The Traitors NZ: One player's 'bold move' shocks contestants after early exit from show

Paul Henry and bars of silver.
One contestant has left the game early - but not empty-handed. Photo credit: Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ

Warning - contains spoilers for episode 1 of The Traitors NZ

In a shocking start to The Traitors NZ, one player has left the new reality series before the game had even begun.

The Traitors NZ sees 19 contestants holed up in a luxury lodge in Aotearoa, trying to work out who are the saboteurs among them and who are the "faithful" before they're 'killed off' inside the game.

Players can win up to $70,000 in prize money. 

However, that prize pot is now down to $60,000 after Sam 'Fury' Johnson collected a $10,000 payday simply for turning up.

As the contestants all assembled at the luxury lodge, game host Paul Henry offered them the chance to get rich quick and never come back, saying there would be "no harm and no recriminations".

Revealing he'd set aside $10,000 in silver bars from the total $70,000 prize pot in a nearby field, Henry said if they wanted, they could run to get the money and leave the game richer but not play on.

As the moments passed, it seemed like no one would be bolting for the money.

Then, out of the blue, E-Blacks captain and professional gamer Sam 'Fury' Johnson shocked the 18 other contestants by running to get the money in the field. He was the only one of the group to make the move.

"This will be the biggest pay cheque I ever see in my life," Johnson said in the episode.

"Probably about 150 different scenarios ran through my head in a few seconds. And I decided, 'screw it'. I would love to play the whole game, but I work for minimum wage."

Speaking to Newshub after Johnson left the game, Henry said it was a "bold move".

"It's a big call and there was a lot of pressure on them all," Henry said.

"It didn't surprise me. It was a bold move and I think the consensus would be it was a very, very wise move - $10,000 for doing nothing looks pretty good. 

"You're under a lot of pressure because these people that are standing there, they're there to play a game. There were a number of them who subsequently thought, yeah, I wish I'd run.

"I think what we saw with Sam is very much he was in there to play and win, and he put himself on the winning side of that line. 

"What didn't surprise me is that it was someone from the winning side of the line that ran because the people from the losing side of the line, in their minds, clearly they were not there with the absolute desire of winning money - they were there to play a game."

Watch the first episode of The Traitors NZ on ThreeNow.