After a long summer of manipulation, betrayal and all the other underhanded adjectives that go along with Big Brother, Catholic school teacher Dan Gheesling was crowned the game's winner by a 7-0 vote from his evicted peers. We caught up with him to learn his plans for the cash after besting his "Renegade" ally, what he believes was the defining moment of his game (which might surprise you), how he really feels about Keesha and when he'll be heading to confession.
TVGuide.com: Congratulations! What are your plans for the $500,000?
Dan Gheesling: It's very overwhelming. I do have some plans, but I'm not sure how immediate they will be. My girlfriend Monica is probably going to be getting a gift that fits on her left ring finger, but when that's going to happen, we still need to talk about. Other than that, it will probably be some smart investments. I want to stay in teaching and coaching, so if I invest well, I should be able to do that without worrying about my financial future. Nothing too extravagant for me — I'm a straightforward Midwest guy and don't need a lot. But having that kind of money is unbelievable.
TVGuide.com: You obviously had fan support — you won America's Player and were always at the top of our reader Power Rankings. But did you have any idea you would win over the jury for a 7-0 vote?
Dan: [Laughs] No way. I thought it was going to be either Memphis or me in a 4-3 win. A 7-0 vote is overwhelming. I thought I had Keesha and Renny, and I thought Jerry and Libra would definitely vote for Memphis, which left the game for April, Ollie and Michelle to decide. It was all up in the air, and I had no idea what they would do. For it to work out the way it did, I was just as shocked as anyone.
TVGuide.com: When did you decide that it was the right moment to stop playing "weak"?
Dan: I needed to wait for a challenge that I knew I could win. When I looked at April winning the earthquake challenge, she impressed a lot of people. So, I knew if I was going to win an endurance challenge, I had to pick my mark, and I did when I got up on that vine. Plus, I had just won the veto right before that. Once you win competitions, there's no turning back, so I knew I had to pick something that I could control my own will. Luckily I was able to talk good ol' Ollie into dropping.
TVGuide.com: You're head whipped around a couple of times at Memphis during the jury interrogation. What were you most shocked to learn about your fellow Renegade?
Dan: I found out a couple things about him on the trip with Michelle — mostly that he had an alliance with Michelle. I felt like that was the case, but it was never really proven. He also told me that the banner said "We Love Libra" not "Libra's a Liar," so he did pull some Dan-like antics on me with that one. Other than that, Memphis was very loyal, and I found a best friend in the house.
TVGuide.com: So you never doubted him in the game?
Dan: Memphis never really had a chance to prove himself to me until he won that veto. I was like, "Alright, it's time to find out if the Renegades are for real or not." So when he used that veto on me and took me off the block, I knew there was no stopping us unless we got unlucky. We did get lucky a couple times, but when he used the veto, I knew we had a shot to take it to the end.
TVGuide.com: When he took you off, he then evicted alliance member Keesha. Did he know how much of a bad guy you were making him out to be in Keesha's mind?
Dan: I talked to Memphis and told him I was going to have to throw him under the bus. But I don't think he realized I was going to throw him under the bus, run him over, put in reverse and keep running him over back and forth. That's exactly what I did, and I had to take that opportunity. When he voted Keesha out, that was my glimmer of hope to win — prior to that I didn't think I had a chance.
TVGuide.com: Explain your gift to Keesha on her way out the door.
Dan: I gave two people gifts when they left the house, two people I cared for deeply. I gave Brian something when left, and I gave Keesha this duck that I confiscated from the house on Day 1. I wanted her to look at something that would remind her of me everyday and remind her to fight for those votes for me. The meaning on the bottom was harmless and just something I threw out there. But basically, it was a token to remind her of me and to fight for me to win.
TVGUide.com: Do you think Monica sent you that "Taken" shirt because she saw you and Keesha flirting on the feeds?
Dan: [Laughs] I had a long talk with Monica last night about the entire experience, and there were a few questions about Keesha. But everything is good on the homefront. She knows Keesha and I are just tremendous friends. I think the world of Keesha, and I wish her the best of everything, but we're just friends.
TVGuide.com: Obviously, the big moment for you was backdooring Michelle because you said she was strong. But we only saw her win one competition. Was it actually more to get in Ollie's head?
Dan: It was a definite combination of both. When Michelle was in that competition with April, she hung up there for what seemed like days. She proved to a lot of people that in a test of will's Michelle is going to win, and that scared a lot of people, me included. I knew if she got to the end, she'd be fighting tooth and nail and could probably beat me. She was strong in competitions, not so much in manipulating people, but she would've been tough to beat down the line. As for Ollie, he stabbed me and Brian in the back in Week 1, and I told Brian I would take out Ollie and Jerry for him. It's a game, and what goes around comes around.
TVGuide.com: You told the jury you did that to ensure that you were disliked so Memphis would take you to the end. I smell some teacher Dan rhetoric.
Dan: [Laughs] Did you ever see me work any rhetoric in the house? I didn't do that kind of stuff in the house, did I? [Laughs] I knew I pushed the limits of that roulette game a little too far. I got a little borderline overconfident, and I knew I had to put a strategic spin on it, and lucky for me it worked. I always prepared in the house, whether it was for competitions or speeches, and this was no different. I was able to cover my tracks a little because I did get out of hand, but luckily I had a chance to redeem myself in the eyes of the jury.
TVGuide.com: You said you would play the game dirty if you had to and then go to confession. So, when's confession?
Dan: [Laughs] I talked to the powers that be at St, Mary's early this morning to make sure I still have a job, which I do. The chancellor is supporting me, and I just set up my three-hour confession time with him as soon as I get back to Michigan. It's going to be a long one, but I have a lot of support at St. Mary's. They said, "Is it a sin to bluff in poker and is it a sin to trap someone in chess? If it is, then Dan's a sinner, but if not, he was just playing a game." And that meant the world to me.
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