A Beloved Survivor Contestant Has Died

Survivor: Nicaragua contestant Dan Lembo has died at the age of 75.

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

A new report from Deadline confirms that beloved reality show Survivor: Nicaragua contestant Daniel Louis “Dan” Lembo passed away in September at the age of 75. Lembo passed away at home in Manhattan and no cause of death has been provided by his family. Another Survivor contestent, Roger Sexton, passed away a few weeks ago as well.

A favorite even among fellow contestants, Dan made it to the Final Tribal Council of his season before being voted off.

Born in Brooklyn on October 7th, 1946, Daniel Lembo was described by friends and family as an outgoing, larger-than-life personality. After graduating from Brooklyn College in 1969, Dan settled down and enjoyed spending time with his family and friends, including frequent games of softball. In 2010, Dan took part in the 21st season of Survivor, set in Nicaragua and featuring a retooling gimmick of dividing the initial tribes by age.

Survivor: Nicaragua’s two tribes were Espada, for contestants over the age of 40, and La Flor, comprised of contestants 30 and under. Due to the “Battle of the Ages” gimmick, challenges for the season were more intellectual and focused on teamwork compared to prior seasons. Dan performed poorly in challenges, partly due to his prior knee surgeries, but even contestants that wanted him gone admitted that he was hilarious and liked having him around.

Dan Lembo (Credit: CBS)

Making its debut during the Survivor: Nicaragua season was the Medallion of Power. Introduced to help make the challenges more balanced between the young and old tribes, the Medallion of Power let a tribe choose to use it for an advantage in an upcoming challenge. Once used, the Medallion of Power would then go to the other tribe, and when the Espada and La Flor tribes were merged, it was retired for the season, though it would appear frequently in future Survivor seasons.

Despite at one point claiming that he wanted to quit, Dan stuck around and made it to the season’s tribal merge. After the merge, Dan found himself in an all-male alliance put together by fellow contestant Marty. As has happened many times throughout the course of Survivor’s long history, the alliance was betrayed, Marty was voted off but Dan again managed to survive for another Tribal Council.

Relying on his gregarious personality, Dan managed to remain in the good graces of most competitors while advancing to the Tribal Council on Day 37. After being voted off in the Top 5, Dan turned his ire to his fellow finalists and ended up casting the deciding vote for the winner of Survivor: Nicaragua, Fabio Birza. While he did not win the season, Dan was the highest placing man from the original Espada tribe.

At the Survivor: Nicaragua reunion special, Holly, a fellow competitor that clashed with Dan off and on through the season, brought Dan a pair of cowboy boots as a gift. Host Jeff Probst asked Dan why the real-estate executive choose to compete if he was already financially well off. Dan did not give a straight answer, digressing from the question, though in later years it would become clear that Dan competed as a personal challenge for himself and to have fun.