'Survivor: China's Denise Martin to donate Burnett's $50,000 to charity
By Christopher Rocchio, 12/19/2007
After already apologizing for "misleading" viewers about her job in the Douglas Public School District, Survivor: China castaway Denise Martin has decided against keeping the $50,000 executive producer Mark Burnett decided to give her after hearing her fake sob story during Sunday night's live reunion show broadcast.
"I would like to apologize to Mark Burnett, Jeff Probst, CBS, [Douglas superintendent] Nancy Lane, the Town of Douglas and my friends and family. It was not my intention to mislead anyone," said Martin in a Wednesday statement released by CBS.
"I take full responsibility for my actions and hope that you can find it in your hearts to forgive me. I do not feel comfortable about accepting the $50,000. I would instead ask that it be donated to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Please accept my apology. I would also like to thank all the people who have supported me through this experience."
Martin was billed by CBS as a "lunch lady" throughout Survivor'srecently concluded fifteenth season, however during the reunion show she said she lost that position upon returning home from filming in August.
"I went back and I talked to the food service director, and they didn't give me my job back," said Martin. "So I ended up having to go -- I'm a janitor now. I clean the toilets, I wash the floors of the bathrooms, I vacuum the kids' rugs. I miss dinner with my family. I haven't been to a field hockey game yet. I'm missing out on a lot more than I originally had planned on doing."
"The original reason was they said it was too distracting," Martin continued. "The kids all come in -- everyone in the school comes up to me and everyone is like 'Hey, how you doing' -- all the third graders walk by me in the afternoon [and] they're like, 'Hi Denise,' 'Hi Denise,' 'Hi Denise.' One-hundred and twenty-five of them walk by and every one of them says 'hi' to me, so I still -- it's emotional, I mean I miss my job. If anybody out there is looking for a lunch lady on the day shift, you know give me a call."
Several minutes after Martin explained the circumstances surrounding her job, host Jeff Probst announced that after being moved her story, Burnett had decided to give her $50,000 to help her "get [your] life the way you want it."
"I'm not kidding: Just now on a break, he said to let Denise know that Mark Burnett is going to give Denise $50,000!" gushed Probst.
Margaret Reed, chairperson of the Douglas School Committee, told Reality TV World on Tuesday that the district received thousands of "hate-filled emails" from around the world following the reunion show, which is what prompted them to speak out. Lane appeared as a Tuesday morning guest on CBS' broadcast of The Early Show, in which Martin also participated.
Lane said Martin was only transferred to the custodial position after she applied for it -- and in addition to representing a significant promotion, Martin began the new position in March, several months before she filmed Survivor: China this past summer.
After having her false tale called out on Monday, Martin first apologized for it on Tuesday.
"It was not my intention to be misleading," said Martin during The Early Show appearance. "Nancy has been outstanding to me. She has done everything possible. She gave me a leave of absence [to participate in Survivor]... I appreciate everything that they've done. I'm sorry. I apologize to everybody. Believe me... I couldn't say I'm sorry enough."
While Martin danced around the issue of whether or not she planned on keeping the $50,000 during her The Early Show appearance, she did say it was not her intention to scam Burnett.
"I had no idea I'd be rewarded that," said Martin. "Mark Burnett Productions has been outstanding to me... I've had such a great experience with CBS. Like I said, I did not intend it to come across that way. I love my town, I love my community."