She made it incredibly close to the finale — which is less than a week away — but not quite close enough: Former WWE superstar Natalie Eva Marie was evicted as the first houseguest in Friday's double eviction.
Although she, Olympic athlete Lolo Jones, former NFL player Ricky Williams and Tamar Braxton (aka the Bedroom Alliance) had been able to get Kato Kaelin out in the previous eviction, things quickly turned when comedian Tom Green became Head of Household. Tom placed both Natalie and Ricky on the block, and when he won the Power of Veto, the HOH surprised everyone by using it on Ricky and replacing his own nomination with Lolo.
Because the two had been "ride or die" since the beginning, neither Lolo nor Natalie campaigned against one another and Natalie was sent out of the house in a unanimous vote.
Here, TV Guide spoke to Natalie about why she was able to form such a powerful duo with Lolo, what she regrets about her game and what she was most surprised to learn when exiting the house.
Congrats on making it so far in the game!
Natalie Eva Marie: Oh, so close! But not close enough!
Going into the house, what was your initial strategy?
Natalie Eva Marie: I am a Big Brother fan, and I watched the first season of Celebrity Big Brother as well. I knew that I didn't want to be a Shannon Elizabeth — coming out guns a-blazing and get that target on my back. So I wanted to lay low and stay under the radar. I think I did okay, a little bit, but once you're in the house, it's like all bets are off. You start playing however you're feeling, and I'm so competitive that I started really quickly aligning with people and it was off to the races.
Do you think that being a fan of the show hurt or helped your game?
Natalie Eva Marie: It's helpful in the sense you know the game; you go in with a mentality of trying to have a certain type of strategy. But in Big Brother, you have to expect the unexpected and there's always twists and turns. Sometimes your strategy never really works out because once you're in there, you're in there. It's really hard to stick with something you tried to come in with.
Do you have any regrets in the game?
Natalie Eva Marie: When it was time to save my booty, I didn't in the veto or the Head of Household. I mean, if I had won the HOH, the Tumbling Dice, I wouldn't be speaking to you yet. And if I won the Power of Veto, I would have gotten myself off the block and I would be safe, too. I think that's my only big... I guess you could say "regret." I had the opportunity to win and I didn't, in order to save myself. Other than that, dang, I think I played a pretty tough game.
Looking back, is there anything you would change? Or people you would trust or not?
Natalie Eva Marie: The only thing I'd say aside from the two competitions... decision-wise, my only regret is the time that we were supposed to save Joey and give Kandi the boot. I really wish we had done that and not switched 30 minutes prior to our live eviction.
What led to that decision?
Natalie Eva Marie: It ultimately came down to Tamar. She was very adamant on keeping Kandi and she was part of our Bedroom Alliance, so we wanted to make sure we voted with the house as well. So we all switched our votes at the last minute. Looking back, I think that was probably the only big move that I wish that we did not do. Especially considering the fact that, after being home for 12 hours, my husband has filled me in on the live feeds. Kandi had it out for me from the get-go. That's probably why I'm sitting here talking to you and not in the Big Brother house.
Kandi has been interesting because it seems like she hasn't really been in any alliance.
Natalie Eva Marie: I also think she didn't start playing until just recently. She's just been crossing her fingers and hoping she doesn't get voted out. Everybody has different strategies and different game tactics, but for me, I think that's lame. I'm not saying you have to play balls to the wall or hard and crazy, but at least play a little bit!
I think in Celebrity Big Brother you have so many more people in the house who don't know the game — versus a season of regular Big Brother -- and so they don't understand typical strategies and plays.
Natalie Eva Marie: Totally! I'm like, "What are you doing?? How are you going to sign up for a show and not even know what the rules are or how to play? Like get your life together because if you don't know how to play, then you should be on the block!" That was what was irritating, too. I'm like, "Why am I explaining what a backdoor is to some of these people?" I'm like, "Umm, you don't even deserve to be here!" [Laughs]
You and Lolo partnered up so quickly; what made you click so well?
Natalie Eva Marie: Lolo and I are going to be friends forever. I'm so proud of the way that we stuck together. From what I know, we were true to our word. She was my ride or die all the way until the end. We feed off one another and as the days progress, we have so much in common. We share the same faith, we love to work out, we're super competitive, but then we have our girly sides. It was nice to compete with another female and it didn't have to get ugly — even toward the end when we were both up on the block. I'm happy for America to see two strong, independent women competing with each other and never once trying to stab the other one in the back.
How much were you talking to people in the end about voting for you vs. Lolo?
Natalie Eva Marie: I knew that I was going to go out. I knew at that time Kandi and Dina were out to get me for whatever reason. I still have no idea why they were so adamant and oddly weirdly scared of me. They thought I was this mass manipulator, which is so funny. On the live feeds, my husband is like, "What in the world are they talking about?" Lolo and I are in the other room praying, and they're making up these crazy things in their brain. But I knew that I didn't want to have a split vote. ... Honestly, I'm not going to allow Tom Green to make a decision, to give me my fate of whether I can stay in the Big Brother house. So I was crystal clear in that it was my time to roll.
What else has your husband told you about the live feeds that you've been surprised about?
Natalie Eva Marie: I'm really shocked about Dina and Kandi. I am. ... I don't even know what was going on in their heads. I don't know why Kandi was so adamant on getting me out. I thought Dina was so sweet; now I'm like, "Dina, what in the world!?" She was going up and telling Tom that I'm trying to convince Lolo to quit. Her reality was not our reality. That definitely has shocked me the most. Both Dina and Kandi were making up things that weren't true at all. I find it extremely bizarre, which will definitely, probably affect our relationship. [Laughs]
Other evicted houseguests have mentioned that there was negative energy in the household. Was that your experience?
Natalie Eva Marie: I had a really, freaking amazing time. I'm bummed I didn't make it to the finale, but you play a game. There's a lot of emotion. There's a lot of competitiveness. There's a lot of power that gets shifted. It's all in how you deal with that energy. I, personally, had a fantastic time. Negative energy? Sure, there are awkward moments, but you're in Big Brother. Everybody is trying to win, everybody is trying to form alliances, everybody is trying to kick everybody out of the house. If there wasn't negative energy, then we weren't playing the game. And I think that's a bit different in Celebrity Big Brother than the regular season. In regular Big Brother, these kids know going in it's about to be on and popping. Celebrity version, it's like, "Why are people doing this?" It's like, "Watch the show. Be a fan. Know what's going on." It's Celebrity version, but it's the same get-down. I think people forget that going in and take it a bit too personally.
We could probably guess, but who are you rooting for to win?
Natalie Eva Marie: Oh, you already know. Anyone in my bedroom alliance: Lolo, Ricky or Tamar. I hope that Dina and Kandi get the boot!
(Disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of CBS Corporation.)