EW talked to Dan Gheesling, the 25-year-old Catholic school teacher from Michigan and quite possibly the nicest winner in Big Brother history, about his landslide victory, his thoughts about Jerry and what his girlfriend Monica asked him once the show was over.(Catch Josh Wolk’s Big Brother finale recap here.)
What did you think of the unanimous vote in your favor? Who did you think was the least likely to vote for you on the jury?
Man I was hoping to get four votes … maybe. But 7-0, wow, what a phenomenal feeling. I thought Keesha and Renny were solid but the others were up in the air. I thought Jerry and Libra would vote for Memphis and April, Ollie and Michelle would decide the game. I think this is a first in Big Brother history. (Editor’s note: He’s right. It is. Even the Big Brother master, Dr. Will, had two votes against him in season 2.)
We saw your girlfriend Monica hug you at the end. Did she think you acted like a good boy?
Monica was pretty supportive but I had some questions to answer. One had to do with my sharing a place to sleep with Keesha. I assured Monica that I built a wall of pillows between us and put a picture of Monica on top of the pillow wall. I told Monica it was for game play. Any girl would hate to see her boyfriend in bed with a girl as beautiful and charming and nice as Keesha, but we were just friends.
There was speculation in the house that you were America’s player. Did that last for long?
I had to fight that off every second thanks to one woman: Libra. She started the America’s Player conspiracy. It went on constantly. I always had to battle it. (Editor’s note: Dan was America’s player for one week, and won $20,000 for it.)
It’s all over now Dan, so you can say it. Who was really a vile personin the house?
You’re trying to get me in trouble here! How about we saywho was the most un-clean? The person with the least amount of personalhygiene was Jerry, but we still loved him. At 75 he doesn’t need towash his hands anymore.
Was it just us or were you always yelling tothe camera in the diary room? Are you just a loud talker?
I tried to bevery inconspicuous, very calm, in the house. I’m very calm as ateacher. But after school as a coach I like to get fired up. So in thediary room I’d like to coach up America. That was my chance. I took itand ran with it.
Let’s go back and talk about specific things in thehouse. I have to start with what you said at the start of the game …that you think a trip to confession will help wipe the slate clean.Dude, really? Are you gonna go? And what on earth will you say?
Withouta doubt, I’ve already spoken to the powers at be back at St. Mary’s andarranged a three-hour confession. Part of being Catholic is that you’renot supposed to lie and manipulate, but that’s what you have to do towin. The St. Mary community was behind me 100 percent. I didn’t want tobe seen fighting or dropping f-bombs. I didn’t want the kids (back atschool) losing their temper, and they never saw me do that. I playedBig Brother the best that I could. I stayed within the confines of therules, though there are no rules in Big Brother.
Let’s talk aboutJerry’s Judas comment. Were you hurt by that or were you more hurt bythe implication that Jessie, of all people, represented Jesus in thatscenario?
Neither was offensive. It was like water running off my back.I never let it pull me in. I knew what they were trying to do, but itwas not worth getting into personal fight over religion. I was focusedon the game.
Jerry was in your face a lot. Did he scare you?
No,Jerry’s a big teddy bear. He’s still is tough man, though, who couldbeat me in a fight.
Can we go back to that HOH competition whenMichelle won and we heard Jerry trash-talking you in the background? Doyou remember all the crap he said?
When Michelle won, it felt likeJerry won. He was in my face, pointing his finger in my face saying ‘don’t hide behind the cross,’ blah blah blah. He got so fired up andmade it so personal, but I never did anything to him in the game. Ivoted Jessie out, not Jerry. He acted like I took shots at him but Inever put him in harm’s way but he took things so personally.
Now let’stalk about when you won against Ollie. We at home were prettysuspicious that you were the only one wearing a hooded jacket duringwhat turned out to be a very wet challenge. Ollie said he washalf-nude. How is it possible you knew to wear a jacket?
I’m beenwaiting for this question. In this game, it’s not about being bigger orstronger, it’s about being smarter. I knew we hadn’t done an endurancecompetition yet with any kind of liquid, so I decided why not wear ajacket to be prepared? Sometimes I carry out a long sleeve shirt andthrow it aside if I don’t need it. This was the one case where I gotlucky with it. There was a lot of speculation that producers told me towear it. Being a Big Brother fan I was suspicious about how involvedthe producers were, but there was no funny business. No one told me towear a jacket.
What are you going to do with the money and please don’tsay you’re going to give it to charity.
Here’s what I’m going to do.Some time in the near future I’m going to buy Monica a gift to fit onher ring finger. Other than that I may invest it. I’ll stay at St.Mary’s and continue the job I love. I may even set up a collegescholarship for Big Brother alumni — but only for the non-winnersbecause the winners won’t need it.