By Dalton Ross
September 26, 2019 at 07:57 AM EDT

Have you ever seen someone so unhappy to win $500,000? Jackson Michie achieved his dream of winning Big Brother and the half-million dollars (and confetti) that came with it. But he was hit with allegations of bullying and questions of possible racism just moments before walking out of the house, putting the new champion into a stunned state when he was greeted by Julie Chen.

We caught up with the winner shortly after, and asked him about the dueling emotions inside him after being confronted with so much good and bad news. We also asked him some burning game questions like how he thinks he would have done in the end against Nicole, if his big lie about Tommy was his best move, what would have happened had he and Holly not gotten back together, and if he was really sneaking snacks in the shower. Read on for answers! (Also make sure to check out our interviews with Holly Allen and Nicole Anthony.)

Sonja Flemming/CBS

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, congratulations on winning Big Brother.
JACKSON MICHIE: Thank you. I appreciate it.

I have to say though, that was a very, very subdued reaction when you walked out of that house with your confetti. Was that a reaction to those bombshells you just heard from Ovi and David and Kemi?
Yeah, so there’s a lot of things that you don’t hear in the house, and hearing that on the spot when you’re trying to rally votes for half a million is a lot to take in. But also it was a lot of shock in the sense that you couldn’t tell I’m wearing the same clothes that I moved in in.

I didn’t pack according to finale night because I didn’t know if I would actually make it, so a lot of it was shock from the questions, shock from actually winning and staying true to my goal of seeing confetti. But nonetheless, it was a lot of excitement on the inside. It was a lot to handle. I just made half a million for a summer. That’s a pretty good take.

Let’s get into what went down with the vote at the end. Once you knew it was you against Holly for the million dollars, did you know you pretty much had it in the bag?
Not at all. We played two very different games. As much as we were together, we were very separate. And her social game was impeccable. And there’s a reason why she avoided the block as long as she did. She had great personal relationships with everyone that was in jury and I necessarily didn’t. I think every single person that left was pretty pissed off with me. So a lot of that went through my head. And I knew that it would be going one of two ways in terms of votes. So I was just hoping that it would go my way. And luckily it did.

When you heard that question from the jury saying, “Hey, we didn’t like the way you are talking to and about women,” were you thinking, “Uh oh, I may be in some trouble here”?
No, because I know who I am and I know who I’m not, and I respect women more than anything. I’m very abrasive and I have a lot of energy and passion in everything I say and do. And I’m that way towards everyone. And is it right? No. I know that I need to work on it and tone it down in a lot of areas, but I don’t see race or gender or anyone when I’m having a conversation. And if someone upsets me, they upset me the same way that a guy would.

And I know that it’s not right, but it has never been anything about demoralizing or being condescending to women, honestly. And it was hard hearing that because I’m an only child and I’m a mama’s boy at heart and I love my mom to death, but I know who I am. And I truly do respect women. I hate that someone may think that out there.

But were you worried at all from a vote perspective that that might hurt you?
Potentially, yes. And it was a conversation that I’ve had on a couple of occasions this summer with other houseguests and I tried to clarify, with Kat in particular. And there’s a lot of conversations that her and I have had where we’ve made up. We’re very brother and sister-esque in a sense that we will bicker and go back and forth. But I was confident in my ability to handle these questions and my responses to them. And the votes lined up with it accordingly.

Here’s the half million dollar question for me. When you get to the end and the decision you had to make. You win the final HOH. If you thought, “Listen, I’m doing jury math in my head. I think I probably maybe have a better chance of winning against Nicole.” If you had thought that, would you have brought her instead?
Picking between Nicole and Holly is one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve made all season. They truly are my two favorite people in this house. But Holly and I have been in this thing together and she’s never turned her back on me, and I never thought that I could win more over one or the other. I think they have very different but very respectful games and it’s very different from mine. So it was a crap shoot between us three. But I had to stay loyal the one person that was always a little to me, and the girl that I’m in love with, and that was Holly.

So even if you thought, “Hey, me against Holly might be dicey on the vote, but I think I can beat Nicole,” would you have still brought Holly?
Absolutely. I still would have brought Holly. I’d rather lose to her than take what could be received as an easy way out. But I don’t think Nicole is an easy way out. I think I have just as good a chance of winning or losing to either them. And it honestly came down to loyalty and it was a game decision. And Holly’s never turned her back on me. So she might’ve had a better chance of beating me. Nicole might’ve had a better chance of beating me. I’ll never know because I wasn’t sitting next to her. But the decision I made, it was about returning the favor.

How do you think you’d do against Nicole, Jackson? How do you think that shakes out? I know you’ve thought about it.
I truly think that her and I have such drastically different gameplays. And she was the underdog in this season. And she won important competitions when she needed to. And I think her personal relationships in combination with her social gameplay and her ability to win when it ultimately came down to it and to survive the block early on in the game and make it this far is commendable and worth a vote. And I truly think that she could beat me in swing five votes very easily.

For me, your move of the game was lying about how Tommy said he had told you about the plan to throw the HOH and that he was really after Cliff. Do you agree that was your best game move?
I would say that and my decision with Christie and Sis on my HOH. That week of HOH got a very important and crucial part of multiple people’s alliances out. It also allowed me to get a final four deal. But in terms of getting to the final chairs, the most pivotal moment was keeping Holly and I together. Going into the final four when Cliff and Nicole had the two soul votes to split us up. That might’ve been a half a million dollar move.

And you talk about keeping you and Holly together. It’s interesting, because obviously you guys had the showmance. But it was sort of an off again, on again thing for a little bit. If that connection had become permanently severed, how do you think that impacts your game? Are you still sitting there at the end as the winner?
It doesn’t affect my game. Holly and I both said regardless of whatever happens on a personal level, our games will never be affected. We started this thing out in an alliance together. We connected because we saw eye to eye on a lot of different things. And our personal level, it came after that. But our game was very separate. The decisions I made was not better for her game and vice versa. So for me, whether we were together or not, whether we are together outside of this house or not, was never going to come into play with our game and what we had to do.

Cliff voted for you, but he threatened to not vote for you and maybe even turn the jury against you if you did not keep your word and take him to the final three instead of Holly. Were you swayed at all by that?
He did. And no, it concerned me because it was a very legitimate threat. It was something I thought was possible. But at the end of the day, I’d rather take the gamble and call him on his bluff. He respects game, and I know that. And he is one of the best players in this house. And I don’t think that he, if it came down to it, would ultimately do that to me. So I know it was more than likely strategy, and as his vote shows, it was. But I had to call him on his bluff, and luckily it paid out.

Were you shocked that he actually thought you would get rid of Holly instead of him?
Cliff was making a lot of deals at the end of this game, and I don’t blame him. But fatigue sets in on all us, and it wasn’t naive in the sense that I am a man of my word, and when I shake someone’s hand, I do mean it. However, my loyalty is only given to those when it is reciprocated. And his wavering, and mainly Nicole’s wavering on keeping Holly, severed that for me.

So at that point I realized I was playing a bad game of Big Brother I didn’t want to play. I didn’t want to have to lie. I didn’t want to have to go back on words, but I would do it. And I would adapt to my environment to survive. And that’s exactly what I did. So I don’t think it was naive of him. However, I don’t think he also saw that he sort of went back on his word, because I know he wanted to keep Holly.

But he didn’t see it from my side where even when I was asking him to vote separately from Nicole, he refused to do it. So unfortunately, as much as it was more Nicole’s decision to try and keep Tommy, because she won the HOH and was guaranteed safety, Cliff was the other half of that.

You were put in that one America’s choice competition earlier on where you felt like it was because America didn’t like you and the other two people they put there. And then the Zingbot comes in and calls you a pompous douchebag. Did that stuff bother you or were you able to brush that off? On a personal level, did any of that stuff get to you?
I’ll be honest, I’m used to, in real life, people disliking me more than liking me. And most of the times it is because they have never gotten to know me. And this is a TV show and there’s a lot more to me than what you’ll see on an hour, three nights a week. There’s 168 hours in a week, and out of that a hundred maybe … and 115 minutes of it is social. So out of my 24 years on this earth I’ve dealt with a lot of animosity and I’m okay with it.

I know who I am. I know who I’m not. And everything I did was for this game to get me to the final two chairs. So it crossed my mind. It definitely weighed on me. And in that house, we have no distractions, so it can get to you. But it ultimately was not going to be the reason why I started spiraling. I took a lick on the chin and kept on going forward.

All right, were you sneaking snacks in the shower when you were Have-Not on slop? Come clean with me. Were you sneaking snacks?
I really wasn’t. I wasn’t. I respect this game too much. At no point would I ever think that I deserved something over anybody else. I really, really wasn’t. I volunteered to be a Have-Not. I wanted to get that experience of Big Brother. I volunteered to go up on the block as a pawn. I threw a rogue vote. Everything that I did was to make sure that if I walked out of these doors, I gave it my all and I played Big Brother to the best of my ability. And that includes being punished. That includes eating slop for a week. And I like to eat. And at no point did I ever even consider going back on that.

What are you going to do with the money?
Well, I have no car. I’m not sure where my apartment is, and as of right now, my employment is this check. So I got to start working on some things, but it’s for my family. I need to take care of a few expenses on my end. But a lot of saving, a lot of investing, and this is not a fun night for me. I might splurge on a trip with Holly, but that might come out a change of scenery.

But for me, a lot of this money is setting myself up for success. Very much like in this game I’m looking long term. It’s as Zingbot said, chess not checkers. And there’s a lot of ways that this $500,000 can go, and I’ll be damned if I let it go down the toilet the way that a lot of money goes into some people’s lives and out of it just as quick.

You mentioned a trip with Holly. She mentioned the same thing to me. What’s your future with Holly outside of this house?
Holly is easy one of the best things that happened to me. She had a great head on her shoulders. And in that house with no distractions people bicker. I’ve had arguments with just about everybody in that house, and that’s part of it. But I really do have the utmost respect for her. I want for us to be able to live life together after this week. Ironically enough, we’re in the same city. So it won’t be hard.

But I’ve always said, she said it too, whether we are in a relationship or not, it will not change the fact that we will both be in each other’s lives. She’s a great girl, and if we don’t end up together and she gets new boyfriend, sorry dude, but I will be one of her best friends. And same for me. So it’s part of the deal.

I know you’re a self-proclaimed mama’s boy. How nice was it to see your mother again?
I saw mama’s big ole dimples and I gave her a big hug and I couldn’t be more proud. She is an incredible woman. And I hope that I made her proud. They both worked very hard to raise me into the man I am. And in a house with 24/7 surveillance, it is easy and very frequent to come across in a way that’s not ideal. But that’s part of the experience I signed up for. And I hope at the end of the day, after it’s all said and done, that I’ve made them proud and that I put the best foot forward.

Also make sure to read our Big Brother exit interviews with Holly Allen and Nicole Anthony.

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