It’s easy to imagine that winning a million dollars on a game show would be an easy way to live comfortably and not work too hard. The reality is that you can work hard, eat strange intestines, or pass out from exhaustion and malnutrition on Survivor, and end up with a lot less than a million.
First, you have to win, then you have to give almost half of it over to the IRS! Many people don’t realize that prizes won on TV are considered taxable revenue. Prize winners can end up owing a fair amount in federal taxes and in state taxes. Sometimes, they even owe money in California for California-based TV shows. They money is skimmed off in California and then they still owe more taxes.
Richard Hatch won a million on Survivor, and unaware of the taxes he owed, ended up as a jailbird. When prizewinners don’t include their winnings on their tax forms they can be in legal trouble and end up with fines and prison time. Hatch spent 51 months in prison for tax evasion and then an additional 9 when he didn’t change his 2000 and 2001 tax returns.