Amber Brkich Mariano is a contestant from Survivor and she has come back to the game for the third time in “Winners at War.” She previously finished 6th on the second season of Survivor, which aired back in the spring of 2001, making her the “oldest” person competing in “Winners at War,” i.e. the person who appeared on the earliest season. Mariano went on to win Survivor: All-Stars, the eighth season of the show and has not been back since.
Here’s what you need to know about Mariano.
1. Amber Mariano Is Originally From Pittsburgh
Amber Mariano was born in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, daughter of Valentine and Cheryl Brkich. She has two siblings, a brother also named Valentine and a sister named Nicole. After graduating from Beaver Area High School, she attended Westminster College north of Pittsburgh where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in public relations with a minor in speech communications.
While in school, she was a member of Alpha Gamma Delta social sorority and her college boyfriend was Derek Baumgarten, according to a post-Survivor profile by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
During her first stint on Survivor, castaways were still doing major press interviews after they were booted off, so when Mariano was home watching her season with her parents, she had to be sneaky about when she was headed to New York to be on The Today Show and Live With Regis and Kelly.
Her mom told the Post-Gazette that they knew something was up the week Amber’s makeup, clothes and large suitcase were missing.
“We all got that sinking feeling, but we knew it was coming. When it finally did, it was hard to take,” said Cheryl, who would host watch parties that sometimes had up to 80 people in attendance.
2. Her All-Star Appearance Earned Her $1 Million and a Husband
Most Survivor fans know by now that when Mariano won “All-Stars,” the final two came down to herself and Rob Mariano. The two of them met and fell in love during the season, with Rob proposing during the live finale — before the final votes were read, no less.
The two were married in April 2005, which aired the following month as a two-hour special on CBS called Rob and Amber Get Married. The special showed them planning their wedding, taking dance lessons for the reception, and writing their own vows for the ceremony.
“Amber, I never met anyone who has made me feel so special until I met you. You make me smile, you make me laugh, you make me feel important and smart. Sometimes you make me crazy, then you make things alright again. You taught me patience and you taught me compromise. You brought me into your family. You’ve given me friendship, you’ve given me love. You’ve always given me the window seat. And today you are giving me all of you. For this, I am honored and privileged and in return, I promise I will always be true to you, to always treat you with respect, to always be your friend, to always put you above everything else and to always love you with all my heart, forever and ever and ever,” said Rob in his vows.
“Robert, I want you to know that even though this wedding has turned out to be more than I ever dreamed, it would not be perfect without you standing in front of me today. You are what matters most. Today I stand here telling you that I am yours. My heart is filled with love for you and our future together. I promise to be patient and giving, understanding and truthful and dedicated to your every need. I promise to always be there with you to laugh and even cry and to learn and grow old. Thank you for making my fairytale wedding come true and by that I mean thank you for giving me you.” said Amber in her vows.
3. Amber and Rob Have Four Children
After getting married, the two of them waited a few years to start their family, but they quickly went from having no children to having four children. In the span of just under five years, they had four daughters.
Rob and Amber’s oldest daughter is Lucia, who was born on the Fourth of July in 2009. Boston Rob has always been very proud of his Italian heritage, so all of his daughters have Italian names. His great-grandparents on his paternal grandfather’s side were originally born in Italy.
The second oldest daughter is Carina, which means “dear one” in Italian. She was born December 10, 2010, after a wild birth that nearly ended with Carina being born in the car on the way to the hospital.
The third daughter is Isabetta, which is a form of both Isabella and Elizabetta, which means “pledged to God” in Italian. She was born on May 5, 2012. And the fourth little girl is Adelina, which means “noble” in Italian. She was born on June 20, 2014.
All four girls have the middle name “Rose” because that was Rob’s paternal grandmother’s name. She passed away when he was a teenager.
“Rob really liked the idea of all of our girls sharing the same middle name,” Mariano told People when their third daughter was born. “Many cousins on his side also share Rose as their middle name.”
Find out more about Rob and Amber’s girls in our profile here.
4. Amber and Rob Also Competed on The Amazing Race
These reality TV veterans have not just stuck to Survivor. They have also competed on The Amazing Race twice, in 2005 and 2007.
On season 7, Rob and Amber were engaged at the time and ran a really good race. They were the only team to never come in last place on any legs of the race, but they ended up finishing second to married couple Uchenna and Joyce. On season 11, which was The Amazing Race: All Stars, they were competing as newlyweds because the show filmed just a few months after they got married.
On that season, they finished in first place on the first three legs of the race but then ring the fourth leg roadblock, Rob got hung up sorting letters addressed to their team when he accidentally pushed one to the ground and could not find it for the longest time. It cost them too much time and they lost out in a foot race with another team and were sent home.
5. She Realizes The Target on Her and Rob is Huge
Amber and Rob definitely come into the game with one huge advantage — they have a ride-or-die ally that the other people don’t have. But that also paints a huge target on them. She told Xfinity in a pre-“Winners at War” interview that hopefully, people will want to align with them as a couple.
“I’m playing this game, not as one person. I’m technically coming in as two people. That could be a good thing or a bad thing. I have an alliance that I know is not going to go wrong, unless it’s for the better of our game. If he has to vote me out to win, I get it. And vice versa. I have that one person I can trust, and if someone aligns with me, they know they’ll have that person too. However, it also creates a target twice as big,” says Mariano.
She also says she’s so excited that her daughters are old enough to watch their parents this season.
“I never in a million years thought the show would last as long as it has, but I’m so glad. I love the show so much and I’m so excited that I get to share this with my kids. They get to see the show that their parents met on,” says Mariano.
Survivor: Winners at War airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
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