There are many reasons to go on Survivor these days: People want to test their limits, they're a super-fan who has grown up watching the show, they want to meet new people and expand their world, they want to be on TV...and they might just want to earn $1 million.
There are a few cautionary tales (Here's looking at you, OG Survivor winner Richard Hatch!), many smart savers, a lot of charitable causes (we are still crying over Mike Gabler's decision!) and some serious spenders. Hey, if you've been living off a cup of rice and coconuts for a while, you deserve to have a little fun, right?
Survivor's first-ever winner has almost become one of its most infamous, as the corporate trainer was a polarizing figure thanks to his arrogance, ruthless gameplay and fondness for walking around camp nude during the inaugural season in 2000.
After he was the first to outwit, outplay and outlast, Richard became a TV personality and radio host, and eventually returned for another shot at $1 million in Survivor All-Stars. (He also was on Celebrity Apprentice and The Biggest Loser).
In 2005, he was accused of tax evasion for failing to pay the taxes on his $1 million prize and the appearance fees he received following his win. While he claimed CBS had told him they would foot the bill, he was convicted and sentenced to 51 months in prison in 2006. After he was released in May 2009, he was ordered back to jail for tax violation after he didn't refile his taxes for 2000 and 2001.
After winning the second season, set in the Australian Outback, life went pretty much back to normal for Tina.
"My life hasn't really changed," the then-nurse and motivational speaker told the TV Guide Network, though she did reveal she built her dream cabin in North Carolina, and in 2006, she published a book, Out Live, Out Laugh, Out Love. She also became a spokeswoman for the National Arthritis Foundation and an advocate of adoption.
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She returned for two more seasons, getting voted off first during All-Stars and competing with her daughter during Blood vs. Water. She also competed on The Amazing Race.
"Survivor to me was just another experience, but it was an experience that allowed me to go do a lot of other fun things that I would have never got to do," she said in 2018. "My life is basically what you see...I live here in the woods. I bike, swim, kayak, motorcycle, anything I want to do, just take your pick. And then I play, and travel."
The season four Sole Survivor basically went right back to her normal life after her 39 days in Marquesas.
"Survivor changed my life very little," she said during the TV Guide Network Survivor Winners special. "I say that because my husband I both chose to not allow it to change our lives. I still shop at Walmart."
Still, Vecepia managed to land her own local TV show and traveled as a motivational speaker.
"It's been a really, really good ride," she said.
The former professional soccer player was a fan-favorite during season three, ultimately going on to win over the jury, too. He returned in All-Stars, but didn't have as much luck in his second appearance.
After returning from his win in 2002, Ethan co-founded Grassroot Soccer, combining his love of soccer with charity work, helping raise money and awareness to fight HIV/AIDs in Africa.
In 2009, Ethan was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, and battled a second bout two years later. After receiving a stem cell transplant from his brother, Ethan became cancer-free.
After his 10-year relationship with fellow Survivor winner Jenna Morasca (more on her in a second!) ended, Ethan found love with interior designer Lisa Heywood. When the couple announced their engagement, Ethan said, "This is the reason I survived cancer twice... to meet Lisa and start a beautiful and healthy new life together."
The couple married in 2016, with his rep telling E! News, "It was a beautiful celebration of true love and life."
The soft-core porn stud turned used-car salesman (No. 1 in the U.S. at the time of his season BTW!) is one of the franchise's most polarizing and controversial figures—on and especially off the island.
After winning Survivor: Thailand, Brian Heidik was arrested in 2006 on misdemeanor battery and animal cruelty charges after his then-wife Charmaine Costigan called the police claiming he had shot a puppy with a bow and arrow. This came after Charmaine was arrested for spousal abuse after allegedly smacking him in the nose in 2002 just ahead of his season's finale airing.
"I don't think he's ever adapted to real life since then," Charmaine told the Journal-Constitution of the impact Brian's time on the show had on him following his arrest. "He thinks he can do anything. He thinks he's invincible." They divorced later that year, with Brian going on to marry Courtney Heidik.