Cody Calafiore won Big Brother All-Stars last night, confirming oddsmakers who had him as the overwhelming favorite for weeks.
Calafiore won the 22nd season, the first in the Covid era, at the end of the live two-hour finale, defeating Enzo Palumbo by a final jury vote of 9-0.
Nicole Franzel, meanwhile, was voted out during the episode in third place.
“I feel like it hasn’t sunk in yet,” Calafiore said today. “I just feel like you’re still going at a hundred miles an hour, so I’m waiting for it to, like, sink in, but I’m definitely very excited.”
Prior to Wednesday’s finale, Franzel, 28, defeated Calafiore, 29, and Palumbo, 42, in the Halloween-themed part 1 of the final Head of Household competition of the season, allowing her to move directly to part 3.
In part 2, Calafiore easily bested Palumbo, meaning Calafiore and Franzel would compete in part 3.
That competition took place during the live broadcast, and Calafiore was the winner.
Ultimately, Calafiore, as the final Head of Household of the season, decided to evict Franzel and take Palumbo with him to face the jury in the final 2.
It was a tactical move that Calafiore did not make six years ago when he decided to take his ride-or-die Derrick Levasseur to the end only to lose the half million dollar prize.
Calafiore is perhaps the most likable player in Big Brother’s history, gaining the trust and friendship of all his housemates with a charismatic skill any politician would envy.
Still, despite his likability, he led an all-white group of players called ‘The Committee’ that systematically voted out the one Muslim player, three black players and one gay player without a lot of compassion.
Calafiore, who comes from a pro-Trump family, disappointed many online fans who had hoped he would diversify his alliances.
He was part of the Slick Six alliance which included Da’Vonne Rogers and Bayleigh Dayton, the two black women in the house, but that was a fake alliance and his loyalties were with The Committee.
“The hardest point of the game was that that middle point,” Calafiore told US Weekly. “It was the fifth week when Da’Vonne and Bayleigh were going up. I was like, ‘Uh oh. I was in an alliance with Da’Vonne and Bayleigh.’ I was like, this could get tricky if one of them come down because if one of them come down and somebody else goes up, I still wanted to send one of them home because I was like, ‘When am I going to get this opportunity?'”
Minority contestants have struggled to gain traction in the show, often put in the Big Brother house with an overwhelming number of white players.
In fact, no African American male has ever won the show in its 22 seasons.
Maybe it’s part of the reason why Rogers was voted America’s Favorite Player by fans.
During the season, Tyler Crispin raised eyebrows when he offered to self-evict to help his housemates Rogers and Dayton amid the Black Lives Matter movement but then changed his mind.
Crispen later had a chance to clear the air with Rogers during an emotional conversation in the jury house, telling her, “I understood after a little bit that you might think that was strategy. … I felt so terrible.”
After her eviction, Dayton pointed out the double standard that minority players face.
“Big Brother is a social game, and it’s human nature to connect with people that you feel comfortable with,” said Dayton. “So for me, as a Black woman, I have to go out of my way to make people feel comfortable because we already don’t have the same backgrounds or the same experiences. So a lot of the time that is dumbing down my experience or letting other people feel comfortable being their complete self, knowing that I kind of have to play catch-up. You’re making it a double standard by you being able to do that.”
Over the past two decades, Big Brother has been criticized for racism and discrimination.
In 2013, Aaryn Gries referred to Asian people as “squinty-eyed,” called her Black roommate Candice Stewart “Aunt Jemima” and asked her Korean housemate Helen Kim to “go make some rice.”
GinaMarie Zimmerman and Spencer Clawson were also accused of insensitive comments during the season, so much so that host Julie Chen spoke about it on The Talk.
“It stung,” the host said at the time. “I took it personally. The really sad part was it took me back to the ’70s when I was growing up in Queens, when I was 7, being bullied and being called a chink … the year is 2013! Then I felt ignorant. There are still people who feel that way? Yes, there is.”
However, claims of discrimination continued past Season 15.
Moments before being crowned the season 21 winner in 2019, Jackson Michie was shocked when Chen informed him that his houseguests had expressed concerns about his behavior, making choices based on race or age — something he denied, but later apologized for.
Additionally, season 21 contestant Kemi Fakunle spoke out, revealing she was “disgusted” about what was happening inside the Big Brother house, seemingly alluding to aggressive comments made by Jack Matthews during the live feeds.
“The audience is able to view the show during the multiple weekly broadcasts as well as on the 24/7 live, online stream, which captures unedited content of the contestants’ unfiltered moments in the house,” the network and the show’s producers said in a statement in July 2019. “At times, the houseguests say things that we do not condone. We share some of the viewers’ concerns about inappropriate behavior and offensive comments, and producers have addressed specific incidents with the houseguests involved. However, there is absolutely no truth that the casting of the show is racially motivated, that the houseguests’ behavior is predetermined or that the outcome is controlled in any way.”
The All Star season could have been a healing opportunity for the franchise had Calafiore included a non-white face in his coalition to victory.
It was an opportunity missed.
However, to his credit, Calafiore was awarded all nine jury votes — a feat that was accomplished only once before by season 10 winner Dan Gheesling.