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Russell Hantz

December 21, 2009 by USA Post 

Russell Hantz:It’s funny what someone will do for $1 million.In a stunning upset, charismatic but conniving Russell Hantz — the sneakiest contestant since Richard Hatch in Season One — lost out to Natalie White in Survivor: Samoa, the 19th installment of the reality series that spawned the entire genre.

Hantz, the Texas oilman who talks like Dallas’ J.R. Ewing with a little bit of the bad guys in Deliverance thrown in, was made for reality TV. C**ky to a point past arrogance, he spouted such inanities as “Let’s see if a 21-year-old can outdo me when it comes to pain” and “I was born for this; this is what God made me for.”

Of course, the camera loved him — he was the breakout star of the show — even he did a lot to perpetuate the stereotype of the unprincipled Texas businessman. But he overplayed his hand and his insufferable arrogance turned off the other Survivor cast mates who decided his fate.

It all seemed awfully contrived and padded (the finale could have been wrapped up in 15 minutes instead of 120). But I have to hand it to Hantz: He was about the only thing that made this tired show watchable — along with breathtaking HDTV-enhanced scenery.

Even after it was over, Hantz still believed he was the best player in the game and offered White, an Arkansas pharmaceutical rep, $10,000 for the title of “sole survivor.” She demurred.

But Hantz had the last laugh, of sorts. Viewers voted him the “Sprint Player of the Season,” which came with a $100,000 prize.

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