Film & TV

Miami Resident to Show Off Amazing Memory Talents on Fox's Superhuman

Nelson Dellis competing on the set of Superhuman, premiering June 12 on Fox.
Nelson Dellis competing on the set of Superhuman, premiering June 12 on Fox. Fox
Last year, Cuban-born Miami resident Yusnier Viera represented the 305 on Fox's Superhuman, a contest show that lets ordinary people with extraordinary skills test their abilities against one another for the chance to win a massive cash prize. This year, Miami resident Nelson Dellis will take the Superhuman stage to compete against a new crop of supertalented contestants. There must be something in the South Florida water.

Dellis will appear on the season premiere of Superhuman, airing Monday, June 12, at 9 p.m. on Fox, where he will show off his abilities, such as retaining hundreds of numbers, names, and facts simultaneously, including reciting more than 10,000 digits of pi. In the past, Dellis has been crowned a Grand Master of Memory and a four-time USA Memory Champion. Before his life as a memory specialist, Dellis worked as a software engineer. Now memory is his business, and business is good. His day-to-day job includes helping others use their memories at an optimal level that gives them an advantage in both their personal and professional lives.

In each episode of Superhuman, five contestants get a chance to prove they are worthy of moving on for a chance to win this season's $50,000 grand prize. Dellis might have an inside track on the prize: Last season's winner, Luis Angel, used his own memory talents to nab the $100,000 awarded at the end of the inaugural season. As his grand finale, Angel was able to remember the names and phone numbers of 15 women chosen from the more than 100 audience members he met before the show.

According to Dellis, he wasn't always aware he had such an extraordinary memory, but a certain life experience pulled it out of him as an adult.

"I only learned this skill in 2009 after my grandmother passed away from Alzheimer's. I saw her memory deteriorate and eventually take her life, and it inspired me to start training my own memory so as not to end up like her as I age," Dellis tells New Times.

"That being said, I've always been very good at mastering skills, and that definitely helped to make me a memory champion. I always remember my first day of school when I was 3 years old: I saw the older kids learning to read, and I came home crying saying I wanted to learn to read. A few weeks later, still 3 years old, I could read. I'm a fast learner!"

For the average person, remembering your own license plate number between your car and the parking meter is a chore, so it's tough to wrap one's head around how a guy like Nelson could possess such an amazing memory. Beyond performing as well as he knew he could on television, Nelson says he was rather nonchalant about the experience and trusted in his abilities the entire time.

"My first goal was to make sure I nailed my challenge. While it was something I knew I could do, under the lights and with the pressure of everyone watching, I wanted to make sure I didn't totally choke," he says. "Thankfully, I didn't. The next goal was to just be me and have fun, hopefully win the grand prize, but ultimately just have a great time."

Beyond revealing his talents on Fox or in business settings where he is hired to help others unlock their memory ability, Dellis says he finds having a fantastic memory is useful in the most basic settings.

"The great thing about memory is that you use it every day. So with my memory techniques, I find myself always using them on the fly," he says. "The most useful case I'd say is for learning names and meeting people. When you remember someone's name, it just does wonders for that interaction."

The first episode of Season 2 of Superhuman, “Beyond the Imagination,” airs Monday, June 12, at 9 p.m. on Fox.
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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.