Chris E. Hayner

Writer. Jerk. Neat dude.

The time I won Big Brother.

big-brother-15-keySo my job has afforded me many cool opportunities. Like, too many. It’s weird. I’ve gotten to talk to TV and movie stars I’ve loved all my life (Danny DeVito), I’ve gotten to go watch movies at the Walt Disney Studio lot (Iron Man 3 and Monsters University). I just get to do things that it makes no sense I’m allowed to do.

All of those things are nothing compared to one specific event, though. On June 10, I was able to achieve a dream I’ve had for over a decade. I got to move into the Big Brother House. Big Brother is a reality TV show that started while I was still in high school. It’s the only one of those shows I watch and I’ve been with it since the beginning.

Every year, before that season’s house guests move in, CBS and the production team invite several members of the media to ‘move in’ for the day and compete in a week’s worth of the game compacted into that 12-hour period. I got to go and represent Zap2it.

Just walking onto the CBS lot in Studio City was a little weird. So many TV shows have been and are made there, including Parks and Rec. It was fun seeing Lil’ Sebastian signs just leaning up against the wall. The real fun happened when I got to the Big Brother green room, though. They mic’d us up (Everyone in the Big Brother house wears a microphone) and we got to chit chat and evaluate the competition we would be facing.

I only barely knew one person there, but there were a couple I immediately dug. One was because she sounded Canadian. Anyone who knows me, knows of my love for the Great White North.

jillian-maclaughlinWhen we were put into random groups, I was among the first three people to enter the house, which was kind of amazing. Walking through the door and seeing what I’ve been staring at on TV since 2000 was very surreal. Immediately you jump into action and pick a bed as your “place.” Then the house search begins. While other people come in to find their beds, I just explored. I touched everything, I counted stuff, I just took it all in.

Eventually we all sat down in the living room for introductions and I was pleased to learn that the girl who sounded Canadian was in fact from Canada. What’s more, she’s from the part of Canada I dig most, Nova Scotia. I’ve been twice and plan to go back within the next year and a half.

Not only that, she was a cast member on Big Brother Canada. Actually, she was the winner of Big Brother Canada, Jillian MacLaughlin. She was the first person called into the diary room (DR) to talk to the camera and instantly another of the media folks (Matt, who had been in the house three times prior for media day) started plotting to get her out. He cited the way she won her season as reason enough. I knew a bit about how the Canadian version went and wasn’t quite as convinced. I also didn’t want to not trust the Canadian, because they’re all so nice.

dan-gheeslingNot long after we were surprised to find Dan Gheesling (Winner of BB 10, runner up on BB 14, such an awesome guy) walking through out front door. He said he was there to take someone out of the house with him and that we needed to start talking about who should leave. Immediately, Matt said Jillian has to go. He was also a little pissed that no one backed him up on that idea. That’s when Dan dropped the bomb: He wasn’t taking anyone out of the house, but was there to host a Head of Household competition.

Now Matt had created a huge target on himself and the last person he would need to win the HOH is Jillian. The HOH was simple, Dan gave us two options of fake reality shows, and whichever one the majority picked as a better idea was the right answer. Anyone who picked the other one was eliminated. I got knocked out when people didn’t pick Paranormal Paratroopers, which is bananas. Ghosts are amazing.

In the end, of course, Jillian won and Matt was left on the hot seat. The one person he didn’t need to be king or queen of the house was in charge. Jillian’s first duty was to choose Have Nots for the day. The Have Nots can only eat the “slop” provided by Big Brother for the day. Slop is notorious in the house because, well, it’s gross. As something of a superfan, I’ve always wanted to try slop. I also wanted to get on the house’s good side, because at the end of the day one of us would be evicted and branded the day’s loser.

So I volunteered to be a Have Not. Why wouldn’t I? It was just for a day, and it might make people like me because I’m saving them from it. It also gets me on Jillian’s good side as it’s one less person she has to choose. Let’s be honest, I wanted to team with the Canadian. Matt had the same idea and volunteered, because he needed to save face after targeting Jillian.

From there, the game was on. People started breaking off into smaller groups to plot, and everyone wanted Jillian’s ear to see where she stood for evictions. The first person to pull her away was a guy named Jarrett. Some thought it was pretty aggressive of him to jump into the game like that, but it made sense. We’re only there a day, it’s an accelerated version of the game.

Matt was most upset by Jarrett pulling Jillian away, or so he wanted us to believe. When it came time for me to have a moment with Jillian, it was clear Matt was going up. When she floated the idea of Kerry (another guy in the house), I wasn’t opposed. He had been mostly quiet so far and was the one we had all talked to the least.

big-brother-15-nominationsOnce nominations finally rolled around, I was never more relieved than to see my key come out of the box. As you can see by the photo, in the moments leading up to my key being pulled, I was very nervous. We all were. It’s strange, but even being in there for just a day, you get wrapped up in the game of it all.

When all the keys were pulled, it wasn’t entirely surprising to see that Matt and Kerry had been nominated for eviction. The only way one of them could guarantee their safety was to win the Power of Veto competition. Matt expected to be nominated, but I think Kerry was definitely caught off-guard. He seemed a little stunned that he was chosen. Naturally, Jillian let him know that the true target was Matt and she would do what she needed to make sure he went home.

Not long after, Jillian emerged from DR with a bunch of colored bandannas. She said it was time to pick partners for the POV competition. I saw orange and, it being my favorite color, I immediately called dibs. When Jillian threw the bandannas down she and I both grabbed orange. I’m not sure if she wanted to team with me or not, but hey, I called dibs so I knew what color I was going for. From there we all suited up in overalls and goggles, for what was sure to be something very messy.

big-brother-power-of-veto-povAnd messy it was! We we stepped into the backyard, it was themes to a chili cookout, but this was unlike any chili I’d ever seen before. Each team has 12 giant bowls of “chili” lined up, each of which contained a puzzle piece. At the end of the line was a puzzle board. Seems simple enough, grab the puzzle pieces, assemble them, win. Of course, the twist is you can only get the puzzle pieces with your head and face, meaning you had to go fishing for them with your mouth, hence the goggles.

I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to the physical competition, because I know my limits and I know how insane some of the physical competitions on the show can be. This one wasn’t too bad, luckily. There was some hustling involved and a lot of near-vomiting because of the “chili,” but nothing I couldn’t handle. The chili itself was a weird mixture of gelatin, sugar water, tomatoes, cheese and sour cream that had been sitting in the sun. Really disgusting.

This was a must-win competition for Matt, because he was the obvious target and needed to pull himself off the block. It wasn’t meant to be, though. Matt didn’t win POV, and neither did Kerry. In fact, Jillian and I won the contest. I totally carried my fair share and, luckily, was able to piece together the puzzle to score us the win. Not before I got utterly confused and told Jillian that there was still a piece in the chili though, which led her to dunk her head in all 12 bowls. There was no missing piece, I was jut flustered. Still, we pulled out the win and decided that I would take the POV duties on my shoulders, as she already had HOH. Matt’s hopes now rested on me pulling him from the block.

This is where the strategy came into play. Prior to the POV competition, Matt pulled Jarrett aside into a private room to “have it out” with him due to Jarrett getting Jillian’s ear early on. Matt thought Jarrett was selling him out. At a certain point though, Jillian pulled me aside convinced that Jarrett and Matt were working together. After thinking it over, it made some sense. There was a contingent of people who had been in the house together at least once before. They had played the game together before. Those people were Matt, Jarrett, Patrick, Dru and Brian. If the previous media day house guests were in fact working together, Matt would have the vote to stay, sending Kerry packing at the end of media day. There were nine players that day, the two nominees could not vote and the HOH only votes to break a tie. If Matt had four friends voting to keep him, he isn’t going anywhere.

That’s when the idea sparked between Jillian and I. What if I take Kerry down and she replaces him with one of the folks who had been in the house with Matt before? Kerry would be thankful for coming off the nomination block and hopefully vote the way we wanted. Jarrett couldn’t go up. He was chosen to host the POV competition, which made him safe from nomination. That left Patrick, Dru and Brian. We were both unsure about Patrick, but felt confident that Dru and Brian were definitely loyal to Matt.

I leaned toward Brian because of the others in the house, Dru was the one I’d met before and we set up a sort of alliance before going into the house. We were going to keep each other safe, because we drive the same car and are awesome. So Brian it was. I felt bad, because he’s a good guy, but to get Matt out of the house it needed to be done.

Before the ceremony, Matt told me to not just fall in line with Jillian, but to shake things up. What I big-brother-15-evictiondon’t think he expected was the way I planned to shake things up, by saving Kerry and sealing his fate. After he delivered one of the very best POV speeches I’ve ever heart, calling Jillian a puppet master and saying I shouldn’t use the veto because she wouldn’t want it, he seemed truly surprised that I saved Kerry. Brian was equally surprised to find himself nominated, but again, it needed to be done.

When the vote came in, Matt got one person who wanted to keep him, Dru. The other five, myself included voted for him to walk out the door. Casting a vote to evict was another in a long line of surreal moments throughout the day. Taking a seat in the DR and choosing who you want to leave it a very strange moment. Luckily, unlike a couple of the votes it seems, I wasn’t conflicted. Matt’s a cool guy, but he had to go.

When all was said and done, Matt was out the door and it was time for production to reveal the day’s winner. See, when voting for who should be evicted, we were also asked who played the game best that day. Imagine my surprise when I found out I’d won that vote. I didn’t understand why at first, but I feel a large part of that was my head was still swimming being in the house. Truthfully, I was still coming down a couple days later.

Looking back on it now, I don’t know that I was the best player of the day, but I know I achieved my goal. One of the first questions I was asked in DR at the beginning of the day was how I’d play the game, what my strategy was. It was simple, I was going to be as nice as I could to everyone. I tend to be a friendly guy when I’m trying, an I wanted to use that to my advantage to not alienate anyone.

It’s not the game of a floater, it’s that of someone who isn’t looking to make enemies. I was able to pull out a competition win when I needed and worked with someone to put together a strategy to make sure the ‘villain’ of the day went home.

That ended my one and only day in the Big Brother house, for now anyway. I’m not going to lie and say it didn’t make me want to apply for the show proper. It was one of those moments where I thought “I think I could handle this.” Maybe I will. If not, perhaps I’ll at least be able to go back next media day to defend my crown.


  1. Matt Whitfield is terrible. You did the right thing. I hope you end up in the Big Brother house actually playing the game someday. You already have a built in fanbase.

  2. Heck yes, you need to play for real!! I AM YOUR FAN!!! (Scary, isn’t it?? 😉 )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


© 2018 Chris E. Hayner

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑