History repeats itself. Joe Millionaire was one of the first dating shows to make a splash during the reality TV boom of the early aughts — and now it’s coming back.
Fox announced in November 2021 that a relaunch titled Joe Millionaire: For Richer or Poorer will launch in 2022, though there’s a major new twist. Instead of competing for the love of one millionaire bachelor, 20 single women will vie for two different men, and only one of them will be worth “more than $10 million.”
The original Joe Millionaire debuted in January 2003 with Evan Marriott, then 28, in the title role. The Virginia native was a former underwear model who worked construction before he was tapped to star on the show, but contestants were told that he was the heir to a $50 million fortune. The lie about his wealth was supposed to help him determine which women were there for the right reasons and which ones just wanted his money.
Marriott would reveal his working-class status in the season finale, and if his winner still decided to pursue a relationship, they would share a $1 million prize. Zora Andrich, the last woman standing, ultimately did decide to stay with Marriott, but they later split.
The show returned for a second season titled The Next Joe Millionaire, which aired later in 2003. Because too many American women already knew the premise of the first season, producers had to go to Europe to find contestants to compete for David Smith, who pretended to be an oil tycoon worth $80 million.
Smith and his winner, Linda Kasdova, split up shortly after filming ended. Instead of splitting a prize, Kasdova won $250,000 and Smith received a 90-acre ranch in Texas.
The second season wasn’t nearly as popular as the first, which made Marriott an early star of reality TV. More than a decade after the series ended, the Hollywood Squares alum claimed that he didn’t really know what he was getting into when he signed up for the show.
“I thought I was doing something like Blind Date,” he told Vulture in September 2015. When he realized what the show’s real premise was, he said he told producers about his misgivings to no avail. “That was when they said, ‘We’ll give you 50 grand if you just go with the flow here and do what we say.’ So I said, ‘OK, fine.’”
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