Survivor winner Richard Hatch schemed his way through challenges to claim US$1 million on the first season of the hit CBS reality show nine years ago.
On Friday, he completed a federal sentence for evading taxes on his winnings and faced a new challenge: landing a job in a down economy and paying off what may be hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes nine years after he became one of reality TV’s biggest villains.
Hatch was freed shortly before 6 a.m. Friday from Barnstable County jail in Bourne, Mass., sheriff spokesman Roy Lyons said. He was driven home by sheriff’s deputies to the apartment he shares with his sister in Newport, R.I., and arrived there around 7:30 a.m., Lyons said.
Hatch’s sister declined to comment Friday and instructed a reporter to leave the property.
During Survivor’s first season in 2000, Hatch became the man viewers loved to hate by masterfully forming alliances with his teammates, then gleefully pitting his allies against each other until he became the last contestant standing. After that, he built on his celebrity to land more gigs on TV and radio. David Letterman named him the “fat naked guy” because of his penchant for nudity.
But he never paid his taxes on his winnings and failed to pay taxes on US$327,000 he earned as co-host of a Boston radio show as well as US$28,000 in income from rental property. He was convicted and sent to prison in 2006, and the judge tacked on extra prison time to his sentence after finding he had lied on the stand, giving him a 51-month prison term.
After serving more than three years of that sentence, he began a three-year term of supervised release.
Hatch is working with the IRS to determine how much he owes, although the judge found when he was sentenced that he owed more than US$400,000 in back taxes, not including interest and penalties.