|Presented by||Jeff Probst|
|No. of episodes||13|
|No. of days||39|
|No. of castaways||16|
|Location(s)||Pulau Tiga, Sabah, Malaysia|
|Filming dates||March 13, 2000
– April 20, 2000
|Original release||May 31, 2000– August 23, 2000|
|Followed by||Survivor: The Australian Outback|
Survivor: Borneo is the first season of the American CBS competitive reality television series Survivor. It was originally broadcast under the name Survivor but its official title was changed to Survivor: Pulau Tiga to distinguish it from subsequent installments of the series, and then changed again to Survivor: Borneo to avoid confusion with Survivor: Palau. The show filmed from March 13, 2000 through April 20, 2000 and premiered on May 31, 2000. Hosted by Jeff Probst, it consisted of 39 days of gameplay with 16 competitors. It was set in the South China Sea on the remote Malaysian island of Pulau Tiga in the state of Sabah, about 6 miles (9.7 km) off the north coast of Borneo, Malaysia.
The sixteen contestants were initially separated into two tribes, named Tagi and Pagong, which represented the names of their beaches. When ten players remained, the contestants merged into one tribe, named Rattana. While Tagi and Pagong's names and makeups were picked by the producers, Rattana was named by contestants Sean Kenniff and Jenna Lewis, because of the large amount of Rattan wood on the island. After 39 days of competition, corporate trainer Richard Hatch was named the Sole Survivor, defeating whitewater rafting guide Kelly Wiglesworth in a 4–3 jury vote.
On August 23, 2000, the Survivor: Borneo finale received the highest ratings of any Survivor episode to date with an average of 51.7 million viewers. Nielsen reported that 125 million people watched at least some part of the finale. The season was released on DVD on May 11, 2004. In 2006, it was revealed that Hatch failed to declare his winnings, among other earnings, in his tax return and was sentenced to 51 months imprisonment.
In 1998, CBS offered Mark Burnett the chance to present his idea of this reality show to producers. In October 1999, CBS held a casting call for a new reality show concept. The idea was Survivor, in which sixteen people would be stuck on an island 20 miles (32 km) away from the mainland of Borneo. Ten main cameras were set on the island that would film the castaways every day. Every three days, a Tribal Council would be held in which one castaway would be voted off the island. The last castaway to be on the island would win $1 million.
Over 6,000 people applied for the show; 800 were then interviewed in sixteen cities. 48 people were then chosen, and after background checks and psychological evaluations done by the producers, the final sixteen contestants and two alternates were picked.
As the survivors awaited the game's start, Survivor crews prepared the island for reward and immunity challenges, removing any harmful items, checking for any harmful animals in specific locations, and building a Tribal Council set. Camera and other crews were sent to the island three weeks in advance for testing. On the opposite side of the island from the tribes, headquarters were set up for the producers, and crew to live in on the island. This facility included many traditional trailers with running water, televisions, and one phone line. The Tribal Council set was built two hundred yards from the crew's facility. The Tribal Council set was 30 by 30 feet (9.1 by 9.1 m) with no walls and only a platform. In the middle of the set was a fire lava pit providing fire for the torches, which represented the castaways' life in the game.
On March 7, 2000, the contestants were flown to Los Angeles, then to the city of Kota Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo. From there, they were taken by boat to their island. Contestants were not allowed to speak to one another until they got on the boat headed towards their beaches. The two tribes shared the island of Tiga, which was divided by over 20 miles (32 km) of forest. The castaways were surrounded by wildlife such as pythons, kraits, adders, monkeys, monitor lizards, and white-bellied sea eagles. The show was set to air in the summer of 2000.
There were sixteen contestants overall, divided into two tribes, Pagong and Tagi. After six contestants were eliminated, the tribes were combined, or merged, to form one tribe, Rattana. Seven contestants made up the jury, who ultimately decided who would win the game and the $1 million grand prize.
|Contestant||Original tribe||Merged tribe||Finish|
|Christopher, SonjaSonja Christopher
63, Walnut Creek, California
|Tagi||1st voted out
|Andersen, B.B.B.B. Andersen
64, Mission Hills, Kansas
|Pagong||2nd voted out
|Stillman, StaceyStacey Stillman
27, San Francisco, California
|Tagi||3rd voted out
|Gray, RamonaRamona Gray
29, Edison, New Jersey
|Pagong||4th voted out
|Been, DirkDirk Been
23, Spring Green, Wisconsin
|Tagi||5th voted out
|Klug, JoelJoel Klug
27, Sherwood, Arkansas
|Pagong||6th voted out
|Cordy, GretchenGretchen Cordy
38, Clarksville, Tennessee
|Pagong||Rattana||7th voted out
|Buis, GregGreg Buis
24, Gold Hill, Colorado
|Pagong||8th voted out
1st jury member
|Lewis, JennaJenna Lewis
22, Franklin, New Hampshire
|Pagong||9th voted out
2nd jury member
|Peterson, GervaseGervase Peterson
30, Willingboro, New Jersey
|Pagong||10th voted out
3rd jury member
|Haskell, ColleenColleen Haskell
23, Miami Beach, Florida
|Pagong||11th voted out
4th jury member
|Kenniff, SeanSean Kenniff
30, Carle Place, New York
|Tagi||12th voted out
5th jury member
|Hawk, SusanSusan Hawk
38, Palmyra, Wisconsin
|Tagi||13th voted out
6th jury member
|Boesch, RudyRudy Boesch
72, Virginia Beach, Virginia
|Tagi||14th voted out
7th jury member
|Wiglesworth, KellyKelly Wiglesworth
22, Las Vegas, Nevada
|Hatch, RichardRichard Hatch
39, Middletown, Rhode Island
Rudy Boesch, Richard Hatch, Susan Hawk and Jenna Lewis returned to Survivor for Survivor: All-Stars, respectively placing 17th, 14th, 13th and 3rd. Gervase Peterson returned for Survivor: Blood vs. Water alongside his niece, Marissa, where he placed 3rd. Kelly Wiglesworth returned for Survivor: Cambodia, where she placed 11th.
Outside of Survivor, the Borneo cast have made many appearances on other TV programs and film. Notably, Colleen Haskell appeared in a lead role in 2001 film The Animal, opposite actor Rob Schneider. Hatch later competed in the eleventh season of The Apprentice (known as the fourth season of The Celebrity Apprentice) and was fired in week 5, finished in 11th place. Hatch would later appear on the seventeenth season of The Biggest Loser, finished in 13th place.
The sixteen contestants were divided into two tribes of eight: Tagi and Pagong. Both tribes fared equally in challenges, but differed in organizational structure. Pagong was dominated by the younger, more carefree members, whereas four contestants on Tagi—Kelly, Richard, Rudy, and Susan—formed an alliance, choosing to vote as a bloc to ensure their safety. When ten players remained—five from each tribe—the tribes merged into one, named Rattana. The alliance strategy proved to be successful, and the four took advantage of the other contestants' lack of voting strategy to gain dominance. There was dissension in the alliance as Kelly was deemed untrustworthy, however she won four consecutive immunity challenges and was ineligible for elimination.
When only the four alliance members remained, they were forced to turn on each other. The vote initially ended in a draw; close allies Richard and Rudy voted for Susan, and Susan and Kelly voted for Richard. On the revote, Kelly decided to switch her vote and Susan was eliminated. After winning the final immunity challenge, Kelly decided to eliminate Rudy because she believed she had a better chance against Richard. At the final Tribal Council, Susan lambasted Kelly for switching her vote and proclaimed her support for Richard. Richard's strategic prowess and leadership was valued over Kelly's impressive challenge performance, and the jury awarded him the title of Sole Survivor in a vote of 4-3.
|Episode title||Original air date||Challenge winner(s)||Eliminated||Finish|
|"The Marooning"||May 31, 2000||Pagong[a]||Sonja||1st voted out
|"The Generation Gap"||June 7, 2000||Pagong[b]||Tagi||B.B.||2nd voted out
|"Quest for Food"||June 14, 2000||Tagi||Pagong||Stacey||3rd voted out
|"Too Little, Too Late?"||June 21, 2000||Tagi||Tagi||Ramona||4th voted out
|"Pulling Your Own Weight"||June 28, 2000||Pagong||Pagong||Dirk||5th voted out
|"Udder Revenge"||July 5, 2000||Pagong||Tagi||Joel||6th voted out
|"The Merger"||July 12, 2000||None[c]||Greg||Gretchen||7th voted out
|"Thy Name Is Duplicity"||July 19, 2000||Greg||Gervase||Greg||8th voted out
1st jury member
|"Old and New Bonds"||July 26, 2000||Colleen,
|Rudy||Jenna||9th voted out
2nd jury member
|"Crack In the Alliance"||August 2, 2000||Gervase||Richard||Gervase||10th voted out
3rd jury member
|"Long Hard Days"||August 9, 2000||Sean,
|Kelly||Colleen||11th voted out
4th jury member
|"Death of an Alliance"||August 16, 2000||Kelly||Kelly||Sean||12th voted out
5th jury member
|"Season Finale"||August 23, 2000||None||Kelly||Susan||13th voted out
6th jury member
|Kelly||Rudy||14th voted out
7th jury member
- In the case of multiple tribes or castaways who win reward or immunity, they are listed in order of finish, or alphabetically where it was a team effort; where one castaway won and invited others, the invitees are in brackets.
- Combined immunity and reward challenge.
- Sometime between day four and six, a reward challenge took place that was not aired. The challenge involved holding weight on poles. Richard held the weight for Tagi, as Joel for Pagong. The reward was a map to a closer water hole.
- There was no reward challenge due to the tribal merge.
|Title||CBS recap||Original air date||US viewers
|1||1||"The Marooning"||Recap||May 31, 2000||15.51||6.1/20|
The two tribes paddle their way into the respective beaches on a raft with meager supplies. Upon arrival, the "Pagong" tribe celebrates the beginning of this journey while the "Tagi" tribe gets right to work with Rudy taking command, aggravating some of his tribe members. Richard calls for order and structure, to which Sue agrees. Ultimately, they pull together to assemble a functional camp. At Pagong, B.B. steps into the leadership role. He and Ramona find the tribe's watering hole, and jokingly agree to hide it from the group. The next morning, Tagi seems to be in good spirits as Sonja plays her ukulele, though Rudy realizes he may need to adapt to the personalities of his younger tribe-mates. B.B.'s aggressive work ethic grates on Pagong and his tribe's laziness begins to frustrate him.
At the first immunity challenge, Tagi takes the early lead by guiding its raft through the water. Sonja stumbles as they reach the shore, helping Pagong crawl ahead to light their final torch and win. As a result, Pagong receives matches and immunity from that night's Tribal Council. At Tagi's camp, Richard and Rudy bond while Sean tends to Sonja's injuries. As the first vote approaches, Stacey talks of voting out Rudy for being overbearing, however at Tribal Councils, a plurality of the tribe instead decides to vote out their choice of weakest link, Sonja.
|2||2||"The Generation Gap"||Recap||June 7, 2000||18.10||7.5/25|
Following their Tribal Council, Tagi finds its fish traps remain empty. Disappointed that Rudy was not voted out, Stacey suggests he's not made for the game, while Rudy believes Stacey isn't cut out for wilderness survival. Richard reveals to his tribe that he is gay, making Dirk uncomfortable. It doesn't discourage Rudy, who still sees Rich as a strong competitor. At Pagong, Ramona is dehydrated and ill whilst B.B. refuses to quit working. Greg and Colleen begin to grow close. Greg's evening game shows tribe spirits are high, though B.B. continues to annoy his tribe by washing his clothes in drinking water. At Tagi, Sean crafts a fishing pole to try and catch food for the group. Both tribes receive tree mail, foretelling a disgusting competition. B.B. suggests Pagong throw the challenge to eliminate him, but the tribe refuses.
Ultimately, despite Gervase's struggles, everyone is able to eat their assigned grub, forcing each tribe to select one person from the opposite group to eat two bugs in a tiebreaker face-off. Stacey beats Gervase and as a result, Pagong is sent to Tribal Council where Ramona's weakness earns her two votes while B.B. receives the rest and is voted out.
|3||3||"Quest for Food"||Recap||June 14, 2000||23.25||9.4/29|
At the Tagi tribe, Stacey still wanted to get rid of Rudy and tried to create a girl alliance to do so, but Susan didn't want to be a part of the plan. Richard proved his worth following his tribe winning the reward challenge, as he used the spear won to catch several fish. At Pagong, Greg and Colleen found a big mud pit that the entire tribe was able to enjoy.
Tagi won the reward challenge. Back at Pagong, everyone ate rats, including a hesitant Gervase and Ramona. At Tagi, Dirk annoyed everyone with his bible reading.
Pagong won the immunity challenge. At Tribal Council, Tagi voted out Stacey, who mentioned that people had changed their votes.
|4||4||"Too Little, Too Late?"||Recap||June 21, 2000||24.20||9.8/33|
At Pagong, Ramona started to feel better after having been sick and tried to begin pulling her weight around camp, but Jenna said it might be too late for her despite the pair of them bonding more. After a tropical storm, Gretchen took a stand and suggested once again that they rebuild their shelter in the canopy away from the beach. Greg appeared to be providing light relief to their tribe, Gretchen said this will likely get him further in the game. At Tagi, Sean and Dirk spent most of their time fishing, but had no luck; Sean also tried to build a bowling alley. Kelly, Richard, Rudy and Susan created an alliance.
At the immunity challenge, Gervase had problems on the sprint into the jungle, one of the main reasons Pagong lost to Tagi again. They proceeded to vote out Ramona. Ramona thought it was her early illness that caused her to be the one voted out.
|5||5||"Pulling Your Own Weight"||Recap||June 28, 2000||23.98||9.6/31|
At Tagi, Dirk and Sean were still trying to fish instead of helping around camp, but to no avail. Susan told them that it was a waste of time if they weren't catching anything. The tribe were worried about Dirk's weight loss. At Pagong, everyone felt vulnerable because their tribe was getting smaller. Greg and Colleen grew closer, with both of them choosing to sleep out in the jungle away from the others. Greg knew he was seeping somewhat into the role of leader, a role he didn't want.
At the reward challenge, Joel helped Pagong win with his spear throwing after the first two rounds were tied. Dirk and Sean began to help around the camp but that didn't change their tribe members' minds, and they remained on the outs. The alliance of four were decided on getting one of them out at the next Tribal Council. At Pagong they decided to let their chickens lay eggs.
At the immunity challenge, Gervase finally led Pagong to victory and Kelly, the white water rafting guide, was upset that "she got beat by a guy who couldn't even swim". At Tagi's Tribal Council, the alliance of four claimed their first victim as Dirk was voted out.
|6||6||"Udder Revenge"||Recap||July 5, 2000||24.50||10.6/33|
Both tribes were wondering what the merge was going to be like. Tagi was afraid due to their numerical deficit. At Pagong, Joel was confident because his tribe had the numbers, but Colleen thought Joel was an idiot because they weren't merging yet and still had a chance of going in even. Gervase offended the girls by telling them that they were dumber than a cow. One of Tagi's chickens was eaten by another creature. At Tagi, Richard began walking around camp naked.
At the reward challenge, Richard brought back a duplicate knife instead of a can opener and Pagong won by default. At Pagong, Joel tried to create an alliance with the group that would carry over after the merge but was shot down by the women of the tribe. The alliance was interpreted as being mean spirited on Joel's part. Joel started to get a little bossy, which annoyed the girls.
Tagi won the immunity challenge in a very close race. With help from Greg, the women of Pagong voted out Joel.
|7||7||"The Merger"||Recap||July 12, 2000||24.50||10.4/34|
The day after Pagong voted Joel out, one person from each tribe went to the opposite tribe's camp and would then convene to decide which camp to live on. Jenna went to Tagi and Sean went to Pagong. After a bit of time at camp, Jenna and Sean met with each other at a neutral site to decide which camp they wanted to live on and what to name the new merged tribe. They were welcomed by a feast, including lobster and wine, and got to stay the night under a canopy shelter and on beds. The next day, Jenna and Sean decided to live at the Tagi beach and named their merged tribe Rattana. The ten castaways met up and everyone celebrated, except Rudy, who was annoyed because the population doubled.
Greg won immunity after a close battle with Sean. At Tribal Council, the disorganized Pagong tribe and Sean were completely split and voted individually, while the Tagi alliance of Kelly, Richard, Rudy and Susan stayed together and voted out Gretchen.
|8||8||"Thy Name is Duplicity"||July 19, 2000||26.15||11.4/35|
At camp, the remaining members of the former Pagong tribe felt vulnerable because the Tagi tribe voted out their leader Gretchen. Jenna decided her best move was to get closer to the other women, all of which were Tagi members, if she was to survive. Jenna put her plan into action and seemed to sway Susan who at first thought Jenna was going to be really annoying. Richard started to worry about who voted for him at Tribal Council.
At the reward challenge, Jeff showed everyone a sneak peek at the reward challenge except for Jenna because they never received a video for Jenna. Greg went first and no one hit the mark closer, so he won the reward and saw his home video from his sister and sent one back to her. Rudy thought there might be some incestual behavior between Greg and his sister though clearly took things the wrong way. Jenna was frustrated about losing the reward challenge and instead of watching Greg's video, continued to practice with the bow and arrow, continually hitting the target closer than Greg's mark. People began to realize that Richard liked Greg because of the way he was playing the game. Greg realized that Richard was a powerful player in this game.
Gervase won immunity. At Tribal Council, the Tagi alliance and a cross Jenna piggy-backed off of Sean's alphabet strategy and voted out Greg.
|9||9||"Old and New Bonds"||Recap||July 26, 2000||27.18||11.9/36|
While Richard was catching fish, the other players began to realize that nobody voted him out because of his role as provider. Rudy didn't make the fire hot enough so the fish wasn't done when it got off the fire, and the attempt to recook it simply burnt it.
At the reward challenge, Jenna wanted to win because she didn't hear anything from her family at the last challenge. It was a race between Colleen and Kelly, which Colleen narrowly won. When Colleen won, Jeff told her she could pick one other person and she instantly chose Jenna. After the reward challenge, it was Richard's 39th birthday and he celebrated in his "birthday suit". Richard spent his entire birthday naked which disturbed some of his tribemates, especially Colleen and Jenna.
Rudy won immunity over Sean. Sean was convinced that his alphabet strategy of voting for people was the fairest way and that there was no alliance because he wasn't asked to be a part of it. He continued to vote that way and even told Jenna beforehand that he was voting for her but that he didn't think it would make a difference. At Tribal Council he was once again proven wrong, as Richard, Rudy, and Sue again piggy-backed off his vote and Jenna was voted out.
|10||10||"Crack in the Alliance"||Recap||August 2, 2000||27.41||11.9/38|
Some people were happy that Jenna was voted out because she was getting on everyone's nerves. Everyone knew that Sean voted for Jenna and that Kelly didn't, so the remainder of the Tagi alliance felt betrayed. The alliance thought about replacing Kelly with Sean because he might have been more valuable. Richard's plan was to catch more fish once Colleen and Gervase were gone. At tree mail, the castaways were surprised by cigars and a note saying that Gervase's son Gunnar was born the day prior, which they celebrated.
Gervase narrowly beat Richard at the reward challenge and had a chance to call his girlfriend and daughter to see how his baby was doing. He shared his slice of pizza with everyone. While he was making his phone call, Rudy questioned Gervase's life choices, namely having four children out of wedlock, and said that having babies out of wedlock would have never happened when he was his age and that the girl would be "taken out of town" and dealt with.
At the immunity challenge, Richard easily won. At Tribal Council, the five Tagi members decided that Gervase was a bigger threat over Colleen, voting him out. Ultimately Kelly decided to vote with her alliance despite her urges to join forces with the others.
|11||11||"Long Hard Days"||Recap||August 9, 2000||28.00||12.1/38|
The Tagi alliance began to crumble because Kelly was always talking to the remaining enemy of the alliance, Colleen. Camp life started to take a toll on everyone.
Sean won the reward and was surprised to see his dad on the yacht. Sean told Kelly he was going to take her for the feast, but chose Richard instead, which infuriated the women. Sean brought his dad back to camp to meet everyone, who attempted to update them on current events and the stock market (although Sue thought he didn't know anything), and before he left, he gave each person a care package from their loved ones, which rejuvenated their spirits.
At the immunity challenge, Rudy fell off first. Rich attempted to annoy people off the planks by singing "99 bottles of beer on the wall" until he fell off. On the beach, Rich thought it was funny that Colleen was really trying to win immunity when she had no chance of going home tonight because they were going to blindside Kelly. Sean was third to go, followed almost immediately by Sue. Colleen fell off after 2 hours and 54 minutes, giving immunity to Kelly and foiling the Tagi alliance plans. At Tribal Council, Sean was grilled for taking Rich on the reward instead of Kelly. Colleen, the last remaining member of Pagong, was voted out.
|12||12||"Death of an Alliance"||Recap||August 16, 2000||28.67||12.7/38|
With only Tagi tribe members left, the two people that felt vulnerable were Kelly and Sean. Kelly mentioned that she didn't trust Rich, while Rich conspired to get Kelly off next. Sean thought he was stuck with the most conniving people ever. Tempers flared at camp as Kelly and Susan had a fight about their alliance since Kelly didn't vote with them again, and Sue said that Kelly made them all look like idiots. Richard attempted to smooth things over, although he said that the fight played to his advantage. Sue got stung by a ray and her hand swelled up. On day 34, all of the castaways talked about how they missed home.
Kelly collected 15.9 lbs at the reward challenge, followed by Sean (15.4), Susan (15), Rich (12.4), and Rudy (10). After the reward challenge, Susan and Kelly rekindled their friendship. Kelly went with Jeff to watch the first 5 minutes of episode 1 and talked to Jeff about how the game was going for her. On day 36, Kelly and Susan agreed to keep civil with each other, although Susan told Kelly she didn't want her in the final 3 because she was such a threat. Sean knew he needed to win immunity and attempted to exploit the Kelly-Susan friendship.
Kelly won her third challenge in a row. Sean said he was definitely winning this thing even though it would be an uphill battle. Rich tried to decide whether he would be voting for Sean or Rudy, although Rudy was confident that it would be him and Rich in the final 2. While everyone spoke of voting for different people, in the end the original Tagi 4 stuck together and Sean was voted out.
|13||13||"The Final Four"||Recap||August 23, 2000||51.69||22.8/54|
The final four reflected on how much their bodies have changed, and how the game was played by them and by others. Kelly said she felt like the odd person out and was stressed because she didn't feel safe. She said that she was now playing for herself. Richard, Rudy, and Sue were planning to vote out Kelly if she didn't win immunity.
At the challenge, Kelly and Sue were tied after 10 questions, but Kelly got the tiebreaker question correct, giving Kelly her fourth challenge win and third immunity in a row. Directly after at Tribal Council, there was a 2–2 tie between Richard and Susan. During the revote in which only Rudy and Kelly voted, Kelly changed her vote and Susan was voted out.
At 4:00 am on day 38, the remaining three were awoken by Jeff, told to put on something comfortable, and took a long boat ride to their rite of passage and final immunity challenge. For their rite of passage, they covered themselves with mud, walked through palm fronds held by locals, passed the torches of their fallen comrades, then passed through a bamboo curtain and walked barefoot through a fire pit.
After two hours of holding on the idol, Jeff tempted the three with oranges. After 21⁄2 hours, Richard gave a speech, said he wouldn't be able to outlast Kelly, and stepped down voluntarily. He said that it was a game of odds and he didn't know what the winner would actually do. After three hours, the two left switched positions while keeping their hand on the idol and were to do so every half hour. While the two were still standing on the pole, Rich addressed the alliance to Jeff and how he wasn't surprised that Kelly changed her vote. After 4 hours, 11 minutes, Rudy took his hand off the idol while switching spots, and Kelly won immunity yet again. Rich and Rudy both said it was in Kelly's best interest to keep themselves. At Tribal Council Kelly voted out Rudy because she thought she might have a better chance of winning against Richard.
At the final Tribal Council, Gervase asked if there was one, two or three things they would change about their time on the island, if anything at all. Rich said trusting people so easily, Kelly said making an alliance. Jenna asked who they would put in the final two and why. Rich said Rudy and Greg; Kelly said Sonja and Gretchen. Sean had no questions, but congratulated the two and thanked Kelly for being capable and keeping camp afloat, and told Rich that he enjoyed his company although he played the game differently. Colleen asked what three character traits got them where they are and are essential to get future players to the finals; Kelly said faith, strong will, and likability, while Rich said self-awareness, observation of relationships, and ethics. Rudy said he had nothing to say to those two, but felt dumb after mistakenly removing his hand in the final immunity challenge. Greg had them choose a number between 1 and 10 (Rich said 7; Kelly 3). Sue famously compared Richard to a snake and Kelly to a rat, and declared her intent to vote for Richard. In the end, Rudy, Sue, Sean, and Greg voted for Rich; Jenna, Gervase, and Colleen voted for Kelly. With that, Richard Hatch became Survivor's first millionaire by a vote of 4–3.
- The first Tribal Council vote resulted in a tie. Per the rules, a second vote was held where the castaways involved in the tie would not vote and the remaining castaways could only vote for those who tied.
- Richard and Susan were not eligible to vote in the second Tribal Council vote.
- Richard and Rudy were not eligible to vote as the only eligible players they could vote for were each other.
By the second week, the show had already gained over 18 million viewers, beating out ABC's show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in ratings. After the season finale, Carter said that Survivor "built over a 13-week run to what was expected last night to be the biggest single television audience ever assembled for a summer television series, far eclipsed every expectation the network had when it acquired the rights to the show last year." Leslie Moonves, the president of CBS Television said that "it has beaten our expectations by about double." The finale of Survivor was watched by 51.7 million viewers, the second-highest viewership of any American television episode during the first decade of the 21st century, exceeded only by the finale of Friends. The finale had higher ratings than the World Series, NBA finals, NCAA men's basketball finals, and Grammy Awards of that year. CBS was able to make the cost of commercial advertisers up to $600,000 during the season finale.
Survivor was the surprise summer hit show of the season garnering an average of 28.3 million viewers with an 12.1/36 share in the 18/49 market over its 13-week run. Thus, it achieved the second-highest ranking and the second-highest amount of average viewers of the entire series, behind The Australian Outback. In addition to the highest amount of finale viewers, it also garnered the highest amount of reunion viewers (37 million).
Survivor: Borneo initially received mixed reactions in the media. Bill Carter, a writer for The New York Times stated that Survivor has "clearly begun to emerge as part of the wider culture, with news and discussion about the show widespread on television and radio talk shows and coverage increasing in newspapers." On the Late Show with David Letterman, David Letterman began a segment titled, "Top 10 Things That'll Get You Thrown Off the Survivor Island." During the first season, USA Today held coverage of the show as if it were a sporting event, listing which participant was voted off. USA Today also held a poll to see who viewers would have voted off. With 26 percent, Susan Hawk won the poll, although it had no effect on the game, as Sue made it to 4th place. CBS's The Early Show held an interview with each contestant the day after the episode in which they were voted off aired.
Survivor: Borneo was criticized by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in response to footage showing the contestants trapping rats on the island, initially for fish bait but later for human consumption.
Despite the initially mixed reception at the time, Borneo has undergone significant critical reappraisal in later years, and is now considered one of the best seasons of the entire series. Host Jeff Probst consistently ranks it as his favorite, equating it to a "first girlfriend." Entertainment Weekly columnist Dalton Ross ranks Borneo as tied for first with Survivor: Micronesia, saying "...Borneo now seems dated and tame by comparison, but it’s the biggest game changer in the past 20 years of television...If you ask me which is the most important season, well, obviously it’s Borneo." Borneo is also ranked as the greatest season of the series by Examiner.com and Zap2it, and is ranked second behind Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains by The Wire. Survivor fan site "Survivor Oz" has consistently ranked Borneo in the top 10 in every one of its annual polls ranking all seasons of the series; it was 5th in 2012, 6th in 2013, and 8th in 2014. Another prominent Survivor fan site, "The Purple Rock Podcast," ranked Borneo as the 10th best season in 2015. Fifteen years later, in the CBS Watch official issue commemorating the 15th anniversary and 30th season of Survivor, Borneo was ranked as the 7th-greatest season of the series by a viewer poll. In another poll in the same magazine, Hatch's win at the end of the season was voted by viewers as the #5 most memorable moment in the series.
The DVD release of season one was released by CBS Home Entertainment in the U.S. on May 11, 2004, after it had completed broadcast on television. As well as every episode from the season, the DVD release features bonus material including commentary, interviews and behind-the-scenes featurettes.
|The Complete First Season|
|Set details||Special features|
|May 11, 2004||May 11, 2004|
Stacey Stillman controversy
In early 2001, Borneo contestant Stacey Stillman sued CBS, claiming that executive producer Mark Burnett arranged her exit and orchestrated the show's outcome. Her 14-page lawsuit alleged that two of her fellow tribemates, Dirk Been and Sean Kenniff, were persuaded to change their vote from 72-year-old Rudy Boesch to her. Stillman sought restitution for lost prize money, plus $75,000 representing out-of-pocket expenses and punitive damages. While CBS and Burnett denied the allegations, Been supported them; Kenniff admitted talking to Burnett, but told USA Today that the vote wasn't influenced and Burnett said only to "vote your conscience." Burnett counter-sued Stillman for at least $5,000,000. Eventually the case was settled out of court.
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