'Survivor 45' Winner Dee Valladares Creates Controversy, Joins the 'On Fire' Podcast

“There’s a reason Dee won Survivor 45 and it will be very clear from the first episode of On Fire,” Jeff Probst said in the official press release.

Jamie Lerner - Author
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Feb. 21 2024, Published 3:05 p.m. ET

Dee Valladares talks on 'Survivor 45'
Source: CBS

We’re gearing up for another season of Survivor as we await the Feb. 28, 2024, premiere of Survivor 46, and CBS is already prepping us for it. They’ve announced that instead of Rick Devens, Survivor 45 winner Dee Valladares will join Jeff Probst as the co-host of the official On Fire podcast. Jeff announced in the past season that the co-host seat would always rotate, but no one was expecting such a recent winner to take the chair.

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When Season 45 aired, fans predicted that Dee would win based on her dominance throughout the game’s social, strategic, and physical aspects. However, after the season, a scandal about an alleged affair between Dee and former winner Wendell Holland put a dent in her positive reputation. Because of this, people are surprised and even upset that Dee is co-hosting the podcast.

Dee Valladares and Austin Li Coon during final tribal on 'Survivor 45'
Source: CBS
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‘Survivor 45’ winner Dee Valladares is joining the official ‘On Fire with Jeff Probst’ podcast.

We always knew that Rick Devens’ Survivor podcast tenure would be short, but after the example he set during Season 45, we knew his seat would be hard to fill. He has a journalism background that made him a perfect co-host for Jeff. So, we were expecting a major Survivor nerd to take the position for the upcoming Season 46.

Instead, CBS decided that bringing on a past dominant winner would be the best move. “There’s a reason Dee won Survivor 45 and it will be very clear from the first episode of On Fire,” Jeff said in the official press release. “She’s going to bring great insight into what it takes to play Survivor, especially in the new era! We’re delighted she said yes and can’t wait for fans to experience her analysis and opinions every week!”

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While it’s true that Dee has expert insight into the game, especially in its current iteration, we love hearing from people of the past. Someone like Parvati Shallow or Tyson Apostol would have brought some other amazing bits of insight to the podcast while sharing comparisons and experiences from the past. But we are definitely excited to hear Dee’s takes on the season, even if many fans are disappointed.

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People don’t like Dee after Season 45 because of her off-screen relationships.

A lot of us were on the Dee train until after her season aired. That’s when news of a Survivor scandal broke when Wendell’s now ex-wife posted about her marriage falling apart. Thanks to several internet sleuths, they figured out that Wendell and Dee met in May 2023 at one of his Survivor parties. After that, they were seen several times together until the kicker in late December, when Dee was seen wearing a bracelet Wendell’s ex thought he bought for herself.

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On the Reddit thread announcing Dee’s position on the podcast, people were vocal about their disappointment and surprise. “Dee ‘Homewrecker’ Valladares??? I’m surprised CBS would touch her after what went down,” one person commented. Others suggested that CBS is tone-deaf for not realizing that Dee isn't a fan favorite.

“I love how Survivor isn't self-aware enough to know that Dee isn't a fan favorite,” someone else commented. “From what I've seen on this subreddit, she's the least liked member of the Reba 4, and even my family, who are casual viewers, found her to be annoying at best and distasteful at worse.”

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Dee Valladares does the final challenge on 'Survivor 45'
Source: CBS

Several Redditors took to the platform to share their preferred co-hosts from the New Era, such as Drew Basile, Yam Yam Arocho, Maryanne Oketch, Austin Li Coon, and more. In fact, one of the reasons fans dislike her alleged affair with Wendell is because her showmance with Austin was hyped up so much throughout the season, but we don’t really know how and when it ended.

Even still, some fans are on board with Dee as a co-host. As a minority woman and recent winner, she’ll have a completely different take from Jeff that the show desperately needs. So despite the chaos, we’ll be cheering her on as we listen to the On Fire podcast.

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