After the finale of Big Brother 16, our staff BB experts set about creating a definitive ranking of every season to date. We didn’t agree on much but there was one thing we knew to be true- we’d just witnessed the greatest season in show history. There were lots of reasons- big personalities (Donny, Frankie, Zach, Caleb, Devin- okay, pretty much everybody), monumental moments (Frankie winning the BOB), a likeable showmance (Nicole & Hayden) and decent twists (Double Nominations, Team America)- but there is no argument for BB16 that doesn’t ultimately boil down to its winner and best player- Derrick. The low-key cop owned the house all season, even against some of the toughest competition in years, landing himself the biggest prize in show history and an undisputed spot on the list of top three most legendary players.
Why did you choose Big Brother to apply to over all other reality TV shows?
It’s a funny story. I’ve been a fan of the show for years and obviously most people saw I was an undercover narcotics detective. I had watched the show, and to me, it wasn’t the drama or the deceit or anything that really enticed me. It’s the mental game that was going on amongst these houseguests. And I’ve always been fascinated by it because that’s what we do [in] undercover work, it’s a mental game. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been pretty good at reading people and reading body language and using it to develop information on people, using it to help myself in my work, in my life, in tough situations that might get hostile, and I really wanted to see how good I was at it and apply it in essentially a social experiment with people that I did not know and have the entire thing documented and see how I would do by applying the same applications to a game where people knew you were going in to be deceitful. Would still work? That’s what I really wanted to see. I wanted to see how far I could push myself and how good I could really go if I did that. And also, being a fan of the show, that was just icing on the cake.
How did you approach casting? What angle did you play in order to get to the cast?
You know, it was very simple for me. I tell anybody who would want to apply, you have to just be yourself. You have to be yourself for first and foremost. These people are professionals, and if you’re not, they’re going to know in the second interview if you contradict your first interview. So you have to be yourself and ultimately, you have to go back and look at yourself and what you’ve done in your life and you have to look at what you do that would be something interesting, something different. So for me obviously it would be undercover narcotics and my education. I thought it was pretty cool that I was 30 years old, but was already married, I had a beautiful daughter, and in addition to that, I had been an undercover narcotics detective for two years, which is pretty rare. And in addition to that, I was also pretty educated. I’d gone back to school and gotten my bachelor’s degree, gotten my master’s, so it wasn’t like I was just this street smart guy. I’d taken pride in my education, so I thought having that well-rounded thing would be maybe something that would differentiate me from most people. And obviously there was really no way of knowing, so you just got to put your best foot forward, emphasize on the things that you think are going to differentiate you from most people and hope that that’s enough for them to call you back. That’s all you can do. And ultimately, if it isn’t [enough], then you can live with that. And that was my thing when I applied, I told my wife I was only going to apply once and I was going to give it my best effort, and if I didn’t get it, however far I got, even if I got to the [last round of casting] it was a one-time deal. And if I was “good enough” for the cast, if I was going to make it, or if I wasn’t, I was okay with that. It would go off my bucket list that I applied once, and I was good with it either way.
How much can you tell us about the casting process and preparing for the show?
These people are pretty strict as far as what we can say. What I can tell you is it’s a very strenuous, very exhausting, lengthy process. It’s not something that happens overnight; it’s months and months and month. These people take a lot of pride in picking great casts and I can tell you that it’s very, very secretive for obvious reasons, and these people do a great job at keeping you out of the loop. You never know what’s coming next, and you really have to be able to devote some time to it, because some of these things do come up on a whim where they say ‘we’re flying you up to LA for the final casting’ and you gotta be able to make that time whether you’re working or family life, you have to have a support system that is in place to be there for you during that process. But as far as the actual casting process itself, unfortunately I can’t say much more than that. But for the most part, you guys know. You make the initial video, open call or video. You can obviously get a call back where you’re going to meet with them again. If they like you, you’re probably going to be flying out to LA and that’s a whole other beast right there.
Did you feel any extra pressure from producers or even from outside forces being part of season 16, after season 15 was so controversial and a lot of that was blamed on bad casting?
You know, I really didn’t. I can tell you the one thing that I put pressure on myself is being a father, being a husband, being a police officer, I knew I was representing an extremely large demographic. I saw how certain things can be portrayed and misconstrued when you say it in the house and I was very cognizant of that throughout the entire season. What I tell everybody is, if you’re racist, it’s going to come out. If you’re not, that’s going to come out as well. If you’re a great person, it’s going to come up on camera. They can’t make you a bad person. They can try, but people who are watching the feeds are gonna know. But I didn’t have the mindset going in that we had a lot to prove this season because last season had a bad cast because frankly, I don’t think it was a bad cast. I really don’t. I’ve spoken with a few other people who were on season 15, they seem like genuinely, really good people. I think they might have said some things in the moment that they regret. We all do. But I don’t, I didn’t feel the pressure going in that we have to prove something and prove that we’re a good cast, we weren’t going to be like “season 15”. In their own way, they had really high ratings. Maybe not for the reasons most people would want the high ratings but they had them. And we were our own individuals. I went in to play for Derrick and Derrick only. I didn’t want to try to prove anything to casting or anybody else I just wanted to represent myself, my family, and my fellow officers in a way that would come off as respectful and something that when people meet me, they would say, ‘wow, I’m not a big fan of cops, but actually, Derrick’s not a bad guy’ and I realize that when we’re outside the uniform, we’re just like everybody else. We’re just doing a job just like everybody else does every single day, but unfortunately, our job is somewhat dangerous. So I hope, if people took that from me, it was a success for me.
Cops had a big year on reality TV in 2014. Tony won Survivor within months of you winning Big Brother.
Tony got a different rep than me as far as the way he played. I loved the way he played. I thought he played a great game and was such a hustler, and he’s a funny guy. He’s a great guy and I think he definitely started the ball rolling with people saying, ‘cops do that stuff?’- the spy shack and stuff. You know, we’re just normal guys. We really are, I know it’s now a cliché but some people generalize cops because you have a bad experience or you get a ticket. [They think] every cop is the same way, and there are lots of people I’ve met who, if I don’t tell them I’m a police officer, they have no clue. And that’s my desire, because we’re just normal people.
But we’re trained, we’re taught to protect ourselves because there are unfortunately bad people in the world. And they may want to hurt you just because of the uniform you’re wearing and no other reason but that. So we’re trained to be on the defensive and kind of standoffish and impartial and not emotional because it’s safer that way. It’s not to hurt anyone’s feelings or anything like that. And unfortunately when we respond to most calls, it’s usually because someone’s having a bad day. It’s not because they’re having a party and they want us to come have some nachos and chips. So unfortunately, that’s something you’re kind of conditioned to. When we’re outside the uniforms, we’re good guys, we’re here to have fun and enjoy life like everyone else.
Those all sound like qualities that would make for a really great Big Brother player, never trusting anyone, keeping your cool- do you think that really helped you along the way?
I do. You know, I think being a cop definitely helped me but I think my upbringing helped me even more. There are some people that are like, ‘he has undercover detective training’ and the funny thing is, I hate to tell you guys this, there’s no such thing as undercover school [laughs]. It doesn’t exist. You don’t just become a detective, you have to be a patrolman first and then they kind of recruit you. If you fit the mold of somebody who would be good at it, they recruit you to work undercover. My first undercover case was when I was 21 years old. I’d only been a cop for a year. And mainly it was the way I was talking to people on the streets, the way I looked and how I was able to kind of blend in and find common ground with people I patrolled with on the street to get them to cooperate or even cool down in a hyped up situation. I went right undercover. There was no previous school before. So I would say that trait, that characteristic that I had that made me stand out to the higher ups who put me in undercover work was developed over a period of time, growing up in an inner city, very diverse community, being involved with people that were very different from myself and learning peoples’ backgrounds, and the way they operate and different cultures and embracing them and finding out how different everyone is in their own right. They’re all unique and very special and I think that trait kind of translated into undercover work. I got the opportunity to use and perfect my skills. And then going into the Big Brother house and being a fan of the show and having knowledge of how the game is played and making the skills and techniques that I had now applicable to Big Brother clearly did help.
You were in a cast full of young, hipster kids and at one point, you seemed to have fully disguised yourself as one of them, and actually gone undercover. Was that an exhausting thing to keep up all season?
It was kind of tough to be honest with you. I’d been undercover for a week or two at a time. But when I got into the house, I realized that I was more of the old guy. Not so much age wise, but you know, experience. I was the married with children guy. And even Brittany who had been married with three beautiful children, she was single, she was still able to mingle. She had a different approach, you know, beautiful woman. I am not a Cody Calafiore by any means, so I had to change it up a little bit. I wanted to be more approachable by the younger cast. Looks are a big part of society. You judge people on how they look. It’s unfortunate but most people do. So I decided that to be more approachable, to be a little more lax and not like the stereotypical dad who was just here for his family, I wanted to play it up a little bit. It was fun, you know throwing on the beanie, throwing on the glasses, throwing on the beard. The beard got a little itchy sometimes. It was a pain to maintain when you don’t really have the proper clippers and you know stuff to do it, but you know, it was fun. It was a little hot sometimes, having the beanie on in 90 degree weather but, you know, I worked with it.
Fitting in was key beecause really, really early on, the alliance of the Bomb Squad was just kind of thrown into your lap. If you hadn’t been one of the people invited in on that right away, how do you think you would have ingratiated yourself into the majority?
It would have been tough. It would have been really tough. And to be honest with you- it was something that didn’t make a lot of the show because it was the first week- but I didn’t really feel in with the crowd at first. I had tried initially to develop a rapport with Jocasta, Donnie and Christine; we kind of referred to ourselves as the outsiders. Caleb and Devin were the young, good looking guys, the alpha males that were developing this crew. And I was starting to change my appearance and trying to warm up to them. And I found out that Christine actually said the outsiders thing to Zach because Zach was at the pool table with us so, in my mind, I couldn’t talk about that any more.
And then I was approached by Caleb and Devin in the HOH room for the Bomb Squad thing, and I was like, this is my in and I have to embrace it and I have to really work at this and gain his trust. And it could have been a lot different. It was a large alliance, and I think I would have been okay [without it] because Devin did what Devin did and I think the Detonators still would have somewhat came from that or maybe a few different people in it. One thing I will say the bomb squad really did contribute to was the development of the Hitmen alliance. Because Cody and I knew that we were really at the bottom of the barrel as far as the Bomb Squad was concerned and their plan all along was Frankie, Devin, Caleb, and possibly Amber to try and go all the way. They were really close at first. They would just try to create barriers around themselves by using additional members and then the whole rationale was that once the Bomb Squad got to jury, they would go after each other. Cody and I both knew that we would have been the first to go because we would have been outnumbered. So we really stayed close and that helped us to use the Bomb Squad to further our own game that ultimately led to us being in the position that we were in at the end of the game.
Having a really strong two person alliance has served some of the best players really well in the past. Was that part of your game plan going in?
It was. If you look at some of the pre-interviews, especially the one with Jeff Schroeder, my plan was work with alliances, but ultimately find one person that I can trust, and roll with that person, because you need one. You just need one, because you need to be able to go in there and basically collaborate with that person and cross reference the information you’re receiving. You need to really be able to trust that person you’re cross referencing with. So for example, if Christine comes up to me and says the sky is blue, and then she goes up to Cody and says that the sky is red. We don’t know who she’s telling the truth to, but we do know she’s lying to somebody. And it creates a level of distrust for her. We’re able to say she’s telling stories differently to each person and be able to cross reference. You can’t do that by yourself. You can use your gut, and I did in a lot of the cases, but it’s always nice to be able to reaffirm that information with another person, and that’s what we were able to do a lot of the time. Because we had people that trusted him more, and I had people that trusted me more and we would always try to cross reference things in the middle of the night to kind of figure out who was telling the truth and who was trying to pull a fast one on one of us at least.
How did you guys walk that line between being openly friends but also keeping your alliance under wraps so people didn’t immediately know ‘that’s the pair we need to break up’.
The truth was that it was extremely difficult, because you want to hang out with somebody all the time because you’re close with them. We were extremely close, we just really hit it off. We made an actual cognitive effort not to hang out with each other too long during the day, even if we were over by the hammock or something, if we were alone for 10 or 15 minutes together, we would break it up. Because that’s all people needed to see. We usually waited until most of the house was asleep and then we would go to the pool table and play a game of pool. That was normal for people to do when they were awake [late at night]. And we had the ability to see inside the house, having sliding glass doors as our barrier, so if someone did come out, we could change up the story. But it was difficult because we didn’t have a lot of time to cross-reference information for very long periods of time. What would always be beneficial would be when Cody or I would win HOH and that would give us some privacy and the ability to lock the door and have a camera on the door so we could see people coming, but it was extremely difficult because we basically played it up the entire time that we were cordial with each other, but we weren’t that close. We kept other people closer, and that was by design. Cody did it magnificently and I think I did a pretty good job as well and I think that’s why it was such a surprise to the other house guests when the Hitmen were actually revealed.
The alliance was revealed by Cody in his big speech right before the last episode. Did you approve that?
I’ll tell you what. I wasn’t a big fan of it, I tried to deter him from it, but when I realized he really wanted to do it, I got behind it, and really just tried to cater it so it would come off a little less abrasive, a little lighter, maybe not make it look like we were playing [Caleb] the whole time, which I think we were able to accomplish. I do think there was a rationale behind doing that as well. I wanted to win the final three HOH so I wouldn’t be the one to send somebody home who was going to be a jury vote and Cody wanted to win for the same reason. So when he didn’t, and we had to send people home, it was smart of him to kind of keep me bundled in with that decision. I do think there was a loyalty factor there where he wanted to let people know he was loyal to me and I appreciated that, but I think it was all to let people know that this is a joint decision and they shouldn’t hold any more ill will towards him or myself, it should be equally distributed, which was a very, very intelligent game move and I respect it. So that was his thought process, kudos to him, but I do think knowing Cody the way I know him, a lot of it was based on the type of kid that he is and the pride he had in the Hitmen; he wanted to let people know who we were and what we had accomplished up to that point in the game.
Certainly what we saw in the edited show, you appeared to be really the mastermind behind the Hitmen. Would you say that that characterization is fair to the extent to which it was shown on the show, and how did you deploy Cody throughout the season to get further in your game?
I got a great edit and I love all the producers at CBS for it. They gave me a great edit and they gave Cody a good edit too. I love CBS and I appreciate everything that they’ve done for me, but I wish they would have played up our relationship a little more as I saw it which was more of a mutual thing. You know they made it seem like I was kind of playing the whole house, including Cody, that he was on an equal playing field to everybody else, which I can tell you was not the case at any point. I always knew- and I even said it to the feeds sometimes- I intended on rolling with Cody as long as I felt he was being loyal to me. And I wish they had played it a little more that way because Cody definitely helped me in a lot of decision-making process, where he would get information from people and relay back to me, it would help develop a better idea of what we should do. Cody relied on me for a lot of our decisions but he was very opinionated and always gave his thoughts on things and changed my mind sometimes on things. So it was more mutual than they made it seem. I’d like to think I played my own game as I’m sure Cody would like to think he played his own game. But by no means was he just some puppet that I deployed to do things for me. We were a joint partnership. Yeah, I came up with the idea for the Hitmen and I approached him. Cody would be the first to admit that, but I’d like to think it was a little more of a mutual thing, kind of like a Dan & Memphis situation.
Speaking of Dan [Gheesling, considered one of the best players of all time], you voted out Nicole because she compared your game play to Dan’s. That’s something that was happening all season outside the house as well. To what extent do you think that comparison is accurate?
You know, I really don’t know. It’s so tough to say that. You being a fan of the show, it’s for you people to decide how you think my game compared to Dan’s. This is what I will say- I had a strategy going into the house. I tried to implement that as best as I could. I didn’t deviate from that much the entire game and I was very strong-minded as far as trying to be decisive, and it worked. It worked and I’m extremely proud of that. And I did watch Dan’s season before going in the house and I wanted to try to emulate some of the things he did, but on the same token, employ my own strategy so I could make a mark on my own game that was able to be accessible.
But knowing how good of a player Dan was, when Nicole said that, regardless of [if it] was a comparison with Dan, or her just considering me as good of a player as Dan, just with a different game plan, it was an extreme compliment but a detriment in the house while she was still there. Because, although she was being genuine, Nicole was there to win and I knew that was something that would have came up again if she was able to stay in the game, and rightfully so. It would have made people think; she could have definitely compared notes from Dan’s game to mine and really opened people’s eyes to things. At that point I realized that she really realized what I was trying to do and held me in that high of a regard and, although it was a compliment, she needed to go for that reason and that reason alone because she would have never taken me to final two knowing the game that I had played.
You walked a careful line all season between winning competitions and losing enough to stay under the radar. What was the secret to never being seen as a threat? You were never even nominated.
Well a lot of it was talk. I always talked up everybody else. I was very complimentary of everyone, which you guys saw on the show. I mean, Caleb would win a competition and I’d basically say he was the best competitor to ever play the game. Frankie would win a competition, I’d meet him in the storage room and get down on my hands and knees and bow down to him. I knew the first week in the game that winning competitions was not usually the recipe for success at Big Brother because although people are complimentary when you won the comps, you were building a case for you being a threat. And I knew that going into the house. I told friends and family if I were to get into the house, don’t root for me too hard in the competitions because I was only going to win the ones I had to. And fortunately, I didn’t feel like I had to win too many competitions. I like to always stay in the game long enough until the people I thought would put me up were out. Or I would at least attempt to do that. So if Donnie was still in the game, and he was going to put me up if he won, I would try to beat him. But once Donnie was on the cool, or someone I thought was going to put me up was out and it was only Cody or Caleb or somebody left, at that point, I know I’m going to have influence into who goes up for nominees without winning and that’s mainly what I would do, is just say, ‘hey, you know what, although it looks great in the record books, I want to win the game, and I don’t want these people to start counting up my wins and say, I can’t take him to the final two because he’s won x amount of competitions’. I won 4 HOHs and I was still nervous that people would say that.
Do you think that hindered Cody’s game ultimately, that he had so many competition wins under his belt? That people saw him as a threat?
I have to say no I guess because nobody ever really wanted to vote him out. I never got wind that people wanted to send him home. He came on strong near the end; nobody could really stop him at that point. But he didn’t play a good competition game during the first half of the season. And he’s said numerous times that that wasn’t by design. He tried to win, he just wasn’t good at the comps. Near the end he came on really strong and started winning comps when there was only five or six people left, so at that point, it was like beat him or you’re going to go home and people weren’t able to beat him, so he stacked up a lot of his wins in the end. And I would say it’s not so much the number that he actually won- what did he have, 3 POVs and 3 HOHs, something like that- in the end he won what he had to win. That’s important and that’s what I tried to do. When we had that Before & After [game], I knew I had to win that final HOH. I was guaranteeing final three. And I was guaranteeing that I didn’t have to be the one to send somebody home, and luckily I was able to win it. And there’s a couple others that I won, the True & False double eviction- that was the week that I did not know if I was going to go up. I thought Christine would put me up if she won, and I really wanted her to go before me. I had to win that one and luckily I was able to win and get her out of the house. But the other week, the HOH with the country music. Frankie would be the first to tell you that I could have beat him in that comp but I stood back with my hands in my pockets. That would have given me five HOH wins, it would have tied me for most HOH wins of the season, but he had just lost his grandfather, he wanted to see pictures of him, and in addition to that, I knew by throwing it to Frankie, he would never put me up in a million years; Zach was not going to put me up. So there was no benefit to me to me winning, except for my own pride and I always kept that in the foreground: I didn’t need to win to prove to myself that I was good at competitions. I just wanted to get to the end.
You clearly went into the house with a really solid game plan in place. You knew exactly how many competitions you did and didn’t want to win. And then you get there and it’s the twistiest season of Big Brother ever, especially considering the BoB twist. How did that screw up your game plan?
That was tough. A lot of people say the Battle of the Block and Team America made it easier- all these twists. I’m biased about this, obviously, but I would challenge people and say the Battle of the Block, very self-explanatory: instead of two people going on the block, you have four. Not so big of a deal to the people getting nominated because it does give them an extra opportunity to remove themselves from on the block. As an HOH, it was extremely difficult. Extremely difficult, because now instead of getting the blood on your hands for two people, one of which will be going home, now you have four people, which is terrible in the game of Big Brother and even more of a reason I didn’t want to win.
And as far as Team America, people think it helped us develop an alliance. I prided myself on not letting people know my methodology behind things and I tried not to divulge that to Frankie and Donnie, but we would develop these missions and it would let them know how I was reading people and how I thought certain people would be good to accomplish our mission. And I believe that’s how Donnie started to figure out I was a good player and that I was controlling a lot of things because after we had these meetings about these missions, he would go to people like Cody and say ‘hey, Derrick’s the head of this game. He’s running this house. He’s a smart guy’. And Cody would say to him, ‘how do you know that, Donnie?’ And obviously Donnie couldn’t say ‘well, I’m in this secret alliance with him and you should hear this kid talk behind closed doors’, so he could never really articulate that but he knew it by listening to me speak when we would develop and create these strategies, these missions. So I thought it was actually a hindrance to my game and actually allowed them to have a better insight into the game than I was planning, so that’s my take on the twist. I thought it was actually a little harder. Self explanatory- 28 nominations usually, 2 sets of nominations, that’s 56, then 56 possibilities of being put on the block. Double the times than regular seasons, in my mind, it’s harder.
Was Team America something that was hard to keep from Cody?
Team America wasn’t hard to keep from Cody. Being a cop was. Team America was not because I was winning money and anybody who knew that, I don’t care who you were, that would hurt me in the end if they knew that, because I’m winning and you haven’t, therefore, you feel less of a need to take me. And also there were other people’s lives in the game at stake at that point so by divulging that, it would only be hurting other people’s aspirations to win the game. So that wasn’t hard for me. I never even thought about telling him about that. But the cop thing was tough, because we were developing a very close relationship and being a police officer is a huge part of my life and, I consider Cody family now, but in the house, he was a best friend, and best friends should know everything about each other, and I really felt like I was deceiving him by not telling him. But obviously he understood and we’re closer than ever now that he knows why I did it, and he even admittedly said that if he knew I was a cop, it maybe would have made him think twice [about teaming up] because of my skill set.
How much of an elaborate backstory did you have for yourself with the Parks and Rec department? How did you get around personal questions about what you do at home?
Well, I actually was a Parks and Rec supervisor at one point as a kid. When I would come home during the summers at college, I would work at the Parks and Rec department as a supervisor in the ground. What I did was combine the groundskeeper job for like a high school with a Parks and Rec job. And the thing is every municipality in the county had different positions and are designed differently with different responsibilities, so there’s really no way to contradict what I’m saying. The only person who ever really asked me questions about Parks and Rec, was Donnie who was more on the grounds keeping side, so I would say I really didn’t do much of that, I didn’t do much of the actual maintenance of the fields and stuff. But it was something that I had done in my past, so I had a little bit of background, and in addition to that, no one really knew the Parks and Rec field, which was why I picked that. So they really couldn’t ask me too many questions. If I said I was a banker, I didn’t know if somebody here was going to have an idea of mortgages or loans. So I didn’t want to do something that somebody may know. Parks and Rec was a pretty safe bet, and that’s why I went with that one.
If you had to list your top three most important moves of the entire season, what would they be?
Okay, that’s a tough one, but I’ll give it a shot. So first one, winning in week 3 with Nicole. I didn’t want to win that one, that was a game of luck. I won it and I really didn’t want to be HOH, but I was able to get a house that could have been divided behind my decision to get Devin out. We completed the first back door of the season, so I was able to be HOH that week and actually make the vote about the house, which allowed me to escape back into the shadows and become this weak player who was just basically a puppet and did what the entire house wanted and got Devin out. That was one. The other one was obviously pulling the blind side and flipping the vote at the last minute because I was kind of back and forth with the whole Jocasta/Zach thing. By sending Jocasta home, it set up the domino effect where Hayden went right after her. And they were kind of starting to form- they had their little alliance, and they might have hooked Christine, they could have been a powerhouse with Donnie. That was another big one. And honestly, the biggest one was not so much a move, but winning that final three HOH, because it made Cody be the one to end Caleb’s gam. And if I had to pick a fourth one that was more of a move, it was rolling the dice and creating drama between Victoria and I, having her go up to Frankie and pretend like we were mad. Because Frankie knew I was playing a good game and never would have kept me, but by doing that, I created a level of tension between Victoria and I where people like Cody, Caleb and Frankie felt like they may have her vote over me, in the end. I even took it to the level where I had her call me out on national live TV to really build it out so America could be in on it. I was creating this lie, but the houseguests had no clue. I thought that was entertaining for TV; I tried to make it fun by having her call me out and say she thought I was disloyal, even though all you guys knew exactly what I was doing.
But how did you trust that we would? Because the edit could have left out you scheming, and telling her to do that, suggesting the fight was real.
You know, I never thought about edits. I always thought about feeds. When I would do things, I would talk to the feeds and tell them what I was doing. I didn’t care about the edits, that’s something you can’t control. I thought I was playing a good game and that they would show it, but frankly, I had no clue. And you can drive yourself nuts thinking about what they may or may not show. But I knew the feedsters were seeing it and that’s all I cared about. Because I knew from being a feedster myself, they don’t lie. The feeds don’t lie. So the people that were into Big Brother and really valued the game for the strategy goes into it, they were seeing what I was doing and that’s the only people I really needed to know.
Having now gone back and seen how the edit turned out, what surprised you most, and did you feel like it was a fair edit, or fair representation of the season as a whole?
I thought that I had a good edit, and I appreciate the fact that they were able to document some of the things I was trying to do as the game progressed and show the game that I was trying to play, I appreciate that. There were some things as far as Donnie and I- Donnie and I are on good terms, but it almost seems like Donnie was 100% on board with Team America the whole way, he never deviated from that, and we just decided it was his time to go. That’s not necessarily true. You know, he was talking to Cody on a few different occasions and he told him he wanted to put me on the block and I needed to go, and I was the head of the snake, and Cody would tell me these things. And although they did show the part where, after Cody had told me this stuff numerous times, I called him out on the couch in the back yard, they really didn’t emphasize that too much. And I think that would really have clarified some things for people that were watching the show why I decided it was Donnie’s time to go in the game. But they didn’t. That was the one thing.
But in their defence, they have a lot of storylines going on, and a lot to show. And I think they try to do their best to show as much as they can without going in too many directions. So again, it all goes back to the feed. If you watch the feed, you know what happens and that’s all you can hope for. But overall, I think as far as my edit, I though it was pretty accurate. I was very happy with it, and I can’t thank CBS enough, obviously for giving me the experience but also giving me something that I’ll have for the rest of my life that I can always go back to and be very proud of and show Tenley when she’s old enough to understand it, this is what your daddy did and this is how much I talked about you, and I did this for you. And they really emphasized that portion of my game which I couldn’t’ be happier about.
Who would you say they portrayed the most accurately and the least accurately?
I thought they portrayed Zach pretty accurately. He knew where the cameras were and, even though he’s not that person, he’s a great guy, he would play it up to the cameras for sure. But when he did, they would only put it in context, they never edited it to make him funnier than he was and that’s who he was in the house. I don’t think that’s who he is on a daily basis, but they really emphasized that. That’s a tough one, who they edited the most accurately. I thought a lot of people they were pretty dead on.
As far as inaccurate, I would say that they made maybe a little more out of the Christine-Cody thing than there was and maybe that’s just what I saw but I really felt that it was a little bit more innocent than it was played on TV. Because if you make a five minute segment out of that, and it’s nothing but that, it makes it a little bit worse than it was. I do think that Cody would do things a little bit differently in hindsight but Christine is amazing person- she’s so funny and she’s such a good girl and she has very high morals and standards for herself- and she’s been great about this whole experience afterward because she obviously, as you know, has not had the best of experiences leaving the house. But she kept her chin up and she’s held her head high and I can’t say enough good things about her and I hope she doesn’t let this ruin how she feels about Big Brother because I know she loves it and she is really, really a good person.
But for the most part, I think they were pretty true to everybody. I don’t think they really screwed anybody over. They did the best they could and I don’t know these people personally but I can tell you that clearly they did have our best interests at heart because from what I saw, everyone was pretty close. There was maybe a little embellishment here or there. Donnie was made to look like the loner guy that everyone was just kind of picking on. That was his role but that wasn’t really the case. We all hung out with him. We didn’t hang out with him late at night because he was sleeping, but it wasn’t like he was segregated from everybody we stuck him in a corner.
Then you’ve got me, who they made it seem like I was this master manipulator that would just touch people’s heads and they would automatically do whatever I told them to do. It’s a game. It’s a television show. It’s got to be a good game. You have to respect that, and that’s why they do what they do and that’s why this season was a success. Because they’re great at what they do.
Wait, so you’re telling me that the mind control isn’t real?
I can tell you that the mind control isn’t real to the point that literally all I have to do is touch your head. I have people that say I can go into a room and tell them that I was going to vote them out and they would still vote for me. To that extent, no. I definitely would like to think that I have a power of persuasion. I have the gift of the gab, but the way [it was portrayed], I could walk in a room with literally five people who want this guy to be red and I would say no, it’s going to be purple and they would say ‘yes Derrick’. These people had a mind of their own. They were intelligent people and they wanted to win the game. You know, I heard a lot of that our cast was really stupid. These guys were dumb and I was the only one who was intelligent. I can tell you right now, I was not the smartest person in that house, book-wise; I was not the smartest person in that house. These aren’t the only people, but Nicole and Frankie, these are extremely intelligent people. Donnie, extremely intelligent. They are not dumb by any stretch of the imagination and I would challenge anybody to go in there and play with them because they are smart, but the way it was edited at some points it was like they had no lives of their own and that wasn’t the case. I like to think I played a great game, but I think that was due to my hard work and doing what I had to do. By no means were these people just brainless zombies walking.
Speaking of the competition in the house, who do you think was your biggest threat and has that perception changed at all, having seen the TV show and seen what was happening behind your back?
I would have to say the biggest threat to beating me in the finals would have been Frankie because of how many competitions he won. He was able to get there after being on the block and winning on his own and how articulate he was. I think he had a very good case for beating me in the final two.
But as far as the person who I thought was coming after me the hardest, maybe not my biggest threat, but coming after me the hardest I would have to say Donnie, which I was completely accurate about. I actually underestimated it to the point where when Nicole came back in the house they were at the kitchen table and said ‘if you win tonight, Derrick and Cody are going on the block’. But I knew that and part of the reason I hadn’t to put him on the block earlier was because of Team America and the constant struggle in my head between what America wanted and doing what was better for my game. I think it’s two different things. Frankie didn’t come down as hard but he was definitely more capable of winning competitions than Donnie.
If Cody hadn’t been there, who would you have considered as a possible alliance partner?
I would say Nicole. I think Nicole was a great competitor, knew the game. The problem with Nicole would have been that she had a relationship with Hayden. And I would have always been her number two. Because she had feelings for Hayden which were real, true, genuine feelings and that’s always going to trump any type of alliance you have with somebody. So that would have been tough.
But I don’t know if I can say that it would have been that strong of a connection with anybody in the house besides Cody. I was closer to Victoria. I treated Victoria with unconditional loyalty. Victoria, I love her with everything, but she wasn’t capable of winning competitions at the level that most people were. So she would have been good for talk, strategy, things like that, but I couldn’t rely on her to ever keep us in the game, which Cody was able to do. He carried his weight, you know what I mean? We both carried it- we won competitions when we had to and we were able to keep each other safe, and you need that advantage. You have to win at the end when it’s important and unfortunately, Victoria wasn’t able to do that.
Your game has even been criticized by some for being too perfect, because people really wanted to see you screw up. Do you feel like you put a foot wrong at some point, and if so, when?
Yeah, I think I made mistakes along the way, for sure. You know, you get paranoid in the game, and there was that week when I thought about sending Zach home and then I thought I would send Jocasta home and I think I went back and forth a couple times and that was me second guessing myself and not knowing who to trust, and that’s what happens. But I think in the game of Big Brother, which I was able to do for most part, is you have to go with your gut and stick with it and live with it whether it’s right or wrong. Because it’s almost like a test, a lot of the times the first answer you pick is right but you second guess yourself and you change it, you end up coming up on the short end of the stick. So, I definitely made mistakes in that game. I could have played a different way and maybe won, maybe not won. But it’s one of those things where regardless of me winning, I tried as hard as I could every day and I always had the mentality that regardless of what happens, if I lost, I would be able to go home and look in the mirror and say it wasn’t for lack of effort. I didn’t take a day off. I would go to bed every day and study for an hour- how many plants were in the house, how many birdhouses, how many logs. I would do that every night. There were a lot of nights that I was tired, but I did it because I needed to have that so I wouldn’t live with any regrets and that’s all I could ask for.
Fortunately, it resulted in me winning, but even if it hadn’t, I could have left there with a clear conscience, which I think is the most important thing.
Going into the finale, did you think you had it?
I didn’t know I had it until I started hearing the jury questions. And at that point, I knew I had it. The way they were asking the questions, they already knew who they were going to vote for. But going into it, I thought it was going to be 5 to 4, Cody or myself. But I was either going to win against him, or lose against him. I wish I could say I was such a mastermind that I knew 100% I was going to win. But I knew I didn’t have Donnie’s vote, I was on the fence about him, but I had a feeling he would vote for Cody over me. I knew I didn’t have Jocasta’s vote. I didn’t think I had Christine’s vote. I thought Caleb might vote for Cody because although Cody voted him out, Cody divulged our lies and Caleb was definitely closer with me than him and he would hold that against me and maybe vote against me. That was 4 votes right there. Obviously Frankie didn’t tip his hand too much. He was competition beast, so I thought maybe he would value competition more than strategy and in that case, Cody would have won the whole thing at that point, 5 to 4. So for me to sit there and say I knew what way the votes were going to go, I’d be lying to you.
Between the Team America money you won throughout the season and the bonus for being in Team America when you won, and the extra $5000 for the Holla reward, you ended up with the biggest prize in show history. What are you doing with the money?
I’m frugal. It’s a great amount of money, but it’s not you-can-stop-working money. For those who keep asking me, I’m already back at work. I’ve been back at work since a week and a half after the show ended. And I’m still working. You guys see me on these appearances or different things, it’s because I’m on vacation or doing shift swaps with guys at work, but I’m still working full time.
As far as the money, I put as much as I could into a college investment account for Tenley. So as long as that account continues to grow, she will hopefully go to college, any college she wants for free. We paid off all our debt that we had. We’re not rich by any means- so any credit card debts, a few loans, anything like that, we got rid of all that. And there was a large sum left, and we took that and invested it. It went right into the mutual funds and stocks, which I was investing in before I went on the show, and now I have a larger sum to play with. All safe, very non-risky funds- I’m not a baller, I’m not Wolf of Wall Street by any means. Just safe funds that almost guarantee me a little bit of money. And hopefully that’ll be something that’ll allow me to work less overtime. Because, before I went on the show, I was working 60 hour weeks, details and stuff to try and make sure we had what we needed and had a little extra to do fun things. Having that money in that account allows me to work my regular shift, be home a little bit more, have a little bit more family time, but still live at the level we were living at, which is all you can ask for.
But I’m hoping to buy something really nice in the future. Some upgrades around the house, maybe buy a new car down the road. Right now we lease our cars, so we’ll see what happens, but right now, it’s all in the bank. And for the government.
Being on national TV I imagine would put a hindrance on your possibilities for undercover work. Has that really affected your career at all?
I’m a police sergeant now. So I’m actually not undercover anymore and I will probably never be undercover again, because of the show. But I knew that before going on the show that that would be the case. I haven’t done undercover in about a year or so, so I knew that wasn’t really in my future. And being on the show just solidified that that wasn’t in my future, which I was okay with. And having a child, it’s very difficult to do undercover work, and it’s very dangerous. I kind of tried to stay away from that once Tenley was born, not that being a patrolman is any safer. But I wanted to try and stay away from that and be more devoted to being with my family and not having to be someone I’m not for weeks at a time.
Do you have any interest in coming back for an all-star season? And who would you most like to play against or team up with?
Obviously, I would most likely team up with my man Cody. But I think if we were in the same house together, one of us would be going home very, very fast. I don’t think they would let us stick around. All Stars- it would have to be the right situation. Work would have to allow me to do it. The family would have to be on board with it. You know, I’ve already lived out my dream, I had the opportunity to play and implement the game I thought would be the best game I could ever play, using my undercover skills, which is obviously not an option any more. So I would have to implement a whole new strategy, which I would enjoy doing, but it would obviously have to be the right situation, and the right point in my life to do so, but I’m obviously open to anything.
What else have you been up to since the show?
There’s some things I can talk about, there’s some things I can’t. Obviously family life is number 1, hanging out with the family and doing what I have to do. I’ve been very fortunate in the fact that I’ve had the opportunity to experience some things that most people don’t get to experience. I’ve gone to award shows and met some celebrities and gotten the opportunities to go to appearances and things that a normal guy like me does not usually get to experience. So I’m extremely fortunate for that. I have some other things going on, as I’m sure every houseguest in the past has. People have approached me about different projects that they’d like me to work on. If they come to fruition, great, if they don’t, that’s great too because that’s not why I went on the show. But that will be determined at a later date.
As far as Big Brother is concerned, I have agreed to work with a specific website writing an analysis for next year. I don’t want to divulge that yet because that’s an agreement between me and the site, but I have agreed to do something like that, and maybe I’ll be doing something like that for some other sites as well, because I do love the game of Big Brother, and I want to stay involved with it regardless of what happens as far as my involvement in the game.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I am so fortunate in the fact that I got to play a game that I love, have the support of my family and friends, go on the show and meet some great people and end up winning the game and winning a substantial amount of money and then, on top of all that, coming out of the house, and having the level of love and support that I’ve had from people. I cannot even articulate in words. Because I know from previous experiences that that’s not always the case, even when you win. And for that, I cannot tell you how grateful I am, and I will never be able to express how fortunate I was to be able to do what I did, and the opportunities I’ve had since leaving the house.