Remember 'Joe Millionaire' ? A Look Back at the Wild Fox Reality Show Ahead of the Reboot

A new take on the series with two bachelors, Joe Millionaire: For Richer or Poorer, premieres on Jan. 6 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox

01 of 10

Meet Joe Millionaire

Joe Millionaire

In 2003, Fox introduced viewers to Joe Millionaire, a.k.a. Evan Marriott, a 28-year-old bachelor positioned as heir to a multi-million-dollar fortune on a reality dating show. In actual reality, he was an L.A.-based model and construction worker in on the ruse, dating 20 women to find "the one," tell her the truth and see how she'd react. A carrot for the pair: a $1 million cash prize.

In its initial review, EW called the show "dishonest, deceitful and completely distasteful … which is why we're counting down the seconds till [the] debut." Nearly 19 million people tuned in to the premiere, EW reported at the time.

02 of 10

The Show's Chateau

Joe Millionaire
Gilles RIGOULET/Gamma-Rapho via Getty

The show, which was just nine episodes long, filmed at a chateau in the French countryside, where Marriott charmed the ladies with his (recently learned) dancing and fencing skills.

03 of 10

Falling for Him

Joe Millionaire

In an interview with PEOPLE following the finale, Marriott said his guilt about lying to the 20 women waned as the show aired.

"I felt they signed up for this," he said. "We're all in the same boat. Let's just get this thing over with. I don't think anybody should be mad or feel like they were betrayed." He added that given the stunning success of the show, "they ought to be very proud. They all had a hand in it."

In fact, in a 2003 PEOPLE poll, 63 percent of women said they could forgive "Joe" for lying about his wealth. (Marriott reportedly made just $19,000 annually as a construction worker.)

04 of 10

The Savvy Sidekicks

Joe Millionaire

Host Alex McLeod and butler Paul Hogan — a witty Aussie who quickly became a fan favorite — joined Marriott in various scenes and for the elimination ceremonies, which featured necklaces instead of roses (take that, Bachelor!).

05 of 10

The Runner-Up

Joe Millionaire

The show's runner-up was Sarah Kozer, a mortgage-broker trainee who, it was revealed as the series aired, had previously starred in several foot-fetish and bondage movies.

"I'm not ashamed," she told EW in 2003, saying she'd told Fox about the gigs before signing on to the show, using the proceeds to pay off student loans.

Kozer and Marriott arguably had noteable chemistry — a famous, doctored scene even implied the pair got hot and heavy on chateau grounds, which Kozer vehemently denied.

"Sarah and I got along like gangbusters — got along better than a lot of ex-girlfriends I've had," Marriott told PEOPLE in 2003. "But the premise of the show was to find a girl that I thought was into me for me."

06 of 10

And the Winner Is ...

Joe Millionaire

That meant the winner was Zora Andrich, a New Jersey-based substitute teacher PEOPLE called "prettily demure."

"I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that Zora wasn't into my money," Marriott told PEOPLE after the finale. "Zora was an innocent girl who was so sweet and nice, and she was kind. She was pretty. She was just the perfect girl for the show."

When Hogan presented the couple with their $1 million check, Marriott recalled that Andrich "didn't believe it. She didn't believe it the day after."

Of their short-lived post-show relationship, Andrich told PEOPLE, "I have friends who think he's perfect for me and that we make a beautiful couple. Others say they would never in a million years have set me up with Evan."

Their future didn't matter too much to Fox: the finale earned an audience of 40 million viewers, which at the time was the largest audience for a network entertainment program since the season 2 premiere of Survivor in 2001.

07 of 10

Moving On

Joe Millionaire

The major players all rode the wave of fame following the show's end. Kozer appeared in a Las Vegas cabaret, posed for Playboy and went on a British reality show, Back to Reality. Andrich, a mom of one, made promotional appearances and became a spokeswoman for NutriSystem. Marriott grabbed modeling and acting jobs (even an episode of The Simpsons) while making the rounds in L.A.

Fox tried to strike gold again with a second season, The Next Joe Millionaire, featuring an American cowboy and a bevy of European women, but the spinoff flopped.

08 of 10

A Bright Future

Joe Millionaire
Kevin Winter/FOX/ImageDirect/Getty

Marriott kept his star shining for as long as he could, using his winnings to buy a Mercedes and score invites to A-list events like the Daredevil premiere.

"I'm having a blast," he told PEOPLE. And "I don't have to get up in the morning and wonder where my next meal's coming from."

09 of 10

Present Day

Joe Millionaire
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

At a 2015 WE tv panel about reality television, Marriott was more reserved, though talked briefly about his post-fame life.

"I started a business for myself, and everything is great. I did my first job I got it and literally almost was in tears," he told reporters. "I called my dad and said, 'I feel like I've just been paroled. This is where I should have been.' "

10 of 10

The Next Chapter

Wilford Harewood/FOX

On Jan. 6, 2022 — 19 years to the day since Joe Millionaire premiered — Fox will drop Joe Millionaire: For Richer or Poorer, which features young CEOs Kurt and Steven — one a millionaire and the other, an "Average Joe." The series begins at 8 p.m. ET with a special two-hour event.

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