The original winner, on trial, claims the show's producers promised to pay his taxes

By Paysha Stockton
Updated January 23, 2006 09:00 AM

Original $1-million Survivor winner Richard Hatch, now on trial in Providence, R.I., for alleged tax evasion, testified that the CBS show’s producers promised they would pay his taxes, even though he signed a contract saying he would fork over the government’s share of any winnings.

During a break in Hatch’s testimony on Friday, his attorney Michael Minns said the contestant – known as “the fat, naked guy” on the first, summer 2000 season – caught his fellow contestants trying to have friends sneak them food, and that’s when Hatch informed producers of his discovery they made a deal to pay his taxes if he won the prize.

“During the show, there were rules, but they were constantly being changed,” Minns told Judge Torres. The alleged discussions Hatch had with producers about taxes came about as “a result of the studio breaking the rules and breaking the law,” Minns said.

Hatch, 44, said that he ultimately was left unsure as to whether CBS or Survivor had paid any taxes on his winnings. He claims to have made several calls to Burnett and the network, but everyone stopped returning his calls.

Judge Ernest C. Torres, who is hearing Hatch’s case, would not permit the jury to hear that testimony, however.

Dismissing the “deal” theory, fellow original Survivor cast member Dirk Been told The New York Times: “I really have no idea what he could possibly be thinking in terms of how he could get away with this. Maybe the things that won him the game are the things that are hurting him now as far as his way of dealing with things and rules and laws.”