Last week, The Spectator reported on Russell Hantz, a three-time contestant on the CBS reality show Survivor, scamming innocent fans of the show out of their fantasy football winnings. We confirmed via social media messages and Venmo transactions that Hantz had failed to pay out winners in at least two fantasy football leagues he had helped organize — one in 2018 and one this season.
Now, more people are coming forward to say that Hantz took their money too.
Three members of a second fantasy football league Hantz organized this year all confirmed to me that the league’s winner never got paid. As was the case in other leagues, Hantz recruited someone else to be the commissioner, but collected all league dues via Venmo. When it came time to fork over the money, Hantz ghosted.
Zachary Raul Picker, the league’s commissioner, said he won one of Hantz’s leagues last year and actually did receive his $1,200 winnings.
“When fantasy season came around again, I was excited to DM him and ask to do another league,” Picker said. “He posted asking who would be interested in Twitter and I DM’d everyone interested and added them to a group chat. I told them all to Venmo Russell [Hantz] and then I would add them to the league. I assumed they would be more comfortable Venmo-ing him rather than me and also this is how it was done last year, so I didn’t really think much of it.”
However, when the fantasy season ended, Hantz quickly left the league’s group chat on Twitter. League members speculated that Hantz wasn’t going to pay out the winnings.
“What are the odds Russell actually pays. I’d say about +500,” the winner wrote. “Zach any chance you can reach out to Russell for payment. I have no way of contacting him.”
Picker obliged, sending Hantz multiple messages that he says the Survivor runner-up ignored.
“Hey Russ, when you get a chance can you pay out the winner of the league,” Picker wrote on January 9.
The next day, he sent, “Russell you better pay the man.”
“Russell Hantz! Please tell me you’re not going to steal everyone’s money!” he tried again on January 12.
The league members were dismayed when they learned Hantz had not replied.
“Unbelievable how much of a scumbag he is!!!” the winner wrote in the group chat.
Another member admitted it was “pretty stupid” to give their money to an infamous reality show villain.
“Yeah, but that’s called theft,” Sammy McMahan replied.
The commissioner of a third league Hantz organized this year, Brett Dyson, told me that the winner of his league also did not receive a payout and that Hantz ghosted their Facebook page after the season.
“I know the winner wasn’t paid because everybody was on the same Facebook group,” Dyson said. “I was in contact with everybody in the league and the winner told me that he hasn’t received anything from Russell.”
Hantz told the members of Picker’s league that he was running four separate leagues this year and was “overwhelmed” with the logistics, despite only being in charge of receiving Venmo payments. In at least three of those four leagues, the winners were not paid.
“I just need my commissioners to make sure people pay that say they pay because when they win I will go look if they paid on my Venmo. If they didn’t that will be a problem because they will get nothing lol,” Hantz said.
Hantz also shared a screenshot of his Venmo account that showed the names of fantasy football players that had sent over their league dues. Interestingly, in the midst of the $50 buy-ins, Hantz can be seen transferring $500 out of his Venmo account.
In addition to failing to pay his winners, league members also suspected that Hantz was not-so-subtly cheating. In the league commissioned by Picker, Hantz claimed that his “brother” would also be joining. However, after the draft, Hantz’s brother’s team suddenly started trading all of its top players to Hantz. In another league that took place this year, Hantz had an unnamed “buddy” who wanted to join but conveniently could not make the draft.
It is not uncommon in fantasy football for two teams to collude — or for one individual to secretly run two teams — so that they can create one “super team” and have a better chance of winning weekly matchups. Such play is considered cheating and is prohibited by the ESPN fantasy football service.
The Spectator World’s investigation has thus far revealed that Hantz has taken at least $3,000 from unsuspecting Survivor fans. Other victims are welcome to reach out to us and tell their story.