Ubly's Nicole Franzel wins 'Big Brother' grand prize

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Nicole Franzel has gone from “Big Brother” superfan to “Big Brother” champion.

In a shocking finale on Wednesday, the 23-year-old registered nurse from Ubly, Michigan was crowned “Big Brother’s” Season 18 winner. She won by a 5-4 vote over bearded rock and roller Paul Abrahamian from a jury of her evicted “Big Brother” houseguests and was awarded a $500,000 check for her efforts.

It was Franzel’s second time playing CBS’ summer-long reality show competition. She was also a houseguest in 2014 during “Big Brother’s” 16th season, where she came in 7th place but was one of three finalists for the season’s fan favorite award.

On Wednesday, Franzel and Abrahamian were both gunning for the final Head of Household title during the show’s live season closer. Abrahamian won and had the choice of competing against either Franzel or Texas prankster James Huling in the final, and he chose Franzel. That guaranteed her at least the show’s $50,000 runner-up prize, but she pulled ahead in the final vote and won the “Big Brother” crown.

In her final speech, Franzel laid out her case to the jury, and talked about how the game was harder than she expected when she returned to the house. ”Then I realized Nicole you’re here to play ‘Big Brother,’ not ‘Big Baby,’ let’s go,” she said.

She talked about her alliance with her partner-in-crime, Corey Brooks, and how she had to win competitions to solidify her place in the game.

Then she ran out of words.

“I, shoot, um, anyways? I’m here, I feel like I gave it all I got, and that’s all I can say,” she said. “I don’t know, I’m bad at speaking.”

The houseguests cast their votes, which were read aloud one-by-one, and it was a 4-4 tie. The final vote, cast by returning houseguest Da’Vonne Rogers, was Franzel’s winning vote.

Franzel jumped up in the air and spun in circles and ran out onto the show’s live set under a shower of shiny silver confetti.

She was greeted on stage by members of her family, and could be heard asking her mother, “how did I win?”

It was the first time a woman beat a man in the final two of “Big Brother,” and the first time a woman won “Big Brother” since Rachel Reilly in Season 13.

Franzel became Michigan’s second “Big Brother” champ, following Season 10 winner Dan Gheesling.

Franzel, who studied nursing at Saginaw Valley State University, has been watching “Big Brother” since she was 8 years old and applied to become a cast member as soon as she turned 21. She was born in raised in Ubly, a small town in Michigan’s thumb area, whose population was 834 as of 2013.

In a 2015 interview with The Detroit News, Franzel expressed her interest in returning to the show to play one more time.

“I don’t want my own show, I don’t want to be an actress, I don’t want to be a singer,” she said. “My No. 1 thing would be to go on ‘Big Brother’ again. I want to win!”


(313) 222-2284