“Big Brother” brings strangers into a house together for the summer. Secluded from the outside world, contestants compete in physical and mental challenges and vote out their fellow house guests until one winner is left standing.
Viewers follow along at home as the competitions and social interactions are broadcast on TV and online. Players who start the season as unknowns often become household names.
The veteran: Gheesling appeared on the show not once, but twice: He won first place in season 10, in 2008, and was the runner-up four years later in season 14. Nowadays, the 34-year-old Dearborn, Michigan, native works in real estate.
“It’s a cool thing I’ll be able to tell my kids, but really the financial impact of winning, when I won and what I did with the money, changed my life forever,” Gheesling says.
The superfan: Terry, a self-described superfan, was 21 years old when he won season 14 in 2012. “I remember I popped out of the chair when I saw my name on the last vote because it literally felt as if this giant weight had been lifted off my shoulders,” Terry says of the finale night.
He was in college at the time and says student loans were his financial motivation for going on the show. Now 27, Terry is a physics teacher and lives in Houston, Texas.
The detective: Levasseur, a former police officer, won season 16 in 2014 after applying for the show in hopes of improving his family’s financial well-being.