In their very different ways, the two winners of the first season of the hit reality show hunted – in which nine teams of two tried to evade capture for 21 days while being pursued by dozens of former cops and surveillance experts – each felt they had something to prove to the world.
“I’m the type of person who plans, then over-plans, and then plans again on top of that,” says Rob Harneiss, a 33-year-old married hairdresser from WA. “There’s a certain perception about what I do, so I felt they wouldn’t expect that from me.”
Melburnian Stathi Vamvoulidis, 35, who competed with his friend Matt Bergin, also wanted to shift perceptions. “We were gay men wanting to defy some stereotypes, but also to reinforce some others,” he says. “It’s really important to show the queer community is not just creative artists – we can excel in an operational game-play strategy environment. When we grew up in the 1980s, early ’90s, our community didn’t really have that visibility.”
As the winners of 10’s surprise hit – it has averaged more than a million viewers per episode – Vamvoulidis and Harneiss got to split a prize pool of $100,000. Each plans to use that money to start a family: Vamvoulidis, who is single, through surrogacy, Harneiss and his wife from him Prue through IVF.
“I’ve been a sperm donor for the past 17 years so IVF has always been a part of my life, and I’ve known for as long as I can remember that I wanted to be a dad,” says Vamvoulidis, who made no secret of his plans on the show.
But it wasn’t until the series began airing that Harneiss knew they had this ambition in common.
“I never heard about Stathi’s story until after the fact. I was like, ‘You’re stealing my story’,” he quips.
The pair have one more thing in common: each was determined to share the prize money with the other member of their team.
Vamvoulidis’ friend Bergin and Harneiss’ co-fugitive, policeman Jake Rozario, both made it to day 19 before being captured. But splitting the money was never in question.