If you’re a relatively new fan of CBS’s “Survivor” — which just celebrated its 500th episode — you probably don’t know who Sue Hawk is or why she rose to infamy by calling Richard Hatch a snake and Kelly Wiglesworth a rat. It was the defining moment that helped cement “Survivor” as the greatest reality show on TV, even 17 years. Watch the iconic “snakes and rats” video above and read a transcript below of what I consider to be the best “Survivor” moment of all time. Disagree with me? Then be sure to name YOUR favorite scene down in the comments section.
Here’s the transcript of Sue Hawk’s snakes and rats speech from the “Survivor: Borneo” finale, in all its glory:
I have no questions. I just have statements. Rich, you’re a very openly arrogant, pompous, human being. But I admire your frankness with it. You have worked hard to get where you’re at and you started working hard way before you come to the island. So with my work ethic background, I give that credit to you. But on the other hand, your inability to admit your failures without going into a whiny speech makes you a bit of a loser in life.
Kelly, the rafting persona queen. You did get stomped on, on national TV, by a city boy that never swam, let alone been in the woods or jungle or rowed a boat in his life. You sucked on that game. Anyways, I was your friend at the beginning of this, really thinking that you were a true friend. I was willing to be sittin’ there and put you next to me. At that time you were sweeter than me. I’m not a very openly nice person. I’m just frank, forward, and tell you the way it is. To have you sit there next to me, and me lose $900,000 just to stomp on somebody like this.
But as the game went along and the two tribes merged, you lied to me, which showed me the true person that you are. You’re very two-faced and manipulative to get where you’re at anywhere in life. That’s why you fail all the time. So at that point of the game, I decided then just to go out with my alliance to my family and just to hold my dignity and values in check and hoping that I hadn’t lost too many of them and play the game just as long as possible and hang in there as long as possible.
But Kelly, go back to a couple of times Jeff said to you, ‘What goes around, comes around.’ It’s here. You will not get my vote. My vote will go to Richard. And I hope that is the one vote that makes you lose the money. If it’s not, so be it. I’ll shake your hand and I’ll go on from here. But if I were to ever pass you along in life again and you were laying there dying of thirst, I would not give you a drink of water. I would let the vultures take you and do whatever they want with you, with no ill regrets.
I plead to the jury tonight to think a little bit about the island that we have been on. This island is pretty much full of only two things: snakes and rats. And in the end of Mother Nature, we have Richard the snake, who knowingly went after prey, and Kelly, who turned into the rat that ran around like the rats do on this island, trying to run from the snake. I feel we owe it to the island’s spirits that we have learned to come to know to let it be in the end the way that Mother Nature intended it to be. For the snake to eat the rat.
A whopping 51.69 million viewers watched “Survivor’s” Season 1 finale on August 23, 2000, with Sue’s speech becoming the water-cooler moment of the year. That’s a viewing figure that’s almost nonexistent today, outside of sporting events and the occasional awards show.
Richard ended up winning the first-ever million dollar prize by a 4-3 vote, thanks in part to jury member Greg Buis asking the final two to pick a number. Richard guessed closer to Greg’s number than Kelly, who lost by one vote.
Sue and Richard would reunite a few later for “Survivor: All-Stars,” but Sue removed herself from the game after Richard rubbed his naked body up against her during a challenge. Kelly returned in Season 31 for “Survivor: Second Chance,” but failed to match her earlier success and was eliminated in 11th place.
Get a closer look at the Season 34 contestants by clicking through our cast photo gallery. In our “Survivor” predictions center, you get to answer the following questions before each episode airs on CBS every Wednesday at 5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET.:
Who will win “Survivor”?
Who will be eliminated?
Who will win Reward?
Who will win Immunity?
Will a hidden idol be played?
Will anybody quit or be medevaced?
Gold Derby readers just like YOU often turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, so it’s important that you give us your predictions. You can continue to update and change your forecasts throughout the week, just click “Save” when you’ve settled on your choices. You’ll compete to win bragging rights and a place of honor on our leaderboard. Be sure to read our contest rules and sound off on the season of “Survivor” in our reality TV forum.