Why Richard Wonby David Bloomberg -- 07/10/2002
Survivor’s Richard Hatch was the king of the schemers, the head of the plotters, the core of the alliance. He was, according to Kelly, like the Devil himself. Sean called him "Darth Gayder." He made deals to suit his own plans. He pretended to care about others while confiding in the TV audience that he cared little. He used his fishing skills as a weapon, withholding food when he thought people were taking him for granted. Polls taken after the show ended indicated that the TV audience didn't want him to win. At the same time, he helped make the show such a success for CBS.
But why did he win?
Many people, myself included, thought that Richard would lose out in the end. After all, he made several mistakes that could have been fatal. The main one can be summed up in one word: Arrogance. He told the TV audience several times how he would decide who stayed and who got the boot. But it didn't end there. He allowed that arrogance carry over into the day-to-day life on the island. It's one thing to strut for those of us watching the show, but another to do so in front of the people who would vote on the final winner. He thought he had everything in the bag, and it came through loud and clear. As such, he was unliked by many in that jury box.
As a side-note to this behavior, he was so sure of himself that he allowed himself to get angry and throw occasional tantrums. Yes, he was mad that Rudy burned the fish. But he should have kept it inside or vented only to the cameras, when nobody else was around. Instead, he had a hissy fit for all to see. I suspect he felt he was able to make such a public display because he thought he was secure. But he still shouldn't have done so; it could only make enemies, not friends or allies. Even Susan mentioned this in her speech before the jury vote, noting that he was unable to admit his errors without whining.
In addition to this, he had a way of annoying people. He walked around naked because he didn't see any harm in it. But others weren't so comfortable, and he made them ill at ease. Why do something sure to annoy others when you will be counting on their votes later? At the reunion after the show ended, he said that he put on clothes as soon as he realized it was a problem, but I think he milked it a little too long before doing that.
In the end, though, none of those faults mattered. In fact, it might be said that his faults led to his win. If he had been a likeable guy, Kelly might have booted him and kept Rudy for the final two. But because she thought she could beat Richard in a jury vote, she decided to stick with him. It was a good choice for her, but a better one for him.
Richard played it right at the end. Kelly appealed to her friendships. Richard appealed to those who might see him as the best player. In the end, the majority of the jury (barely) went with the idea that the prize for being the best player should indeed go to the best player.
And he was the best. He planned everything from the beginning, knowing it would take an alliance to win. That alliance gave him the victory, with Susan and Rudy sticking with him until the end. Sean recognized that Richard was a "scoundrel," but a likeable one. We'll probably never know the real reason Greg voted for Richard -- the "pick a number" bit was almost certainly bogus -- but considering Greg's personality, it's probably safe to say that he voted for Richard because he respected his intelligence and abilities.
Richard came in with a game plan -- the best of the bunch. He was utterly ruthless, voting without emotional attachments, caring only about his strategy. In the end, he was respected by enough of his peers to win a million dollars. His plan should be emulated by future contestants. His arrogance and other faults must be avoided.
He played the game better than anybody else. That is why Richard won.