In February 2003, the ending of “Joe Millionaire” on Fox turned America upside down as 40 million viewers watched Evan Marriott pick Zora Andrich.
Nineteen years later, on January 6, Fox released “Joe Millionaire: For Richer or Poorer,” recalling the time when Marriott and Andrich (now Zora Sabrina) were mainstream reality television stars.
In the original series, Marriott, 28, celebrated with wine and dined for a group of 20 women at a chateau in France. They thought it was Evan Wallace, who inherited $50 million — not a construction worker who earned $19,000 the previous year. During the series, he sought to find a partner that he felt was not interested in him solely because of his (fake) wealth.
It turns out that that was Andreich, a 29-year-old substitute teacher. “It really bothered me the fact that you inherited all that money,” she told Marriott once the stunt was finally revealed, which drew the biggest audience for primetime entertainment in three years.
Marriott and Andrich split the program’s $1 million prize, embarked on a media campaign and parted shortly thereafter.
Zora Sabrina answered some questions in The Post about “Joe Millionaire,” how it affected her life and her thoughts on “Joe Millionaire: For rich or poorer” – where two single men will date a group of women who don’t know it and only one of them is rich.
Why did you choose to appear in “Joe Millionaire”?
I actually didn’t choose to be on the show at first. I still, to this day, don’t know who sent me. The interview process was very long and detailed… I eventually decided to take part in the show, based on the investment of time alone.
Did you feel cheated when you found out that Evan Marriott is not a millionaire?
I have never felt cheated. If anything, I was relieved. Having had a very humble upbringing, she was deeply intimidated by his lavish lifestyle. I don’t think I can fully accept “reality” at all due to my personal concerns.
How did it feel to be in the media spotlight?
It was incredibly overwhelming. By nature, I am a homely person, more introverted. Being in the spotlight and all that it entails was more than I was ever ready for… I think some characters would be better equipped to navigate this experience.
Looking at nearly 20 years, do you think you made a mistake by appearing on the series?
I feel that reality show “The Stars” is generally viewed in a negative way… as if we are all striving for “5 minutes of fame”. I had enough insight or awareness to understand that this would damage my credibility, but I didn’t necessarily know to what extent. I was naive. participating colleagues [on “Joe Millionaire”], younger than me, seemed smarter, more mature and generally better equipped to take part in the show. However, he/most of the people were very kind and share the positive feedback and courtesy.
Are you in touch with Evan or anyone from the original series?
Evan and I have talked over the years. We share an experience that few others can handle. Despite our differences, I really like Evan. His heart and personality are Solomon – and I appreciate his bold, unapologetic personality.
Do you find yourself being asked about the show, or is it now just a glimpse into your resume, something you did “in another life“?
The days of crying, stalking, and getting into hysterics over my signature are definitely behind me — and it’s rare for people to recognize me these days, although I still occasionally stop by at the grocery store. Sometimes asked what season of “American Idol” you’ve appeared in… I politely offer, “I’m sorry, it looks like you mistook me for someone who appeared on a show that required talent.”
Do you have any words of advice for women that will appear in “Joe Millionaire: For Richer or Poor”?
I have no advice. Giving advice indicates that I am an expert and that is something I cannot claim to be. I just hope they feel comfortable and proud of the way they are portrayed.
Can you tell me a little bit about your life right now?
I’m a busy mom of two (and a half) kids. I am currently looking after a 1 year old baby – hence the ‘half’. I work in healthcare and teach yoga on the side as a hobby.