership.
What's your primary motivation for being on Survivor? I crave new challenges/experiences, and it's the most uniquely strategic game ever.
Why do you think you'll "survive" Survivor? Self-awareness is one of the most important leadership characteristics. My social intelligence will allow me to read when to go big and when to fall back. I strongly believe in my ability to get along with and be liked by a variety of different people. This will allow me to build strong, diverse alliances. Additionally, my athletic and puzzle abilities will make me a threat within challenges. My experience working in sales will fuel my persuasion within my alliances.[2]


Dean started on the Lairo tribe. His tribe however struggled, losing three of the first four Immunity Challenges. On Day 11, both he and his ally Chelsea Walker voted against Karishma Patel, but Chelsea was blindsided as the rest wanted to break up the perceived showmance between the two and felt that Chelsea was a bigger threat than Dean.

Despite being upset over the blindside, he was given a second chance as a Tribe Switch occurred the following day. During this, he formed a friendship with former Vokai Kellee Kim due to their mutual friend. He targeted Karishma a second time on Day 14 but his ally Tom Laidlaw was blindsided instead. On Day 19, Kellee notified Dean that he was the target, gave him her Hidden Immunity Idol and asked him to use the idol to get out Jamal Shipman or Jack Nichting. At Tribal Council, he played the idol, negating 5 votes cast against him, and his and former Vokai Noura Salman's votes sent Jack to the jury.

Dean reached the merge. At the merge vote, he turned against Kellee and contributed to her elimination. The following day, Jamal gave Dean a fake Legacy Advantage he crafted on the Island of the Idols, and Dean believed the advantage to be real. Over the next several Tribal Councils, Dean saw his former Lairo tribemates get voted out one by one. During this time he created and played his own fake Legacy Advantage in order to get the target off himself.

In the last five days, Dean played a more aggressive game. He earned the Idol Nullifier during his visit on the Island of the Idols, won individual immunity on Days 35 and 37, found an idol on Day 37 after getting the clues from former Vokai Tommy Sheehan, and used the Idol Nullifier to blindside former Vokai Janet Carbin on Day 37. On Day 38, Noura won the Final Immunity Challenge and notified Dean and former Vokai Lauren Beck that they would make fire. Dean practiced making fire, with Tommy assisting him. At Tribal Council, Dean defeated Lauren in the final four fire-making challenge to join Tommy and Noura in the Final Three.

At the Final Tribal Council, Dean explained the strategic moves he made and challenge wins, and tried to downplay Tommy's no challenge wins and lack of moves. His social game however was questioned. He even came under fire after saying he never made any promises to anyone, even though he did, which several jurors called him out for. Dean received votes from former Lairo's Aaron Meredith and Elizabeth Beisel but the rest voted for Tommy to become the Sole Survivor, feeling that his social game was much stronger. Those two votes left Dean as the runner-up.

Voting History

Episode Dean's
Voted Against
1 Ronnie -
2 Lairo Tribe Immune
3 Karishma -
4 Karishma -
5 Karishma -
6 Lairo Tribe Immune
7 Jack Jack, Jamal, Janet,
Karishma, Kellee
8 Kellee -
Jamal -
9 Aaron -
10 Karishma;
11 Karishma -
12 Elaine Individual Immunity
13 Janet Individual Immunity
Jury Votes
for Dean
Aaron, Elizabeth
Runner-Up, Day 39

^1 In "I Was Born at Night, but Not Last Night", Dean used a Hidden Immunity Idol, negating 5 votes against him.
^2 In "Bring On the Bacon", Karishma used a Hidden Immunity Idol, negating Dean's vote against her. Also, the vote ended with a 1-1-0 tie between Elizabeth and Janet, forcing a revote. Dean changed his vote to Elizabeth on the revote.



  • Dean's 29th birthday was on Day 23 of Island of the Idols.
  • Dean is the highest ranking member of the original Lairo tribe.


Survivor: Island of the Idols Castaways
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