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Melinda Hyder is a contestant from Survivor: Panama.

Starting in a good position on Casaya, a tribe switch greatly affected her standing as she came to be seen as the weakest member on the new Casaya tribe. Although Shane Powers volunteered himself to be voted out when Casaya lost the Immunity Challenge on Day 6, his alliance talked him out of it, leading to Melinda being eliminated as originally planned.


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Melinda Hyder was born and raised in Elizabethton, Tennessee. She has one sister, Regina, and is proud to point out that her parents, Richard and Carol, were high school sweethearts and have been married for 44 years. Hyder began singing in church at the age of four. She trained in ballet, tap, jazz and gymnastics for 12 years. She attended classes and taught at the Watt Dance Studio in Elizabethton.

Hyder graduated with honors in music and math from Elizabethton High School. She then attended East Tennessee State University in Johnson City on a full vocal scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music. While in college, she performed with the music groups 10BucsWorth, Chorale and Women's Ensemble.

After college, Hyder entertained at Six Flags over Georgia for two years. She then toured Europe while performing on a cruise ship. She also spent six years performing at Dollywood (often times with Dolly Parton). In addition, she has worked as a real estate agent, private vocal coach, dance instructor, pageant coach and model.

Hyder describes herself as vivacious, competitive and compassionate. Her hobbies include creative home decorating, collecting Marilyn Monroe memorabilia, watching CBS soap operas and jogging.

Currently single, Hyder resides in Sevierville, Tennessee, with her Pomeranian, Lexi. Her birth date is May 23, 1973.[1]


Melinda was placed on the Casaya tribe, the tribe of "older women," consisting of herself, Cirie Fields, Ruth Marie Milliman, and Tina Scheer. Out of those four women, Melinda was the youngest.

Casaya started off well enough, coming in third place in the first Reward Challenge, forcing Bayoneta to exile one of their own. At the first Immunity Challenge, Casaya came in last place, which meant they must attend Tribal Council that night. Back at Casaya's camp, Cirie approached Melinda with the plan to vote off Tina, who had become a social recluse. Melinda had doubts for the move, as Tina had been the most productive of the four women. But when Tina accused everyone of having a poor work ethic, Melinda agreed with the plan, sending their strongest member home in a 3-1 decision.

On Day 4, the four tribes became two, as the younger tribes Viveros and Bayoneta were disbanded, splitting the fifteen remaining castaways into the new Casaya and La Mina tribes. Both Cirie and Melinda remained on Casaya. In the tribe selection process, Melinda was the last woman picked.

Losing the following Reward Challenge as the new Casaya, new members Aras Baskauskas, Courtney Marit, Danielle DiLorenzo, and Shane Powers formed an alliance, Melinda and Cirie found themselves in an uncomfortable position - on the outside.

Once again, Casaya lost a challenge, this time for immunity. At camp, it was quickly made known that either Melinda or Cirie would go home after being branded as the weakest members of the tribe. Cirie and Melinda saw an opening when Shane decided that he wanted to quit the game because he was experiencing an inner backlash because of his nicotine withdrawal.

Unfortunately for Melinda and Cirie, Shane's alliance partners were able to convince him to stay in the game. Despite this twist of events, Melinda and Cirie still tried to get Shane voted out. Because of their loyalty to one another, neither Melinda nor Cirie ever tried to campaign against the other.

At Tribal Council, the majority prevailed as Melinda was voted out in a 5-2 vote.

Episode Tribe
Challenge Challenge Type Sit-Out? Result
1 Casaya Skull Crush Reward Yes 3rd
4x4 Immunity No Lost
2 A Reptile Dysfunction Reward No Lost
Anchor Management Immunity No Lost
Voted Out, Day 6

Episode Melinda's
Voted Against
1 Tina -
2 Shane Aras, Bobby, Courtney,
Danielle, Shane
Voted Out, Day 6


  • On June 22, 2006, Melinda, along with tribemate Cirie Fields, appeared on the daytime soap Guiding Light. Melinda played a waitress.[2]
  • On January 9, 2010, Melinda attended Survivor's 10-year anniversary party.


  • Melinda is the youngest castaway of the original Casaya tribe.
  • Melinda is the youngest person to be a member of an "older" tribe, at 32 years of age.
    • Oddly, Bobby Mason, the oldest person to be a member of a "younger" tribe, was also 32 years old in Panama. However, Melinda is three months older than Bobby.
  • Melinda is the only woman to be eliminated post-switch and not be on La Mina.


Survivor: Panama Castaways
S12 aras t
S12 austin t
S12 bobby t
La Mina
S12 bruce t
S12 cirie t
S12 courtney t
La Mina
S12 dan t
S12 danielle t
S12 melinda t
S12 misty t
S12 nick t
 Ruth Marie
S12 ruthmarie t
S12 sally t
La Mina
S12 shane t
La Mina
S12 terry t
S12 tina t