Simon Cowell: I can’t do anything about £1m winner
Published 09/09/2011 | 08:00
Simon Cowell said the controversial first winner of the £1 million game show Red or Black? should look at his "conscience" when he decides what to do with his prize money.
Nathan Hageman, 31, won the first big prize on the show, but concern grew after it emerged he had a violent past.
The bricklayer was initially reported to have been jailed for attacking a man, but it has since been disclosed he attacked a woman, thought to be his ex-girlfriend.
Cowell said: "I'm not in a position to force anyone to do anything. Once he got through that's why he got the money, that's his own conscience what he decides to do with it."
The showbiz supremo told journalists he thought domestic violence was "disgusting" but said Mr Hageman would still get his money.
He said: "He's got to make his own decision. Now if was him, I know what I would do.
"I would give away part of the money to the person he had the altercation with and a charity, I mean I would do it."
TV bosses have axed three contestants this week after finding "inconsistencies" during a background check and tighter checks have been brought in on criminal convictions.
ITV knew about Mr Hageman's five-year jail sentence, of which he served two-and-a-half years, but it is thought to have been unaware the victim was a woman.
Cowell, who described the show as "rather like the lottery but with better odds", said "human error" had been to blame for the mistake.
He said: "Whatever checks should have been done either weren't done properly or weren't relayed to us because it put us in a horrible position because all we wanted to do was to give the million to someone we genuinely felt deserved it and needed some help."
He added he expected a second series of the show to be made and had already had three approaches from the United States to make an American version.
The TV supremo denied it was a publicity stunt, saying: "We don't sit there hoping things like this are going to happen, I mean genuinely we wanted this to be 'happy endings'."
Pig farmer Darren Thompson, 37, from Bedale in North Yorkshire, last night became the latest contestant in the series to win the top prize of £1 million.
As well as marrying his fiancee of nearly seven years, Hayley, he will buy a new house with his fortune and has pledged to buy two new pigs who will be called Ant and Dec.
After the win the father of two said: "I can't really explain, your mind is full of everything, yet it is blank. It really hasn't sunk in yet. I'm feeling extremely excited and nervous."
He said he has no intention of giving up his job now that he is a millionaire.
"I did tell my boss that 'if I win the million don't expect me in on Saturday' but I will go back in on Sunday, I won't be giving up work. Tonight I'm going to go back to the hotel and have a couple of drinks and then off to bed as I'm exhausted."