Contestants on “Survivor” have been known to stretch the truth a tad in their quest, and there is no question quite a few unsavories have emerged, from the currently incarcerated Richard Hatch (tax evasion) to Jonny “My grandmother died” Fairplay.
But Lunch Lady Denise?
Fans of the show watched Sunday’s high rated finale had nothing but sympathy for Denise when she had to endure hearing Courtney wonder on the show why Denise deserved anything just because she “sucked at life” and was poor.
Then on the live show, a teary Denise told everyone how horrible the school district behaved when she returned to work and was demoted from lunch lady to janitor. It was all because her presence was “too disruptive” to the students, who saw her as a TV star. So she was shuffled off to clean toilets and barf in obscurity.
A little bell went off in my brain, because I know janitors make more money than lunch ladies, so didn’t she get a promotion? Turns out Denise may have been a little less than honest about the whole deal. CBS’ “Early Show” host Julie Chen grilled Denise and school superintendent Nancy Lane, who says Denise fibbed.
Here’s the release from the school:
Press Release: Mrs. Denise Martin
December 17, 2007
Douglas Public Schools
On the “Survivor China” television program that aired on December 16, 2007, Mrs. Denise Martin, an employee of the Douglas Public Schools, stated that she was demoted from her position as a cafeteria worker upon her return from taping the show. This statement is false. In fact, Mrs. Martin held a full-time position as a custodian prior to her participation in the series, and she returned to this same position upon her return from China. Mrs. Martin was granted – at her request – an unpaid leave of absence so that she could participate in the “Survivor” program. We were pleased and excited to support Denise, and have enthusiastically cheered her on throughout the duration of the show.
Although Mrs. Martin was a cafeteria employee prior to her selection as a contestant, she asked to be considered for a promotion to full-time custodian, and was promoted to this position on March 30, 2007. This promotion came with additional benefits and a higher salary. Following her leave, she then returned to this same position.
Regretfully, the Douglas Public School District was inaccurately portrayed as failing to be accommodating to an employee during what the District viewed as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity. This is far from the case. On the contrary, we granted all requests made by Mrs. Martin so that she could participate in the “Survivor” series. Since Mrs. Martin was on an approved leave, her position was held open for her, and she returned to this same position upon her return from China. As a District, we make every effort to support our employees, and will continue to do so.
Nancy T. Lane
Superintendent of Schools
Denise, Denise. Now you’re $50,000 richer because “Survivor” creator/producer Mark Burnett decided to dip into his deep pockets to make you feel better. He can well afford it, but can you afford to go back and face those people in Douglas after this?