Why One Survivor Alum Wants The Show To Have A Season Without Prize Money

screenshot chris hammons survivor millennials vs gen x
(Image credit: CBS)

There’s no question that Survivor is a brutal game. It drains contestants both physically and mentally, but it’s supposed to be all worth it in the end if you make it out with the $1 million in your pocket. But what if there was no $1 million prize money? One former Survivor player is already volunteering for that kind of season, should host Jeff Probst and CBS take him up on it, and he has his reasons why.

The $1 million prize money for Survivor winners is supposed to be the key motivator to participate in the first place. But for others, like Chris Hammons from Survivor: Millennials vs Gen X, it's more so about “the adventure and challenge” and less about the money. In his EW questionnaire, Hammons shares why he wants that change-up:

I tell my wife all the time — if Jeff called and said get on a plane now — I would be wheels up that second! I want that as much as I want anything in my life. I cannot stand going out when I did. I want back on to compete in the challenges and really give it a try with me actually being me! I would play for free! I don't care about the money. I want the title. I want the adventure and challenge. Let's get real players out there and play a season for NO MONEY! That would be the ultimate Survivor: a player willing to play just for the title. I'm in, Jeff – JUST CALL!

Survivor certainly likes to keep contestants on their toes with the various twists and spins implemented during the season. But Chris Hammons’ idea of prize money-less season would take the cake as most intriguing. I’d imagine that only previous players would be chosen (or volunteer) for that kind of season. They would know best what to expect from the experience and wouldn’t drop out quite as quickly by the prospect of no money to sway them back.

Veteran players have often waxed nostalgic about their undying love for the game, so I could see the likes of Boston Rob or Coach taking on playing simply for the title. But we also must remember that when two-time winner Sandra Diaz-Twine played in Survivor: Winners at War, she volunteered to go home rather than stick it out on the Edge of Extinction. It should be a stark reminder to Chris Hammons that most people only play for the money (and if you already got it twice, why bother suffering?). It is, in fact, the stakes of the game for a reason.

But a season with no prize money would likely flesh out one of the core themes of Survivor, which is how far will someone push themselves to overcome adversity? There is no choice when we do it day in and day out in everyday life, but there is a choice in Survivor: persevere or go home, sans money. Chris Hammons seems to believe that would the truest test of a sole Survivor, and I’m inclined to agree with him.

There is no word as of yet what Survivor Season 41's theme will be. It will premiere later this fall and likely the $1 million prize is still in play.

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Lauren Vanderveen
Movies and TV News Writer

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.