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Bryce Lee, the controversial millionaire contestant on Netflix's 'The Trust,' apparently went on the show not realizing he was competing for money

Bryce Lee, the controversial millionaire contestant on Netflix's 'The Trust,' apparently went on the show not realizing he was competing for money
Bryce Lee on Netflix's "The Trust"
Bryce Lee on Netflix's "The Trust."Courtesy of Netflix
  • Warning: Spoilers ahead for the first seven episodes of "The Trust."

  • Bryce Lee, a real-estate agent, competed in Netflix's new reality show despite already being a millionaire.

  • Lee told Business Insider he was unaware of the $250,000 prize when he signed up.

"The Trust" contestant Bryce Lee faced backlash from his fellow competitors after revealing midway through the season that he was already a millionaire. But Lee, who was voted out in the fifth episode released Wednesday, says he did not know he was even competing for money when he signed up for the show.

In the new Netflix reality show, 11 strangers from different backgrounds are taken to an island resort and told they have won $250,000 to be split evenly between them. The catch is that they must decide whether to share the money or secretly cut people out of the group to get a bigger portion of the pot.

At random moments, contestants are also sent to a vault below the island resort by host Brooke Baldwin, where they're offered rewards that would benefit either themselves individually or the group.

Another curveball is thrown into the mix in the first episode of season one, during a game in which the 11 contestants hear secrets and have to guess which of their fellow competitors the secret is about.

One of the secrets revealed is that someone in the group became a millionaire at the age of 21. The audience immediately discovers that Lee is the secret millionaire, but the real-estate agent doesn't own up to the secret at the time, fearing that the group will kick him out if they think he doesn't need the money.

Lee told Business Insider that he was sought out by the casting team of "The Trust" but was not told about the conditions of the game.

According to Lee, he was under the impression when he signed up that "there might be a big reward on the line," but that the experience was "really was an opportunity to learn something about myself."

Here, Lee explains his decision to initially hide his wealth and then reveal it to the group during a dinner in episode four, leading to his elimination the following episode.

Bryce Lee and Jake Chocolous in "The Trust."
Bryce Lee and Jake Chocolous in "The Trust."Courtesy of Netflix

What made you decide to sign up to go on "The Trust?"

I had no idea what I was really signing up for. When I got that first phone call, it was about three or four months before filming.

It was like, "Hey, there's an opportunity where you could go on a life-changing trip. You'll learn a lot about yourself. We found you because you are this top-producing real-estate broker in Washington. You're self-made; you have built this company with your mom, and we want to see your perspective in this experience."

Following that conversation, it was kind of back-to-back Zoom interviews, phone calls, conversations with other casting producers. It unfolded from there until I got on a final Zoom call, and they said, "All right, you're going to be leaving in a week. Are you ready?"

I think it was in March that we finally started filming. And then when we're standing on the cliff and being told that this is what you signed up for — that was the first moment we truly knew where we were.

Bryce Lee in the confessional interview room in "The Trust."
Bryce Lee in the confessional interview room in "The Trust."Courtesy of Netflix

You didn't reveal you were the secret millionaire until episode four. What made you decide to hide that part of your identity?

I don't share it with people because it just opens too many doors. Not for distrust, but it opens up doors for people to make assumptions.

On the show, when the group heard, "At 21 years old, I became a millionaire," it was a shift. I saw other people's reactions, just reading the secret off the card. Had I stood up and accepted that it was me, it's hard to think about what would've happened.

But on day one, it would have been too many conversations to communicate effectively with everyone there if I had stood up and owned it. I wanted people to know my heart and not what's in my wallet. I wanted people to know me and not judge me by a label or a title.

So I knew going into that house and shielding away as much as possible that I built my own wealth, they could see me as someone who knows what they're doing, who has a level head, and then I could back that up with actions.

There were parts of me I felt that I had to hide away, like these shoes. I've had these shoes for seven years, these designer brands. There's so much more to life than what you have in your closet. And I'm not dripped in jewels. I don't have designer overflowing from every drawer.

It's a badge of honor because I know how hard I work to get those items. I hold those dear because those were something that I felt would establish my value as a young entrepreneur.

Bryce Lee and Julie Theis having a conversation on "The Trust."
Bryce Lee and Julie Theis having a conversation on "The Trust."Courtesy of Netflix.

When you finally decided to come clean, were you worried about the reactions of your fellow contestants?

I knew that Julie [Theis] would be the most affected by what I said. She was the most verbal with her opinion about it: "If you are a millionaire, then why are you even here?" I wasn't going to be the one to invalidate what she went through, even though my family has gone through hardships.

My father grew up in Section 8 housing. My mother grew up on welfare and food stamps. Completely different lifestyles. And they hustled so hard to make sure that their children didn't have the same experiences that they did, that their children would have a different lifestyle and a different childhood, and break this generational kind of turmoil.

I have a massive appreciation for our experience as a family and a massive appreciation for where we are now versus where we came from. I wasn't going to come on the air and talk about my trauma.

[Lying about my wealth] was something that was eating me from the inside. It was really hard for me because I am a trustworthy person. I may not relate directly to someone's story, but I can absolutely listen and I can absolutely validate other people's perceptions. I can validate others' experiences even though that's not what I directly experienced.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Netflix didn't immediately respond to BI's request for comment.

The season finale of "The Trust" will air January 24 on Netflix.

Read the original article on Business Insider