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Denise Stapley

Denise Stapley
Born Denise Marie McCormick
(1971-01-01) January 1, 1971 (age 45)
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Occupation Sex therapist
Television Survivor: Philippines (winner)

Denise Marie Stapley (née McCormick; born January 1, 1971) is an American sex therapist known as the winner of Survivor: Philippines, the 25th season of the reality TV competition series Survivor.

Stapley is a licensed mental health therapist and the only American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists certified sex therapist in the state of Iowa.[1]


Stapley competed on the 25th season of the reality TV series Survivor, Survivor: Philippines. Originally placed on the ill-fated "Matsing" tribe, she and Malcolm Freberg were the only two survivors when the tribe lost the first four consecutive immunity challenges, voting off Zane Knight, Roxanne Morris, Angelia Layton, and Russell Swan by unanimous votes each time. When it came down to Stapley and Freberg, Freberg was sent to the "Tandang" tribe while Stapley was sent to the "Kalabaw" tribe. Kalabaw subsequently lost the next two consecutive challenges, and in the first of these two tribal councils, Stapley received one vote from Sarah Dawson, while everyone else voted out Dawson. When the merge came, Denise was on the winning team in the first two consecutive team-oriented reward challenges, but otherwise never won a single individual challenge. She and Freberg managed to ride out the conflict between the members of the two former tribes, since both were perceived as outsiders who had no conflict with anyone else. However, Stapley was almost eliminated at the final seven, when she received the three votes of Jonathan Penner, Abi-Maria Gomes, and Carter Williams. However, Stapley, Freberg, Lisa Whelchel, and Michael Skupin voted for Penner, eliminating him instead. In the final two consecutive tribal councils, Stapley found herself receiving the sole vote of the person who was eliminated, while everyone else voted for said person: Gomes at the final five and Freberg at the final four. Stapley ultimately made it to the final three, alongside Whelchel and Skupin, where all three were mostly grilled by the jury of 8. However, Stapley was occasionally praised for making it to the end as a perceived underdog, surviving the ill-fated Matsing and the numerous tribal councils she attended. When the time for voting came, Stapley received 6 votes (all except Williams, who voted for Skupin, and Roberta "RC" Saint-Amour, who voted for Whelchel), thus winning the title of "Sole Survivor" and the $1 million prize.

As a result of her win, Stapley became the oldest female winner in Survivor history at age 41. She also set a Survivor record for becoming the first (and currently only) person in the history of the show to attend every single tribal council in the entire season.[2][3] In a 2015 interview, host Jeff Probst named Stapley as one of his top 10 favorite Survivor winners ever, and one of his top 4 favorite female winners.[4]

Personal life

Stapley is married to her husband Brad, an engineer, and the two have one daughter together. Her mother is a two-time breast cancer survivor.[5][6]


External links

Preceded by
Kim Spradlin
Winner of Survivor
Survivor: Philippines
Succeeded by
John Cochran