Survivor‘s all-winners season has had major buzz ever since the season was first announced, but the cast reveal had fans talking for another reason. While the landmark 40th season will be full of winners from the full gamut of Survivor‘s previous iterations, Richard Hatch, the CBS show’s first-ever winner, will not be coming back for the battle royale.
After the #MeToo incident on season 39, Survivor has implemented new rules of conduct and guidelines for reporting inappropriate behavior. It’s possible this could have something to do with Hatch’s absence from the upcoming season.
Speaking to Us Weekly about Hatch, Survivor host Jeff Probst said he ultimately didn’t feel comfortable including him on the show. When he was previously on the series, Hatch was known for stripping down to nothing more than his socks—a habit that led to an incident that left one contestant in tears. During the fifth episode of Survivor: All-Stars, contestants competed in an immunity challenge that put them in close proximity to each other as they ran across a balance beam. Sue Hawk and a nude Hatch briefly bumped into each other during the challenge, but Hawk said the physical content involved Hatch rubbing his naked genitals on her. A few days later, Hawk said the incident had disturbed her to the point where she had to leave the game.
Shortly after the episode aired, Hatch said that he and Hawk had “worked it out,” and he later denied any contact with Hawk when we spoke with him. However, it remains that the show didn’t offer much support for Hawk at the time, and the incident has cast a shadow over Hatch’s legacy.
Hatch claims he was initially invited to participate in season 40, but that two days before he was supposed to fly out, “I got a call saying things had been paused, and I’ve never heard from them since.”
He admits the timing “coincided with what must have happened on season 39.”
“I don’t accept the [season 39] link to me,” he says. “I don’t think they’ve made the right choice.” Hatch insisted he was frequently nude to avoid “crotch rot” from his wet shorts, and he was only following the rules of the game during that All-Stars episode.
Hatch also released a YouTube video about why he isn’t on the season, and he said that it would have been interesting to see how he would have done on the show now, especially considering the fact that Survivor has evolved so much.
But ultimately, Hatch told us that he just wanted to appear on the season for the fans: “I really feel like this is a loss to the game, and a loss to the fans…I’m sorry I’m not there.”
Survivor‘s 40th season will premiere on CBS on Wednesday, February 12 at 8 p.m. EST.