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Big Brother winner Eddie McGee says his season of the show was 'f---ing terrible'

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Leading up to the Big Brother season 24 premiere on July 6, EW caught up with 10 former U.S. winners from the show with a set of questions designed to have them look back at their time in the house as well what life has been like since leaving it. We start off with the show's first ever champion.

As the winner of the first-ever season of the U.S. edition of Big Brother back in the year 2000, Eddie McGee holds a pretty revered place in the annals of reality TV history. And yet this titan of the genre has never seen a single episode of his triumphant season, much less any other Big Brother season.

"I never watched my show, never mind somebody else's f---ing show," McGee tells EW. "My show was like watching f---ing paint drying, man. My show was boring. It was f---ing terrible, from what I heard. I don't know. I never watched it."

Alas, the initial season of Big Brother — which aired up to six nights a week (leading to tons of filler content) and allowed viewers, not contestants, to pick who was eliminated each week and who won the game — was indeed blasted by critics and audiences alike at the time, leading the program to be completely overhauled before its return a year later for season 2.

Eddie McGee on 'Big Brother' season 1
Eddie McGee on 'Big Brother' season 1

LUCY NICHOLSON/AFP via Getty Images Eddie McGee on 'Big Brother' season 1

However, as our recent rewatch of the alleged atrocity argued, there is a certain bizarre charm to the surreal fever dream that was season 1. And while Eddie can laugh about some of his season's obvious flaws, he also considers it the purest installment of Big Brother this country has ever seen — one that took place before the era of alliances that has dominated competition reality shows ever since.

In a wide-ranging chat, the 43-year-old Eddie talks all about his experience 22 years ago in the house, explaining why he was not there to please the other contestants, revealing his big regret of not being around for a family member who died on the very day he won the game, and naming the season 1 cast member who was "the first girl that I actually loved unconditionally." The reality-star-turned-actor (who showed up on Desperate Housewives) also talks about his recent appearances on a Fox hit series and what it would take to actually get him back inside the house.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, can you give us an update on what you've been up to since last appearing on Big Brother?

EDDIE McGEE: I've been acting in film and television since I got off. Most recently I got a small recurring role on Fox's 9-1-1 show. I play Jennifer Love Hewitt's therapist on it. I've done a couple episodes for them on the show, which is fantastic. I just taped a pilot for a show called Eddie's. It's kind of like a modern-day Cheers, starring me and George Wendt, who was Norm on Cheers.

The next project I have coming out is called The Creepy School Bus. It's based on this viral video series that I did with a buddy of mine, Paul Hough, on my YouTube channel, called Don't Turn Around. We've been doing these little horror stories. Our targeted audience is middle school and high school kids. It's kind of like a Goonies meets Aliens. The Creepy School Bus audiobook comes out later this year. It's actually going to be in every school library in the country.

Besides winning, what is your proudest moment from playing Big Brother?

I was a 21-year-old snot-nosed kid from Long Island, so just that was able to just be who I was, and hold what integrity I had. I was the same person from the day I went in until the day I got out.

What is your biggest regret from your Big Brother experience in terms of anything that happened in the house?

When I went into the house, my grandmother was sick with cancer. She had just gotten diagnosed when I was going into the house, and she got sicker and sicker, and she actually died the morning I came out of the house, so she didn't even get to see me win. She watched the whole show, and she died the morning of the finale and didn't get to see me win. And I wasn't there for her, and I wasn't there for my mom and my brother, who were super tight with her. So I do regret that. I do regret not being there for her and for my mom and for my brother.

That is the only regret I have. Other than that, like I said, I was a 21-year-old snot-nosed kid who just didn't give a s---. And I have no regrets on anything other than just not being there for my family when my grandmother was sick. I was locked up in the house and I wasn't there for grandmother, but at least every night I was able to go into her bedroom, and she could see me on TV.

What are your thoughts about how you were portrayed on the network episodes of the show?

I never watched my show, never mind somebody else's f---ing show. My show was like watching f---ing paint drying, man. My show was boring. It was f---ing terrible, from what I heard. I don't know. I never watched it. And it's funny, people asked me, years later, like, "You never watched it?" I go, "No, I lived it!" If there was an argument, well, I know what happened because I was f---ing there. And if they were talking behind my back, I don't give a s---.

Endemol was the production company. They came over from the Netherlands and executed it the way they did in Europe. And my year was the only year that stood alone, where the audience got to play God, not the players inside the house. So I knew going into the show I didn't need to have the approval of the people in the house.

We sat around the table one night. They were going around, "So why are you here?" And guys were saying, "Well, I'm here for the experience." And it got to me, I go, "Look, I'm 21-years-old, man. You think I want to be locked up in a house with a bunch of strangers for my 21st summer? Absolutely not. There's $500,000 at the end of this game. If you get in my way, I'll cut your f---ing throat."

The people in the house did not like that, and they started putting me up. I think there were 13 rounds of elimination and I think I was on the block for 11 of the 13. The first two, I squeaked by. Other than that, I was on the block. I was packing my bags every f---ing week to get kicked out.

But again, I knew I didn't need to please the people in the house. I was just honest. I was there for the money at the end of the day, to bring that money back to Long Island and back to my family. I'm competitive. I was a wheelchair basketball player. I was just a competitive guy. That's what I was f---ing there for.

Eddie McGee on 'Big Brother' season 1
Eddie McGee on 'Big Brother' season 1

LUCY NICHOLSON/AFP via Getty Images Eddie McGee on 'Big Brother' season 1

What are your feelings on the Diary Room — called the Red Room during your season — and the interviews you would do in there?

I was super comfortable. The producers that we had to speak to on the other side were super cool. It was brand f---ing new for them, and brand f---king new for us. If there was anything I wanted to express or vent about or something, they were there. They were accommodating. The producers over there on my season were fantastic. I can't say enough about them.

What was it like coming back to regular society after being in the house? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?

It was interesting. There was a song that came out by 3 Doors Down called "Kryptonite." Apparently, it was a big hit that summer. We went into the house. We got locked up on the Fourth of July in 2020 and we didn't get out till Sept. 29. But apparently this song came out and it was a huge summer hit, but we didn't have TV, radio, papers. We didn't have s---. So when we came out, I remember going, "Oh, this f---ing song is great!" And I remember playing it over and over again. And my friends were like, "That song is so played out!"

The adjustment I had to deal with was kind of like I went to high school with half the country. Because I'd be in an airport in Dallas, walking, and some guy would be like, "Yo, Eddie!" And I'd be like, "Yeah, what's up, dude?" "Hey man, how's your mom? How's your brother?" I'm like, "Do I know this f---ing guy? He's asking me about my brother. He's asking me about my mother. He's asking me how my friends are."

It's literally like going to high school with half the country. Because I'm a 6-foot-3 guy with one leg, walking down a city block. You can see me from miles away. So I didn't know if I actually knew these people before the show or if they just knew me from the show. Oh, and I got a cell phone. I'd never had a cell phone. I had a beeper before I went into the house. But then when I came out, I got a cell phone.

Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got out of the house where you regretted going on the show?

No. I have the acting career I have now because of it. I will never deny where I'm from, and I know I come from reality TV. I wanted to be an actor since I was like 5 years old. Then I lost my leg to cancer when I was 11. Once I lost my leg, I thought that I could not become an actor, because there's nobody in film or television for me to aspire to be. If you're African American, or if you're a Latino, or if you're gay, there's somebody you can identify with. But there is no mainstream disabled actor — not a guy in a wheelchair, not a guy with one arm, not a guy with one leg — there's nobody for the disabled community to identify with.

I was a broadcasting major and a theater minor. I went to the University of Texas in Arlington, and being that I lost my leg, I said, "Well, I can't be an actor, but I think I have an okay voice." And I was going to go into broadcasting. I was hopefully going to get a job on a Long Island radio station. I said, "Well, this wouldn't be a bad life. Get paid to listen to AC/DC and tell you about traffic on the 495. That doesn't sound terrible."

But a couple of guys I knew in college, they were film guys, and were like, "Hey, man, you wanted to be an actor, and you're fun and charismatic. Can I get you on my short?" So I did like three or four short films in college, and then Big Brother happened. And then when I came off, I wound up getting an agent in New York. And I've been happily working in television since, which is great.

The cast of 'Big Brother' season 1
The cast of 'Big Brother' season 1

LUCY NICHOLSON/AFP/Getty Images The cast of 'Big Brother' season 1

Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?

Brittany Petros and I are super close. I talk to her all the time. When I get to L.A., I usually try to sneak her out for a dinner or drinks or something like that. That's it, though. She's the only one I talk to.

Going into the show, Brittany was actually the first girl that I actually loved unconditionally. I saw her, and there was something about her, and I was like, "Come here. I want to just love you and protect you and take care of you." I'd never loved a girl like that before. It was interesting for me. I call her every Fourth of July and wish her a happy anniversary, because we met on the night of the show, which was the Fourth of July when we went in.

Do you still watch Big Brother, and, if so, what's your favorite season you were not on, and why?

No and no.

Who's one player from another Big Brother season you wish you could have played with or against, and why?

I met the second guy who won, Will Kirby. I bumped into him in a supermarket about two years ago. I was going to LAX to pick up somebody, and I was getting a coffee and just waiting for my buddy to get in, and a guy comes over. He's like, "Eddie?" And I looked at him. I was like, "Oh yeah." He was familiar to me, because he was the next guy and he was pretty popular. But we wound up bulls----ing and taking a photo. And that other dude, Mike Boogie, popped into this bar I was working at called Big Dean's in Santa Monica. Those were the only two I really met.

If you could make one change to any aspect of Big Brother, what would it be and why?

More money, baby!

What did you do with your prize money from winning the game?

Honestly, when I went into the thing, I was like, "Dude, if I walk out of here with 100 bucks more than I walked in, I'm happy." So to win the half a mil was great. I got out of the house, and a week later CBS sent the check for $500,000. Super f---ing cool to open up the mail and get a check for 500K. And I threw it right in the bank.

It was fantastic. I was making like $103 a day in interest. So I'd wake up in the morning and go, "Hmm… how the f--- am I going to blow $103 for no reason today? We're going to go buy fishing gear. We're going to buy shoes. We're going to go to dinner. What the f--- am I going to blow $103 that's not mine anyway?" But once the taxman came, he took more than half, because I filed in New York, and they took more than half. So of the $500,000, after taxes, I wound up walking with like $247,000 or something like that.

My uncle Mike was a banker over at Citibank, and he referred me to a broker. So I go and meet this guy and he's like, "You're in a fantastic position, kid, but you're not going to be able to touch this money. You're going to have to work like everyone else for your life, but when you're about 50-ish, if this rolls over the way it should, you're looking at like $4 million when you're 50."

So I invested the money, took a little bit of cash, put my little brother through criminal justice school, and I got myself a 1987 Buick Grand National. And then a couple years later, my father had a massive heart attack in a building in Jamaica, Queens. And he barely crawled up the stairs, and the super found him on the floor, wound up calling 911. They brought him back with the paddles, whole nine yards.

So the massive heart attack wound up putting in a pacemaker-defibrillator in him. With those electronics on his heart, he can't touch high-voltage wiring anymore, so he was forced into retirement. He did not have a great retirement plan or a pension or anything coming to him, so I wound up cashing in all the investment money I had and I paid off my parents' house, so that's where that went.

I paid off my parents' house, and everybody's fine now. They can breathe a little easier now, and the house is paid off. I'm 43 now. Trust me, $4 million in a few years sounds f---ing wonderful. Goddamn it! [Laughs]

Eddie McGee on 'Big Brother' season 1
Eddie McGee on 'Big Brother' season 1

LUCY NICHOLSON/AFP/Getty Images Eddie McGee on 'Big Brother' season 1

Finally, would you play again if asked?

No f---ing way. They asked me a few times and I politely declined. If they said they were doing all-winners, I'd be like "No problem, but I'm going to need $100,000 up front." Without sounding like too much of an a—hole, I was the first one, I was the first winner, and everybody's going to be f---ing gunning for me, man. I go in there, I know I'm a dead man. I'm first one out. There's no doubt about it. So I'll do it, but I got to get $100,000 up front.

I know goddamn well they're going to kick my ass out right away. And I tell you, it's all different now. If it went back to the old format that I was in, where people would vote online, that's more appealing to me than just having these strangers judge me on if I stay or go. F--- that. And then you got to be all sneaky, and you got to have alliances and all that s---. We never did any of that. We didn't know about any of that s--- with alliances.

The year I did, as boring as it might have been to watch, I think it was the purest, because it was the original format, the way the show was intended and branded and produced in Europe. And then the model obviously didn't work here, but there's something nostalgic about that, and something I respect, something I like more. Because they let the viewers play God, basically. They got to say who stays and goes.

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