The summer of friendship officially came to an end on Wednesday when Big Brother 18 crowned its winner.
The 90-minute finale began with Paul, Nicole and James competing in part one of the final HOH competition, a cat-themed endurance challenge that Paul won after Nicole and James fell in close succession. When it came time for part two, an elaborate roller coaster-themed mental comp, Nicole beat out James, securing her chance to compete against Paul.
In the final comp of the season, Paul and Nicole were challenged with guessing how this season's former houseguests completed various statements (which they both happened to be terrible at). Paul eventually won and ended up following through with the final two deal he had made with Nicole, and not the final two deal he had made with James. The reason for his decision - that James had also tried to make a deal with Nicole - was more than a bit hypocritical, but all's fair in love, war and Big Brother.
According to our Power Rankings, Paul played the stronger game this season, with an average rating of 6.5 out of 10. This put him well above Nicole's season average of 5.5, although she has come out as a strong competitor in recent weeks. But what did the jury think?
In a conversation moderated by Dr. Will, the jury was unanimous when it came to praising Paul's game, but many of the houseguests didn't want to reward his "obnoxious" and "mean" behavior (he did call Michelle a c---, after all). When it came to Nicole, however, the jury was far more divided. Big Meech was driven to tears explaining why she thought Nicole hadn't earned the $500,000, while Da'Vonne surprised everyone - even herself - by putting forth a fairly convincing argument for the Snake of Season 18 to win it all.
Given the chance to pitch themselves to the jury, both Paul and Nicole took similar angles, framing themselves as competitors who were targets from Day 1, fought their way to the finale and had nothing to hide. However, Nicole is far from the orator that Paul is, and her speech didn't seem to inspire the jury nearly as much. Paul's speech, in comparison, had Day literally dancing in her seat.
So who did the jury vote for?
Nicole! The BB 16 vet won by a single vote, thanks to the support of Paulie, Zakiyah, Natalie, Da'Vonne and (of course) her boo Corey. This makes Nicole the first woman to ever beat a man in the final two.
And while we bet Paul is regretting taking Nicole to the end, he still left the house with $50,000 and his BFF Victor won America's Favorite Player. So all in all, not too shabby a night for your boy Paul.