'Survivor' Tips for Richard Hatch in Prison

Reality Show Champ Should Build Alliances ... and Avoid Nudity

Richard Hatch

Richard Hatch, the famed "Survivor," leaves federal court during his tax fraud trial last January. Hatch was sentenced May 16 to four years, three months in prison for evading taxes on his $1 million reality TV prize and other income (Steven Senne/AP Photo)


May 17, 2006 — "Survivor" winner Richard Hatch might want to rethink his affinity for recreational nudity as he heads off for more than four years in federal prison.

Several legal experts gave practical advice to Hatch, the reality show's first million-dollar prize winner, after he was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison for failing to pay taxes on the $327,000 he earned as co-host of a Boston radio show and $28,000 in rent on property he owned.

"He might want to reconsider the whole clothing-optional thing," said criminal defense lawyer and ABC Radio host Ron Kuby, referring to Hatch's penchant for not wearing clothes while competing on the show. When the show aired in 2000, producers had to obscure his bare bottom, and talk show host David Letterman dubbed him "the naked fat guy."

Hatch, who became one of the first reality show stars, left a federal courthouse in Newport, R.I., on Tuesday in an orange prison jumpsuit.

"See you later, Mom," he called out to the courthouse spectator's gallery, where several family members were seated.

"There's no nice way to say it, Mr. Hatch lied," said U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres, who believed that Hatch gave false testimony during his trial in January.

Even at sentencing, Hatch maintained that he'd been "completely truthful and completely forthcoming throughout the entire process." At his trial, the 45-year-old defendant claimed he forgot to tell his accountants about some income and claimed he thought radio show producers would pay taxes on his earnings.

With Hatch now looking at a release date in 2010, he'll be playing the ultimate "Survivor" game — and the competition will be unlike anything he faced on TV. While officials have yet to determine where he'll serve time, criminal justice experts offered the following advice:

1. Don't Brag: Hatch is a notorious showman, but his "Survivor" celebrity is likely to irk other prisoners. "There's a pervasive belief that reality TV isn't all that real and prisoners are very big on credibility," said Kuby.