By Stephen M. Silverman
December 16, 2003 10:59 AM

Was there a security leak on “Survivor”?

Suspicious that there may have been inside information available to some of its bettors, the Antigua-based bookmaker closed down “Survivor” betting back in September, reports the Associated Press.

Still, on Monday, the day after Sandra Diaz-Twine was named the winner of CBS’s “Survivor: Pearl Islands” the company paid out $40,000 on bets of less than $5,000 to people who placed their wagers before it was stopped, said Simon Noble, the company’s CEO.

Before the first episode premiered this season, more than 15 people from around Vancouver, British Columbia, bet on Diaz-Twine, says the news service, adding that Noble’s company may now join other offshore bookies that avoid “Survivor”-related bets due to fears of insider betting.

“It’s either one of two things,” Noble said. “It’s either an insider from CBS or a friend or neighbor of Sandra’s. I would lean toward the former because it seems to be a regular pattern with ‘Survivor.’ ”

Diaz-Twine, 29, knew for months that she was one of the final two contestants but it was not until Sunday, during a live broadcast from Hollywood, that she discovered that she had won the $1 million prize.

She told AP that she did not reveal any results, as spilling the beans would have resulted in her forfeiting the prize. “I wanted the money, whatever little bit I was getting,” she said (the second-place winner gets $100,000). “I didn’t want to screw that up. I suffered too much out there. I lost 22 pounds.”

The married mother of two said friends approached her this fall after the bookmakers’ story had circulated, wondering if they should bet on her. “I said to them, ‘If I were you, I wouldn’t put the money down on me,’ ” she told AP.

CBS spokesman Chris Ender would not comment Monday on any specific security steps taken by the network or the show’s executive producer, Mark Burnett.

“We take security very seriously on ‘Survivor,’ ” Ender said. “But, obviously, you’re never going to ensure that something is not leak-proof. I think Mr. Burnett has done a great job changing the game, teasing the viewers and making the chase aspect so confusing that the viewers never know which information is true out there.”