• Sara Michalowicz

And the Winner of “Big Brother” Season 18 is...! *Spoilers Ahead*

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After 99 days of intense competition, backstabbing, “showmances” and even “bromances,” the winner of “Big Brother” Season 18 (BB-18) was determined during the live finale on Wednesday, September 21.

And the winner is… Nicole!

For the first time in five years, a woman has won the grand prize of $500,000. Nicole broke the barrier for marking it the first time in the history of “Big Brother” that a woman won when seated next to a male in the final two.

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“Big Brother” is set every summer and follows 16 individuals living in a house together, outfitted with dozens of cameras and microphones recording their every move and conversation. The houseguests compete in competitions throughout each week.

Houseguests compete in a Head-of-Household (HOH) competition, in which the winner is given their own room with special amenities as well as the job of nominating two houseguests for eviction that week. Every week there is also a veto competition, in which only some houseguests participate, the HOH, two nominees and three others chosen by random draw. The winner of the veto is given the power to save one of the nominees from eviction, if they choose.

The season finale of BB-18 had all of us fans on the edge of our seats. We saw the conclusion of the final HOH competition as well as the last live eviction of the season and the live vote from the nine-person jury to crown the winner of “Big Brother.”

The final three of BB-18 consisted of Paul, Nicole and James. Paul won part one of the final HOH competition, which advanced him directly to part three. Nicole and James then had to compete against one another in part two, in which Nicole triumphed and advanced to part three. This automatically made James ineligible to compete in part three of this competition.

Live on Wednesday’s finale, Paul and Nicole squared off in the final leg of the competition, Paul came out on top and was awarded the final HOH of the season. This meant Paul had to conduct the final eviction of the season, which also meant he was choosing whether he wanted Nicole or James to be the person sitting next to him in the final two, in which he chose Nicole.

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The jury is made up of the final nine evicted houseguests. It is their job at the end of the season to cast their votes for the final two for who they decide should win the $500,000 prize, and also award second place with $50,000. With what seemed to be a completely divided jury, Nicole ultimately clinched the grand prize with a nail-biting vote of 5-4.

Houseguest, Victor Arroyo, was also awarded $25,000 on finale night as he was voted America’s Favorite Houseguest for this season.

Not only was the 90-minute season finale filled with suspense, but the entire season was filled with it as BB-18 was full of twists. After all, the motto of the show is “expect the unexpected.” Just like past seasons, BB-18 was full of surprises for the houseguests.

The season began with the return of four former houseguests from past seasons: Da’Vonne (BB-17), James (BB-17), Nicole (BB-16) and Frank (BB-14). For the first time, the houseguests were also divided into teams of four, as opposed to playing individually. In the beginning weeks of the season, the BB Roadkill RV would hold a competition all houseguests would participate in individually, in which the winner would be awarded anonymously and given the power to nominate a third nominee for eviction.

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This season also featured the BB Battle Back competition. This gave the first five evicted houseguests the opportunity to battle their way back into the house in a “survive-to-advance” style competition. There was also a hidden room in the BB house this season. Clues were hidden all around the house in order to crack the code to enter the secret room. Once discovered by each individual, they would pick one of the randomized envelopes inside, one of which contained a “round-trip-ticket” sending them right back in the house if they were evicted.

Finally, there was America’s Care Package. This twist gave fans the opportunity to get involved partway through the season where, each week, viewers voted for a current houseguest to be awarded with a special advantage in the game.

Host, Julie Chen, also announced the premiere of “Big Brother: Over-the-Top,” the first ever streaming-only season that will air exclusively on CBS All Access, starting on Wednesday, September 28 at 10/9 c.

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