In the Survivor: China finale, Denise led us to believe that she had lost her job as a result of the show, prompting Mark Burnett to offer her $50,000 (in addition to the $70,000 she got for coming in fourth place). It was pretty apparent between this (prompted by Jeff Probst) and the comment about going back to being a lunch lady and making $7/hr that the producers were more than happy to help her in seeking sympathy.
When the superintendent of schools was questioned about this on The Early Show, she said Denise was promoted (better benefits and much better pay) to janitor before she even went on the show. Denise readily agreed this was correct.
Denise’s side of the story is that she was upset that she could not go back to being a lunch lady, which isn’t about being a distraction like she claimed on the finale, but rather that the position was filled and has been filled for quite some time, since she’s been working as a janitor since March 30.
“It was not my intention to be misleading,” she said.
On the show, she did not commit to what would happen with the money. However, since that time, she has told the Associated Press that she does not plan to keep the money.
“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,” Denise said. “Please accept my apology. I would also like to thank all the people who have supported me through this experience.”