Richard Hatch is one of the most iconic Survivor players despite only returning one time after his initial season. He really made the show what it is today by coming into “Borneo” with a plan to form an alliance — in a season where “alliance” was a dirty word.
But he wasn’t involved in season 40, “Winners at War.” Ahead of its premiere, he filmed a video talking about why CBS pulled him from filming (his words) and addressing the long-ago “All-Stars” incident with fellow “Borneo” castaway Sue Hawk.
Hatch Said the Hawk Incident Did Not Happen the Way it Was Portrayed On TV
In the video, Hatch reminds Survivor fans that CBS chooses what to air. Out of hours of footage, CBS airs small amounts of what takes place on the show and it chooses how to edit the events — and the way the network edited the infamous balance beam challenge where Hawk alleged that Hatch sexually harassed her was not the way it happened in real life.
“One complicated piece of the puzzle that people don’t give too much thought to that they should is that what you saw of that challenge … is only what CBS decides you should see. People talk about editing a lot over the years … the choices as to which pieces of what you see are completely up to CBS,” said Hatch.
“We’re in this challenge and we’re on balance beams and the challenge has an end to it, there’s an exit where you are headed to get as quick as you can … Sue Hawk was there. She had gone through the challenge, had already gotten to the end, could have stepped off onto the platform and literally out of the blue, in the oddest situation we’ve seen … Sue turned around, rather than completing the challenge, and headed back on the balance beam toward me. … I had no idea what she was up to,” he continued.
“I never touched the woman and the challenge went on. What you saw was the edited perspective that CBS wanted you to see,” said Hatch. “What we all saw later was very, very different. I never knew anything really traumatic or problematic even took place. I went on, people at the challenge didn’t know … we went on, we played the rest of the day, I go to Tribal Council and I’m voted off.”
But he said that CBS allowed him to be naked during the challenge and if it hadn’t been allowed, he never would have done it because he always followed the rules of the game. He actually never even knew about Hawk quitting the game over the incident until months later.
“I never knew there was an issue of any kind at all until months later when the show aired. The day before the show aired, CBS called me and explained what had happened and what had unfolded. I had not been part of it, I had not known it had happened and I had to think about what on earth that meant,” he said, adding, “Eventually, we all were flown to California and watched the footage. This was all together — Sue Hawk watched it with her attorney, I watched it with my husband and other people, the executives from CBS were there, everybody. We watched all the footage, unedited.
“Sue Hawk turned around, intentionally instigated something. I never touched the woman with anything. All these comments in the media about I rubbed my d*** on her … I never touched the woman in any way with any part of my body. Sue Hawk did touch me. Sue Hawk violated my space by coming back at me and she touched me on the waist. But I never touched the woman. I didn’t initiate the incident,” said Hatch.
Hawk ended up quitting the show, telling host Jeff Probst the next day that Hatch rubbed up against her and she felt “sexually violated, humiliated, dehumanized and totally spent.”
In case you’re curious, the video of the incident has been pulled from YouTube any time someone posted it. But the episode is available on CBS All Access and we watched it. Hatch’s recollection of Hawk having finished the challenge and coming back at him is incorrect. However, she could have gone a different way on the balance beam and she did choose to come at Hatch. Then when they pass each other, Hatch puts his hands up and tries to move past Hawk. It doesn’t look like he intentionally rubbed himself on her, but there may have been some contact.
In the recent video, Hatch alleges that before filming all-stars, Hawk talked about trying to “extort” CBS because she felt like she was owed something.
“Sue had expressed to many of us that she was angry she didn’t win, she figured she couldn’t win and she was going to do what she was able to do to extort CBS,” Hatch said in his video.
He Then Said He Was Pulled From ‘Winners at War’ After Season 39
At the time of the all-stars incident, Hatch and Hawk made amends. They appeared on The Early Show together and Hawk said, “Me and Richard have had a chance to sit down and hash it out and talk about the incident. And we both have different perspectives on it. But we have come to terms with it and agreed to move forward and past it.”
However, after the Dan Spilo incident during “Island of the Idols,” Hatch said that CBS pulled him from the “Winners at War” cast and he doesn’t think that was fair.
“Here we are, 16 years later from that incident, after CBS continues to do the same thing in their choices as to what you saw about last season, season 39. CBS is responsible for what you saw, what you think, what you believe might have happened, CBS knows what happened … they are the ones, not the contestants, Dan, any of the women, who have the big whole picture,” said Hatch.
He continued, “They, the participants, aren’t exposed to what’s true with all of the information, but the producers and CBS are. So here we sit, CBS, Jeff Probst particularly … choosing to scapegoat me, pull me from filming season 40 all winners because of the way they portrayed an incident that they know I had nothing to do 16 years earlier. In between that time, I’ve been invited to play ‘Heroes vs. Villains,’ ‘Redemption Island,’ I’ve been invited back. They know that I am a lover of the game, I’ve never missed an episode … but they also know I know who they are.”
In a subsequent video, Hatch said that two days before they were supposed to fly out to begin filming, he and Tina Wesson both got calls and said they were on pause for filming and then Hatch never heard from anyone again. What he has learned since that phone call through interviews and so forth, the producers decided during the filming of season 39 to not allow Hatch to participate.
“I think they made a horrendous mistake in choosing and deciding to change their plan and remove me from the cast. There’s no sexual harassment in my past … the nudity is something we’re headed backwards on. Who cares?!” said Hatch, adding, “So for them to now by lying and suggesting that I’m not part of the show and they wouldn’t want that on the air is just absurd. It’s just nuts and that’s just them looking for a scapegoat, trying to distract viewers from their responsibility in all of what’s gone on on Survivor thus far … it’s sad. It’s silly. And I think the fans and the show lose. I think season 40 would have been better with me there than without.”
“I think Jeff Probst clearly has his favorites and I’m not one of them any longer because he doesn’t like that I’m gonna tell you just like it is, just what I’m thinking, just how it happened. I think they’d rather be more in control of what people are thinking and saying if they can be,” said Hatch.
As for Probst, he told US Weekly when asked about Hatch not being in the “Winners at War” cast, “Given his history on our show, it did not seem appropriate. 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. It’s not a slam against Richard Hatch. He’s just being Richard Hatch.”
He added, “I didn’t feel comfortable having him out on the show and representing a show that is for families. It’s about inspiring kids to want to get out and make something and see what they’re capable of. This group is very inspiring.”
If you’re wondering when Survivor will return, there is talk about the production team filming three seasons this spring so that they can air one in the summer of 2021, one in the fall, and then one in the spring of 2022, but there is no word yet on if they can make that happen. Probst has said they are exploring options outside of Fiji, which is where the show has filmed since season 33, but there is no official word yet on when production will start back up.