11:34am PT by Philiana Ng
'Big Brother 16' Winner Reveals $500,000 Plan and Talks Playing a Flawless Game
[WARNING: Spoilers ahead from Wednesday's finale of Big Brother.]
After the longest season ever, Big Brother crowned a new winner.
It was 30-year-old Derrick Levasseur, an undercover police officer, who took home the $500,000 grand prize over his Hitmen alliance member Cody Calafiore with a 7-2 vote on Wednesday's finale. Levasseur's nearly flawless social and strategic gameplay drew comparisons to past Big Brother winner Dan Gheesling. But even Gheesling was nominated for eviction during his season, while Levasseur was able to avoid ever being put up for eviction, despite the dual Head of Households and the Battle of the Block twists.
The day after the finale, Levasseur spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about his plan for the $500,000 prize, the Team America bonuses (bringing his total winnings to $575,000) and whether he ever felt in danger of not making it to the end.
Congratulations on winning Big Brother! What are your plans for the $500,000?
I haven't even slept yet. (Laughs.) We're very modest-living people. We do have a daughter as all of America knows. We'll definitely have a hefty college fund that we'll get started for her. We do have a mortgage that we want to pay down. And I'm sure there's going to be a shopping spree for the wife and daughter considering what I put them through for the last three months.
Was there ever any doubt in your mind that Cody wouldn't take you to the Final 2?
There absolutely was. There was a moment when, not so much I doubted Cody, but I knew he was getting very close to Christine and I could tell that was part of her strategy. She was playing a similar game to what I was playing: a weak player, someone who could be beaten in the end. That happened Week 9 or 10. As you noticed in Week 12, I won HOH and sent her packing. Anyone who was playing a good game or playing one similar to mine, I viewed as a serious threat and would always take the opportunity to try to evict them if I had the ability to do that. I would never want someone to wedge in between an alliance that had taken 10 weeks to form.
Read more 'Big Brother 16' winner revealed
Had Cody cut you at Final 3, that would have been viewed as possibly the biggest move of the season. Were you surprised that he didn't take the shot?
Obviously that's the biggest we're getting. I don't know if it was portrayed on TV, but we had such a close relationship that there was never a doubt in my mind. To be honest, I also got the question of whether I would take Victoria over [Cody] and the answer is absolutely not. We were both competitive players. We went head to head in a lot of challenges and we went down to tiebreakers because we both were mentally at the same level. I knew he was going to take me and he knew I was going to take him. We were both guaranteed $50,000. He made that very evident in his Caleb eviction speech. He essentially called it out to the entire world and to everyone in the jury house that we were The Hitmen and we were going to end together and this was how we were going to do it, by taking Victoria. For him to go back on that, it would have made him look a little skeptical. But yeah it would have been a huge move and it might've paid off for him. To be frankly honest with you, I don't know if it would have. Might not have. You would have had a lot of bitter jury members and there might have been some people who said, "Hey, you know what, you thought taking her was the right move and backstabbing Derrick was the correct move, we're going to vote 5 to 4 and give her the money."
Would you have voted for him to win had he cut you at Final 3?
Absolutely not. We had both discussed the same thing. If I won that final HOH and not taken him, we had both said to each other, "You don't have my vote if you do that to me." We're both in agreement with it. There were other guys in the house who said, hey, we'll take Victoria along the way, but if somebody gets cute and decides to take her to the Final 2 thinking it's the "easy" road, they'll be disappointed because we're going to vote to give her the money based on the decision you made.
There was some truth to that because several of the houseguests claimed that Victoria would get the votes to win.
Yup! I'm surprised it didn't get more airtime. There was a bunch of us in the room, Hayden, myself, Cody, Zach, Frankie, Caleb. They all came to me and said that we know Victoria is on Team Derrick. We don't mind taking her along for the ride, but it was basically pertaining to me, like if you make it to the end and you brought her, you ain't winning the money. And I respected that. I hinted that fact in the last week of the game when I told her I couldn't take her to the end.
You and Cody teamed up early in the game. What was it about him that made you fully trust him?
Part of the reason was the Bomb Squad was formed and I noticed he was one of the last people who was included on it and he picked up on that and he was an outsider, which was great for me. He was a good-looking guy and he was going to be able to play a different game than I was going to be able to play as a married man. Then there was the fact that he's an East Coast guy, he's pretty straightforward, he's pretty candid, what you see is what you get. I knew if I wanted to go far in this game I needed one person to trust. I didn't need an alliance, just one person I could trust and cross-reference information off of to know if people were being truthful or deceitful. It was a big risk; I can't say 100 percent I knew it was going to work out, but I knew if it didn't work with him it wasn't going to work with the other guys I had already spoken with because they were already playing both sides.
Part of your strategy was to remain under the radar, and it seemed like you were never truly in danger of going home. Was there a point where you felt like you may not have made it to the end?
When Devin decided to blow up the Bomb Squad — I felt it could take a turn for the worse because I was already implementing the "trustworthy" persona. The last thing I wanted was people going, "This guy has been straight-up with me but he's actually been in an alliance the entire time." That's why when I won HOH in Week 3, Devin went home. (Laughs.) Obviously he had to at that point. And then we completely discredited him.
You had relationships with nearly everyone in the house. Was there any point where your loyalties may have clouded your judgment and/or gameplay?
I was pretty focused the whole time. I got close with numerous people in the house. Although I was building and finding common interests and developing relationships, it was all strategy. They did develop into real friendships, but my philosophy was if this is a true friend when this show ends, you'll be talking to them and that's when the relationship will bloom. It's not going to bloom inside the house because you never know what's real and what's not.
Were you ever toying with revealing to Cody your undercover cop secret?
No, I wasn't going to tell him. I contemplated telling people during my Final 2 speech but I felt I played a game where I didn't need to do that and it could reverse some votes. I didn't plan on telling him because that would be a reason not to take me because "Hey, you just lied to me. Now I have an excuse not to take you." I wanted to downplay everything I did in this game. I wasn't nominated, not a big of a deal. I was winning HOHs, no big deal. In my head, this is all going in my Final 2 speech and that's exactly what I did.
How did being a part of Team America affect your game? Was it detrimental? Helpful?
It was a huge privilege. It was an honor as a fan to be voted on by America to participate in these missions. Donny was coming after me very early on in the game and I knew that. He was getting over on me and I wasn't getting over on him, it was just a matter of time. But unfortunately we were put in a situation where we were forced to work together and I was honoring it until the night came when he didn't want to participate in the mission because it affected his personal game. He said, "I'm not here for Team America, I'm here for Donny Thompson." That was enough for me. I knew the feedsters heard it and I thought that was the blessing for me to do what I had to do.
How did you manage to stay off the block in a season where the likelihood of happening was higher because of the two HOHs and the Battle of the Block?
If I wasn't put on the block, I couldn't go home. All my objective was to stay off the block. If someone was contemplating nominating me, I would always find a reason to put somebody else up. Once those people were up, I would always try to develop a reason for a replacement nominee if one of those won so I wouldn't have to scramble last minute. I didn't think about it at first, but as we got into Week 10 and 11, when I realized what I was accomplishing it was imperative I keep this streak going because I did not want to ruin it in the last week because then I couldn't include it in my Final 2 speech. That's why it was so important for me to win the before and after HOH. If I didn't, more than likely I was going on the block because I had volunteered to go up even though I had no intention on it. (Laughs.) It was a big-time move as far as my Final 2 speech. I think that's what really sold them.
Whose jury vote were you most surprised by?
I didn't know which way Christine was going to go. I knew she was loyal to Cody but at the same time he burned her pretty bad. Jocasta, I knew was not going to vote for me. Donny, I was torn with him. He seemed like a "loyal" guy, he was part of Team America, I helped him make $15,000. I think he almost was a little bitter because he knew I was the guy to watch and he was telling people and it fell on deaf ears. I think he was more mad at the fact that he knew the game I was playing and couldn't get me out.
Would you return to the game again? Would you have a different strategy?
I would absolutely come back if the situation was right. Just like Dan did, I would have to play a completely different game. I would really have to sit down and think about it, develop a strategy I think would work and then execute it as best as I could. It would be extremely difficult to do what I just did with everyone knowing who I am and how I played this game.
When the jury was asked what your biggest move was this season, they couldn't come up with an answer. So what do you think was your biggest move?
Right. That's just it, my biggest move was not making a big move. Every time I wanted something done I would influence other people to make the suggestions to the people in power for two reasons. One, I would always want it to come from someone they trusted and [two,] when it backfired it would come back on the people I told, not me. I did make some moves, like flipping the vote to keep Zach over Jocasta was pretty big because I do feel, and time will tell when I watch the show, I felt Hayden felt on the outs with the Bomb Squad and had aligned with Nicole. He had Donny and if he kept Jocasta, he had her and he probably had Victoria. Knowing where I was on their totem pole, I decided it was best to send Jocasta home and follow up with another member if it was a double evict. We got lucky, Caleb won it and we were able to send Hayden home.
How would you grade your gameplay?
I'm going to leave it up to you guys to grade it, but when I came into this house, I had a strategy and I never had to deviate from that strategy the entire time. I made it specific to my social game because I knew, regardless of the twist, it was something I could control. I played my game the exact way I wanted to play it. I had a good read on every single person in the house. I had a profile on everyone, I knew their motives, I thought I had impeccable timing as far as choosing when to use the information against them or to help my own game. If I had to do it over again, I don't think I could have done it differently except I would have liked to have won that final HOH and put a nice stamp on it. I thought I played a good game.
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