Would you be willing to spend more than a month on a seemingly uninhabitable exotic locale playing head games and battling the elements for a shot at a cool $1 million prize? Of course you would. But would you do it twice?
Next week's debut of All-Star Survivor on Viacom's
However, perhaps the most amazing dynamic of the human drama unfolds long after the video cameras stop rolling. There have been 112 contestants on the show and their lives will probably never be the same.
Many hire agents, hoping to milk a few extra ticks beyond their 15 minutes of fame. However, save for Survivor: The Australian Outback contestant Elisabeth Hasselbeck's new gig as a co-host on Disney's
That's why the seven winners over the popular show's first seven seasons have to think twice before squandering that million-dollar paycheck. In the wrong hands -- like the sad stories of multimillionaire lottery winners that go broke -- there isn't a pile of greenbacks high enough that can't be vaporized.
Yet even after the taxman collects his generous slice of the big prize, it would be a cinch to make the winnings last. All it takes is the act of embracing the simple notion of living below your means.
That's why it is refreshingly surprising to see such snappy financial planning from the previous winners on the show. While they may be willing to do some outlandish things on camera and risk public humiliation in front of tens of millions of viewers, they have been encouragingly prudent with the prize money.
The challenge is the reward
"I want to make that million dollars last and last," winner Jenna Morasca told Reality News Online last year. "Once I pay off my bills and my family's, it will be heavily invested. So, I do not have to worry about money."
Survivor Marquesas winner Vecepia Towery paid for a few home renovations and donated some of the money to her church. She invested the rest. Tina Wesson used her loot, roughly $600,000 after taxes, to buy a new home and a few gifts for her friends and family. Ethan Zohn earmarked a portion of his proceeds to launch a soccer charity.
Champion of Survivor Thailand, Brian Heidek, whose colorful past included acting stints in soft-porn flicks and hawking used cars, was in no hurry to undress his prize money. He bought himself a car. He bought his wife a pair of diamond earrings. The rest went into a bond and mutual fund portfolio and his son's college fund.
Last month's winner, Sandra Diaz-Twine, made a Caribbean cruise her first priority, but one can imagine that she too will take good care of the rest of her winnings from the show.
The scribe has spoken
While it's still early and the temptation to squander is real, you have to admire the levelheaded thinking of the show's past winners. Clearly they have sought the right counsel for their financial affairs. Then again, it could be argued that the same traits of adapting to changing environments and the will to win are also the trademarks of winners in the realm of personal finance.
If that's the case, I wonder if I could talk show producer Mark Burnett into letting me take my Foolish jester cap as my luxury item for the ninth season of Survivor. Outwit. Outplay. Outlast. I can't think of a better mantra for investing.
Are you excited about All-Star Survivor or would you prefer an entirely fresh cast? Do you think that the previous winners will be at a disadvantage because they risk earning an early boot from their poorer contestants? All this and more -- in theSurvivordiscussion board. Only on Fool.com.