Join or Sign In

Sign in to customize your TV listings

Continue with Facebook Continue with email

By joining TV Guide, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

Big Brother 19 Winner Josh Admits Paul "Would Have Won" Had He Owned His Game

"I want to be there for him as a friend, but it's a sticky situation"

Sadie Gennis

Big Brother 19started with drama and it sure ended with it, crowning Josh Martinez the winner over veteran player Paul Abrahamian.

This was truly a turn of events few saw coming, despite the jury's outspoken bitterness towards the season's grand puppet master Paul. But thanks to Josh's ability to spin all of his apparent faults into evidence of strategic gameplay -- not to mention Paul's refusal to own up to his own shady gameplay -- Josh won the season with an incredibly close 5-4 vote.

Josh knows that if Paul had played his cards differently, he'd be $500,000 poorer, but he also doesn't think his victory is as big of an upset as many fans believe. TV Guide spoke to Josh about the viewers' mixed response to his win, where Paul went wrong and so much more!

What has the response been like to your victory?
Josh: Honestly, it's been so positive. I'm shocked by how -- it's really overwhelming, the support that I have, and that people were rooting for me. I'm really, really happy that people respected how straightforward that I played the game and that I was completely myself and that I played a fearless game. And that's what I wanted to take away from my gameplay, that I was fearless, that I was straightforward. And it's just the best feeling, winning and making my dream come true. It's epic.

I don't think anyone expected you to win after you took that Golden Apple during the first week.
I know! I didn't expect myself to win. I thought I was going to go home every other week. I said once they have the shot, they'll take it. Luckily, when Jess tried to take a shot, people had already seen how loyal I was, what an asset I was because I was going to throw people off of their game. And they decided to keep me. So the Golden Apple was a blessing in disguise because it bought me sixteen days in order to build genuine relationships and I built them with allies on two different sides of the house, Paul and Christmas and Jason and Alex.

When did you start to really consider that you might be able to pull this off and win?
Honestly, once I hit jury. Once I hit jury, I said OK, it's time to amp up my game. I was playing a pretty crazy game in the beginning, I was all over the place. I'm like OK, it's time to lock it down, play it even more strategic than before. It's time to play your cards right and putting targets on people that you want out. I knew that Elena was a huge game player and not only that, a huge fan. She was a threat to my game. She wasn't an ally and she was against me, she was one of the votes against me. So once I placed a target on her and she left during double eviction, I was like game on. I'm ready to go. I locked in with Paul and Christmas and from there, I mean, you guys know how it played out.

How do you feel about everyone who's complaining that Paul should have won? Do you understand where those fans are coming from?
Josh: I understand where that's coming from because he did play a great game, but I think I had great game because I was completely underestimated. People underestimated me physically and how well I knew the game. So I threw a lot of people for a loop when I revealed that I was a superfan and how strategic I was playing the game and how every move and everything I did was extremely strategic. I was onto Paul's game, but for some crazy reason I thought that I could beat him and I did.

How much of your victory do you think is due to people respecting your game and how much of it was just the jury refusing to vote for Paul?
Josh: I think that both things played into it and I knew that it was going to go that way and so did he. He thought that people were going to be extremely bitter towards me because I pissed off so many people and I knew that people were going to be bitter towards him because he pissed off a lot of people. Some people did catch onto my game and realized that I was playing a good game, like Jason and Alex and Kevin. But I'm really happy that Mark, Elena and Cody respected how straightforward I was, how honest I was, how I didn't like you and I wanted you out of the game, but I said it to your face and I didn't go behind your back and I owned up to my game the whole time. I think they respected that and I think that's why I won.

​Paul Abrahamian and Josh Martinez, Big Brother 19

How did you feel when you saw that Cody actually voted for you?
I did not think that Cody was going to vote for me. If anything, he had more conversations with Paul than me, so what he said in the beginning [about staying true to his word] I was like, OK, I never spoke with Cody. If anything, we just got into arguments. So it was really crazy that it came down to that, but I really respect that he respected how straightforward I was and how I was being true to myself and being honest and being fearless. I respect that. Yeah, I'm really happy that he voted for me.

Do you think the vote would have been as close if you had brought Christmas to the final two?
Josh: For some reason, I thought that Christmas was going to beat me because she killed everyone with kindness. What people didn't see is that Alex and Kevin, as they walked out, they actually handed her a flower, wished her luck and it was basically like saying, 'you have my vote at the end.' I saw that and I was like whoa. I can't take her to the end because she's going to clean-sweep me. But I also knew that I played a better game than her, but the jury's going to be bitter at me. Hearing back, it would have been a clean-sweep against Christmas and that's kind of crazy to hear. To know that I would have beat both of them, it's amazing.

As a vet, Paul did have such a huge advantage going into this season. Why do you think he ultimately did lose?
Josh: I think Paul lost because he couldn't own up to his game at the end. He couldn't own up to, 'yeah, I played you guys because I had no choice. I had to play every single angle because I had to play the game.' I think if he would have done that, he would have won. But since he went another route and I kind of humbly just was straightforward and very honest with my speeches, with my questions, with my everything, I think people respected that, respected my game and that's why I won. I think if he owned up to it a little bit more, I think he would have won the game.

Does part of you feel bad for him, since this is exactly what happened to him last season?
Josh: I mean, he is such a good friend and such a close friend to me. I know that it's very sensitive right now because of what happened, but at the end of the day it's a game. If anybody could understand, it would be him. I do feel bad in the sense that we all played our game, we all had to do what we had to do for our game in order to win. I'm happy that I won, but at the same time, I want to be there for him as a friend, but it's a sticky situation.

How has it been with Paul since you won?
Josh: Oh, we hugged it out. He wished me the best. I wish him the best. I love him and his family. That's not going to change. Nothing's going to change. I don't care what was said. I built a genuine friendship with him and with Christmas and I walk away, not only being the winner, but with two good friends. Whatever was said and done, it was part of the game and I left it in the Big Brother house and I'm willing to move forward if they are.

When they showed your goodbye messages, Paul seemed genuinely mad at you and called you cowardly. Do you think he had any right to feel that way?
Josh: I don't think he had any right to feel that way because the game doesn't stop until you walk out. And lucky for me being a fan, I knew that goodbye messages were a huge, vital role in me winning the game and not only that, in my speech at the end. He played the game where he got no blood on his hands and he was putting the heat on me and Christmas and everybody else, so I wanted to make it very clear: 'Listen guys, you have the wrong perception.' And I was playing my hand, I wasn't going to play Paul's hand. And that was my voice to voice, that, 'listen, I did this but it's because I stuck loyal to my three-person alliance with Paul and Christmas that I promised I was going to the end with.' And people seeing how loyal I was to them, they respected it.

Julie Chen Took a Pay Cut to Make Celebrity Big Brother Happen

A big part of your case was explaining that all of your fights were actually part of your strategy to oppose other people's games. But is that true even when it comes to throwing all those condiments on Mark?
Josh: The funny thing is that, no, the moment that I had with Mark had nothing to do with strategy or anything. I felt extremely disrespected when I had the hot sauce thrown in my face. It was hot sauce and pickle juice and the hot sauce was literally burning my eyes. Listen, where I come from, you don't tolerate that type of disrespect. You don't put your hands on somebody and call them a name. You just don't do things like that. So that was not strategy. What was strategy was after that when I said, OK, you completely disrespected me. Now it's fair game. I can expose your game to the whole house and I can put a huge target on your back because now I don't owe you anything. That was [strategy], but the whole condiment throwing was kind of like, oh, you want to throw something on me? Well, guess what? I'm going to throw something back at you.

This is one of the greatest upsets in Big Brother history. What do you think your legacy will be?

Because Paul was a veteran and he was running the house all summer. Until the jury segments, most people thought he would continue to be the puppet master right until the end.
Yeah. I think my legacy will be how strategic and how underestimated my gameplay was. I literally played a strategic game from the end to the beginning. My social game was strategic. Every time I exposed somebody's game or put a target on their back was strategically done. And you know, when I won comps and took shots at big targets, I mean, Alex was a big competitor, Jess and Cody were against me and Jess was a great competitor. She took a shot at me and she missed. You know what, just the social game that I played, how strategically, underestimated and how smart I played it where I didn't expose my cards at all the whole time, I think that will be taken away. But not only that, how loyal to my people, how straightforward and honest I was and how I played a fearless game. I didn't care about if I was going to get put on the block or go home, I was going to say what it was and I hope that's my legacy.

How do you feel about meatballs?
I love meatballs! Meatballs are one of my favorite dishes. But I think that what people don't understand about meatballs is Mark and Cody were saying some pretty bad things and I could have been like, oh, you guys are losers, cowards, all this stuff. You know what? I'm going to have fun with it. I'm going to make a joke of it. I'm going to be funny with it. You guys are a pack of meatballs and I'm going to bang pots and pans and dance and drive you guys nuts. And that's where meatballs came from. So yeah, it's pretty cool that it stuck and people actually like it. It's crazy.

(Full Disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS.)