12:49pm PT by Brian Porreca
'Big Brother 19' Runner-Up Responds to Game Criticisms
In a surprising twist, season 19 of CBS' Big Brother really lived up to its motto, "Expect the unexpected."
Frontrunner and season 18's Paul Abrahamian became a two-time runner-up instead of a winner. The returning player lost the winning title to his friend Josh Martinez after a bitter jury made the decision that Paul, in fact, overplayed the game.
"The jury was pissed. I did what I did and had to face 16 people and I was the only vet," Abrahamian told The Hollywood Reporter after losing the game.
He added, "I don't know what they expected me to do other than swindle my way to the top."
Below, Paul opens up to The Hollywood Reporter further about what went wrong, why he think he lost some support this season and addresses some of the biggest criticisms his game faced.
You lost the game for a second time. What happened?
I don't know, dude. The jury was pissed. I did what I did and had to face 16 people and I was the only vet. I don't know what they expected me to do other than swindle my way to the top. I don't know why they couldn't see the strategy, and I thought Josh was the perfect person to be up against because there wasn't much strategy to his gameplay.
Why do you think you didn't have a lot of alumni support this season?
I didn't know that. They were talking shit? To all the alumni talking shit, I highly suggest you go on a season being the only vet. I'm pretty sure almost all of you who are talking shit have never made it to the final two. Check the stats, bro! (Laughs.) I don't know why they don't like me, but I don't really care.
One thing revealed on the live feeds was that Christmas has feelings for you.
Thanks for revealing that to me now. I love Josh and Christmas to the moon and back, but we're all different people and live different lives. You all know me, I'm the showmance killer. I don't get into showmances.
Were you surprised Cody won "America's Favorite Houseguest"?
It's a huge question mark in my head right now. I thought he was bizarre. He was rude to the houseguests. He was mean. He wanted to start physical altercations. He said a lot of things that I didn't think were OK.
What do you make of the Paul vs. Cody storyline?
It's stupid. That guy walked in here telling me he hated me on my season. He was rude to me, so I had no choice. He never gave me a chance, so I don't know why I should have given him a chance.
One of the questions from the jury tonight was about bullying. Do you think you bullied people this season?
Absolutely not. A big part of Big Brother is mental warfare. If you can't handle the heat, stay out of the kitchen. All of these people who are claiming I was bullying were right on that train, and I was voicing what all of them were saying. Everyone tossed the word "bullying" around, but nothing that I said or dictated was ever non-game-related. I never said, "Go tell this person they're ugly." But, "Go drive this person nuts so they don't perform well in the next competition" — that's Big Brother. If you can't handle that, then I don't know why you're here to win half a million dollars.
You don't think trying to get people to quit and taunting them is bullying?
It wasn't encouraging them to quit. The only person I could say doing that to is Cody. He was trying to get into physical altercations with everybody and constantly said he didn't want to be here. If you don't want to be here, then why are you here? He clearly couldn't handle the shit-talking, so why not toss more his way?
Did you plan how you were going to play before you walked into the house?
No. I didn't know I was the only vet. I didn't know I was going to play with 16 crazy people.
Why did everyone follow you this season? Was it because you were a mastermind or were they starstruck?
Whatever it was, it worked. I was working my social game every single day to get where I was. People were mad about friendship, I'm sorry I can't take 15 houseguests to the final two. If you expect me to throw my game away for you, then you're just playing yourself.
You had a huge following last season. Do you think you have that same support?
I have no idea. I was painted as the villain.
Painted as the villain, or were you the villain?
I wasn't the villain. I just came back to play a game. I don't know what you guys expected me to do. Did you want me to come back as the only vet and just hold hands with everybody? In order to beat them, I had to beat them. I came here to play a game. My fans would be more upset with me if I threw away my game than play the way I did.
What was your reaction to Paul losing the game for a second time? Sound off in the comments section below.