“What makes Cape Breton so wonderful to me is the big, open spaces,” said Hatch, who is not just a visitor, but also a major property owner who is in Cape Breton right now on business.
“I love it here, I have close friends here.”
Hatch had been travelling to Cape Breton before his fame from “Survivor,” and had purchased property here as long as 20 years ago.
He wasn’t sure how many pieces of property he owns — some are unmarked or have been combined with other properties, so number might be as high as 20 — adding he tried selling some he didn’t have a use for but was unable to do so, so he let them go on tax sales.
Hatch heard a story — it was recently published in the Cape Breton Post — where a MacDonald Crescent family in Sydney Mines had wanted a piece of land Hatch owned beside their property to move their grandmother on to, but were outbid at a tax sale.
Hatch said he felt bad, adding: “If I had only known I would have happily sold it to them for just what was owed on it, but I have no way of knowing if no one contacts me.”
Hatch has been in Cape Breton for about a week-and-a-half this trip and says his husband, Emiliano Cabral, will be joining him in a couple of days.
“He’s in the military and was on duty this week.”
Hatch said they’ve been married for more than 13 years and held their wedding in the Cambridge Suites hotel in Sydney.
“He told me I have to go try the Olive Tree (restaurant), he loves it there.”
Hatch said he’s always on the hunt for a great salad and found wonderful ones in the area not only at the Cambridge Suites but also at Downtown Nutrition.
He said Downtown Nutrition has great flat bread breakfast sandwich’s with spinach and egg whites.
“They have very good fresh and healthy food which is what I search for.”
An approachable person with an obvious passion for animals, Hatch was enjoying Thursday at a field in Sydney with his four dogs, including two rescues.
“I try to bring my dogs with me wherever I go,” he said. “I enjoy taking them to run on beaches or open spaces where there’s not a lot of folks around.”
Hatch, who travels to Cape Breton several times a year, confirms he gets recognized here constantly.
“You get that look, they stop and they’re thinking and then the light bulb goes off — ‘It’s you!’”
However, he said, sometimes when people are having trouble trying to remember how they know him, he has a great comeback.
“I say something like, ‘We had a great weekend and you don’t remember?’ It’s fun.”
And the selfies people insist he take with them?
“There’s no counting them,” he added, laughing.
Hatch said one interesting thing about meeting Cape Breton fans is that, as excited as people seem to be when they meet him, which he enjoys, they are always down-to-earth about it.
“I’ll be in Sobeys and someone will stop me and say: ’Hey Richard, how’s it going?’” he said. “Then they’ll continuing shopping. In the United States, sometimes it’s just this silly kind of reaction like I’m different somehow.
“Here people are much more down-to-earth and I love it.”
Hatch loves travelling the island and said they might end up moving here adding, jokingly, “along with most of the rest of my country.”
He said he has known Donald Trump for years, long before appearing on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice.”
“It’s really terrible what he’s doing. I and most of my country may all move here, and pretty darn soon if we can’t get that tyrant out.”
Hatch will be publishing his second book soon and is kept busy with many guest spots and appearances.
Might we see his humour and memorable style — which includes his likeable personality, sense of humour and spending most of the show naked — as part of “Survivor” again some day?
With fingers crossed, Hatch didn’t say no.
“I would talk to them about it,” he said.
• Richard Hatch, 56, a native of Newport, Rhode Island
• Was the $1 million winner in “Survivor: Borneo,” the first of the CBS reality series in 2000.
• Extensive academic background including in marine biology and oceanography and a bachelor's degree in management/applied behavioral sciences.
• Served in the army 1980-1985.
• Spent a couple years in federal prison for failing to pay taxes on his $1 million prize.
• Appeared in too many other television shows to name but the list includes “All-Stars Survivor,” “Celebrity Apprentice,” “The Biggest Loser,” “Who wants to be a Millionaire,” “Becker,” and many more.
• Published a book “101 Survival Secrets: How to Make A Million Dollars, Lose 100 lbs. and Live Happily Ever After” in 2000 and is preparing to publish a second, “Reality Matters: Beneath Our Hype, Hubris and Hypocrisy.”