The Amazing Race winners on how they turned their Big Brother eviction into a Happily Ever After
If you watched season 19 of Big Brother, then you already know about Jessica Graf and Cody Nickson’s instant connection and quick entry into courtship. But did you know it could earn them a million dollars even after they got the Big Brother boot? As the newly-minted winners of The Amazing Race’s standout 30th season, Jessica and Cody have officially found their CBS sport.
Team Big Brother stood out as a strong pair — perhaps because of Jessica’s “jacked arms,” per Cody, and Cody’s ability to “go full Cyborg,” per Jessica — from the very first leg of the race, but with each new leg, it became clear to TAR fans: these two are perfect for each other. Even though they’d only known one another a few months, and even though there was only a four-day turnaround time after Big Brother ended, Jessica and Cody didn’t hesitate in saying yes to traveling the world on The Amazing Race.
And there’s been another big “yes” in recent days that Jess and Cody are excited to share (along with the $1-million-news they’ve been holding in since October when they crossed the Final Mat): they’re engaged!
Even though it’s technically only been nine months since Jessica and Cody met in the Big Brother house, won The Amazing Race, and got engaged, Cody still proclaims it “one hell of a year.” EW caught up with Team Big Brother on the phone while they were still lounging in bed to talk alliances, that killer finale puzzle, and what it really means to go full-cyborg (hint: stay out of the way!)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Your bond with Team Xtreme and Team Indy Car played a big part in the latter half of your game — what did you recognize in those teams that made you want to align with them?
CODY NICKSON: We just had such a huge respect for both those teams because of how competitive they are. I mean, they’re champions in their fields. They’ve grinded their way toward their expertise and turned into champions because of it. We loved that about them, then it just ended up being a natural flow in working together.
What was your field of expertise as Team Big Brother?
CODY: Mine and Jessica’s relationship, it’s strong. I’m not saying the other teams didn’t have as strong of a bond, but Jessica and I know each other extremely well and when the other person is down, the other one knows how to pick them up.
I don’t think we ever saw you two argue — not even a fuss! Was there ever a stern moment?
CODY: I think the most frustration came when I would just go off toward somewhere, like on a hunch, and Jessica would be like…
JESSICA GRAF: “You’re wrong.” [Laughs]
There was a great moment in Morocco when Jessica discovered Cody speaks some Arabic. Were there any other new bits of information you learned about each other while running The Amazing Race?
JESSICA: That was such a good moment, you’re right! I think I tried to play it off for like a millisecond that I wasn’t shocked, but then I was like, “Wait a second, you just spoke a completely different language.”
CODY: I made sure that when we got out of the [Big Brother] house, anything really bad about me that I needed to tell Jess about, I told her right away. But I withheld a bunch of good stuff, so that way I could keep impressing her. [Laughs]
JESSICA: Yeah, there was no point in time where I looked at him and was like, “Oh my god, why am I with this person?”
CODY: There was no point where I was like — [pauses] — “Oh, I didn’t know she…farted in her sleep.”
JESSICA: NO! I don’t, by the way.
Can you tell us a little more about Cody’s ability to go “cyborg mode,” as Jess calls it?
JESSICA: I don’t care who you are, when Cody goes into cyborg mode, it’s best to just take a step back and let him work. It’s incredible what he’s capable of. Even his eyes glaze over; he’s not present anymore; he’s completely submerged in whatever he’s doing.
CODY: You should see me at physical labor jobs — any job that I do, I do it very well.
JESSICA: [Laughs] Pats self on back.
Like you said Jessica, when Cody is doing his thing, it’s best to just take a step back. Were there Detours or Road Blocks where Jess was carrying the team?
CODY: That last challenge. She was clutch on that last challenge. What people don’t see is that after every leg, Jessica was in a notebook, writing down everything that she remembered about each leg for an hour. I’m telling you … if she didn’t do that last challenge, we wouldn’t have a million dollars.
Can you tell us a little more about that final airplane puzzle? What made it so difficult for three detail-oriented people like Jess, Jen, and Henry to solve?
JESSICA: The problem with that competition was that some of the symbols were from Road Blocks. So, like for Prague, the symbol was a magnifying glass — but if you didn’t perform that Road Block, you had to wait outside of the building, so you would have never associated that magnifying glass with Prague. And if you didn’t understand what a symbol was, it would really hold you up [solving the puzzle]. Also, I was making a really idiotic mistake for the first hour, associating elephants with Africa because we had seen elephants at the finish line in Africa; we didn’t perform the elephant Detour in Thailand, which is what the elephant actually stood for.
Cody said a number of times that he’s an American boy through and through — did you have any favorite, magical travel moments?
CODY: This is easy. My favorite experience in the Race was in Belgium when we had to spend the night on the floor of some old rickety building. And I don’t know…me and Jess never get the opportunity to just be away from everything, and all the amenities. It was just us; cold; music’s blaring in the building next door. I just like that experience with Jess because it was one of those that we get to tell our kids about.
JESSICA: I woke up in the middle of the night and he was actually laying on me as a blanket. It was so adorable and sweet, but he had relaxed too much, so all of his body weight was just collapsed onto me, and I was, like, close to death.
I have to say, cold and close to death was not the favorite travel moment I was expecting. Is there anywhere you’d like to go back to that doesn’t involve sleeping on the ground?
JESSICA: THAILAND! It was just gorgeous. Cody thinks that we’re never going to leave the United States, but…he’s going to have to.
We’ve seen a number of pairs cross over from Big Brother to The Amazing Race, but are there any teams from this season of TAR that you think would do well on Big Brother?
CODY: I would love to see Conor on Big Brother.
JESSICA: I don’t know if he would do well…
CODY: But he is hilarious. That would be great. Please tells CBS to put Conor on Big Brother.
Speaking of CBS, any chance you’d go for the full-reality-trifecta and add Survivor to your résumé?
JESSSICA: I want [Cody] to. I think his cyborg mode would come in handy on Survivor.
CODY: The issue is being away from Jess. It’s like a 45-day experience, and I don’t want to be away from Jessica that long.
JESSICA: And I want him to bring home another million dollars.