Only three Big Brother contestants were left standing on Wednesday’s Season 21 finale: two lovebirds, and a houseguest that loathes birds.
Jackson Michie, Holly Allen and Nicole Anthony all survived 90-something days in the BB house, which culminated with the jury’s decision to award one player the $500,000 prize. But who claimed it?
Before this season’s winner could be revealed, Big Brother had some finale-night business to attend to, including one last Head of Household competition and the final eviction of the summer. Let’s break down the highlights of the 90-minute conclusion:
* Cliff joins the rest of the jury, and Big Brother legend Will Kirby moderates a debate about which of the final three houseguests should win the money. The jurors seem to agree that Jackson played a ruthless game, both in social manipulation and competition wins — but do they want to vote for someone who messed with their heads and wasn’t very nice, even if he played well? As for Holly, many jurors seem to think she rode Jackson’s coattails to the end, while Nicole’s strategy as a low-key social gamer is equally praised and criticized.
* Since Jackson won Part 1 of the final Head of Household competition, Holly and Nicole face off in Part 2, which involves climbing a rock wall in order to hang numbers next to pictures of different events that happened throughout the summer. Nicole completes the challenge in about 14 minutes, but it isn’t enough to beat Holly, who got it done in just 10 minutes. (To Nicole’s credit, she wipes her tears long enough to make a final pitch to Holly, attempting to convince Holly that she will only win the grand prize if she takes Nicole to the final two over Jackson.) (Which is probably true.)
* Holly and Jackson then compete in the third and final HOH portion, which requires them to identify false statements made by the jury members about previous events from this season. Jackson doesn’t miss a single question… and Holly misses one, making Jackson the season’s very last Head of Household.
In a move that shocks absolutely no one, he evicts Nicole — and even though her elimination is a bummer, I’ve yet to see a better moment on TV this year than when Nicole notices her family sitting in the live audience, which literally brings her interview with Julie to a halt. I’m not crying, you’re crying! (JK, I’m also crying.)
* As is BB finale tradition, the jurors get a chance to interrogate the finalists — and they don’t hold back. By far the most pointed question is one directed at Jackson, who is asked to clear his name after he treated female houseguests in a degrading and condescending way. He says he never meant to come across that way, and the jurors look… skeptical.
* Speaking of controversy, the first five evictees of the season are brought back, and Julie wastes no time addressing the bullying and derogatory comments that took place in the house, particularly against Kemi. (She appreciates the apologies from Jack, Christie and Jackson, but insists “you should know what you’re apologizing for before you apologize.”)
Plus, Jackson gets grilled about his Night 1 decision to banish David, Jessica, Kemi and Cliff, which many viewers perceived as a racist decision given that three of those houseguests are minorities. Jackson seems absolutely stunned by the accusations, insisting his choices were purely strategic.
* Then, it’s finally time for Julie to reveal the jurors’ votes. By a vote of 6-3, the winner of Season 21 is… Jackson! But considering the news he just got — that America might not think he’s a great dude — Jackson is totally stone-faced as he gets that confetti shower he’s been talking about all summer.
“I did it for my family. I did it for Mom, I did it for my dad,” he solemnly tells Julie. “At the end of the day, what matters more to me than half a million is that they’re proud of me. And I just hope that everything’s all right.” In fact, once Julie closes out the broadcast, Jackson can be heard telling his parents, “I’m not racist,” which might just be the most bizarre ending to any season of Big Brother… ever?
* Oh, and Nicole wins America’s Favorite Houseguest and pockets $25,000. Yay, Nicole!
That’s a wrap, Big Brother fans! Do you think Jackson deserved to win? And what do you make of his response to this season’s controversy? Cast your vote in our poll below, then drop a comment with your thoughts on the finale!