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The top 15 Mormons on reality TV

Published April 2, 2014 4:28 pm

Pop culture • From "American Idol" to "Survivor" to "The Biggest Loser" and more.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Dozens of Mormons (and ex-Mormons) have appeared on reality television, but only a few have made much of an impression.

That doesn't make members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a peculiar people. Most people on reality shows get a few minutes of minor fame and then disappear from sight.

But a few of the Mormons (and ex-Mormons) have made bigger impressions. A few even became household names.

What follows is a purely subjective list of the top 15 Mormons (or ex-Mormons) on reality TV shows.

Of course, what constitutes a Mormon is open to interpretation. Not all these "Mormons" are active Latter-day Saints. And this list eschews the polygamists on shows such as "Sister Wives" and "My Five Wives."

1. David Archuleta ("Star Search," junior vocal champion, 2003; "American Idol," second place, 2008) • Archiemania ran rampant for a time, and back in 2008 even being the"Idol" runner-up was still a huge deal. He went on to record a few CDs and recently returned from a Mormon mission in Chile.

2. Tyson Apostol ("Survivor," winner, 2012, after finishing eighth in 2009 and 15th in 2011) • The third time was the charm for outspoken Apostol, a returned Mormon missionary who was noted for his nudity the first time he was on "Survivor." He came back for a third (and winning) time with his girlfriend.

3. Julie Stoffer ("Real World: New Orleans," 2000) • Stoffer made headlines for her naiveté and for being kicked out of LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University for sharing a house with members of the opposite sex.

4. Marie and Donny Osmond ("Dancing With the Stars," third place in 2007 and first place in 2009, respectively) • Donny showed up Marie when he went on the show; they're currently appearing in Las Vegas.

5. Shawn Nelson ("The Rebel Billionaire: Branson's Quest for the Best," winner, 2005) • Nelson won a million bucks on the first-and-only season of this little-watched rip-off of "The Apprentice." He spurned Richard Branson's job offer to run his own company, Lovesac.

6. Todd Herzog ("Survivor: China," winner, 2007) • The openly gay flight attendant from Pleasant Grove was just 22 when he won the million bucks. He was last seen on national TV in November 2013, when he was falling-down drunk on a "Dr. Phil" episode that focused on his alcoholism.

7. Carmen Rasmusen ("American Idol," sixth place, 2003) • She wasn't a top contender, but she was on the show back when it was still a pop-culture phenomenon. She went on to marry Bradley Herbert, son of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.

8. Neleh Dennis ("Survivor: Marquesas," second place, 2002) • After finishing as runner-up in "Survivor," Dennis came home to Utah and worked for a time at KUTV Channel 2 before leaving to get married and rear a family.

9. Benji Schwimmer ("So You Think You Can Dance," winner, 2006) • He danced his way to a win in Season 2 of "SYTYCD" and has had a number of professional dancing and choreography gigs since then. An openly gay returned LDS missionary, he left the faith in 2012.

10. Bentley Williams ("The Bachelorette," 2011) • Williams, a BYU grad, became one of the most hated men in reality TV history when he feigned love for bachelorette Ashley Hebert while saying, behind her back, that he'd "rather be swimming in pee" than planning a wedding with her.

11. Rafe Judkins ("Survivor: Guatemala," third place, 2005) • The Utah-born, Pennsylvania-raised Judkins just missed out on making the final two. Another openly gay Mormon, he's gone on to write for TV; his credits include "Chuck" and "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."

12. Ryan Benson ("Biggest Loser," winner, 2004) • He lost 122 pounds and won $250,000, but reportedly gained almost all of the weight back.

13. Ali Vincent ("The Biggest Loser," winner, 2008) • She lost 112 pounds and won $250,000 and the title of Biggest Loser. She hosts her own show, "Live Big with Ali Vincent," on the LiveWell Network.

14. John Rhode ("The Biggest Loser," winner, 2011) • He lost an astonishing 220 pounds to win the $250,000 prize. He has since become a motivational trainer.

15. Janell Brown and Kristen Cold ("Cupcake Wars," winners, 2012) • They took home $10,000 for their winning cupcakes; they own One Sweet Slice, with locations in Sandy and South Jordan.


Twitter: @ScottDPierce