February 21, 2002 01:00 AM

A blunder on CBS’s “Survivor: Africa” has forced a belated gold rush to befall the show’s three second-place winners, network brass admitted Wednesday. The error occurred during the judging of an immunity challenge, with the result, as reported by the Associated Press, causing a catapulting of the standings of contestants Lex van den Berghe, the heavily tattooed consultant from Santa Cruz, Calif., and good ol’ boy Tom Buchanan, the farmer from Rich Valley, Va. The two guys now join the original runner-up, Kim Johnson of Oyster Bay, N.Y., in receiving a second-place prize of $100,000. Ethan Zohn of Lexington, Mass., still retains his title as the $1 million winner. “It was an honest mistake, simply attributable to human error during the production of the series,” CBS spokesman Chris Ender said. “The producers feel horrible about it and they dealt with the situation as soon as they became aware of it.” The glitch took place when the players were asked to identify which of the female players did not have any body piercings. Johnson picked Kelly Goldsmith and was announced the winner. Then it turned out that van den Berghe’s answer was also correct; Lindsey Richter is not pierced. CBS said the error was discovered on Jan. 10, during the broadcast of the finale, and a week later it was decided to give additional prize money to each of the three runners-up.

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