The vet completely dominated the game from Day 1, orchestrating nearly every single eviction and at one point even getting all the remaining houseguests to throw a foot race HOH competition to someone with a broken foot. It was truly astounding to watch - not only because of how hard Paul worked to play literally every side of the house, but also because of the gullibility of all the houseguests who thought they were the ones in the real alliance with Paul.
However, once the houseguests convened in jury and began swapping stories, Paul's carefully constructed game soon fell apart. Then, in a nearly identical repeat of last season, Paul lost to Josh by a single vote.
And while Josh thinks Paul could have beaten him had he owned his game more in the finale, Paul defends his decision to not "[nudge] it in their face." The vet opened up to TV Guide about what it's like losing Big Brother a second time, why he doesn't think there was more he could have done to win and whether he has a right to be mad at Josh's goodbye messages.
Now that you've had time to digest your loss, how are you feeling?
Paul: I'm feeling alright. You know, I played a game and I came in second, so... (laughs) I'm feeling pretty OK.
Are you ever going to wear that outfit again or do you think it's officially cursed?
Paul: You bet I'm wearing that every single day because continuity, I think it's funny. I wouldn't have had it any other way. At least I got second place in the same shirt.
Why do you think you didn't win?
Paul: I think they more so wanted to see me lose than they wanted Josh to win. I think it was one of those scenarios. I guess they were mad that I clipped them and that I didn't throw my game away for them or take them to the promised land. They came to play Big Brother, maybe they thought they came to play 'Paul will make me win Big Brother.' I'm not quite sure what was going on in their minds, but it is what it is.
Do you think the jury had a right to be so bitter?
Paul: I mean, everybody has a right to feel a certain way and they're more than welcome to their experience, but if you're coming into a game that is dictated on one winner, and every week somebody's gotta get evicted then it's the gameplay that counts. I would hope that they would toss emotions out and just respect serious gameplay, especially when odds are stacked for being the odd man out, but I guess not.
How could you have managed the jury better?
Paul: I honestly have no idea. People keep asking me this question. I pretty much have the same answer. I don't know what more I could have done. Sent them a little gift basket? If I exposed [my game] and just went 'haha, I played all of you' and owned up like people keep telling me, 'you didn't own up to it.' They were clearly already upset. If I had nudged it in their face even more, I don't think that would have been the, 'oh yeah, OK. Let's just vote for him.' No.
You don't think that if you had copped to playing a somewhat shady game in your speech, it wouldn't have been able to sway even one vote in your favor?
Paul: I mean, in my speech I told them exactly what I did. I controlled the numbers in the house and I always made a target that was in front of me. Everybody asked my advice so I controlled the HOHs. I put myself in between two pairs. I didn't have to win anything and made sure they won and took shots at each other, and then I won my way to the end. Which is what I did. I didn't have enough time to talk about getting people to throw comps, this and that. I worked my butt off every day this season. I did more things than I could fit into that 90-second speech.
You said the vote came down more to the jury not wanting to vote for you more than necessarily voting for Josh. Do you think Josh deserved to win?
Paul: Look, the winner wins. He made it to the end. Granted, I flipped the house a few times to keep him. But at the same time, he attached himself to a vet, which took him far, and then he won. So I'm not going to take his win away from him, but I definitely think I put in more footwork in the game. But I guess clearly that doesn't matter.
You looked pretty shocked when you saw Josh's goodbye messages. You said he was "cowardly" and that Josh was blaming things on you. But if you're going to take credit for being the puppet master of the season and orchestrating all the evictions, then aren't you to blame?
Paul: Right. I mean, they were cowardly because he told me he was doing the opposite. They were cowardly because he was lying and playing as if he wasn't doing that. And every week when we would execute something, he would just toss the blame on either me or Christmas and act like he had no part in it. In a sense, he was admitting to doing nothing, but following in our footsteps, which is in and of itself crediting me. So it was bizarre. I just didn't get it.
Do you think you can be mad at Josh for lying to you and playing both sides when that's exactly what got you to the final two?
Josh: Right, of course, I can't. I mean, I can't be mad at him. That was part of his strategy, but it was just odd. But if that's what it was that won him the game, then kudos to him. He figured it out. But it was strange. It was just odd, I guess.
How has it been with Josh since he won? What have you guys said to each other?
Paul: Just a lot of hugs and high fives and kisses and talking about meatballs and all sorts of funny stuff. He was definitely crazy in there and he's a little bit all over the place now. He's excited. He doesn't know what to think, how to feel, so all of the best of luck. I hope that he uses his fortunes wisely.
You really did orchestrate every eviction, so did you ever consider taking Kevin with you to the final three or two since you would have had such a strong case against him?
Paul: I don't think so because if I had done that, that means I also would have gone against Christmas and Josh, which means they would have been pissed and they would have not voted for me because I turned my back on them. They were the pair that I chose and the other pairs, I think a similar situation would have happened. Cody, Mark and Elena loved Kevin so those people's votes would be gone automatically. If I had chose Kevin over Christmas, I think that would have pissed them off as well. I don't think that would have been a better option.
Are you surprised to learn that Josh had been hoping to backdoor you instead of evicting Alex if you hadn't won Veto that week?
Paul: I didn't really know that.
He had his eye on you. He noticed how you'd been playing the house and that you were a major threat and wanted to take a shot at you if he could.
Paul: That's funny. I won the Veto. He didn't, so... But again, he won, so good for him (laughs).
Do you think you were too focused on avoiding repeating your mistakes from last season that you weren't considering enough that this is a different group of people who will react differently to things?
Paul: Maybe. I was just trying to send everybody off on a positive note. I just saw the petty things that happened throughout the season, like the fights that people got into over pillows, cereal, cat ears, soda. These people got pissed off over the dumbest things so I tried to pet them as nicely as I could because anything would just trigger these people. It wasn't easy. It was a lot of different personalities. I was the odd man out, and I had to figure it all out.
You and Cody had a very interesting relationship all season. What was it like having Cody's vote seal your fate and then watching him win America's Favorite Player?
Paul: I mean, the dude came in there immediately not liking me. He was rude. He didn't like my character, he said that right off the bat. He was gung-ho about either going head-to-head with me or taking me out. He had a weird infatuation with battling me. I don't know what his deal was. A lot of the houseguests didn't really like his attitude and the way he carried himself in the house, he didn't really have respect for the game. I'm not quite sure what he portrayed to win America's Favorite Player, but kudos to him, I guess. And yeah, interesting relationship, I'd say for sure. I didn't think he'd vote for Josh over me, which is actually part of the reason I took Josh, because I thought that he just didn't respect Josh's gameplay at all. But I guess I was wrong.
After suffering a second major loss, what was it like finding out that your ride or die from last season [Victor] and the person who first beat you [Nicole] are now dating?
Paul: I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone. I lost again by one vote. I've been in here for 191 days. I wore the same shirt. Victor and Nicole are dating. I don't know what's happening. I might be on a different planet, who knows?
How do you feel about meatballs?
Paul: All the talk about meatballs, he never made a dish of meatballs in the house. They're good, I guess, on Sundays paired with a nice side of spaghetti could be cool. But as far as now, I'm probably not going to have a dish of meatballs for a long time.
(Full Disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS.)