Celebrity

15 Years After He Deceived Us All, "Joe Millionaire" Is Looking Very Different

Do you ever sit and wonder what the world was like before we embraced reality television shows?

Nowadays, it's hard to come across a network that doesn't have at least one reality show. From competing for a singing contract, and watching a rich family's drama to vying for a bachelor's heart, there's a little bit of everything for everyone.

If you were among those who jumped on the reality TV bandwagon early on, then you'll remember that in the early 2000s, the stars of The Bachelor weren't the only ones looking for love on camera.

Daily Mail

In 2003, Evan Marriott became one of the most popular men in America when he was cast on the Fox show Joe Millionaire. He tricked 20 women into believing that they were on the show to compete for the heart of the heir to a $50 million fortune.

Bustle

At the end of the series, the finalists and the viewers find out that Marriott is just your average joe, who worked as a construction worker prior to coming  on the show. During the show's surprise ending, Marriott became half a million dollars richer when he and the winner, Zora Andrich, were given $1 million to split between them.

“I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that Zora wasn’t into my money,” Marriot told People at the time. “Zora was an innocent girl who was sweet and nice, and she was kind.”

People.com

Unfortunately, the couple went their separate ways shortly after.

Andrich went back home to New Jersey, while Marriott remained in Los Angeles, where he got a taste of the fast celebrity life. He appeared on televised interviews, magazines, and red carpets for sometime before suddenly dropping out of the spotlight.

So what has the Joe Millionaire star been up to since?

Marriott was spotted at the Evolution of Relationship Reality Shows discussion at The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills back in 2015 as part of WEtv's panel.

He discussed what pushed him to star on the reality show, and the impact that decision has had on his life.

"The popular phrase is 'You knew what you were getting into.' Well no, I didn't," Marriott told ET. "It was so embryonic. It was so new that no, you didn't know what you were getting into. I didn't know what I was walking into. I thought it was like Blind Date. It was a half-hour show. And then they sprung it on me that I was going to France. And I'm thinking, 'What the hell?' And then they offered me 50 grand."

Bustle

Marriott also revealed that he had a hard time being in public after Joe Millionaire ended.

"I've had people approach me in restaurants and women tell me how horrible I am for putting the girls through that," Marriott said. "I'm like, 'look, I'm just here eating my meal.'"

He added, "It's not hard to embrace fame," Marriott said. "Anybody can get kicked into a pool - it's treading water once you're in that pool."

Since leaving the reality TV world, Marriott briefly tried his hand at modelling, but wasn't very successful. He decided to leave fame behind and go back to his original passion.

Us Weekly

Now, a once clean-shaven Marriott is 43 with a full beard that he jokingly claimed he grew "overnight." He has no desire to be back under the spotlight and is once again working as a construction worker.

"I started a business for myself, and everything is great," Mariott explained. "I did my first job I got it and literally almost was in tears. I called my dad and said, ‘I feel like I’ve just been paroled. This is where I should have been.’"

Bustle

As for the show's winner, she now goes by Zora Sabrina and is a foster mother of two. She works as a yoga instructor and models on the side. She told People that she "never felt bothered by the premise of the show."

CNN

She used her prize money to pay off her mom's mortgage and bought her a new car.

"It brought me great happiness to help her as she made immense sacrifices for me over the years," the dating show contestant said. "She always juggled two to three jobs and we often relied on homeless shelters for meals. So I’m sure you can imagine how privileged I felt to share my winnings."

She also revealed that she and Marriott have actually "stayed in touch and are on friendly terms."

Do you remember watching Joe Millionaire? Let us know!

Awa has been writing for Shared for 3 years. She is a serial snacker who unapologetically loves celebrity gossip. Drop her a line at awa@shared.com.