What Do ‘Survivor’ Winners Really Spend Their $1 Million Prize On?
For about 20 years now, Survivor has been pushing would be reality stars to the brink. They have been left in the rain, in the jungle, deserted islands, the Outback, and just about any other inhospitable place this planet has to offer.
Most players are unable to sustain the physical and mental challenges to win, but those that can make it to the end, bring home a lot of cash. The prize is $1 million, but in order to get your hands on the big bucks, players have to navigate more than just obstacles.
They have to know how to manipulate other players so they can stay in the game. This can be the hardest part for many people. It can even make life much harder after the game ends.
Spending 39 days with a bunch of people who are trying to take the money home can change a person, especially those that come home rich. Here are some famous Survivor winners and what they decided to spend their $1 million prizes on.
These ‘Survivor’ winners chose to be generous with their money
Ethan Zohn – Winner – ‘Survivor: Africa’ – Zohn went on to use his money to co-found Grassroot Soccer. It is a non-profit that helps children in Africa. He was able to combine two passions, soccer, and charity, with his winnings.
Earl Cole – ‘Survivor: Fiji’ – Cole is another winner that used his $1 million prize money to give back. He created the Perthes Kids Foundation. This non-profit helps kids that have Legg Calve Perthes Disease. It is a bone disease that he had as a kid.
Yul Kwon – ‘Survivor: Cook Islands’ – Kwon might be one of the most memorable winners. He was known for his kindness, even though he won a very controversial season, where contestants were separated by race. He used his money to help victims of domestic violence.
Some winners went on a spending spree
Todd Herzog – ‘Survivor China’ – While Herzog seemed to have it all, he was struggling with addiction. He blew through his money on drugs and alcohol. Herzog also put the blame on the show, stating that they supplied him with drugs and left liters of vodka in his room. He is now a manager at a movie theater, and according to him, is “happy and sober.”
Jud “Fabio” Birza – ‘Survivor: Nicaragua’ – While Fabio had big plans to start a production company, he ended up getting arrested in Santa Monica for skateboarding under the influence, which doesn’t really surprise us. He spent $37k on bail and had a limo full of friends pick him up from jail. He also bought a condo for himself and a farm for his dad.
A few ‘Survivors’ went right back to their old life
Tina Wesson – Survivor: ‘Australian Outback’ – When Wesson came back from winning Survivor, she said everything was the same. She ended up using her money to build her dream cabin. Other than that she is living her life the same way she did before going on the show.
Vecepia Towery – ‘Survivor: Sole’ – Towery is another winner that seemed to transition from contestant to her old life easily. “Survivor changed my life very little,” she told TV Guide Network. She even said that she still shops at Walmart.
These winners lost it all
Richard Hatch – ‘Survivor: Borneo’ – While Richard Hatch was the first ever Survivor, he was also evading the IRS. After deciding not to pay his taxes on his $1 million, he was sentenced to 51 months in prison. He tried blaming CBS, but the judge wasn’t buying it. Hatch was later sent back to jail when it was discovered he didn’t pay his taxes in 2000 and 2001 either. Yikes!
Brian Heidik – ‘Survivor Thailand’ – Heidik is one of the more polarizing people to ever play the game. He apparently spent a lot of his $1 million prize money on sports cars. He was also arrested for misdemeanor battery and animal cruelty. His now ex-wife explained that he was never the same after Survivor. He thought he was invincible and could get away with anything, reports E! News.