There is only one real winner on Big Brother. And for season 18, that is Nicole Franzel.
Not only did she win the game, but she is now the first female ever to beat a male in the final two. She was called a snake all season long by the likes of Michelle Meyer, Jozea Flores and Da'Vonne Rogers and even host Julie Chen, but ultimately that snake slithered her way to winning half of a million dollars. "I was surprised that it was Nicole," Chen told The Hollywood Reporter about the end result at the season 18 finale. And if Chen was on the jury, she adds, "I would have voted for Paul. I didn't like the way that he answered the questions, but my gut tells me I would have voted for Paul."
Whose jury vote for Nicole was the most obvious? That would be her showmance, Corey Brooks. Although his showmance pulled out the win, the baseball coach and college baseball player received backlash earlier in the season for telling a story about lighting a goat on fire.
"Everyone has one of those crazy college stories. People were telling crazy stories and I said, 'Hey, one of my teammates got so drunk and he was joking around about setting a goat on fire," Brooks told THR. "It was a joke, but he didn't actually do it. It's not funny. That's just how people get drunk and it's crazy talk."
While many superfans weren't the biggest supporters of Nicole and Corey, both of them made it far in the game, and Nicole is laughing all the way to the bank with $500,000. The returning player and winner of the game opened up to THR about not having alumni support, the future for her and Corey, and much more.
I was a huge fan of yours.
In season 16.
Oh season 16! (Laughs.) A different, different game! Season 16 I came in, I thought I was at summer camp, I had a great time, I loved every single day in the house and didn't work that hard. This season if I wanted anything to change I was going to have to be strategic. I had to definitely work day in, day out. No napping! [Keep] a very close watch on everything and everybody, only show my strengths when I needed to. Simply, I played emotionally in 16 and I played strategically in 18.
One of your first diary rooms of the summer you said that last time you got distracted by a boy and you were here to play for yourself. You won the money, but did you have extreme hesitations to be in another showmance? Did you try to avoid it?
I promised my mom, no showmance! I promised. I would repeat it in my everyday life and [say], "No!" And I honestly wasn't ready for that type of thing. I picked Corey on my team because I heard him say something about kids and I thought he had kids and was married! Here he was talking about baseball kids! So I purposely pick him thinking that there's no way, he's married, he has kids! And then I find myself running from him for three weeks because I was attracted to him and he was flirty with me and I'm like, "Crap! Crap!" I avoided it at all costs. And then eventually we had a bond and there was nothing we could do about it.
What's the feud between you and Johnny Mac?
Johnny Mac put in his bio that he did not like me! I don't know if there's a feud, but he doesn't like me, Ian [Terry] and Dan [Gheesling] apparently, and I was sandwiched between two winners and now I'm a winner! (Laughs)! It hurt my feelings obviously when I read his bio.
Why do you think there are fans who were huge fans of you in season 16 and this time they may not be your biggest fan?
They can take me or leave me at this point. I just know that if I came in and played the exact same game I wasn't going to make it that far. It's not that I changed anything about me at all. I've always been feisty. I'm myself. I'm very passionate about this game. Everyone loves an underdog. I was an underdog in 16, and this time I came out a little bit stronger.
How do you rank as a winner out of all of the Big Brother winners?
I honestly don't know! I can't even imagine I'm on any type of same level of any of them at this point because I think so highly of them. But it's just cool that I'm part of the club now!
What do you say about alumni like Evel Dick Donato, Janelle Pierzina and Rachell Reilly who weren't the biggest fans of yours this season?
Oh God! I didn't know [that]. What can I even say about it? I don't know my edit. You don't know what it is on the show. It all comes down to your edit. Do you know what I mean? If they don't like me, there's nothing I can [do]! I don't care. If I was here to please everyone, there's no way everyone can like you. There were people who came in every single day and would talk about playing for "America's Favorite." I obviously wasn't playing for "America's Favorite."
Do you think James was?
He mentioned it daily, so I don't know. He mentioned it often and literally he told me and Paul today, "If you guys don't take me, I will be America's favorite."
What do you think about the conspiracies that you and James had a preseason alliance? He didn't vote for you so it can't be true.
Right! (Laughs). People seriously, I swear on everything, I had no idea he was going to be on this season. If anything, I thought it would be Donny [Thompson]. I love Donny. Donny is a lot feistier than you would think, too. Donny and I were on the same boat. If we came back [together], we can't be sweet old Nicole and sweet old Donny because we ain't getting nowhere.
Jozea called me a snake since day one so it became a running joke in the house. And I'm going to embrace it! I lied a couple of times in the house. I don't think I did anything crazy. I could have done a lot worse. I didn't personally attack anybody, nothing like that. So if that's a snake, I guess I'll embrace it.
Were you surprised by Da'Vonne's vote?
Yeah, for sure.
It means you deserved it!
She said she voted for who she thought played the best game, and you know what? I didn't do anything to her besides vote her out of the game because that was best for my game. You got to play. Until you've done it you can't talk much about it. You're not surrounded by people that are antagonizing you 24/7 that you wouldn't normally hang out with in the real world. It's a very different feeling. You can't get away. You can't see your family. Once she told Frank to be careful because I'm going to be James' Meg, and I feel like that put a target on my back. I hear things! People are like, "Why are you not aligning with the girls?" Because I trusted someone until proven otherwise. That's how I played this game.
And you won!
Who are you most excited to be friends with outside of the house?
I'd definitely love to be friends with Day, Bridgette, Corey, Paul, Victor …
No. She didn't say, "Congratulations." Didn't hug me. Hasn't said one word to me since. We were good friends, but I have no idea what happened.
What's the future for you and Corey?
I don't know! I haven't even gotten a chance to talk to him since I won. I'm just excited to hang out with him. I miss him.
What do you plan on doing with the money?
Take my family on a great vacation! And I'm going to do smart things with the rest of it. I'm not quite sure what that entails.
Were you happy to see Nicole win? Do you think her and Big Meech can ever be friends? Sound off in the comments section below and go to THR's Facebook at 10:30 a.m. PT for a live Q&A with Nicole.