By Dalton Ross
October 29, 2020 at 02:25 AM EDT
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He won four Head of Household competitions. He won four Veto contests. He was never nominated for eviction all season long. And, at the end, he won every single jury vote. By pretty much every measure, Cody Calafiore gave a truly dominant performance on Big Brother: All-Stars. And he was rewarded for his efforts with the title of champion and the $500,000 that goes along with it.

It was a big change from the last time Cody played during Big Brother 16. In that season, Cody won the final HOH, and then chose loyalty over strategy — bringing Derrick Levasseur with him to the end. Derrick trounced Cody, who would have won that season if he had just selected Victoria Rafaeli instead. This time, when forced to choose between former winner Nicole Franzel and Enzo Palumbo, Cody took no chances — sending a heartbroken Nicole to the jury and assuring his own victory.

EW spoke to Cody shortly after he stepped out of the Big Brother house for the first time in 85 days and asked him about his big decision, his biggest jury worry, how his winning season stacks up against Derrick’s, and much more. (Also make sure to red our Q&A with runner-up Enzo Palumbo and exit interview with Nicole Franzel.)

Credit: CBS

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Last time you played, you had to decide who to sit next to you at the end. All you had to do was pick Victoria, and you would have won $500,000. Instead, you picked Derrick. How much was that going through your mind when you decided to cut Nicole loose at the final 3.

CODY CALAFIORE: Oh my, I can't even express to you how, like, the back and forth. I was losing sleep over it. It was so difficult because not only did I grow so close personally to Nicole — I did not feel like I would have been in the position I was in if it wasn't for her — and so it was very tough. Fortunately, I also felt very similar about Enzo. It was very tough, but the decision to cut her was more because I wanted to stay true to Enzo over her and not just, “Oh, I'm going to cut her because I think I have a better chance to beat Enzo.” Because in my head I was so thrown, and it was such a toss-up for me who I would have a better chance to beat.

I couldn't really wrap my head around what the jury was thinking, how they thought my game was. Did they think I was playing a good game? Or did they not? You just wrap your head in so many different thoughts that that wasn't such a driving force for me. And it was more so just staying true to Enzo, and just making the hardest decision that I had to because both of them, I had a final two with the second I walked in. I just clicked with Enzo. I clicked with Nicole, and I wanted to build that with Nicole and Enzo. It was just easy.

And so Nicole, I felt like I was worried about the trust from season 16. I didn't know if she was not going to trust me. And we grew to be so incredible together and such an incredible duo. That's what made it so tough. It was such an emotional decision for me at the end of the game because I don't think I would have been there without her.

What was it like having to tell her? I just spoke to her and she said that you gave her the heads up right before the vote. You didn't want to blindside her. You were emotional, and she was extremely emotional. She's still very emotional about it.

It was horrible. The bond that I ended up having with Nicole, we were such an incredible duo, but then she was literally like my little sister. Going back and forth with her was like a sister. Our relationship was so close. And so, for me, it was immediate. Once I won, I knew kind of where I was leaning and I could barely even look at her. It was so tough for me to even like make eye contact with her because cutting her felt like I was cutting a sister and it was just so difficult. And so for me, that's what made the decision so hard, but you know, coming after and winning, it's something that I hope doesn't affect our relationship because that would hurt even more than having to cut her dead. So, that's the only thing I can say about that.

You said you weren't sure which way the votes were going to go, but you ended up winning unanimously — just the second person ever to do that. Which votes were you most worried about?

So my biggest thing was that Nicole could get Da’Vonne, Ian, Kevin, and then Christmas. And so that was four votes and I was like, “Oh, all she needs is one more to swing her way.” And that could be anybody that's just like, “You know what? Nicole was a winner and is at the end of this game.” And a fifth vote is me losing again. And with Enzo, I was like, it's a toss-up, really. I still wanted to stay loyal to him, even though his social game to me was the best thing that I played with.

And so everybody could have been like “Enzo purposely was not winning competitions. So let's throw the competitions out the window that Cody won. Now let's match up their social game — Enzo's was better.” And I was hoping that people maybe viewed my strategy a little bit better than his, and I was hoping to get that with my explanations in the questions. And so that's why for me, it was such a toss-up with Enzo. I was like, I don't know how anybody will vote. But with Nicole, I felt a little more confident that I think these votes will go her way. And so that weighed heavily on me when I was deciding to, cause I was like, “Oh, I'll pick her and then lose again. And so it was very difficult for me.

Let’s say that you hadn't won that final HOH. Let's say you got sent to the jury. Whom would you have voted for between Nicole and Enzo?

Oh, that's such a difficult question because I've respected both of their games so much. It’s so hard for me to answer

Well, the jury had to answer. Now so do you.

Well, who cut me? Nicole. Then I would’ve voted Enzo. Although I think I wouldn't have voted bitterly, so maybe I would have voted for Nicole. I don't know. Well, maybe I would've been bitter. And in that moment, maybe I just would have voted for Enzo. I don't know. I thought both of their games were so incredible, but maybe I'll say Enzo just ‘cause I would've been bitter.

Was there ever a point in this game where you felt like you were in any real danger?

There were a lot of conversations that I was having, like when the stuff happened with Kaysar and then I had a conversation with Bayleigh, and very early on she said something to me that was very alarming. And it was in the fifth week when she went home. It was, “You're somebody that I feel like nobody's going to want to sit next to at the end of the game.” She said that to me very early on, which was very alarming. And so that's why that week, even though I love Bayleigh, I was like, "I don't know that I really want to fight for Bayleigh to stay because that's a bad thing to say to somebody early in the game. I don't want that, like spreading throughout the house.” Then it was coming up a little bit later again. And at that point, Nicole had won HOH, and I had won. So it was like the stress wasn't there, but my relationships in the house kind of saved me in a way. I'm just thankful that it worked out the way that it did because it ended up with me in the final two winning.

It’s crazy that neither you nor Enzo was ever put on the block.

That's another thing that was incredible. The fact that both of us never sat on the block next to each other. I felt like Nicole and my relationship was masked a lot. But Enzo and I were tight, and I feel like everybody knew that we were tight and we'd never sat on the block together. It was the most bizarre thing. We would almost joke about it all the time. It'd be like, “Dude, how are we not on the block next to each other? Why are they not putting us up? What is happening?”

Trust me, the viewers were saying the same thing.

Why are we not on the block together? I think it just really holds true to the game that we were both playing the social aspect and the relationship aspect. I think a lot of people got nervous with me in the aspect of “If I put them up, I'm going to piss him off.” And I think everybody likes Enzo, so they're not going to send them home. So I think we both countered in completely different ways to avoid the block, which I thought was awesome.

You won eight competitions. You were never put on the block. You won every single jury vote. Did you just play a better season than Derrick?

No, definitely not. I always say I was playing a game with somebody that's so masterful and incredible at the game with strategy and relationships and decision-making. Playing alongside him taught me what I needed to know about coming back. Watching it back, what Derrick was doing that I wasn't doing, and then coming back and being like, “You know what, that's what I'm going to start doing now.” So my hat goes off to Derrick because if it wasn't for him, I don't know that I would have played the game that I played. And so I think it almost just rings true to the incredible game that he played because I don't know that I would have been able to do this if I hadn't played with him

I don’t believe you haven’t been daydreaming about what you were going to do with that money. Lay it on me. What are you thinking?

So I do have a thought I need to get rid of my school loans first. That's my priority. My whole life is, “Why did I put myself in this debt?” I don't even work in the industry that I got my degree in. So getting rid of my school loans is just going to be huge for me. And then I want to invest properly. I want to be smart with this money because I want this money to be able to help my future and help my family and help my kids. And I don't want that to just be something that like, “Oh, I had it, and then it's gone.”

So I need to really sit down and like talk to some of my friends who work at investment companies and just figure out the best strategy for me at this age to set myself up for the next stage of my life, which is a family. I want to have a family. I want to have kids. And I want to make sure that this money at this time helps me at that stage in my life.

Finally, what do you call a person who comes from the state of Texas?

A Texan, apparently! That’s not a thing! I’m still going to hold to that because I’ve never heard someone be referred to as a Texan. Or a Californian. Maybe it’s just because New Jersey doesn’t have a cool trendy name like that. We’re not New Jerseyians. We’re not! We’re just from Jersey. I don’t get it.

Also make sure to red our Q&A with runner-up Enzo Palumbo and exit interview with Nicole Franzel. And for more Big Brother intel, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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