10 iconic reality TV show contestants from Nevada

10 Iconic Reality TV Show Contestants From Nevada

Photo courtesy of ABC.

By Aleza Freeman

April 18, 2024

Las Vegas has been home to many legendary reality show contestants over the years. Singers, chefs, bachelorettes Nevadans from all walks of life are featured on these entertaining unscripted shows, for better and for worse.

From a current competitor on “American Idol” to identical twins who competed on “The Bachelor only to go on and marry professional hockey players, here are 10 of the most iconic reality show contestants from the Silver State.

Mackenzie Sol

“American Idol” – 2024

Henderson resident Mackenzie Sol, 23, is a contestant on the current season of “American Idol.” A popular content creator with a TikTok following of more than 12.5 million, he quickly rose through the ranks.

According to his American Idol” Wiki Page, Sol’s foray into reality TV started when he was just 4 years old, appearing but not advancing on the UK version of the “X Factor” due to an age limit of 16. So far, his renditions have included the Nick Jonas hit “Jealous” and “I’ll Never Love Again” by Lady Gaga. Tune in to ABC to find out how far Sol makes it this season.

10 Iconic Reality TV Show Contestants From Nevada

Mackenzie Sol performing on “American Idol,” courtesy of Disney/Eric McCandless.

David Jelinsky

“Survivor” – 2024

Born and raised in Las Vegas, David Jelinsky is a slot machine salesman who studies hospitality and gaming management at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Though he referred to himself as a “legend” on the first episode of “Survivor” Season 46 season in Fiji earlier in 2024, he was the first contestant to be voted off the island. Renowned for receiving the first boot from the game when his alliance turned against him with a 5-0 vote, he now sells “Legends Never Die” merchandise in an online store.

Emily and Haley Ferguson

“The Bachelor” – 2016

Identical twin sisters Emily and Haley Ferguson from Las Vegas competed on the 20th season of “The Bachelor” in 2016. Though neither of them scored the final rose, they returned for a few seasons of “Bachelor in Paradise” dropping out early.

That’s not to say this dynamic duo isn’t lucky in love. Emily (now Emily Karlsson) is married to Las Vegas Golden Knight William Karlsson with one child. Haley (now Haley Palve) is married to Finnish professional ice hockey forward Oula Palve. The two are expecting a child this year. Until 2021, the twins hosted a weekly podcast called “Twinning at Life.”

10 Iconic Reality TV Show Contestants From Nevada

Photo courtesy of Emily & Haley Ferguson via Instagram.

Shaun O’ Neal

“MasterChef” – 2016

Originally a Las Vegas DJ, Chef Shaun O’Neal won Season 7 of “MasterChef” in 2016. Along with the “MasterChef” trophy and $250,000, he won the rights to publish his cookbook, “My Modern American Table: Recipes for Inspired Home Cooks” with a foreword by “MasterChef” host and Celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay.

Since the show, he has appeared as a guest on other seasons of “MasterChef” and other television shows. He participates in live cooking events all over the world. O’Neal moved to Tempe, Arizona late last year after a couple of failed restaurant projects in Las Vegas. He is opening the Asian-inspired Three Thirty Three restaurant this summer.

Jaymes Vaughan and James Davis

“The Amazing Race” – 2012

Las Vegas Chippendales Jaymes Vaughan and James Davis didn’t win the $1 million prize in “The Amazing Race’s” 21st season. But these best friends had a strong showing, finishing in second place.

According to the Amazing Race” Wiki, Jaymes has since hosted entertainment television shows and went on to marry “Mean Girls” actor Jonathan Bennett in 2022. They reside in Las Vegas and co-own an LGBTQ+ travel company, OUTbound. They also co-host the iHeartRadio podcast “Pridecast.” James, on the other hand, appears to be living a private life.

Mary Margaret “Maggie” Ausburn

“Big Brother” 2005

Formerly an ER nurse in Las Vegas, Mary Margaret “Maggie” Ausburn has dropped out of the public eye since winning the $500,000 prize on “Big Brother” Season 6 in 2005. According to the Big Brother” Wiki, it was her strategic gameplay and persuasion skills that led her to win the game, earning her the nickname “cult leader” from fans. According to a recent article by US Weekly, she is currently married with twins.

Mikalah Gordon

“American Idol” – 2005

Las Vegas-born Mikalah Analise Gordon was the 11th-place finalist on “American Idol” Season 4 in 2005. Mentored as a child by her jazz musician father, she performed on stage long before and after her “Idol” debut in 2005. Along with earning a record deal with “Idol” judge Randy Jackson, she landed a guest starring role on the sitcom “Living with Fran” and a residency at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

Gordon currently co-hosts the LGBTQ+ podcast “The Morning Beat” on Channel Q and is host of “Totally Weird and Funny Videos” on the CW. She also has her own weekly podcast, “So Funny it Hurts,” with comedian guests like Perez Hilton, Michael Yo, and Jamie Kennedy. Her album, “Vivian,” debuted in September 2022.

10 Iconic Reality TV Show Contestants From Nevada

Photo courtesy of Mikalah Gordon via Instagram.

Kelly Wiglesworth

“Survivor” – 2000

Once a longtime Las Vegas resident who attended the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Kelly Anne Wiglesworth was the first runner-up of the premier season of “Survivor” in Borneo in 2000. She lost the title of Sole Survivor and the $1 million prize in a 4-3 vote. Wigglesworth returned to Survivor 15 years later in Cambodia but was voted out, lasting 24 of 39 days.

A whitewater river rafting guide and yoga instructor who once rowed through the Grand Canyon, she is a supporter of Friends of the River. She describes herself as a mom, humanitarian, and guide on her Linktree, which provides links to articles and podcasts featuring Wigglesworth, including a YouTube video where she and her son, Rio, go to the Marshall Islands to donate water filters.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.10 iconic reality TV show contestants from Nevada10 iconic reality TV show contestants from Nevada

  • Aleza Freeman

    Aleza Freeman is a Las Vegas native and award-winning journalist with two decades of experience writing and editing lifestyle, travel, entertainment, and human interest stories in Nevada. Her work has appeared in AARP magazine, Haute Living and Nevada Magazine.



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