As you can imagine, the casting and pre-production process on Fox's reality competition The Masked Singer is a lengthy one — first, getting a bunch of celebrities to agree to participate AND clear their schedules for a specific length of time is no small feat. And second, the elaborate costumes (that are all handmade by the show's talented costume designer, Marina Toybina, and her team) take a while to create and tailor personally to each contestant.
That's why the fact that Piglet only had a few days' notice before filming on season five began is pretty remarkable (and the fact that he ended up winning, beating out fellow finalists Black Swan and Chameleon, even more so). Not only did this all-star swap in at the last possible second, he was able to prepare several musical numbers (not to mention dig up parts of his own history for clue packages) with the minimum amount of preparation. For that reason alone it seemed pretty clear that this masked celebrity was probably a musician, but you never know — crazier things have happened.
If we're talking about performances, his operatic intro to his quarter-finals performance of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" was both powerful and well-received by the judges, and another clue as to this person's pro status. We were pretty convinced we knew who Piglet was since the beginning, but one thing's for sure: He's never sounded better, not even in what we would describe as his glory days. His voice is strong, and he picked songs that aren't necessarily what we've heard him perform in the past (ending on Journey's "Faithfully" was a fun power ballad champion's move).
While Piglet's voice was instantly recognizable for anyone who was a teen girl in the late '90s and early '00s, it took the judges — Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong, and Nicole Scherzinger — a few weeks to zero in on who, exactly, the mystery singer could be. They could tell it was a former boy bander, but they guessed pretty much every single member of Backstreet Boys, NSync, and 98 Degrees who hasn't been on the show already (aside from Chris Kirkpatrick or Howie Dorough, poor Chris and Howie, always forgotten). Let's go through each of the clues and the judges' guesses to see if we were all on the same page before the final reveal.
The clues so far:
+ Piglet knows how to stay cool, even in the heat
+ A whiteboard reading 3528 Rushing In./Game is one of the most important clues so far
+ He once caught touchdowns from Dan Marino
+ His first clue package was framed like a Bachelor-esque dating show called Love in the Mud
+ He's a hopeless romantic, and the world once saw his heart break
+ Some flowers have very sharp thorns, and he wears his heart on his sleeve (via a tattoo)
+ Aside from Dan Marino and the whiteboard, other football-themed clues include a game clock with 50:10 to go and the phrase "don't be a ball hog"
+ His childhood crush was Meg Ryan
+ He started a family with someone he wants to grow old with
+ Many years ago he was lost and had given up on his dreams (and broken his finger), but at church, his pastor prophesized great things for a man with a broken finger so he moved out to LA and the rest is history
+ One time in his fraternity days he and his bros shaved their heads in unity right before the party of the year — which is when he discovered he has a huge birthmark shaped like an apple on the side of his head
+ Cotton candy reminds him of one of his first jobs
+ Other images include an alarm clock, a question mark, a rose, a suit of armor, cell door bars (he was "getting grilled"), a flower lei, a magic lamp, a spider, a corncob, palm trees, a peace sign foam finger, sunglasses, a tree air freshener, a UFO, a set of dog tags, vampire fangs, a brush and scissors, numbers 1-5 (with 1 propped up), and four gold bars
+ Piglet actually watched season 1 of the show with his kid, who said he should be a pig
+ He's more of a serious guy in his real life but he gets to be a big ham on this show
+ He's a super-fan of Bruce Willis and speechless when they met because it's always nice to meet a fellow action star
+ A fan mail letter reveals that he's been on TV and in headphones, that he was discovered in the '90s and that he has had public relationships
+ A "Little Piglet on the Prairie" themed package reveals that Piglet used to have a brutal schedule but now lives the simple life with his family
+ Other clues in the semifinals include a string instrument, a striped llama, and a poker chip symbolizing how he'll always go all in for Jenny McCarthy, especially for charity
+ In his final clue package, Piglet said he was one of the first people to open up his life to the public and it was before social media, which caused him to become a pretty private person after that
The judges' guesses: JC Chasez, Jordan or Jonathan Knight, Zayn Malik, AJ McLean, Lance Bass, Brian Littrell, Jeremy Renner, and finally (finally!) Nick Lachey. The judges probably knew who this was and were trying not to sound too repetitive heading into the finals, though, so they threw in other guesses including Drew Lachey, Joel Madden and Tim McGraw.
After his final performance, producers reminded the audience of the most noteworthy guesses from the season: Adam Lambert, Adam Levine, Kevin Richardson, AJ McLean, Austin Mahone, Jonathan Knight, Brian Littrell, JC Chasez, Justin Timberlake, Lance Bass, Nick Lachey and Zayn Malik. The judges' final guesses included Brian Littrell, Nick Lachey and Jeremy Renner, and Jenny McCarthy singled out Lachey on her first impression guess, too.
Our guesses: We really only have one guess, and that guess was Nick Lachey. Proof: he knows how to stay cool even in a band called 98 Degrees, he and his wife Vanessa hosted and produced the Netflix dating show Love Is Blind, he famously starred with first wife Jessica Simpson on the reality show Newlyweds, and he famously has a barbed wire tattoo on his bicep.
It was: Nick Lachey!
The Masked Singer airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on Fox.