Richard Hatch
November 10, 2000

You never know who you'll meet at the airport. Recently while on my way to Las Vegas, I saw a familiar face pass by and after getting in line behind him to get a coke, I asked, "Are you Rich from the TV show "SURVIVOR?" He answered, "Yes" and extended a friendly handshake. I was surprised at how tall he was and thought, "where did all the excess weight go?" To see Richard Hatch now you would never have guessed that at one time in his life he was overweight and that he has lost more than 150 pounds in the past 2 years.

By a close margin of 4-3, Hatch was voted the grand prize winner of the CBS hit TV show "SURVIVOR," a reality TV show shot from the Malaysian island of Pulau Tiga. "SURVIVOR" was the most watched summer primetime series in modern TV history. This past May, over 15 million viewers tuned in to the first episode of "SURVIVOR" and the numbers increased through the 13-episode summer, according to Nielsen Media Research. The second-to-last episode, on August 16, reached nearly 29 million viewers and according to Nielsen, 51.7 million viewers watched the finale. An article appearing in Newsday (30 Jun 2000) stated, "SURVIVOR" is officially the highest rated summer series in TV history." Due to this massive viewership, Hatch and many of his cast mates were skyrocketed to instant celebrity status.

For the past 14 years, 39 year old Hatch has operated Tri-Whale Training, his own corporate training and consulting business. He conducts seminars on numerous topics focusing on conflict management, team building, practical negotiation and public speaking. Hatch is from and still resides in Newport, Rhode Island. He is single and has an adopted son, Christopher. He enjoys provocative and meaningful conversation, any sport involving water (snorkeling, spear fishing, swimming, etc.) and camping.

Hatch's newfound celebrity status keeps him so busy that he hired a Los Angeles-based publicist and manager whose office reports fielding some 200 calls a day from the media.

Richard Hatch, interviewed by Rob Wilkins.

  • How did you find out about "SURVIVOR?"

      Mom called and said she'd just learned about a show CBS had created "just for me." "Sure Ma, thanks," I said. In one ear and out the other. Mom knows I'm a risk-taker, but she's always coming up with bizarre suggestions. Anyway, less than a week later, a friend from Washington, DC, called and repeated my mom's suggestion verbatim. I checked out CBS' website and the rest is history.

  • Has your life changed dramatically after winning "SURVIVOR?"

      The only changes in my life have been superficial. I'm extraordinarily introspective and had (over many, many years) come to a well-grounded place that has kept me from being internally impacted by changes in the way others perceive me.

  • Have you had to deal with weight issues your entire life? Have you ever lost this much weight before?

      My self-perceptions were skewed and my body image poor most of my life. Although I've struggled and my weight has fluctuated all of my life, I'd been 360 pounds for nearly 8 years before finally mastering health. So, no, I've never lost so much weight before - and I never will again.

  • Late-night talk show host David Letterman often referred to you as "The naked fat guy." Did his insensitivity bother you or maybe even cause problems for your son Chris or other family members?

      Gosh no. In fact, I don't consider Letterman insensitive at all. I was naked and I was fat - so what? I enjoy truth and my happiness doesn't depend upon what anyone else thinks or says about me.

  • You definitely have been working out. How do you stay fit? What kind of exercise do you do (weight training/aerobics, etc.)?

      I work out at least 3 times per week and I try (and I mean try hard) to run every day. Ideally, I run 6 or more miles a day, but, realistically, I'm successful about 5 days a week.

  • Do you work with a personal fitness trainer or did you come up with your own workout routine?

      I worked with Jon Smythe of Newport Athletic Center in Middletown, RI, for nearly a year, before my commitment and routine were so solidly established that I can continue on my own. I'll be working with Jon again soon (when I finish with the publicity tour for my book, 101 Survival Secrets: How to Make $1,000,000, Lose 100 Pounds, and Just Plain Live Happily). I'm looking forward to getting a bit more lean and fine tuning some things.

  • How did being on the island affect your metabolism? How is your metabolism now?

      My metabolism has been as "out of whack" as they get for most of my life. I'd tried dieting and starving and every gimmicky plan out there. But it's great now. Although it sounds trite, I've come to learn that focusing on weight loss is ineffective. I love myself and that kind of mental health is required to maintain physical health.

  • Did you have plastic surgery to tighten up loose skin? Other than plastic surgery what can you recommend to tighten up loose skin after weight loss, such as a double chin or extra stomach skin?

      I sure did. After losing a bit more than 100 pounds, I scheduled surgery (resection) for May 9, 2000 (we finished filming SURVIVOR at the end of April) to remove excess inelastic tissue from my midsection (large, floppy, love handles). I ended up losing an additional 30 plus pounds on the island, so the May 9th surgery was perfectly timed. Dr. Roettinger in Newport, RI, did the resection and I am beyond ecstatic with the results. Just about a week ago, Dr.Rosenberg of Sutton Place in New York City, did some fine tuning liposuction on areas (inner thighs and abdomen) that would not respond to exercise alone.

  • Which do you think is more important if you absolutely had to choose one: diet or exercise?

      Exercise is unquestionably more important than diet. For me, it helped establish the mental stability to actually "want" to eat healthily. I eat what I want and don't "diet." It's just that now I usually make healthier choices.

  • In your endorsement deal with Reebok, are you required to maintain a certain weight? What are your duties as a spokesman for Reebok?

      There are no weight requirements of any kind. At this point, I simply enjoy wearing Reebok footwear and clothing. We are in the midst of discussions about how to expand my role with Reebok.

  • What are your present fitness goals?

      Two years ago, I decided I would attempt to be in the best shape of my life by the time I turned 40. That's coming up next April 8th, and I'm already there. I'm a happy guy.

  • During your time on the island, your 9 year old son Chris, had gained about 20 pounds. It's rumored that you awakened him at 4:30 a.m. and forced him to go on a three or four mile jog. The police were involved and it is rumored you had filed a lawsuit against them. Can you tell us what really happened

      I'll start by saying that none of what was reported was accurate. I adopted Chris when he had just turned 7. He'd lived in 8 homes prior to that and had endured what, for most people, would be an unimaginable life in the care of Rhode Island's Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). And, although Chris was abused on the day in question, it was not by me. Rather, Rhode Island's DCYF acted irresponsibly and abusively as did the Middletown Police Department. Since I am suing both organizations to require that they accept responsibility for their actions, I'll refrain from discussing the details of the case until it is concluded.

  • The AP reported that you recently signed a book deal with The Lyons Press of New York City to write a paperback entitled, "101 Survival Secrets: How to Make $1 Million, Lose 100 pounds and Live Happily Ever After." Can you give us a sneak peek into the type of useful information the book contains?

      The book is already in stores. It's a quick read and would make a great stocking stuffer.

  • Now that you have won the million dollars, what positive changes have you been able to make in your life, and what have you done to change someone else's life?

      Well, I've wanted to start a teen outdoor adventure program for quite some time and the money and fame have enabled me to get that program going. Horizon Bound is an exciting opportunity for teens to explore who they are and challenge themselves to develop confidence and self-esteem, while having the time of their lives!

  • There are all kinds of rumors that you may have a radio or TV show in the works. Care to comment on this?

      I have several shows "in the works." I am still deluged with offers of all kinds. I'm exploring many options before deciding which opportunity is best for all concerned.

  • Will the original cast members of "SURVIVOR" take part in the promotion of "SURVIVOR 2" during the upcoming weeks?

      Oh, I guess we'll have to see, won't we?

  • Thanks for taking the time for this exclusive Natural Muscle interview Rich. We wish you continued success!

      Thanks Rob. Keep up the great work. Your personal commitment to health is inspiring.

    Besides promoting his book, Hatch is as busy as ever having teamed up with three fellow "SURVIVOR" finalists-- ex-Navy SEAL Rudy Boesch, truck driver Susan Hawk, and river guide Kelly Wiglesworth for a milk mustache print advertisement as part of the familiar "Got Milk?" campaign sponsored by the dairy industry. He also has appeared on a number of TV shows, which include the MTV Music Awards Show, Entertainment Tonight, Hollywood Squares, and "The Late Show with David Letterman."

    The odds of being one of the final 16 contestants for "SURVIVOR 2" were quite high. CBS received over 50,000 applications--more than eight times the 6,100 who applied for the original show. Look for "SURVIVOR 2: The Australian Outback" to hit the U.S. airwaves January 28, 2001, immediately following the Super Bowl.

    To contact Hatch check him out on the web at www.richhatch.com or www.triwhale.com. You can also write him at: Tri-Whale Training, 21 Annandale Road, Newport, RI 02840-3601 or call at 401-849-0070.


    About Rob Wilkins: Rob Wilkins is a Technical Sergeant in the US Air Force stationed at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. Wilkins is also an Assistant to International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) President, Ben Weider and a recent recipient (Oct. "00) of the IFBB Gold Medal. To contact Rob, you can e-mail him at [email protected].