Richard appeared on season 1 of “Survivor,” where he was crowned the show’s first winner. He later appeared on “Survivor: All-Stars,” which aired in 2004. The Rhode Island native’s arrogant gameplay earned him a bad reputation among “Survivor” fans. He is often referred to as the show’s first villain.
Richard Calls Jeff Probst ‘Horrendous’
Richard appeared on the “Drop Your Buffs” podcast in February 2022, and the former castaway had some not-so-nice things to say about TV personality Jeff Probst.
He told hosts Sean Ross and Evan Ross Katz that Jeff is “ruining” the game.
“I love love love the game, but I despise what’s happening to it,” he said. Richard isn’t the only “Survivor” alum who feels this way. Season 41 caused a lot of controversy among longtime viewers who criticized the new changes made to the game. Many viewers felt the recent changes made the game too complicated and confusing. Multiple “Survivor” alums, including Russell Hantz and Parvati Shallow, also spoke out in opposition.
In the “Drop Your Buffs” interview, Richard didn’t hold back his disdain for Jeff, telling Sean and Evan, “Jeff Probst is horrendous as a human being. He’s just ruining the show…His gimmicks and his ego are destroying it. He doesn’t understand the game.”
Richard didn’t stop there. He also criticized Jeff for being “fake.” In the season 41 premiere, Jeff asked the cast if they were comfortable with him using the phrase “come on in, guys” given shifting gender norms in society. The famous catchphrase has been a part of the show since its inception. Ricard Foye, the Washington based flight-attendant, stepped forward and expressed his discomfort, and therefore the phrase was changed to “come on in.”
Many fans praised Jeff for his commitment to inclusivity, but Richard isn’t convinced the gesture was sincere.
“Jeff’s put himself in this fake role of being an arbiter when he’s one of the worst offenders of being so [not] self-aware and terribly, terribly homophobic. Awful,” he told Sean and Evan.
Jeff has not responded to Richard’s claim.
The “Survivor” host has stood up for LGBTQIA+ contestants in the past. In April 2017, Jeff spoke to Entertainment Weekly about season 34 contestant Jeff Varner outing Zeke Smith as transgender.
Jeff denounced Varner’s actions, telling the publication, “I cannot imagine anyone thinking what was done to Zeke was okay on any level, under any circumstances.”
Jeff Probst on Richard Hatch & ‘Winners at War’
“Survivor 40,” commonly referred to as “Winners at War,” featured several previous winners, but Richard Hatch was noticeably absent.
Jeff Probst spoke to Us Weekly in January 2020 about Richard’s absence.
“I don’t know if we didn’t ask him because I think we called every single winner about returning, and the fact that he was the first is a fair point,” he told the outlet. “But the bigger consideration was ‘Where is the show now?’ and ‘Do these 20 winners represent the show today?’ In that sense, we didn’t feel that Rich fit into the equation.”
Jeff went on to say that he didn’t feel comfortable having Richard on the show, given his background. According to Us Weekly, Richard was sentenced to “51 months in federal prison for failing to pay taxes” in 2006.
He also caused trouble for “Survivor” producers in season 8 when he decided to run an immunity challenge in the nude and deliberately rubbed up against his fellow castaway Sue Hawk, Us Weekly reported. Sue was so shaken by the incident that she left the show.
Jeff told Us Weekly in January 2020 that these incidents impacted his decision to not cast Richard on “Winners at War.”
“Given his history on our show, it did not seem appropriate,” he told the publication. “We were in a different time and different culture back then and we would never let him run a challenge naked now. Looking back on it, it just didn’t seem to fit.”
Season 42 of “Survivor” will air in March of 2022.