Big Brother Winner Taylor Hale Talks Her 'Monumental' Season 24 Win: 'There Is Value in Persevering'

Taylor Hale, BIG BROTHER
Taylor Hale, BIG BROTHER

CBS

Big Brother 24 might be over, but the Taylor Hale fandom has just only started "raising Hale."

It's barely been less than 24 hours since Hale, 27, ended her grueling and resilient 82-day run inside the Big Brother house as the first Black woman to win the mainline series, but she's already getting used to seeing her face all over Twitter.

"Apparently they call themselves the 'Hale Raisers', which I love. Tell them to keep raising Hale," Hale, 27, tells PEOPLE exclusively on Monday. "But it reminds me that the core instincts that I had, the assumptions that I had about myself, the way that I present myself and communicate with other people, it was not the person I was first understood to be when I was in that house."

"And knowing that people were able to see that, that just shows me that I'm not doing anything wrong," Hale continues. "I'm not the villain that even I was convinced for a little bit that I was. Knowing that the support is there, it means the world."

Hale, a personal stylist and awarded pageant queen, won the hearts of CBS viewers across the country as BB24's fan-voted America's Favorite Player on Sunday night, making her the first houseguest in the history of the series to take home both prizes for combined winnings of $800,000.

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RELATED: Big Brother History Is Made with a Powerful Speech and a Resilient Winner

To make things even more remarkable, Hale was able to do all of this while facing adversity on the show. Over her months in the BB house, Hale was falsely accused of weaponizing someone's mental health and called expletives by her fellow houseguests.

But ultimately, she never allowed her kindness to waiver, even after finding out an ally considered making an all-white alliance — all of which she touched on in her moving final plea to jurors.

In an 8-1 vote, Hale became the first Black woman to see the confetti fall after two decades of the main Big Brother series. She's leaving the game not just as a champion, but the people's champion — and she knew about those fan cams too!

"I can't wait to keep engaging. There's all these fan edits, and it's weird to see myself in the Big Brother house," Hale says through laughter, joking that she's only getting "a little messy" with her Twitter likes in the real world again.

Following her historic victory, Hale caught up with PEOPLE about how becoming Miss Michigan USA prepared her for the trials she faced in the house, finally reuniting with her friends — both new and old — the future of her bond with houseguest Joseph Abdin and her preference of Lays chips. (Because while her Lays chips may have crumbled under pressure this season, Hale did not.)

Taylor Hale, BIG BROTHER
Taylor Hale, BIG BROTHER

CBS

How has the day after the win been for you?

Hale: I've barely even had time to think of breathing. It's a lot of talking about my gameplay and reflecting on the game and realizing how big my win is. When you're in it, you don't realize how monumental these things feel. And when you start saying the words out loud, now it's starting to sink in I did the job that I came here to do. It's weighing on me a lot heavier than it was at first. It was a shock at first.

What's the first thing you did when you walked out those doors and had a second to yourself?

I took a very deep breath of fresh air and I looked at every tree that was around me. I was so happy I was no longer seeing the backyard and the grass. But outside of sitting for press, being debriefed and everything, I got back to my hotel. I had my phone, and my best friend flew out from DC... and I just sat there and I hugged her and we cried a little bit. Not because of my win and what it means for the two of us — she's also a Black woman — but because she and I realized how important our friendship is to each other. And she's been the one who has been manning my social media while I've been gone, so she has seen, not only the episodes, but she's been on the receiving end of a lot of the conversation that's happened about me online. This woman is like a sister to me. So seeing the impact that all of my moves and experiences had on her, it made me realize that my [win] is not just my own, it's impacted so many more people. Having that moment with her, it made it real again.

RELATED: 'Big Brother' Names First Black Winner in 23 Seasons with Xavier Prather's Victory: 'It's Surreal'

How did earning the title of Miss Michigan, and all that you accomplished before going into the house, prepare you for what you're seeing now — whether it's an outpouring of love or even the rare hate comments?

It's funny. You can do all the media training in the world, you can do all the interview prep in the world, but you're still a human being behind everything that you experience. When I was crowned Miss Michigan USA, I was the second Black woman in 15 years to take that crown, and I was of a darker complexion than my predecessor. So when I was crowned, I started receiving racist comments saying "Miss Michigan USA should not be Black," "Miss Michigan USA should give up her crown to her first runner up," who was a blonde white woman. So I'm used to criticism. I'm used to letting things roll off my back. And I won't say that I'm glad that I experienced that before, but it did come in handy in the house. But it's one of those things where you realize it's not my responsibility to coddle somebody else's hatred. It's my responsibility if I harm someone to take ownership of my actions, and try to find common ground there and apologize. But if someone is [spreading] hatred, or spreading rumors that are completely false, then it's not my responsibility to make up for their actions.

Monte Taylor, Julie Chen Moonves and Taylor Hale, Big Brother
Monte Taylor, Julie Chen Moonves and Taylor Hale, Big Brother

CBS

Your finale speech was one of the strongest of the night. Some fans on Twitter were comparing it to Dan's funeral speech from BB14. Do you think that speech will go down with some of the greats?

It sounds like it, but the thing that's so special about that speech is that it wasn't about gameplay. It wasn't about manipulation. It was just about the honest truth. There were nuggets in there that everybody could resonate with. When I was talking about the women in the game and how I wanted to support them, even when they didn't want to support me, how I was combating narratives about me, how I was pinned as a bully when it was never the case. I just wanted to send a message of resiliency and honesty and that's the same game that Monte said he was playing, but I was the one that actually had to reap the repercussions of it. So to overcome that and be able to put it all together in the end, and not make people on the jury feel like I was guilting them into a vote, but just talking about the truth. I think when it comes to going out in history, I would not be shocked if people continue to mention my name, which is so stupid to say out loud. That sounds so ridiculous.

I was a passive fan. I only started watching Big Brother last year when a super cut of Tiffany [Mitchell] creating the master plan popped up on TikTok. That is how I got into this game, by a Tiffany TikTok. And now people are telling me that I'm going down in history as one of the greats, I've made history twice over in one night in this game. It's unbelievable how I got here. But I'm so proud, so proud of what I've been able to show can be possible in the game.

Tiffany's a big fan of you and you met her last night. What was that like?

First, she's a lot smaller than I thought. You'd never think that looking at her. Oh my God, I adore her. But there were so many moments where, because the game I had to play was so defensive, I was always fighting for my life in that house. I thought that Tiffany would be disappointed in my game and every day I was like, "I just want Tiffany to like me. I just want her want to hang out with me. I just want to make her proud, my game playing and to get out of that house and know that she had actually been rooting for me since day one, since all the preseason things came out." That made my day because that is someone that I really wanted to earn the respect of and to know I did it early on, you just can't replicate that type of feeling.

Taylor Hale, BIG BROTHER
Taylor Hale, BIG BROTHER

CBS

Is there a moment in your game that you're most excited to watch back?

I do plan on watching it back. I've gotten some warnings from friends and family. So instead of having to take a break for the first couple weeks, I think my plan as of now is to get the synopsis and to see what went down, how things kind of played out. But then I think I need to just take my time really digesting everything, and maybe from there I'll have to reanalyze relationships that I have with people, or who knows? Maybe it'll be water under the bridge.

In terms of relationships and friendships, Joseph posted this really cute picture of the two of you on his Instagram Stories, and you've been haphazardly liking all the "Jaylor" tweets. How have conversations been while reuniting with him, especially after you were unable to say goodbye when he was evicted?

Oh, I was miserable... Joseph really was my rock, my sanity. He didn't need to be in the beginning. So knowing that my initial assumption about Joseph not turning on me was true, had I known circumstances were different, I probably would not have ended up in a second temporary showmance. But the "Jaylor" liking, me liking the "Jaylor" tweets, I truly have such a soft spot for the guy and I'm hopeful that whether we're friends or something more, we're going to be deeply, deeply connected forever now.

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When you look back at all you've went through and all you accomplished in this game, what do you hope your Big Brother victory can mean for kids watching at home? What do you hope they learn from your win?

I talk about what it means to be the first Black woman to win mainline of Big Brother. But I think my particular journey can relate to so many more people because it's just the story of resiliency and perseverance, and when people force you to doubt yourself, you have to believe in yourself. You need to understand that you are the person that you think you are. You can invest in yourself. You can have conversations to encourage people to see who you really are. To the point where people start to turn and say, "Wait, no, no, no, I always like this person. I never was really against them." I just want people to understand that there is value in persevering and [the] reward can be worth $800,000 and so much more in the end. Because there's so much more believing in yourself and trusting yourself at the end of the day.

Thinking about these Lays chips that you had this season, are there any flavors you've been missing out on or ready to try outside of the house? Or did they provide you with any flavor you wanted?

I got to get in there and have a little conversation with them. But when it comes to Lays, I'm not a Ruffles girl, I don't like flavors, I just want the classic original Lays potato chips and nothing else. That's when I'm the happiest girl.