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So many fans were rooting for Nicole Anthony to win Big Brother 21. And she did. She won America's Favorite Houseguest and the hearts of millions. However, she had to settle for third place in the game, becoming the final member of the 2019 jury. She chose to vote for Holly Allen to win, joining Kathryn Dunn and Jessica Milagros in that decision. Everyone else voted for Jackson Michie, the ultimate winner (and yet not) of Big Brother 21.
Nicole actually changed her mind to vote for Holly over Jackson, and she explained why after the finale.
Right before Nicole cast her vote for Holly, she said on the live finale that it was tied to conversations she'd had in the house the previous week. Nicole later explained her reasoning for voting for Holly over Jackson:
For the majority of the season, I said, 'Wow, if Michie makes it to the end, I’m voting for him.' He is a competition beast and had a tremendous social game in manipulating but keeping people close to him. It was very well done. But in the last week, I spoke a lot with Holly in the backyard. I’ll admit Holly was someone I discredited, someone I viewed as being with and behind Michie. The more I spoke to her about her strategy to lay low in the beginning and take out people like Sam and Nick. She’s good at mental comps. In the final HoH, she was so close to Michie in Part 1, and she blew me out of the water in Part 2. And I’m supposed to be really good at those! It made me look at her in a new light, that she has a strategy very close to my own. If I wanted to be respected on a game level, she deserved that respect as well. I assumed the jury would vote for Michie. But I wanted my vote to be a 'hoo-rah!' for people who are underestimated.
Well done, Holly. It didn't quite work, but she got closer to a win than many houseguests may have expected. As Nicole told Parade, she wanted her vote to be a "hoo-rah" for people who are underestimated. She was surprised to see herself in Holly's strategy and wanted to honor that.
Nicole also talked about thinking she might've had hope of making Final 2 if Holly had won Part 3:
I definitely believe if Holly had won, there would have been more consideration. She’s very smart and considered her options against me. But I think their showmance was unbreakable; they’ve been together since the beginning of the season. That’s like having Cliff and me at the end in terms of season-long duos. You’re going to pick your person. In retrospect, I look at the decision between Tommy and Holly, and I go back and forth in my head. The ultimate decision came down to who I thought I could beat, and I thought mental comps were coming. I thought Holly was worse at those than Tommy, but that was her strategy. She really got me; she played a lot dumber than she is. She’s a freaking genius!
Nicole has a lot of respect for Holly. Speaking of Holly, she addressed her own comments around the Final 4 HOH, accusing Nicole of being arrogant and "bullying." (To be fair, Nicole also sarcastically called Jackson and Holly "martyrs," although that's not quite as harsh.) Here's what Holly told Parade:
Nicole was underestimated a lot in this game. A lot of people tried to use her and manipulate her. They saw her weaknesses and that she played with her heart. I sat her down at multiple times throughout the game and said, 'Nicole, you play with your head and your heart. That’s why I love you and respect your game. Do what is best for you and your game, and that’s it.' I always had her back and I was always there for her. I perceived her as preying on my weaknesses and trying to strongarm me. And I get it from the game perspective; I’m empathetic to it. But at that moment, I was so frustrated because I felt like I was being backed into a corner that I shouldn’t have been forced into.
In the end, Jackson got the $500,000, Holly got $50,000 for second place, and Nicole got $25,000 as America's Favorite Player. After the finale, Nicole talked to Big Brother 20's JC Mounduix in the backyard about winning AFP.
Nicole said it was "crazy" to be America's Favorite, joking that she's a superhero like in BB Comics. She also got serious on the subject:
In my mind, the past couple of years I've been through some instances where people were not very nice to me. I was never bullied as a kid but I was bullied as an adult, which is very odd. So coming into this process, I just didn't expect people to care about me, to kind of dismiss me.
Nicole also spoke more to Parade about going from that Final 3 heartbreak to winning AFP:
It was a bitter pill going to Final Three with a showmance and knowing my goose was cooked. But America’s Favorite made it all worth it. It’s better than anything I could have ever wished for or dreamed of. I sat in my bed last night overcome with emotion. I’m in that house, and I’m just Nicole from Long Island, doing my thing. I’m a girl living in a house doing my best. I don’t think of myself as anything more than that. To come out and hear so many people support me and love me is something I can’t even fathom. I’m so thankful that people care about me. It’s amazing.
After Big Brother 21, Nicole launched an Instagram account, which quickly earned tens of thousands of followers: