Russell Hantz Says He Lost His Marriage Because of ‘Survivor’

Russell Hantz attends the "Survivor: Heroes Vs Villains" finale reunion show

Getty Russell Hantz attends the "Survivor: Heroes Vs Villains" finale reunion show

A lot of Survivor castaways have been open about how hard it is to return to real life after their time filming the show. They’ve mentioned everything from being paranoid that people are always talking about you, to having a weird relationship with food, to having to re-learn “potty training” because you’re so used to going to the bathroom basically everywhere.

But for Russell Hantz, being on Survivor had a profound effect on who he was as a person and he said in an interview Who Australia that he lost his marriage because of it.

Hantz Said He Was Not a Good Person on the Show and It Bled Into Real Life

Hantz was a notorious villain on all three seasons he played — “Samoa,” “Heroes vs. Villians,” and “Redemption Island” — and while it’s all fun and games to be a dastardly character on TV, it doesn’t work as well in real life.

“I stayed that person for years after and that is just not a good person in real life,” Hantz told Who. “I didn’t go around lying, cheating and stealing, but I went around partying and everything else, so it’s just not a positive thing. I went home and pretty much ignored everything, including my relationship with my wife. I lost my marriage.”

Hantz and his ex-wife Melanie have four children together. They divorced in 2014 and now they “get along great,” he said, but he admitted that it was a mistake to act the way he had been acting on TV.

The interview was conducted right before Hantz’s appearance on Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders. He told Who at the time that while he still wanted to be a good character for his fourth time playing, he also wanted to “prove to [his] kids that [he] can still be dad after all that.”

Interestingly, Hantz regretted going on Australian Survivor because he eventually thought it cost him a spot on the 40th season of U.S. Survivor. He told Who in a separate interview that going on Australian Survivor “jeopardized so much” because he knew for a fact that he “was going to get called for the next ‘Legends'” season of the U.S. Survivor.

We all know that season 40 ended up being “Winners at War,” but apparently, Hantz thought when they were still finalizing the casting concept, he was sure to be called.

He also told Who that when he showed up for “Heroes vs. Villains” and nobody knew who he was (because he had just finished shooting “Samoa”), the other legends were “so jealous” of him.

“The legends … I remember getting off the bus for the ‘Heroes vs Villains’ season, and everyone gets off – Boston Rob gets off, Coach gets off, Rupert gets off – and everyone starts yelling for me, and the ‘superstars’ don’t like that,” said Hantz. “When I came into the picture, they hated that.”

Hantz’s Marriage Troubles Were Actually on TV Briefly On Another Show

In 2012, Hantz and his brother Shawn (who is Brandon Hantz’s father) had a brief show about flipping houses that aired on A&E. When Survivor alum Stephen Fishbach interviewed Hantz about that show for People, he asked about Hantz’s marriage because the show aired some tension between Russell and Melanie. Hantz said they talked about the cameras being around them all the time before the show started filming, so they knew what they were getting into.

“I discussed all that with Melanie and the kids beforehand, and everyone was okay with it. But it’s tough, especially when I have to watch what Melanie had to say. It’s harsh – but she’s saying how she felt at the time. We’re just living a life right now, and at the same time the cameras are rolling,” said Hantz.

He then added that he wasn’t sure at that point in time if being on Survivor helped or hurt his life.

“I don’t think I’ve had enough time yet to answer that question. Right now, I can tell you, I don’t regret anything that I’ve done, in my personal life or the game of Survivor. Later on, three or four years down the road, I might start regretting it. But right now, I’m fine.”

But a few months after that show aired, Reddit users spotted Hantz out at a Survivor event with fellow castaway Mikayla Wingle. The thread said that Melanie found out on Twitter that Hantz was introducing Wingle as his girlfriend at the Survivor event.

So, that may be some of the behavior he was not proud of. In more recent news, Hantz was just featured on an episode of MTV’s Catfish because the same woman approached him and several Big Brother players online and he wasn’t sure if she was real.

There is no word yet on when Survivor will be back on the air. 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.

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