Reality-TV history was made last week when Average Joe's Anna Chudoba chose Nathan Griffen, a former Air Force missile technician — need we spell it out any further, not one of the pectorally gifted hunks — to be her beau. But how did Anna fall for a third round of Joe's "Surprise, we're hitting you with geeks!" gag? Did NBC have a hand in her landmark decision? And are she and Nathan still an item? At least one of these answers will shock you.
TVGuide.com: Your NBC bio says you weren't familiar with Average Joe, so you never suspected you'd get a busful of misfits?
Anna Chudoba: I took night courses for years at UNLV and never watched any reality show, so I had no idea. They told me that it was a dating game show, and that I'd have 20 guys competing for my heart. But those guys were so amazing to me and so sweet. I had the greatest time. It didn't matter at all.
TVGuide.com: You took it better than some of the previous girls in your shoes. Usually they make these awful grimaces.
Anna: I've been an ugly duckling myself, back in junior high with a boy-cut hair and glasses, so I'm not the type of person to be rude to anyone. Unless they're rude to me, or use a cheesy pickup line.
TVGuide.com: Some "conspiracy theorists" out there believe NBC pressured you to pick one of the Average Joes, to give the series that long-awaited happy ending.
Anna: I was told that this would probably be the last one, but it's always been everyone's own choice. The producers actually were really mad at me because I was standing on the pier [in the finale] and still hadn't decided who I'd choose. They were like, "Anna, the sun's going down, you need to choose!" Nathan and [runner-up] Rocky just offered me two completely different things: One's more of a short-term passion, and the other is more long-term, something solid. It's tough, listening to your heart and debating what's right and what's wrong. But I'm very happy with the choice I made.
TVGuide.com: This is where I stand on the Average Joe thing: A girl who looks like you, on any given night, can go to a bar and find a guy like Rocky. So why not take this opportunity to get to know a guy who you might not look at twice in the grocery aisle?
Anna: I've been surrounded by guys like Rocky, and they don't do anything for me. They're pretty to look at, but they get boring after a couple of days. Nathan and I, on our first date, I can honestly say it was probably one of my most fun first dates ever. We could talk for hours — and we do talk for hours now, it's hysterical. There has to be more than a pretty face, at least to me. A lot more.
TVGuide.com: You said you thought Nathan got the best makeover, but what about Joshua, who shed his beard and long hair? He was almost unrecognizable.
Anna: True, true, but I guess there were things that he had mentioned to me in our one-on-ones — stuff that wasn't aired — that kind of tainted my opinion of him.
TVGuide.com: So the big question: What has become of you and Nathan?
Anna: Well, I'm reading all these message boards and everybody thinks I've dumped him by now. He came off the show with all this new confidence, with his new teeth and hair. He looked great. And he actually has a girlfriend now, back in Florida. [Sad voice] So he kind of actually left me to pursue another girl.
TVGuide.com: He's in Tampa, you're in Las Vegas: Do you think the cross-country thing was a big factor?
Anna: That was really tough. The other thing was that the show was done almost a year ago — it kept getting pushed back and back, and we're not allowed to see each other until it's done. We talked every week and then this girl who was a friend of his, it turned into something more, and I guess now they're living together. We still talk every week and think very highly of each other, and you never know, maybe one day it could develop into something.
TVGuide.com: You can't fly down to Tampa and claim your man?
Anna: No. [Laughs] I'm happy for Nathan, but I'm officially single now!
TVGuide.com: What did you learn about yourself from the experience?
Anna: A lot. The number one thing I learned, and I've always told people this, is not to judge, because a lot of us judge. Carson judged me, thinking that I was a typical L.A. girl. It wasn't until he actually got to know me that he realized that I'm nice. I judged a lot of these guys before I even got to know them, and when I finally got to know them, I fell head over heels.
TVGuide.com: What's next for you? A Wendy's commercial like Melana from Average Joe Season 1?
Anna: [Laughs] I actually auditioned for that and I didn't get it.
TVGuide.com: Who, besides Nathan, do you stay in touch with?
Anna: I actually talk to almost all the guys, even the ones I eliminated on the first episode. Damien, Bill, Matt, Josh N... Even Carson, the big bad guy.
TVGuide.com: Don't even tell me you're talking to Carson still.
Anna: We're really good friends; he's so harmless. He's actually dating one of my girlfriends. They met at my premiere party for the first episode.
TVGuide.com: You can start your own reality show: "Anna Plays Matchmaker."
Anna: There you go!
What's is Nathan's side of the story? Read tomorrow's Insider column for our one-on-one with the Average Joe to beat all Average Joes.