She may not be able to endure 30 seconds in a haunted house, but Tamar Braxton just survived the scariest house of all: the Big Brother house. And not only did she survive, she thrived! Tamar won season 2 of Celebrity Big Brother in epic fashion, becoming only the second person to ever win a U.S. Big Brother season unanimously (after season 10’s Dan Gheesling).
How did she do it? Was she shocked by the result? Whose vote surprised her the most? And does she think Ricky Williams would have won had be brought Lolo Jones or Dina Lohan to the end instead? We asked the new champion all that and more just an hour after she stepped out of the house. (Also make sure to read our exit interview with runner-up Ricky Williams.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off congratulations. As a Big Brother superfan, how does it feel?
TAMAR BRAXTON: I mean, I can’t even really put it into words. It’s like the best day on top of the best feeling. I’ve been watching this show since Chicken George. And I can’t believe that I was actually blessed to be a part of it, let alone win. Like, that is crazy to me.
And Tamar, you didn’t just win, you become only the second person to ever win unanimously after Dan Gheesling who is a Big Brother legend. You must be freaking out.
I am. I’m telling you right now, it hasn’t all settled in yet. And, as a matter fact, Omarosa told me that. And I’m like, “I thought I heard Julie say that, but not really. What?” I’m just freaking out. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it, I feel like I’m in a dream right now.
This had to have meant more to you than it would have to any of the others just because of your fandom of the show, right?
I would hope so. I was actually in the house and people were asking questions about Big Brother and I was getting so annoyed and trying to keep my cool. And we’re at the finals and you don’t know what happens during the finale show? I’m like, “Oh my God this is an abomination. What?” Like what you talking about? Like, “What’s HOH? How can I use the power of veto?” And I’m like, “Are you serious? I want to kick you out of this house right now.”
How did you feel about your chances before the votes were revealed? You’re sitting next to Ricky, I’m sure you’re doing the jury math in your head. How are you feeling?
You know, when you’re watching it’s totally different than when you’re sitting there. And because I am Tamar and I don’t think I’m going to win anything because I’ve never won anything. As a matter of fact, I won Big Brother before I won a Grammy! [Laughs] I’m thinking to myself, “Oh, they’re voting for Ricky. Oh, they’re voting for Ricky.” You know, because Ricky, although he did kind of butt heads with everybody in the house, I mean, let’s just be honest, I kind of did too. [Laughs] I spoke my mind, but at the end of the day, I mean, to be honest, I did try to be kind. As kind as I could.
Which jury vote surprised you the most?
You know whose vote surprised me? It was Joe. And that’s because before he left the house, he and Ricky really did bond. And, I was kind of the reason why Joe left the house because I wanted to keep Kandi safe. And so, I thought that he was going to vote for Rick. And so I’m elated. I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe it.
Is there anyone you think you couldn’t have beaten at the end?
There are several people that I couldn’t beat at the end. I mean, let me start with Kato, let me start with Tom, let me start with Dina. I didn’t think I could beat her. I didn’t think I could beat Kandi, she had a lot of friends in the house. I didn’t think I could beat Lolo. I mean, when you’re in that bubble, you feel like everybody’s chances are better than yours. Especially because, yeah I am Tamar and I am outspoken and sometimes loud with it. So, for me, I just thought that I put a huge target on my back for nobody to vote for me. Although, I really did like a lot of people. I feel like I made lifelong friends. I’m at a loss for words. I don’t even know what I’m talking about right now. I just can’t believe I’m here as the winner. Like this is crazy! Like, what is going on?
Let’s say Ricky doesn’t bring you to the end. Let’s say he brings Dina or Lolo with him to the end. How does he do?
Against Lolo, he has a better chance at getting more votes. Basically, Dina was the mama of the house and a lot people respected her. But she absolutely didn’t have any game play, really. [Laughs] She didn’t win any competitions, and that’s not to necessarily say that you were bad at Big Brother. Just for Big Brother fans, it just means that I’m not voting for you. Because I wouldn’t have. I would’ve voted for Ricky because he did win three HOHs and he could’ve won at the end. And, two Vetoes, especially when it counted. So, I think that he probably would’ve gotten at least one or two or maybe three votes if he would’ve brought Lolo.
If he brought Lolo, who do you vote for then? Ricky?
Oh for sure, I would’ve voted for Ricky.
Were you worried your emotions were going to get you in trouble in the house, because you even referenced that in your closing remarks a bit?
You know, I was concerned. And I was concerned because it seems like I got into it with people right before they left the house. [Laughs] So, for me, I was really nervous. But, then again, I really had some good moments with everyone in the house. After Kato made his statement, I went up to Kato and we had a heart to heart. And right before Tom left, I told him that I really wanted to hit the reset button and go out to dinner. As a matter of fact, we have a date coming up. And, yeah. I felt like I made a good connection with Ryan and Jonathan as well.
What about your whole arc with Kandi? Because obviously, you guys have a history and then it seemed to go off the rails a little bit in the house there. But then you guys got it back.
Yeah, we got it back because we wanted it. We wanted to make amends more than we wanted to fight and that’s for the both of us. I just think that’s a testament to life. When you want to get along, when you want to do something, and it’s another person involved, they’ve got to want it too. You’ve got to work at it. And we constantly worked at our relationship in the house. I wasn’t too happy to see her face, I’m not going to lie, when I first saw her. But, in the end I’m really grateful that she was there. And I’m really grateful of the friendship that we’ve been able to have in the house and outside of the house.
You’ve been watching this show for 19 years. So what ended up being the hardest part about being in there?
Oh, let me just tell you something, sharing the bathroom with boys. I just couldn’t believe it. I’m like, “Okay, we have to segregate this bathroom. You mean I’m going to take a shower next to Tom Green and Kato and Ricky?! Like, that can’t work.” And sharing a toilet room with the boys. That, and also, I’m really good at cooking and I really love cooking, but I’m going to take a break from it because I cooked every single day in the house.
Who’d you end up getting closest to? Who is the person you think you’ll have the longest, deepest, relationship with outside the house?
Oh, hands down Ricky. Hands down. We’ve had some magical conversations about life, about astrology, about being positive and the future. I haven’t seen the show, so I don’t know what you all seen, but he’s an amazing human being. And, I’m grateful for him and I’m grateful he took me to the end. Ricky is a great guy and I’ll be his sister for life. I was calling him my brother like a week ago. And, I called him my brother because we were able to reach each other on a different level. On a brother, sister, I’ve known you forever, level.
Okay, tell me about this house you’re going to buy.
Well, right now, I’m in an apartment. I just … I don’t even know if I’m divorced. [Calls out to the room] Does anybody know?
PERSON WITH TAMAR ANSWERS: No, you’re not.
[Laughs] Okay, when everything went down with [being let go from] The Real, a lot of things changed. And, unfortunately not really in my favor. But, I’m grateful for the person that I’ve become from all the hardships that I’ve been through. And the growth that I have received from all the changes that has been made. And so my son and I are going to be moving to a house. And every day he asks me to go back to his old house and that’s just not available to him anymore. And I promised him a month and a half ago before I moved into the house that mom will be working hard to not replace it, but build towards our future and getting us a new house. Because we do live in an apartment and that’s nothing that I’m ashamed of. Sometimes you’ve just got to start over to start right.