With Big Brother: Over the Top wrapping up in less than a week, we as fans are getting ready to add another name to the BB winner’s circle. In preparation, here are my personal rankings of every winner of Big Brother U.S.:
18: Eddie McGee – Big Brother 1 Although Eddie was the best player during his season of Big Brother, the game itself was fundamentally different. Because of this, I have him at the bottom of my list.
17: Adam Jasinski– Big Brother 9 I don’t know of many fans that will really disagree with this one. There are many things wrong with the first (and only) winter season of Big Brother, but perhaps the most troubling thing about this season was its winner. Not only was he unlikable (to put it mildly), but he had no real strategy and won the game due to a combination of luck and other houseguests’ stupidity. Plus, using your winnings to start a drug ring will knock you down a few points in the court of public opinion.
16: Jordan Lloyd – Big Brother 11 Is Jordan a fantastic, lovable character? Yes, of course. Probably one of the most lovable characters BB has had to this day. However, I am having a hard time coming up with another reason why she took home the title in 2009. She won 5-2 by being nice and much more likable than runner-up Natalie Martinez.
15: Lisa Donahue– Big Brother 3 Lisa really won the game due to a major error of production that allowed the season three jury to go home and watch the episodes, exposing runner-up Danielle Reyes’ cutthroat gameplay and scathing diary room sessions. Despite playing the inferior game, Donahue won 9-1 due to a bitter jury. Although she is considered to be one of first strong social players, she won because the jury wanted to see Danielle lose, rather than see her win. This is why I give her such a low overall ranking.
14: Steve Moses – Big Brother 17 Don’t get me wrong, I like Steve as a character and he seems like a nice enough person. However, he made so many strategic errors in the game it is hard to see how he made it to that point in the first place. He gets points for booting Vanessa Rousso and taking the goat (Liz Nolan) to the final three, but keeping the Austwins alliance in the game and targeting underdogs in Jackie, Meg, and James really made no sense to rational viewers. Vanessa was the player of the season, but Steve definitely deserves credit for understanding that he needed to cut her at final three.
13: Nicole Franzel – Big Brother 18 Nicole being ranked so low definitely has the potential to be controversial, but now that we’re a few months removed from BB18, I am still having a hard time pinpointing what exactly makes her a top ten winner. She employed tactics from BB15’s winner Andy Herren by teaming up with many alpha-like personalities in the house and utilizing them as a meat shield to progress herself further in the game. She definitely kicked it into gear in her end game and made (and went back on) deals with nearly every one in the final five. She narrowly defeated runner-up Paul Abrahamian, which sparked plenty of criticism from fans who did not think she played the superior game. This strategy proved to be effective, but was not necessarily entertaining from a television perspective.
12: Drew Daniel – Big Brother 5 Of course he gets points for cutting off his girlfriend Diane at the end, who he really had no chance in hell of beating. However, it is hard to overlook the fact that he would have not of made it to that point in the game without her gameplay and the overall game intelligence of his alliance members.
11: Andy Herren – Big Brother 15 If you asked me a few summers ago I would have put him on the absolute bottom of my list, however, as time as passed I have developed a sense of appreciation for his game. The “rat floater” strategy is indeed fully functional and effective (as evidenced by Nicole in season 18), and he mastered this strategy to a t during his season. He also took one of the most disliked houseguests of the season in GinaMarie Zimmerman to the final two, locking up his 7-2 win.
10: Maggie Ausburn – Big Brother 6 Maggie and the friendship alliance probably go down in history as some of the least popular group to ever play this game. Despite this, Maggie was able to form deals and manipulate other houseguests into keeping the target off of her and her alliance. I was not the biggest fan of her personally, but she did play a game that is overall hard to ignore.
9: Ian Terry – Big Brother 14 Okay, so I’m Dan Gheesling’s biggest fan. He’s my favorite player to ever enter the Big Brother house and a main part of that is his gameplay in BB14. It took me some time before I was ready to view Ian a deserving winner of the show, but now that we’re a few years removed I completely understand how he won this season. Although his journey to the final two was much easier than Gheesling’s, he still won many competitions and used those wins to make deals and solidity himself in a majority alliance with the biggest targets in the house. He also almost won the game unanimously due to his jury management skills, which is why I have him ranked so high.
8: Jun Song – Big Brother 4 Many fans tend to rank Jun Song a little higher, but being a huge fan of runner-up Alison Irwin, I cannot justify any placement higher for her finish in BB4. She did successfully manipulate her own ex in the game and teamed up with the player making the biggest moves and had the most blood on her hands. However, I do not think she played the superior game in this season. She was friendly and used her kitchen skills as a strategy to keep her around, however, I do not think it was enough to warrant a win in such a strategy-based season.
7: Hayden Moss – Big Brother 12 This of course could be my own bias as season twelve was my first season as a live viewer and he also had an extremely impressive run on my favorite show, Survivor, but Hayden is one of my favorite winners. During this season filled with completely over the top characters, Hayden locked down an alliance with people he knew he could trust from the beginning, but did a great job of hiding it and forming other relationships so that no one else in the house had caught on. Each member of the Brigade formed a side alliance with other individual houseguests and it took no time before this boy’s club was running the house. Fans want to claim this such a basic and easy strategy secured him the win, but how many solid alliances formed week one have made it to the final three? I’ll wait.
6: Mike “Boogie” Malin – Big Brother 7 This may also be controversial because many attribute Boogie’s Allstars win to his “Chilltown” alliance member, Will Kirby. However, Mike manipulated and schemed alongside Will and got their known obvious alliance of two all the way to the final four. He was the only male his season to win HOH more than once and used this power to take out power players, including taking out Big Brother legend Janelle at final three. Did he play a dirty game? Definitely. But I think it was one of the stronger wins we have seen in eighteen seasons.
5: Rachel Reilly – Big Brother 13 Okay, I’ll admit it: I was not a Brenchel fan during their first outing of Big Brother. However, Reilly made me a believer by the end of Big Brother 13. She won competitions, she had fight, and she did everything she could to stay in the house and make it to the final two. Although many argue that production definitely helped her out a bit with the re-launch of the duos twist after Pandora’s Box was opened, but one really cannot come up with an argument of why she did not deserve to win season 13.
4: “Evel” Dick Donato – Big Brother 8 Dick’s game isn’t for everybody. I know that, and I completely understand that. He used intimidation as a tactic, in a way that definitely would not fly in 2016, however I think he brought something to the game that we had not seen in the previous seven seasons. His dominance of the game got not only himself, but his daughter, to the final two and in doing so he earned plenty of adoration from the Big Brother fan community at the time. He was definitely helped by the “America’s Player” twist, but I think that the majority of Big Brother fans agree that he was the rightful winner in season eight and that he brought something different to the game.
3: Derrick Levasser – Big Brother 16 Many people argue that Derrick Levasser, an undercover cop, played the best game in modern BB. He was by far the biggest threat in the house, but was able to hide behind an alliance of meat shields, one of which whom took him to the final two. When Nicole Franzel or any other houseguest began to catch on to his gameplay, he orchestrated their demise. His social game was unparalleled during his season, which is why he was easily able to run circles around everyone else in the house. He was also never nominated in a season that began with four nominations per week, depicting how strong his gameplay was.
2: Dan Gheesling – Big Brother 10 If we were ranking best Big Brother players of all time, he would indisputably be at the top of my list. He’s the only player in the history of the game to make it to final two both times he played and the only player to ever win unanimously. His game in Big Brother 10 was calculated, strategic, and essentially flawless. He never received a vote against him in season ten because he was known as being the nice guy in the house who people were able to easily connect with. However, as the game progressed Dan definitely made his fair share of enemies (see: Jerry’s Judas speech), making his landslide victory of Memphis that much more remarkable.
1: Dr. Will Kirby – Big Brother 2 Will Kirby is to Big Brother, what Richard Hatch is to Survivor. There is a reason his game is still so often talked about more than fifteen years later. He created Big Brother and turned it into a strategy-based game that it is today, all without winning a single competition. He was playing a game while everyone else was making a television show, and that is what has set him apart in the pre-all-stars era of Big Brother. He relied on his manipulation and superior gameplay to minimize the target on his back and get others to keep him around. There is a reason he is called the puppet master, because he invented the game while everyone else around him was trying to figure out what it was. Because of that you have to give credit to the original GOAT.