By Dalton Ross
September 26, 2019 at 12:37 AM EDT
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So close, yet so far. Nicole Anthony wanted to get to the finale three of Big Brother, but she also didn’t want to get there with a showmance. Unfortunately for her, both things happened, and she was left one chair away from the finals. But not all was lost. At least Nicole still managed to win the fan vote for favorite player of the season and the $25,000 that comes with it. She may not have won the game, but she won America’s heart.

We spoke with Nicole shortly after walking out of the house and asked her about her decision to keep Tommy around instead of Holly, her thoughts when Cliff told her he was going to bring Michie with them to the final three if he won veto, why she voted for Holly, and how she thinks she would have done had she made it to the final two. (Also read our exit interviews with winner Jackson Michie and runner-up Holly Allen.)

BIG BROTHER
Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’ve only been out of the house for an hour or so. You got over a million votes to win fan favorite. That’s got to feel pretty sweet.
NICOLE ANTHONY: Wow. It is something. I can’t even wrap my brain around it. I learned from this experience how to love myself, so to also feel that love from other people. It’s just; it’s tremendous.

Let’s get into some game stuff because so much to ask. First off, we saw you voted for Holly to win the game. Why Holly over Michie?
I spent the last week with the two of them, and I was able to sit and talk to them about their strategies and their game and what they would say to the jury. And Holly was always somebody that I’ll admit I dismissed and I discredited … She’s the other half of Michie, and she’s just with him. And the more I spoke to her, I realized how much she did behind the scenes and what a tremendous social game she was playing. And it made me think of myself. It made me think of my social game and staying under the radar and being nice to everybody.

And then in the final HOH competitions, she was right up there with Michie in part one, and she beat me in part two. And I claimed that that was my strong suit, the days and memory. And she beat me, and she said that’s what she was going to do. She was going to lay low and then come out at the end and win stuff. And I think it’s very admirable and it just amazed me that she was able to do that. And I love it, and I admire it, and yeah, that’s why I voted for her.

So we have to play a little Big Brother what-if now. Because I’m sure you’ve been doing jury math in your head for the past week and the question is: If you get to the end against Michie, how do you think you do?
I would like to think that I would have won, because I know that Michie won a lot of competitions and blazed his way through, but I know that my social game and the friendships I have with everybody and appeasing everybody and keeping everybody at bay and not showing my cards, I feel like that would win me more favor.

If you had won the final HOH, whom would you have brought to sit next to you?
I would have brought Holly.

You think she would have been easier to beat?
Yes. I definitely think if you’re comparing Michie and me as individuals, he had a lot more competition wins than I did. And I know he’s a very, very, very assertive speaker and I knew if I had spoken first, he would bury me. Whereas someone like Holly, we had about the same competition wins, and I could argue my current case stronger, and I could argue my social game more.

We’ve been kind of pulling our hair out watching the show for the past week or two. You wanted to get Holly out at the final five…
I know.

Cliff pushed really hard for Tommy instead. How much do you regret that decision right now?
Oh my gosh, it’s tough because regret’s not the word because you never know how things would pan out. Who knows if Tommy would’ve gotten rid of me or Michie would’ve gotten rid of me. There’s no way of knowing. But I will say I do look at it and kind of go, “Ah,” because I realize if it was me, Cliff, and Michie in final three, both of them would probably bring me. If it’s me, Michie, and Tommy, both of them probably bring it. If it’s me, Tommy, and Cliff, both of them probably bring me. So I laid in bed at night awake thinking darn it. I done screwed up.

You just got out of the house. I don’t even know what you know. Do you know that Michie made that whole thing up about Tommy?
Yes. I thought it was made up when it was happening. During the fight, I’m like, “He’s so full of it, this is not real at all. I feel so bad for Tommy.” But ultimately it was me and Cliff talking amongst ourselves. “What are we going to do?” And that was the one time in this game that I didn’t really trust my own gut, but I have trust in Cliff, and I’m like I’m going to trust Cliff’s gut. And the two of us were like, you know what? Even if this is a case, we go with our final four, we could say we didn’t break our word and Holly should be easier to beat in mental comps than Tommy, which obviously she was holding back. So that wasn’t the case. But also we were just hoping that the deals that were made, we were hoping in blazing forward they would adhere to these deals, and Cliff and I would both be in final three.

Michie making up that that whole lie, that whole situation, is that a great game move or is that over the line? What do you think?
Oh, I think it’s a great game move. I think in this game everything’s on the table, so I always think back to when I mentioned like “Oh, I swear on my grandmother’s grave,” and then it was used against me. I can’t be mad about that because it’s a game and any game pieces you put on the table, they’re in play. So I kind of admire that type of gameplay. It’s not my gameplay per se, because I can’t go with lies. I can’t manipulate, I can’t puppeteer. It’s just not in my nature, and I know I couldn’t do it. So when other people are able to do it in a game setting, I think it’s very admirable, to be honest.

Look, it ended up not really mattering ultimately, but what was your reaction when Cliff walks in the bedroom and tells you he made a deal to bring Michie to the final three if he won the veto and that he planned to honor it?
Oh my gosh. From my perspective, I’m thinking: This is horrible. He will smoke both of us in comps, especially if they’re physical. This is a bad, bad idea. But again, I respect Cliff too much. I respect the game too much. And ultimately, if Cliff had that decision, it was his decision to make. And yes, we work together, but we’re individuals, and whatever Cliff would do, I would never hold it against him. And I trusted Cliff would do what’s best for Cliff.

I mean, Cliff seemed legitimately convinced that Michie was going to bring him to the final three if he won over his girlfriend. Why would he ever think that? And what did you think was going to happen once Michie won that?
I think Cliff is just a great person with a good nature and he wants to trust everybody and believe in a handshake and believe in eye contact. And like I said, I don’t really know much about a gentleman’s word. I’m from New York. We’ll shake your hand while stabbing you. So I don’t take anything at face value. I don’t trust anything.

You’re a fan of this game, you made it all the way to finale night, which is incredible. You win the fan-favorite, most players would die for all that, But you were sooo close, which I’m sure is frustrating in its own right. How do you feel about that?
I mean, I’m very frustrated as a fan and as a player. I’ve been here for 99 days. To not win is frustrating, but I’m glad I got to see it through from day 1 to day 99. And ultimately, I’m a very firm believer that if things are meant to be, they will be. And it wasn’t meant for me to win. It was meant for me to come in third and be a juror and get America’s favorite and that’s my path, and I’m okay with that.

Also read our Big Brother exit interviews with winner Jackson Michie and runner-up Holly Allen.

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