Skip to main content

On Feb. 12, 2020, Survivor‘s 40th season premiered with 20 Winners at War. In honor of the 20th anniversary of the show, Jeff Probst and the CBS producers brought 20 previous contestants back to compete for a larger, $2 million prize. 

Winners from 38 of the show’s previous seasons were eligible to compete. Many fan-favorites and even a few villains arrived on the island in Fiji Wednesday. Boston Rob Mariano, Sandra Diaz-Twine, Tyson Apostol, Parvati Shallow, Yul Kwon, and Tony Vlachos were a few of the returning players. However, many fans want to know why Russell Hantz did not make the cut of Survivor 40: Winners at War.

Russell Hantz
Russell Hantz | Jim Spellman/WireImage

How many times has Russell Hantz competed on ‘Survivor?’

Hantz first competed in the 19th season of the reality TV Show, Survivor: Samoa. He quickly became the villain of the season when he burned his tribemates socks and emptied the water from their canteens.

He found two hidden immunity idols without any clues and successfully aligned with other contestants, strategizing well to get himself to the end. However, Natalie White beat him in the jury vote, likely because of how many contestants Hantz pissed off. 

In the 20th season, Hantz competed again on Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains. Since he played back to back, no players were able to watch his game before coming on the show. Hantz quickly developed an alliance with Mariano.

He again had numerous hidden immunity idols throughout the season and went to the final three. However, yet again, no jurors voted for Hantz due to the nature of the game he played. 

He went on to compete two more times — on Survivor: Redemption Island and Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders — but was voted out second during both shows. Hantz played a strategic game all four times; however, he still did not win the title of sole Survivor

Here’s why you won’t see Russell Hantz on ‘Survivor 40: Winners at War’

CBS made a few vital changes to the show to entice past winners only to come back. Therefore, Hantz wasn’t invited since he did not win any of his seasons. 

Initially, Jeff Probst believed that he could not get 20 previous winners to agree to come back to compete on the show. So, it was thought that the season might be half winners and half second-place players. 

To ensure that winners would return, CBS increased the sole survivor prize from $1 million to $2 million. The producers also decided to up the amount of money contestants receive for going on the show to $25,000, plus a $10,000 stipend for attending the reunion show.

Lastly, CBS guaranteed players that they would not immediately be sent home after they were voted out. Instead, in Winners at War, the contestants are sent to the Edge of Extinction Island and given a chance to find a way to reenter the game.

What is Russell Hantz up to since his last season playing ‘Survivor’?

Hantz was one of the first five contestants inducted into the Survivor Hall of Fame in 2010, along with Richard Hatch, Rob Mariano, Parvati Shallow, and Sandra Diaz-Twine. 

In 2012, Hantz starred in a reality TV series on A & E — Flipped Off — with his brother Shawn Hantz. On the show, the siblings flipped houses in the Houston area, to earn a profit. After the seven-episode season, it was not renewed.

The former villain also has a podcast, The Russell Hantz Show, where he discusses all things Survivor. He recently went over various themes he would like to see in upcoming seasons. The runner-up would still like to have a chance to win the title of sole Survivor, so we might see him in another upcoming season.

Read More: ‘Survivor’: Why Isn’t Ozzy Lusth on ‘Survivor 40: Winners at War?’