'Survivor 45' Castaway Dee Valladares Has Roamed From Entrepreneur to Potential Winner

Jamie Lerner - Author
By

Dec. 14 2023, Published 12:24 p.m. ET

Dee Valladares and Jeff Probst in 'Survivor 45'
Source: CBS

The Gist:

  • Dee Valladares is one of the five finalists on Survivor 45.
  • She has worked in sales in various capacities and owns a backpack company called Wanaroam.
  • Dee chose not to directly reveal her sales experience to fellow cast members.
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Throughout Season 45 of Survivor, Reba player Dee Valladares has maintained her hand as a dominant force in the game. Her social game is so good that she has barely been a target despite being in the controlling alliance and winning multiple immunity challenges. As the season comes to an end, many are predicting a landslide Dee win.

However, before she went on Survivor 45, Dee was just a 27-year-old Cuban woman getting ready to live out her fantasy of playing (and potentially winning) Survivor. If she wins the million-dollar prize, how will that impact her life? To know that, we need to know what Dee does for a living.

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Dee Valladares smiling on 'Survivor 45'
Source: CBS

For a living, Dee Valladares owns a backpack company called Wanaroam.

Before she went on Survivor, Dee took on many roles. After graduating (kind of) from Florida International University in 2018, Dee “dabbled in a lot of different things,” according to her interview with Parade’s Mike Bloom. “I went to school for psychology. But then I found out they didn't make much money. So I'm like, ‘I gotta do something else,’” she said.

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“I did retail sales my entire life. Then, I went into pharmaceutical sales. Then, I went into tech sales. And then, I started my own business, my own backpack company, because I love to travel. So it's just that niche of the travel community.”

Dee Valladares hanging on a large poll during a challenge on 'Survivor 45'
Source: CBS
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Dee’s Instagram handle, @roamwithdee, is a nod to her backpack company, which is called Wanaroam. However, the website for Wanaroam is no longer up and the backpacks are only on sale through Amazon, where Dee has a shopping list she earns a commission on. It’s very possible that Amazon bought out Wanaroam, which it has done with several small businesses.

Dee’s many jobs, especially working in sales, prepared her to be a major threat in ‘Survivor.’

Salespeople are often seen as threats on Survivor. We saw it happen to Kaleb in Season 45 — even though he didn’t say he worked in sales, it shone through his smile and personality so much that people suspected it. Dee couldn’t make the same mistake, so she had to take a more subtle approach.

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Ahead of the season, she explained, “[Working in sales] is something that I don't plan on telling people that I've done in the past. I'm just gonna say that I have my backpack company because it is not a lie. But anytime you hear the word ‘sales’ or ‘sell,’ people just automatically turn off, and I don't want that to happen. I think, in life in general, you're just selling yourself at every opportunity. So that's how I'm gonna play the game. Just gonna sell myself.”

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Clearly, Dee's plan is working! She has sold herself all the way to the final five. Plus, her experience in sales isn’t the only thing helping her in the game. “I'll definitely say starting my business with my business partner three years ago has prepared me,” she said. “First of all, I've learned a lot about myself and how to be a better business partner and, how I say things, how I approach things, what I like in somebody else to tell me how to do things.

“When you're in a partnership, you've gotta be on the same page all the time. You have to have the same vision, be on the same page, and then you can have disagreements. It's taught me how to not take things personally. Nothing is ever personal.”

Dee has clearly learned how not to mix business and pleasure, but going into the finale, everyone’s wondering if Austin has learned the same.

The Survivor 45 finale airs on Dec. 20, 2023, at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.

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