The Million-Dollar Man

Miss USA Tara Conner gets emotional as she speaks at a press conference at Trump Tower on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2006 in New York. Donald Trump, who owns the Miss USA Pageant with NBC and the Miss Universe Organization decided not to strip Conner's Miss USA title over allegations of underage drinking and other conduct forbidden to Miss USA winners. GETTY IMAGES/Brad Barket

Why is this man smiling?

Well, wouldn’t you be, if someone gave you $1 million to play a game for 39 days on a tropical island?

Richard Hatch, the sole Survivor of the summer's TV phenomenon, received the check from CBS President Les Moonves with none of the Machiavellian bravado that distinguished his game play.

Moonves:"It is with great pleasure that I give you a check for $1 million."

Hatch: "It is with great pleasure that I receive it."


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Richard schemed, and negotiated and hunted his way to the top, and the chubby corporate trainer from Rhode Island who liked to be naked lost 36 pounds and gained pretty ragged beard — all in all, he says, a pretty good deal.

"It felt good," Hatch said. "I knew it was coming so I wasn't really worried about it, but it feels good to be able to now go to deposit this little check."

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As CBS News Correspondent Manuel Gallegus reports, it wasn’t a bad deal for CBS, either. More than 50 million people watched the show's finale, and it also gave CBS's Early Showits biggest rating in years. (Ironically, Moonves initially passed on the show twice before heeding a young staffer's advice and giving it a chance.)

The two-hour finale of the 16-episode series was the most-watched television program this season except for the Super Bowl, according to preliminary Nielsen ratings released Thursday afternoon.

According to Nielsen figures, the broadcast won a huge 28.2 household rating and 44 percent share of those watching television during that period. This compares to the 43.3 household rating and 63 share for this year's NFL championship.

In addition, some 36.7 million stayed tuned for the live reunion special after the show.

Richard said he strategized intensely efore even coming to the island near Borneo and wouldn't change anything he did.

Well, almost.

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"I got too comfortable believing that I could trust what was said," he said of his other contestants.

Viewers who were given the chance to speak out in a CBS Survivor poll, conducted by interSURVEY immediately following the close of the season finale weren't too comfortable with his winning.

By their verdict, the wrong castaway won – 68 percent of Survivor viewers said that the wrong person won, while only 32 percent thought Rich was the one who should have gained the $1 million prize.

Among the final four survivors – Rich, Kelly, Rudy and Sue – viewers would have preferred both Rudy and Kelly to Richard. When asked whom they would choose, 45 percent of viewers chose Rudy, and 42 percent chose Kelly. Only 12 percent chose Rich, and still fewer – 2 percent -- chose Sue. Gender helped determine attitudes toward who should have won: men chose Rudy with 48 percent, and women chose Kelly with 45 percent.

Before Wednesday’s finale, Rich was the least popular of the remaining four contestants. According to a pre-finale survey conducted over the weekend, Rich was the least liked (more people said they disliked than liked him), and he was the one viewers least wanted to win.

While viewers might have preferred another winner, in the end, they had to admit that Rich won fair and square. In the post-finale poll, 61 percent of viewers said Rich played fairly, while 38 percent thought he did not.

Now that's he's won, Richard has gone Hollywood, securing himself an agent and fielding offers.

Hatch began reaping the spoils of fame weeks before his win was made public. He will spend ext week as the host of a morning radio talk show and he's currently featured with the final four in a "Got Milk?" mustache ad.

He's been hounded by autograph seekers and, openly gay, has been inundated with marriage proposals from men and women.

He said he would also like to start a camp for disadvantaged youth.


  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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