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Neleh Dennis is a contestant from Survivor: Marquesas.

Known for her unbreakable bond with Paschal English, Neleh is notable for "starting to play the game on Day 24". With convincing from the coconut chopping challenge that exposed her Rotu Four alliance's schemes, she and Paschal joined the outsiders in systematically eliminating them. On Day 37, her alliance with Paschal forced the first-ever rock draw which resulted in his elimination, putting her on the outs. A quickly made deal with Vecepia Towery at the Final Immunity Challenge ultimately got Neleh to the Final Tribal Council where she lost in a 4-3 vote.


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Neleh Dennis was born in Heber City, Utah, and is one of eight siblings (five brothers, Tom, John, Devin, Nathan and Landon, and two sisters, McKenna and Robyn). She was named after her maternal grandmother, Helen. Same name, only spelled backwards. Dennis has lived in California, Idaho, and most recently, Layton, Utah. She graduated from Layton High School in 1998.

Dennis was a member of the Layton High Drill Team, which placed second in a national competition her senior year. While in high school, Neleh taught dance, sang in choir, enjoyed theater, donated time and energy to the Special Olympics and worked closely with mentally challenged young adults. Dennis also earned her Certified Nurse Assistance certificate before graduation and worked full-time with Alzheimer's patients in a nursing care center where she was promoted to Team Leader. During the summer, she worked as a lifeguard.

After graduation, Neleh attended Weber State University and earned an Associate degree. She was accepted into the nursing program, but decided to pursue a degree in psychology. Dennis is currently working on a Bachelor of Science in psychology with an emphasis on child and family studies. In addition, she took scuba diving lessons while in school. She also worked part-time as a psych tech on an adult psychiatric ward at a local hospital.

Dennis works full-time as a make-up artist for a major cosmetic company. In addition, she has acquired 900 hours toward a degree in cosmetology and is looking forward to a long career as a make-up artist.

Neleh Dennis describes herself as happy, outgoing and loving. Dennis enjoys country dancing, camping, boating, snowboarding, working out and waterskiing. She also enjoys exploring new places, going for long drives in the country, picnicking and four-wheeling. Ever the adventurer, she is a member of the Mountaineering Club. She currently resides with her parents, three of her brothers, her two ferrets, Bandit and Chance, and one dog, Rascal. Neleh has a major sweet tooth and loves to eat. Her birth date is February 19.[1]


Neleh started the game on the Rotu tribe. As she was only 21 at the time, she was viewed by many as a non-threatening "sweetheart". Neleh quickly bonded with her tribemates, especially Paschal English, who she eventually grew to have a father-daughter-like relationship with. Due to Rotu's early winning streak, Neleh was able to stay safe during the early stages of the game.

After a surprise Tribe Switch on Day 10, Neleh was sent to Maraamu, along with Paschal and Kathy Vavrick-O'Brien. The old Rotu members were pleasantly surprised by Maraamu's abundance of food. Neleh started to become annoyed with Kathy for getting the tribe lost during a hike and their different personalities. Despite this, she stuck with her original Rotu members at her first Tribal Council of the season, where Sarah Jones was voted out for her laziness around camp.

Despite visiting Tribal Council, the tribe said they felt better now that Sarah was gone. This cohesiveness continued into the next challenge as Maraamu managed to win their first challenge. As their reward, the tribe was able to raid Rotu's camp. This put them in further high spirits, with Neleh commenting on how good it felt to win. Maraamu continued winning challenges, winning the next Immunity Challenge and Reward Challenge; however, they were not able to win the final tribal Immunity Challenge. At camp, Neleh and Paschal had to decide between voting out Kathy, for being responsible for their loss, and Gina, for being an original Maraamu member. At Tribal Council they decided to keep Kathy, sending Gina home.

Neleh managed to reach the merge along with Kathy and Paschal. After reuniting with their other Rotu members, Neleh learned about the four-person alliance between John Carroll, Zoe Zanidakis, Tammy Leitner, and Robert DeCanio. She originally decided to work with them and was content with finishing in 5th place and worked with them to vote out Rob Mariano. However, due to the cockiness of the alliance and realizing that she couldn't crack the alliance, Neleh joined an alliance with Paschal and Kathy, along with the remaining Maraamu members Vecepia Towery and Sean Rector. The new alliance became the majority and voted out John and Zoe at the next two Tribal Councils.

Over the next few days, the tribe started to become annoyed at Neleh for not working around camp. This was made worse when Neleh didn't stop talking about her reward of being on a cruise ship and her three-course meal. She tried to offer the tribe a mint from the ship as a peace offering, however, this only made the tribe more annoyed at her. Despite Sean and Vecepia contemplating voting her out, the alliance stuck together and voted out Tammy and Robert.

When it came down to the final five, the alliance was forced to turn on each other. Kathy quickly became the swing vote between Neleh and Paschal and Sean and Vecepia. Neleh and Paschal targeted Sean for his loudness while Sean and Vecepia targeted Neleh for playing up her "girl next door" attitude and for riding Paschal's coattails. Kathy eventually sided with her Rotu tribe members, eliminating Sean and sparing Neleh. After Vecepia won the next challenge she teamed up with Kathy to target Neleh again. The original vote ended in a deadlock tie, causing Neleh, Paschal, and Kathy to draw rocks. Paschal drew the purple rock, eliminating Neleh's most loyal, and only ally.

The remaining tribe members participated in a Marquesan ritual before partaking in their Rites of Passage. During the ritual, Neleh became annoyed at Kathy and Vecepia's arrogance, who were discussing voting her out even though she was mere meters away. Neleh knew she had to win the Final Immunity Challenge to reach the Final Tribal Council. After lasting for almost four hours and unintentionally causing Kathy to drop out of the challenge, she struck a deal with Vecepia. Vecepia would drop out if Neleh promised to take her to the end. Neleh accepted the deal, winning immunity and voting out Kathy.

At the Final Tribal Council, the jury had mixed feelings towards Neleh, receiving a lot of criticism for allegedly not playing the game until Day 24. In the end, Vecepia barely edged out Neleh for the title of Sole Survivor. Neleh finished in second place after receiving the votes of Paschal, Kathy, and Zoe.

Voting History

Neleh's Voting History
Episode Neleh's
Voted Against
1 Rotu Tribe Immune
2 Rotu Tribe Immune
3 Rotu Tribe Immune
4 Sarah -
5 Maraamu Tribe Immune
6 Gina -
7 Rob -
8 John -
10 Zoe -
11 Tammy -
12 Robert -
13 Sean Sean, Vecepia
14 Kathy Kathy, Vecepia
Kathy Individual Immunity
Jury Votes
for Neleh
Kathy, Paschal, Zoe
Runner-Up, Day 39


  • Neleh used to be a reporter for KUTV, Salt Lake City's CBS affiliate.
  • Neleh married Kris Nielson on July 12, 2003,[2] and had three kids (Kai, River, and McKay) since Survivor.[3] She and her kids re-watch Marquesas and continue to watch Survivor.
  • In 2004, Neleh made an appearance on TLC's A Baby Story that documented the birth of fellow Marquesas castaway Vecepia Towery's first child.
  • Neleh raised $4,005 for Hearts of Reality in 2015.[4]
  • In 2016, Neleh and her husband Kris opened a corn dog stand named after the season she was on, Marquesas.[5]
  • In 2018 Neleh and her family visited Costa Rica and met a fan who traveled several hours to meet them.[6]



Survivor: Marquesas Castaways
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