The tribe of investigators retained by CBS and the producers of Survivor has not yet spoken, but Russell Hantz has — and he’s denying an accusation that he leaked results from the long-running reality series to a website.
According to an exposé by The Daily Beast, a member of a Survivor gossip site sued by Mark Burnett Productions and CBS for leaking Season 19 and 20 elimination spoilers ultimately flipped on his source, saying that Hantz was the one feeding him intel.
Hantz suggests that his reality-TV persona is what convincingly landed him in the crosshairs. “I am the ‘villain,’ and it’s unfair that people perceive me that way,” said the 38-year-old Texan, whose third Survivor run kicks off when Redemption Island premieres this Wednesday at 8/7c. “They throw out things that’s not fair to me or my family, and I guess I got to deal with it.”
Whether Hantz will ever have to pay the piper for his allegedly loose lips (by some accounts, he contractually could be on the hook for $5 million) remains to be seen. Survivor sire Mark Burnett claimed in a recent press call that he “had no idea” that Hantz had even been accused of leaking, while show host Jeff Probst shrugs off the significance of spoilers.
“They’ve been there since Season 1,” Probst told USA Today. “I think it’s just indicative of the fact that it’s a show that a lot of fans are really rabid about.”