Inside Survivor has learned from multiple sources that three-time Survivor player Russell Hantz will compete on the upcoming season of Australian Survivor, which is currently filming in Fiji. And while we’re still hoping this is just a really late April Fools joke, it unfortunately looks to be true.
Hantz first appeared on Survivor in 2009, on Samoa, where he made it all the way to Final Tribal Council, a feat which he repeated in Heroes vs. Villains the very next season. Despite his aggressive gameplay and knack for finding idols, he lost both times due to a bad social game and lousy jury management. He returned alongside Boston Rob Mariano a year later to compete on Redemption Island, where he was unceremoniously voted out at the third Tribal Council.
If the rumor is accurate, and all signs currently point to yes, it would mark the first time a former Survivor US contestant has competed on an international version of the show. Rupert Boneham appeared on Survivor Israel in 2009, but only as part of a reward challenge – because what’s a greater reward than Rupert?
Australian Survivor was revived in 2016 by Channel Ten and has so far aired two seasons. The upcoming season is titled Champions vs. Contenders, which is set to pit “champions of public life” against “everyday Aussies” in a battle for $500,000. It’s hard to tell which tribe Hantz will end up on, given that he’s neither an “everyday Aussie” nor a “champion of public life.”
It’s also difficult to understand why Australian Survivor feels the need to include a US contestant so early into their comeback, especially given the positive fan reaction to the 2017 season which had one of the all-time great Survivor casts. While Hantz certainly brought a new life to Survivor back in 2009, his name eventually began to taint the franchise, especially after two controversial appearances from his nephew Brandon in later seasons.
This is one rumor we’re hoping is simply bad information, but that may be wishful thinking at this point.
What do you think about Russell on Australian Survivor?