Thirty-six gallons of spit and 18,000 cigarettes after entering the house, bartender ”Evel” Dick Donato took home Big Brother 8‘s $500,000 prize, with his estranged daughter Daniele nabbing second place ($50,000). We talked to the father/daughter team, and found out that no matter what the opinions of the seven jury members, still smarting from the verbal abuse tossed their way by Dick all summer, this duo is confident they have nothing to apologize for.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When you first discovered each other in the house, how long until you decided that was a good thing?
DANIELE: Never. I’m being honest. It was definitely a disadvantage. A lot of people said, ”Oh, if I had my dad in the house I could have made it to the end too,” which is a load of crap, because we had it the hardest. We were the biggest targets from day one.
How long until you started working together?
DICK: We started playing together within an hour of me walking down the stairs, if that. We went into the bathroom and aligned at that time to play together until the end. We knew we could trust each other, and neither one of us was gonna turn on the other. I was a finalist [to be on BB] in season 5, and Daniele was going to be my supposed secret partner in season 6, and we didn’t get on the show either year. And so this year I said, Let’s go back to our season 6 strategy, which is play together and go with the flow, see what happens, and make moves together.
When you were up for season 6, I assume you were talking to each other.
DANIELE: Yeah, that was over two years ago. [Laughs] We were actually friends.
Was it difficult to slip into a team plan now that you had so much personal tension?
DANIELE: In the bathroom, when we did decide to align, I told him, I don’t know what’s gonna happen with our personal life, but let’s focus on the game. If you have my back, I’ll have yours. Period, end of story. When we took the personal out of the game, it was game, and it was on.
Dick, was it your strategy to be ruthlessly confrontational, or is that just your personality?
DANIELE: Personality — I’ll answer that for him right now.
DICK: It was a combination of both. In week 3, when I won the HOH, Kail flipped on her whole alliance and gave up everything to me: I can’t stand the he-said/she-said private conversations that Kail did to me twice, where she lied to me, and turned around and lied about what was said when I laid it out to the [Late-Night Crew alliance]. So number one, when you [confront people] in front of everyone, it kills that, because everyone hears exactly what’s going on. Number two, most of those people in there didn’t deal with confrontation very well, including Eric. When I confronted him when he was in the Jacuzzi, the guy was shaking like a leaf. It worked for me, but I would not recommend it for people playing this game in the future. [Laughs] I should have been gone quite a number of times. But through everything I said, there were no lies. And very, very little embellishment. Most of it was straight up the truth, and most of the people in the house knew that. I would keep saying, ”I haven’t lied to you,” and no one could dispute that fact. Even when Eric tried to [say] that I was a liar, I asked him repeatedly to tell everyone one lie that I have told in the house, and what the heck did he say? That he wasn’t gonna get into it and he wasn’t going to go into details and blah blah blah. The fact of the matter was, there was nothing he could grab on to. He was the one who was full of s— at that time, not me. So just bringing everything to the forefront in front of everyone, I don’t know, it worked.
Did you ever think you were going too far? You said some pretty brutal things to people.
DICK: During hell week?
Hell week (when he taunted everyone in the hopes that they’d evict him in place of Daniele) only seemed marginally more hellish than other weeks.
You were unrelentingly cruel to Jen, calling her all sorts of horrible names, not to mention pouring iced tea on her head. The Sacramento chapter of the National Organization of Women protested CBS about you.
DICK: I can’t stand Jen. I look at her as just a horrible person, and I had no problem calling her out on all of her bulls—. I’ve never met anyone so self-absorbed in my life, and who treats everyone like they’re not just below her but they’re not even worth her time. The fact of the matter was, she’s a friggin’ nanny. Give me a break.
DANIELE: Here’s a comment she made. Jessica had been talking about moving to L.A. to become a model or an actress or something. Then, when Jessica was debating putting Jen up as a replacement nominee, the comment Jen made was, ”I don’t understand why Jessica would want to make an enemy out of me. If you were my friend, you’d make more out of your life than anything you ever tried to do on your own.” That’s the epitome of Jen, that’s who she is.
DICK: I don’t know what they showed on the show, but it was nonstop with that girl. Every single conversation, she would turn around to herself. She wouldn’t be included in conversations, and she would answer people’s questions that were posed to other people. There was one point where we were talking about what we wanted to eat, and BB was getting us In-N-Out burgers. Jameka’s from D.C., and I guess there’s no In-N-Outs over there. So I asked Jameka something, and Jen answers, and I turn around and say, ”I’m not talking to you.” And she says, ”Well, I’m speaking for Jameka.” And I look at her and just shake my head, and Jameka starts yelling that she can speak for herself. It was nonstop with her.
NEXT PAGE: ”There were points where no one in the house would even look at me, because they’d be upset with him and I’d be guilty by association. How is that supposed to make me feel?”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Daniele, how did you feel watching your dad being so brutal to people?
DANIELE: Honestly, it was really hard. I had to play two games: my own game, and I had to play a game of damage control for my dad. I went around that house apologizing absolutely a million times to everybody because of the things he’d say and do. There were points where no one in the house would even look at me, because they’d be upset with him and I’d be guilty by association. How is that supposed to make me feel? I didn’t do anything and I’m sorry but I’m not his parent, I’m not his mother, I’m not gonna step in. It’s not my duty, it had nothing to do with me, take care of it yourself. I got to the point when I went upstairs and went off on everybody, because I was so sick of being blamed for everything he did. It wasn’t me, it was him.
After you did that, you confessed in the Diary Room that that outburst was partly strategy to take the glare off yourself.
DANIELE: They didn’t show the whole thing. Yes, it was strategy, but it’s also your real emotions just at the right time with the right people. I’d been feeling it for absolute weeks, and I just wanted to get it out. It was perfect timing, every single person in the house was upstairs, and it was about doing it in front of everybody so everyone knew how I felt and just getting it off my chest.
Dick used the Power of Veto to save you over himself, and often said how much he wanted you to win. But in the final two, though you didn’t campaign against each other, he didn’t seem to be handing it over to you. Did you expect him to take a dive?
DICK: It didn’t matter who won. We both won everything. We won the whole game. It was just like, answer the questions, however the chips fall is how they fall. Am I gonna cry if my daughter wins half a million dollars? Hell no. Is she gonna cry if I win? Hell no. What’s the difference? We won the game. We did something that two players aligned from the beginning have never been able to do before. And we’re the best team that’s played that game….
Well, you say, ”What’s the difference?” but there’s a big, $450,000 difference.
DICK: But who cares?
DANIELE: Of course it’s about the money, you come in wanting the money. I honestly believe nobody believes this, but the 100 percent truth is that we wanted to make the final two. We did that, we accomplished what we wanted, and at that point it didn’t matter. I don’t care that he won. We won, and that’s all that matters.
Dick said you guys are the greatest team to ever play this game. Is that claim affected by the revelation that as America’s Player, Eric only voted out Dustin instead of Dick because America ordered him to, and if it were up to him, Dick would have gone?
DICK: Am I still digesting that whole thing? Absolutely. Would I have been able to work it otherwise? Who’s to say yes or no? What Eric went through the week before, he couldn’t trust Dustin, no one could trust Dustin. So if it was played straight up, no one could have said if I’d have gone or wouldn’t have gone. There was leverage that was played: I told Eric that he would be gone the week after I left or the week after that at the latest. Had I gone that week, and with Daniele winning the HOH as soon as I left, there was a strategy in place that would have split the votes, putting Dustin and Eric up, having Amber vote for Dustin, Jessica vote for Eric, leaving Daniele with Jen and Zach’s votes controlling who stayed and who went. So if Eric did not win the POV, or someone else didn’t win the POV and take him off, he would have been going home the following week. I explained that to him, and his first comment was, ”I don’t respond well to threats.” I told him it’s not a threat, it’s leverage; I would be a better ally than an enemy. So who’s to say how the thing would have played out had the game been played straight up?
The producers clearly were hoping for a big reconciliation between you two by the end of the show, but while Daniele seemed slightly optimistic, she definitely never committed to bygones remaining bygones. What do you think your future holds now that you’re out of that goldfish bowl and going back to your real lives?
DANIELE: I’m a very private person. This whole experience of being filmed 24/7 was really hard for me. There’s obviously many, many things we need to discuss that happened in the past that I wasn’t remotely about to bring up on national television, and have everybody know about things that have gone on between us. It’s just a really hard situation, and we have been on really good terms before, and on really bad terms, and you just never know what’s going to happen. With both of us trying and putting the effort in, it’s definitely something, and definitely going in the right direction.
One last question for Daniele: Was your boyfriend at the finale party with Nick? Because I imagine that would have been the most awkward finale party ever.
DANIELE: [After a steely moment of silence] I’m not gonna respond to that comment.