“If my plan works, think of this: I’m gonna be off the block from a guy who put on a carrot suit, took an avocado bath, took a chum bath, and sat out of an HOH competition — all to get me out. I may have a future in sales selling ice to Eskimos if I can pull this off.” —Dan Gheesling
Expect the unexpected. That is the longstanding motto for CBS’ reality show Big Brother, currently in its 21st season (along with an additional season for CBS All Access and two celebrity installments). But nobody in or out of the house could have expected the events that took place in the episode that aired on Aug. 29, 2012.
That summer, Big Brother 14 broke format with previous iterations by welcoming not just 12 new contestants, but four returning players as coaches. Past winners Dan Gheesling and Mike “Boogie” Malin along with fan favorites Britney Haynes and Janelle Pierzina were originally in the house to pick teams and then claim a $100,000 prize if one of their players ended up winning the season. But then, on day 27, both viewers and the coaches voted to toss aside their coaching status and enter the game as regular contestants.
A dominant (and terribly named) alliance titled the Quack Pack — consisting of Dan, Britney, Danielle Murphree, Shane Meaney, and Ian Terry — took control of the house, with Ian playing the role of double-agent to secretly undermine his coach Mike Boogie and teammate Frank Eudy. However, all alliances eventually lose members, and the Quack Pack was poised to lose Dan after the season 10 champ was nominated for eviction on day 49 and later failed to win the Power of Veto. Dan’s ouster was so assured that he even staged his own funeral. But while the other houseguests assumed this was Dan’s way of making amends and saying goodbye, the corpse-to-be had something far more ruthless in mind, delivering a speech that brought tears, anger, confusion, and all-around chaos.
In a show based on voyeurism, Dan provided the ultimate spectacle. But unlike so many of the other personal bombshells that have detonated in the house over the years, this time there was a strategic method behind the madness, and when the smoke cleared, Dan had pulled off what many believe to be the greatest move the game has ever seen. How did it happen? What do all the parties involved have to say about it? And while the funeral saved Dan’s life in the game, did it ultimately cost him the win at the end?
We spoke to every single person at the funeral plus the producers and host Julie Chen to get a complete 360-degree view of the epic event and the aftermath that followed. We ended up being surprised at what we learned. And so were the players and producers. (Think Dan’s attack on Danielle was really all a ruse to gain her sympathy and make it appear as if the two were not working together? Think again.) What follows is the riveting and raucous story of the greatest Big Brother moment ever, and all the damage it left in its wake. Expect the unexpected.
PART I: THE NOMINATIONS
After a surprise double eviction night sent Frank’s two best buddies — Mike Boogie and Ashley Iocco — out the door, Frank rebounded by winning Head of Household. While HOH, Frank opened Pandora’s Box, which gave him $3,000, but also unleashed a new Golden Ball of Veto into the game, which Ian won, giving him a second Veto and making him safe for the week. Frank then nominated his biggest adversary, Dan, for eviction along with Dan’s biggest ally, Danielle, setting the stage for the remarkable chain of events to come.
FRANK EUDY: It was a rough night for me when I won HOH. I remember going in the Diary Room, and it was one of my rougher Diary Room sessions because it kind of hit me at that point I wasn’t going to win. All my allies were gone. I had to win every competition, and I knew the odds were not in my favor. You can only freaking win so many competitions. There’s a percentage of every damn competition that is chance or luck, so I just knew it wasn’t going to happen. I was frustrated.
DAN GHEESLING: Danielle and I get nominated by Frank, but we have a couple of outs to save us. We’re up on the block. It’s not a shock to me at that time, but I know it’s a severe blow to my game individually.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: I was devastated. You know that it’s coming, but I was so upset, because how can I campaign against Dan? I remember feeling really upset, sad and heartbroken, and then I remember feeling, “Okay, well at least I know I have more friends here than him. I know that he’s the target. I know that I’m better at competitions than him. I can win Veto.”
IAN TERRY: I wasn’t happy about it, to be honest, and the reason is that I already had the Veto in hand, and we didn’t really know how the Veto ceremony was going to work. But one thing I knew for sure was, if he nominates Britney right off the bat, then I could use my Veto to protect her. I wasn’t thrilled about these nominations because it meant that there was no way that I could protect both myself and Britney in this round of play, because she’s not nominated. I would have liked it if she was nominated, so I could just pull her down right away no matter what.
FRANK EUDY: Dan was kind of a personal nomination for me. Obviously, there’s strategy to it, too, because Dan was a good player, and had a lot of people that he was working with in the house. But at the same time, I’d wanted to take shots against Dan from the beginning, but Mike didn’t want to, and then Mike was gone, and I couldn’t go after Ian. Dan was absolutely the target.
While two Quack Pack members were up on the block, a plan formulated among the alliance to save the entire group, thanks to Ian already holding one Veto and another one being up for grabs in the next competition.
IAN TERRY: Basically, the way that this would work is Dan and Danielle are nominated, but I already have one Veto, so if Britney or Shane wins the second Veto, we can pull both of them off, which means that two people would have to be nominated other than those two. While Frank can put up whomever out of Shane or Britney doesn’t win the Veto, he also has to pick someone else. The only two choices left are [Joe Arvin] and [Jenn City Arroryo], and we’d have the votes to just vote them out regardless. It wouldn’t even matter who the other person was.
BRITNEY HAYNES: One person was going to have to go up, but we would have had the votes to save whoever.
SHANE MEANEY: We would pull both of them off the block and we would still have enough votes to keep everyone. But obviously one of us had to win veto.
For the plan to work, both Britney and Shane had to be picked at the Veto player picking ceremony in which the Head of Household and two nominees each put their hand in a bag and pulle out a chip with a player’s name in it. Frank picked first and selected Shane, and then Danielle picked next and selected…Britney.
SHANE MEANEY: I’m thinking my odds are pretty good. I have a fairly good record with POV wins so I’m thinking it’s a great chance obviously now that she and I are both picked. It’s two out of six people to possibly win the veto. That’s pretty good odds at this point in the game. So I’m happy that I was picked. I’m happy that Britney was picked. I know moving forward with the Quack Pack we’re good.
BRITNEY HAYNES: This is when we decide we can carry out the plan. It’ll be perfect. We’re going to be safe for sure — all of us.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: I’m just excited. All the people that I’m in alliance with — I don’t even like saying Quack Pack, I still hate saying that name — I’m just excited we’re all in it. I couldn’t have been happier with the player selections to that point.
IAN TERRY: It’s the best chance that getting all five to stay in is going to happen. Yeah, I was happy to see those two names for sure.
Or course, for the entire Quack Pack to be safe, Dan and Danielle had to throw the competition. But with their Big Brother lives on the line, would they do it and trust Shane or Britney to win and pull them off the block?
DANIELLE MURPHREE: I was going to throw it.
BRITNEY HAYNES: Dan was supposed to throw the competition. That was the plan. Dan was going to throw it so that we could carry out this plan.
IAN TERRY: I remember Dan saying something like, “You have to promise me something. If I throw it and I’m still up there, you have to vote for me to stay.” At that point, I can say, “Yeah, sure,” but he knows there’s no way I could convince them that that was going to be the case. There’s no chance. I mean, there’s a point in the game where you can lie, but it’s just like trying to pee on someone’s leg and tell them it’s raining. There’s no way I can ever expect him to believe that. That was one where I thought there was not even a point of telling that one. So I’m like, “I can’t. You just have to throw it. I can’t promise that, I’m sorry.”
DAN GHEESLING: I’m sure I told them I would throw it, but I can tell you for a fact this is one I tried to win because you never really know. I did feel confident that if every piece fell into place that they would take me down. However, I know if that doesn’t happen, I’ve got to save myself. So this is a situation where I’ve told them one thing and then I’m going out to play and win this thing.
PART II: THE VETO COMPETITION
The Veto competition was a Draw Something challenge hosted by Ian in which players (including Jenn, who was picked by Dan with the Houseguest Choice chip) would have to buzz in and guess the object being drawn. If they were correct, they had to do a punishment if they wanted to collect points towards winning. Frank got the first question right with “Avocado,” and had to dye himself green to receive the two points. But the Quack Pack was shocked when Dan — who was supposed to be throwing it for Britney and Shane — buzzed in and got question number two correct with “Hunger.”
DANIELLE MURPHREE: That mother—er! That’s exactly what I thought. Is he serious right now? But then I was like, “Okay, Danielle, control it. Maybe he just answered quickly. Maybe this is Dan’s way of throwing it in some way.”
BRITNEY HAYNES: He’s clearly not throwing it. I immediately realized he’s not being a team player. I was highly annoyed.
DAN GHEESLING: I remember feeling like I saw Britney look at me like, “What are you doing? Why are you trying to win this?” At that moment I got a really uneasy feeling like, “Now I really feel like I’ve got to win this thing.”
BRITNEY HAYNES: I was frustrated by it, because we had organized this plan. But then at the same time, I couldn’t blame him because there’s no world where you could expect that Dan would actually throw a competition, especially when he’s on the block. It’s too important to him. That’s putting a ton of faith into people. Even though I wanted him to, and I was hoping that he would, you can’t actually expect someone to do that.
SHANE MEANEY: This was probably my worst competition of the season. I did try. I just couldn’t get the shapes and I couldn’t guess. And it’s not that I didn’t wanted the punishment. I wouldn’t care. But I really struggled, and I felt terrible because I’m a team player and my whole thing was keeping the Quack Pack in tact at that point. So it was really frustrating for me. And I look over and Dan wasn’t throwing it. He was actually trying to win it, which was kind of discouraging. A lot of things didn’t line up to what we discussed prior to the Power of Veto competition.
BRITNEY HAYNES: He definitely could have just said, “Look, it’s my life on the line. I can’t throw the comp.” I feel like everyone would have understood because that is just putting a ton of faith in people that you didn’t even know what they’re going to do. We would have understood if he could have just told us that he wasn’t going to do it. But he made it pretty obvious.
SHANE MEANEY: To put yourself in his shoes, of course you want to win. So I understood what he was doing. I wasn’t angry. But at the same time, that completely goes against everything that we established and everything that we went over prior to the competition.
IAN TERRY: I was just like, “Hey, what the hell is this, man?” But I mean, I can’t be surprised by that. Frustrated is the word I would use.
DAN GHEESLING: I haven’t thought about this really ever since it happened, but I can remember distinctly getting a weird social read off of everyone in the alliance. Britney gave me a clue that she wasn’t happy and this wasn’t the plan. It gave me a weird enough feeling to say, “All right Dan, you’re not throwing this thing, so go try and win it.” For me, that’s the worst-case scenario in Big Brother. I never wanted to be in a position ever where you win or you go home. At this point, I feel that, and I don’t like that feeling at all.
After Jenn got “Clock” (and had to burn her clothes in 90 seconds), Britney got “Shackle” (and had to choose someone — Danielle — to be shackled to for 24 hours) and Frank got three in a row with “Shower,” “Carrot,” and “Bench” (agreeing to take a chum shower every time an alarm sounded over 24 hours, to wear a giant carrot costume for a week, and to not participate in his next eligible Head of Household competition), Danielle finally buzzed in with “Spots.” In a storyline that never made it onto the show and completely changes the context of what would happen later at the funeral, Dan was furious at Danielle for buzzing in and trying to win, even though he was doing the exact same thing. And that fury manifested itself once Danielle had to allow her fellow contestants to throw paint at her two minutes as her punishment:
DANIELLE MURPHREE: I got “Spots” right, and Dan was so pissed off at me. He’s throwing paint, and even after they stopped, Dan is throwing full things of paint in my mouth. People had stopped throwing paint, and when I took my hands down, he took a bucket of paint and threw it straight into the center of my face and was just glaring anger.
SHANE MEANEY: We threw paint on her, and when the timer was over, he threw it right in her face. I didn’t initially realize how ticked off Dan was.
BRITNEY HAYNES: I do remember her being upset about that.
IAN TERRY: Yeah, I noticed that. I always just thought it’s him being a troublemaker. He likes those pranks, and he likes to be annoying as a joke sometimes. It’s like the little pranks that he would pull in Big Brother 10, and we would see it a lot on Frank and Jenn City. I thought it was something like that.
DAN GHEESLING: Yeah, I remember that. When you do something like that, the producers set it up so you can kind of have fun with it or take it easy on her. I was trying to send a message. I don’t show my emotions. That’s one of the few times when I was just so angry with her. I wanted to make sure she got every piece of that punishment.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: I had to get on medicine. They had to bring in a medic, because I got a rash, broken out and stuff. I have asthma and it caused a rash, and I swallowed a lot of it, so I had to go see a doctor in the diary room and they gave me cream. Dan’s such a dick. This whole Veto caused problems.
DAN GHEESLING: I think that’s one of the two angriest moments I’ve ever been in the game, and I pride myself on controlling my emotions. I can remember I was seeing red because it made no sense to me. I’m like, “You know I need these points, so why are you doing this?” It’s not like Britney doing that, because I get it: She wants to win. But Danielle didn’t really need to win, because I’m going home over her, and she’s taking points away from me, and she doesn’t have a shot to win this. So I was furious and I didn’t understand, but I took that feeling and really just pushed it more to “Now you’ve really got to run the table here. You’ve got to get every question from here on out if you want to stay in this game.”
Dan did get the next question right by answering “Trip,” but the punishment that accompanied it — and would later prove crucial — was that he would have to endure a 24-hour solitary confinement dance party after the Veto competition was over.
DAN GHEESLING: I’ve been a huge fan of Big Brother. I’d seen Hayden Moss and Danielle Reyes, the only two people I can remember to get locked up in solitary confinement. I fear nothing in Big Brother at all, but that was one thing I truly feared. I didn’t want to be isolated from the house for 24 hours. If you could say “Hey, shave your head, burn your clothes, do whatever you want, give up competitions,” I would do it, but my fear in the game was to be locked into a room. So here we are. Serendipity lines up to give me the one thing I don’t want at this point. I’m upset, I’m angry, but I still have a competition to win.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: When I see him buzz in again, I know that he lied. He is being selfish and doesn’t really give a s— about me. I’m really upset at this point because I’m now pissed off because you’re putting my relationship in danger. If Shane or Britney had won — no problems. But to be honest, I did not want the Veto, because me sitting on the block means that I don’t have to cast a vote — which means I have more friends in jury.
IAN TERRY: Dan gets it right. So it’s actually a really bad spot at this point because Britney is pretty far out of it at this point so it’s going to be very difficult for her to catch up, and Shane has zero, so it’s pretty much down to Frank and Dan, and either outcome is bad.
With only one question left, Frank had the lead with 22 points with Dan in second at 13. The final question was worth 11 points, so if Dan answered it correctly, he would win the Power of Veto. If anyone else answered, the win would go to Frank. And then, the bizarre happened. As the final Draw Something image came to life, Britney buzzed in to answer — and couldn’t. As she paused to consider the correct response, Frank whispered the word “Summer” to her.
BRITNEY HAYNES: I didn’t just blindly buzz in. I was like, “Oh, oh, oh,” and it was still coming to me. I’m coming up with it, in that moment. I remember staring at the picture and, it was on the tip of my tongue. Then as soon as he said it to me, it made complete sense. I’m like, “Yes! That’s what I was looking for.”
FRANK EUDY: It was desperation. It’s not like I’m trying to tell her the answer. It’s just that I want so bad for this to be over and Dan not to get it. You’re trying to will the win, and it’s a reaction. It’s not like much thought went into that, because there wasn’t really much time. There’s also a possibility that I was frustrated that she buzzed in and it was easy and she couldn’t figure it out. I was just like, “Summer!”
BRITNEY HAYNES: I 100 percent think I would have gotten it had Frank not whispered it. It was on the tip of my tongue. I didn’t look to him for help. I wasn’t like, “Help me.” I was trying to figure it out and he whispered it to me. To be honest, I don’t know for sure that he was trying to cheat. You know when you’re playing Charades and you know what the answer is and it’s really hard for you to keep your mouth shut? I almost think it was that type of a situation. It was just word vomit. I don’t think he was intentionally trying to cheat. I really don’t.
DAN GHEESLING: The whole thing for me, it was like a car crash, like you’re seeing this movie car crash. I’m like, “Okay, Britney gets this answer from Frank. Are her and Frank working together? Holy cow, I’m in a lot more trouble than I think I’m in.”
JENN ARROYO: That was f—ed up. Because that was just blatant cheating. And I will say this. That wasn’t a first-time occurrence of something along those lines happening. Some other questionable things happened. He might as well just shouted it out to her because we all saw it and we all heard it. It was like, we can see you! And not only can we all see you, there’s tons of cameras everywhere and you’re wearing a microphone. Come on!
SHANE MEANEY: I heard Frank say something, but I couldn’t make it out.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: I didn’t hear him say “Summer,” but I heard something. I look over, and then she said it and then there’s a long pause.
BRITNEY HAYNES: He whispered it, I said it, and then they paused the game.
IAN TERRY: I had the ear pod in my ear for producer instructions and as soon as that’s answered, I’m just told, “Hold everything. Stop, do not say anything. Nothing.” Then it’s like, “We need to review some footage.”
RICH MEEHAN (Executive Producer): I was watching the game go down from our office. Obviously, we’re watching it in real time as it’s happening. And my phone rang in my office and it was [co-executive producer] Heath Luman, who calls me and says, “Hey, this just happened. Frank whispered the answer to Britney. A clear rule violation.” I said, “Okay,” and I ran up to the Big Brother booth where we talk to the houseguests from. They just hear our voice, but it’s where we talk to them from, and we have a machine in there we can roll back tape. So we roll back tape on it and re-watched it multiple times, just so that we’re 1,000 percent sure. It didn’t take that much to see it, but it was very clear. Then I called Allison.
ALLISON GRODNER (Executive Producer): I had just gone home, and I remember Rich calling me and running the decision and the situation and the decision by me. If there’s gonna be some really important and tough fairness calls to make here, we do make sure that everyone that needs to be consulted is consulted, and that we ultimately agree that we’re making the right decision. And in this one, there was no doubt about it. We heard it, we saw it, and we made the ruling.
RICH MEEHAN: Any kind of disciplinable thing we call the network and say, “Hey, this just happened, here’s the call and it’s crystal clear.” And then we just make the decision. So that’s why there’s a bit of a stop down because we want to make sure everything is 100 percent correct. So when something like that happens, we probably stop the game for about 15 minutes.
FRANK EUDY: We all had to sit down while they go back and run through the tape, and probably have to get approval from someone that’s not there. I remember it felt like forever, especially because I knew what was going on. It was like, “Okay, I said it,” so what are they deciding on right now? Because there was a close call like that earlier in the season, too, where we were doing the counting competition where they had all the candy and whatever, and we had to count. It was “Fold” or “Stay,” and I was looking at Mike in the stands, and he was telling me what to do. I remember Joe got upset, and they had to go back and look at some tape. He complained, but nothing happened with that.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: The producers come through the speakers and they’re pretty upset. They’re like, “Frank, you’ve been disqualified.” There’s an argument back and forth, he’s like, “What?” And they’re like, “You cheated.” He says, “No, I didn’t.” They’re like, “Yes, you did.”
BRITNEY HAYNES: They finally came back said that they reviewed the tape, and that he whispered it to me and he was disqualified, and that we had to replay the round.
DAN GHEESLING: The producers come over the speaker and it’s like an act of God or something. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, is this really happening? I get another chance to save myself because Frank essentially acted outside of the rules!”
RICH MEEHAN: The funny thing is, it shows how much Frank wanted Dan to lose and wanted him out of the game. Even though he’s winning the game, he was willing to risk breaking the rules, hoping that he didn’t get caught to try and further ensure Dan leaving, which makes what happened later even more incredible.
With Frank eliminated from the competition, a new final 11-point question was added with Dan (13 points), Britney (6 points), and Jenn City (4 points) all eligible to win. Once again, Britney buzzed in first, and once again, she did not know the answer, enabling Jenn to then buzz in with the correct answer of “Ticket.” But it if she wanted to win the Veto — which would also be her first competition win of the summer — she had to agree to the punishment of eating slop for the rest of the summer. If she didn’t, then Dan would win the Veto and be able to take himself off the block.
JENN ARROYO: This didn’t make it to TV, but I remember vividly asking, “Can I ask a question?” And they’re like, “Yeah.” I go, “How long is this damn show, because I feel like I’ve been here for far too long?” I knew we were getting to the end. It felt like around three more weeks, but I needed a full answer. And it was something along the three-week line. And I stood there, and I thought about that. I had tried Chef Joe’s slop cookies. They weren’t the worst things in the world. And I was thinking, “How could I cook slop?”
So many different things were going through my brain. And they also allow you to have protein shakes. So I was like, “Can I really, for three weeks, on a daily basis, just drink a ton of water, and have protein shakes?” And there are certain condiments you would be able to have to mix with the slop, which is just a very bland, tasteless oatmeal. I was like, “I can do this. If I’ve been in this house for this damn long dealing with these damn people on this damn show, then I can be on slop for three weeks.” But I thought long and hard about it. I wanted that win more than anything. I really did. And I’ve never eaten oatmeal ever again, just FYI. I see oatmeal, I’m ready to burn it like my clothes.
BRITNEY HAYNES: To be honest, I thought that Jenn winning was not a bad scenario for me. I didn’t think she would use it. She had not been a real aggressive gamer or game player. She wasn’t really tight with Dan or Danielle. I didn’t see a scenario where she used it, unless Frank told her to, and Frank hated Dan and wanted him out. I was like, “Okay, this’ll work out. This will be fine.”
IAN TERRY: I just saw it as the same as if Frank had won. It’s not as good as the ideal outcome, but it’s better than if Dan or Danielle had won, right? It’s not great, but it’s still okay.
FRANK EUDY: I’m as confident almost as if I had won because I knew that she didn’t have anybody else in the house either, and she had already come to me and was like, “I guess I’m with you.” It was just us two, and so I wasn’t really worried about it.
SHANE MEANEY: I think I made a comment like, “Where the f— did Jenn come from?” She just kind of came out of the blue. It was the first competition she won. I was fine with Jenn winning. I mean, obviously it wasn’t what we wanted. It didn’t go to Britney or myself. But at this point, I was actually feeling pretty confident. I was feeling like Jenn would just not use the Veto. She and I were fine at this point so I didn’t think that she would convince Frank to put me up. But they say to expect the unexpected, and I didn’t expect what was to come, for sure.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: I love Jenn, so I was excited. But then I was also kind of scared. Because Jenn and I were pretty good friends, so I was like, “Oh no, what if she tries to take me off. Should I let her?” Because I did not want to have to choose between my alliance members. I would rather be sitting on the block in my little safe hole, because I knew that I probably wasn’t going to get evicted by the people in the house and that I was not going to be the one to walk out.
DAN GHEESLING: It’s 100 percent bad and it’s the most upset, sad, disappointed, angry I’ve ever been in playing two seasons in the history of my Big Brother competition-wise. I see the writing on the wall and I’m like, “Man, this is how it ends. This is how I go out.” Frank messes up and I get another chance to go head-to-head against Jenn, and I lose to Jenn who hasn’t won anything. I’m just mad and I feel like I blew an opportunity and I’m going home.
Dan’s frustration spilled over in another scene that did not make it to air — and again changes the context of what would follow at the funeral — as he lit into Danielle as the players waited to enter the house at the conclusion of the veto competition.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: It was a massive fight. He was pissed at me and kept asking, “What the hell are you doing? Why did you guess that? Why did you guess Spots?” I was like, “Because you’re not smart enough. You’re not guessing it fast enough. And why are you answering questions?” He was blame shifting and he was so angry at me.
BRITNEY HAYNES: Yeah, he was mad at her. He was totally mad at her, which makes no sense, because he was trying to win. That confused me and I didn’t understand if they were play fighting, fake fighting, or if they had their own deal on the side that we weren’t privy to, because none of that really made sense.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: He’s pacing in the backyard. He’s acting all in some mood and being all dramatic and everything else and keeps asking “Why did you guess that?” I was like, “You’re not even supposed to be playing!” Then he kind of blew it off, of course didn’t acknowledge it. Dan is fantastic at questioning other people and getting other people to talk about themselves without having to say anything about himself.
DAN GHEESLING: I’m angry at Danielle for buzzing in. I’m angry at Britney because I’m questioning her because why is she getting answers from Frank. I don’t remember how much time elapsed. Inside, I was very sad because I love the show, I love competing, and to have so many opportunities to stay in the game slip away, it just starts to hit me that it’s over.
PART III: SOLITARY CONFINEMENT
Once the players reentered the house, Dan had just a few minutes before having to head into his 24-hour solitary confinement dance party.
DAN GHEESLING: I walk in the house and I’m upset. I’m borderline tears and so I go right to the Diary Room. I’m on the verge of tears and there’s a random producer in the DR. I’m pissed, I’m sad, and I tell the producer, “Hey, look, no offense, but get Chris Roach in here because I’m not talking to anyone else.” Chris was a Diary Room producer from my first season and now he’s one of the executive producers. So he comes in there and I’m in tears and I tell him, “I feel like I let everyone down. I let you guys down, the producers. I let myself down, my family down, and now I’ve got to go into solitary confinement and that’s my worst fear.”
RICH MEEHAN: We did do an interview with him beforehand and I remember he was very devastated as someone who loved the game, had won the game, being very worried that this was his final week. And he definitely did not have a plan at that moment.
ALLISON GRODNER: He went into the Diary Room just and he was devastated. He was like, “My game’s over. This is it.”
DAN GHEESLING: So I’m sitting in there crying. And Chris tries to get the bits out of me that he needs to, but also this is someone that I have a relationship with from season 10, and he says, “Hey, look, man, nothing’s ever over. Do whatever you can.” So then from there I walked out of the Diary Room and right in solitary, and I’m like, “Here we go.”
Dan was not the only one who assumed his game was finished as he entered the solitary confinement room. Outside of those techno walls, the other houseguests — and producers — considered his eviction a fait accompli.
SHANE MEANEY: Frank wants him out. It was his HOH. He put him on the block, so we were like, “It sucks to lose part of the Quack Pack but at this point in the game we could lose one it’s no big deal. We still got four. We’re still good to go.”
IAN TERRY: I’m like, “It’s done. It’s over. It’s good. He didn’t win the Veto and there’s no way he can get it to change because he’s locked in the room.” So I was fine with it because this just clears the path for me a little bit to get to the end, and if I asked for one of us five to be out, yeah, it would be him for sure.
BRITNEY HAYNES: To be honest with you, I felt really bad for him because this game means so much to Dan. It really does. He has so much pride in this game and the fact that he came back. Not only now is he for sure going home, but he also has to go to this solitary thing, so he can’t even control his fate. He wouldn’t even have time to try to save his own Big Brother life. I felt really bad for him.
FRANK EUDY: Nobody was telling me anything at that point, but I knew that there was no way they were going to vote Danielle out.
RICH MEEHAN: We knew he was in major, major trouble.
JULIE CHEN (Host): We knew he was done and he knew he was done.
ALLISON GRODNER: Everyone in that house believed that he was on his way out. There was no question.
JENN ARROYO: We’re all thinking “This is signed, sealed and delivered, baby!” And as far as the solitary confinement goes, I kept wondering: Is he s—ting in a bucket in there? And does he have one bucket or two? Do you give him bucket one for one, give him bucket two for two, or is it a mix? I don’t know.
DAN GHEESLING: They put up a string with a pullable curtain and like a plastic adult baby toilet — so like a camping toilet. So I had that, water, and cake to eat. I think I might have been on slop too.
While the other players were already making plans for life in the house without Dan, inside the solitary confinement room, a diabolical scheme was beginning to take shape.
DAN GHEESLING: The first couple of hours in there I remember thinking something ridiculous like, “Oh, maybe there’s a hidden Veto in the cake, so let me tear through this entire cake.” I’m just looking around for a hidden Veto, and that’s the first couple of hours. Then when I realized, “Hey this is it. What are you going to do?” It’s the worst-case scenario, but I’m not willing to give up. At that point, I have no power. The only thing I can do is try to come up with some spectacle.
Dan considered — and discarded — a few different tactics before setting on a strategy. And the genesis of that strategy would harken back to both season 10 and the seething rage Dan was feeling at Danielle over the just-completed Veto competition.
DAN GHEESLING: I thought about trying to cause a fight between two people, but then quickly dismissed that because it seemed so desperate and obvious of a play. People were going to be expecting that. So I tried to run the same playbook I did in my first season. I’m like, “Okay I had a house meeting, it went over well in the first season. Let me try and do something like that again.” I started with just calling a house meeting and calling out Danielle, but to me that didn’t work out.
I start to piece it together more, and the best way to wrap up a lie in the Big Brother house is to surround it with truth. I really started with me wanting to take a shot at Danielle because I was angry. I was very angry that she went after those points, so that’s where I started the thought process. It’s like, “Okay, I have a reason to be mad at Danielle and whether people or not realize that, let me take that and build from there. But I can’t just have a house meeting and then denounce Danielle. Let me gas up everyone else.”
So I start to formulate what I’m going to say to each individual person, because people are inherently selfish and they want to hear something good about themselves, which is fine, and I get it. I like to hear something good about myself too, but I thought that would disarm people, and it gives people the illusion that this is it for me and I want to enjoy these last couple of days because I know they’re my last couple of days. Then drop the bomb on Danielle and then see what happens from there.
I knew the most important thing in there was to cause confusion and chaos so people are focused on that instead of what I may be saying to Frank upstairs, because that’s the whole thing. I could have just taken Frank upstairs and talked to him, but I would have come down to a lot of questions about “Hey, what did you and Frank talk about?” People would have been concerned. By causing that chaotic scene, when I came down it was like, “Oh, everyone feels bad for Danielle. Dan, what the heck is wrong with you?” Not, “Dan, what were you doing up there with Frank?” That’s what I thought. 100 percent honesty, I was like, it’s a hail Mary. Do I think this is going to work? No. I really don’t. I don’t think it’s going to work, but it’s the only thing I can do to try and stay in this game.
JULIE CHEN: That “punishment” of solitary confinement was a blessing in disguise. If he didn’t get that punishment, there is no way you would have been alone with his thoughts to really strategize and come up with that genius move. He didn’t have to be a phony and have little conversations with people. It worked to his favor because he was able to really hammer out by himself every scenario. What’s my best strategy at this point? He simply would not have had the time alone without raising eyebrows if he had to be amongst the others in the house.
ALLISON GRODNER: It wasn’t really a great thinking space, but he surprised us all by doing some amazing thinking during that time.
RICH MEEHAN: He went into that solitary room and figured it all out. Maybe he was not distracted by having to campaign and do all this stuff because his plan was very elaborate. Everything Dan did was super, super calculated, so I believe that time in was probably good for him figuring all this out.
Leaving nothing to chance — and with nothing else to do — Dan then ran through the plan over and over again.
DAN GHEESLING: I had to run through it 100 times in my head at least, and that’s how I operate in the game. Someone once said that “In Big Brother, Dan’s a great dropback quarterback, but when he scrambles, he’s not very good,” and that’s how I feel. I’m very good when I can plan everything out, but if something doesn’t go to plan and I break down, I’m not very good improvising. So I really rehearsed everything I was going to say in my head in particular. Some family members said they saw me talking to myself and walking around talking under my breath looking like I was giving a speech, so I’m sure I practiced it a little bit, but I know in my head I ran through it hundreds of times. I’m just not good at improvising in a situation like that.
As the time expired on Dan’s solitary confinement, the other houseguests gathered outside the door to count down the final seconds. They then burst into the room‚ and were both confused and troubled by what they found.
BRITNEY HAYNES: He was acting so weird. He was acting like a man who was sick. He was giving us the idea that the room had sickened him somehow, like a motion sickness type thing. He was acting all “I’m not right. My brain’s not right. I don’t know what happened to me in there. I can’t see.”
SHANE MEANEY: I think he played it off like he was kind of insane or he was worse off than what he actually was so we would feel bad for him. I think he really had that whole thing planned out as far as his body language and how he was when he came out of that room in order to get us into a room to sit down to talk to us all. My initial reaction was I felt bad for him, but it was all part of his plan.
IAN TERRY: He looked pale and he looked sick. I want to know how to do that if that’s something you can control, but he actually looked pale. But I knew he was staging it because he made signs to the camera like he was okay or something, but he didn’t look good. I mean, not even in just the way he’s acting, he looked physically ill.
JOE ARVIN: When Dan walks out of solitary confinement, you would have thought he was a prisoner of war for about seven years. I mean, he was dead. You would’ve thought he looked like he had been in there a month. He said he puked all over himself, but I wouldn’t doubt if he had a wet rag and put it all over his face so that he looked like he had the sweats.
JENN ARROYO: He looked like he had been through it. He looked paler than usual. And he storms out of the room, right? And this is real f—ing truth here. I was like, “Oh, man. This guy’s up to something.” We all knew that Dan was the mastermind, and one of the best players of the game, so when he stormed out like that, it was like, “Oh, s—, it’s on.”
FRANK EUDY: He came out just acting like he had had some “come to Jesus” moment in the room.
BRITNEY HAYNES: I began to get very worried about him. I remember him doing this thing with his eyes, like “I can’t focus my eyes because they had strobe lights in there.” They had strobe lights and disco ball type things, and all these dancing lights. He was insinuating that these lights messed with his eyes, and that he was in pain, or he was messed up. I just remember being like, “Oh, my God, Dan is not well!”
DAN GHEESLING: I didn’t feel well, but I definitely played it up. I moved the toilet closer to the door to try to make it smell bad in there, and I remember everyone’s cheering and celebrating that I survived, and they’re happy to see me — or at least giving the illusion they’re happy to see me. And I looked at Britney and I remember hearing her say, “Oh, it doesn’t smell very good in there, and you don’t look very good.” I internally smirked. I’m like, “All right, I’ve got a shot at this thing.”
BRITNEY HAYNES: This is how stupid I am: I voluntarily go to the Diary Room to ask production to check on Dan, because “Dan is not well, you guys! He’s not okay, and I’m very worried about him.” I literally went to the Diary Room and asked them to check on him! I’m not kidding. I was like, “Guys, he’s not okay. Look what you did to him!”
DAN GHEESLING: I wanted people to be at least remotely concerned with my health because I didn’t want to talk to anyone until the speech because I felt like anything prior to that would diminish it and maybe I would tip my hand. So I walked into the spa room and closed the door, because at least I could get in a situation where I could limit my exposure. I just wanted to keep a low profile, try this speech, and then see what happens.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: Now he’s acting like a mute, like he went through something so traumatic. I remember it was like 10 minutes. He came out, he’s pacing, he goes to the bathroom, does something else, and he’s like, “Hey, I want to talk to everybody. Go to the living room.” So we all go to the living room, and that’s when the funeral happened.
PART IV: SHOWTIME
Once all the players had assembled in the living room, Dan emerged wearing almost all black with his Bible. Presented below is Dan’s entire funeral speech on day 51, broken up with explanations and reactions.
“When I walked out of there and I saw you guys sitting there, it meant the world to me. So I just want you guys to know I appreciate that. I’m dressed in all black for a reason. I want to welcome you all to my Big Brother funeral. Stop crying, Britney.”
BRITNEY HAYNES: I really thought this is Dan’s way of saying some parting words because he knows he’s going home. There wasn’t any part of my being or soul that believed that he was planning some big thing. I bought it hook, line and sinker. I’m over there crying on the couch. I’m like, “Poor Dan, what a guy. What a fricking guy. Plus, he’s been poisoned by the Big Brother room in solitary confinement! And now his Big Brother life has just blown up in front of him.” I bought into it 100 percent.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: I am so naïve.” I was like, “Aww, Dan’s saying goodbye to everybody.” I was originally thinking that he was doing something sweet. I was like, “Maybe he went into solitary confinement and feels bad that he was screwing us all over.”
DAN GHEESLING: I wanted to disarm everyone and let them think I’m done playing the game, so that’s the only thing I could think of to make sense. I could have just had a normal meeting, but I like to try to make a show the best I can. It must have hit me late, but I just wanted to have something to symbolize the death of me as a player to everyone to say, “Hey, look, he’s really done playing the game and he just wants to enjoy his time here.”
JENN ARROYO: I was like, what? This is antic city. I mean, I wish I had gone to the kitchen and just popped some popcorn, because I was like, “I’m going to sit here and enjoy the show.” A funeral? Give me a break. You’re not dying. This is so ridiculous. “Here’s my funeral. I’m leaving. I’m dying.” You’re like, “Get the hell out of here, man.”
FRANK EUDY: I didn’t really want to go sit down in the living room. I’m like, “Can we get this thing over with?”
IAN TERRY: I’m thinking that here’s some sort of last-ditch attempt to get something going.
“I just want to say a couple of things. Joe, being around you, you taught me a lot about how to be a good husband.”
DAN GHEESLING: Joe and I talked a lot about being married and things we were as husbands. So with him, I just tried to find a common ground, something that we both could agree on and enjoyed talking about with each other. It was something that made me relatable to Joe and made Joe feel I was being genuine.
JOE ARVIN: You want to believe him, and I think that’s the biggest thing. Even when you know Dan and you know what he’s capable of and how he works and how he maneuvers, you still want to believe him. But I still think that there’s something rotten going on because this guy, he’s too good to go out this way. He’s doing something.
“You know, Shane is walking, living proof that there actually is a Captain America. You’re such a good dude. I appreciate our friendship, man.”
DAN GHEESLING: Shane fulfilled a certain role in the house. He won competitions. He was super ripped and I’m just trying to flatter him at this point. We were friends and we talked a lot in the house. I just wanted to reiterate to him, “Hey, we’re friends,” and boost the ego a little bit. He was in tears, by the way. The more tears I see, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this is working.”
SHANE MEANEY: I started to tear up. Because he said the right things when he had to say them in order for him to advance in the game. I went into that whole house as real life, and in real life, I’m compassionate. I really care about other people. I care about their feelings. And that was probably my downfall because I respected what he said about me, and I took it to heart, and I did feel bad for him. So initially, I was pretty moved by what he said, and I think that was his whole point. He was trying to get to our heartstrings and just try to manipulate and say the things that we wanted to hear so we would feel bad for him.
JENN ARROYO: He’s going around, and it seems like he’s being genuine. I couldn’t take the guy seriously, but I was enjoying it. He was saying some decent stuff. Shane was very Captain America. I don’t know if any of it was really sincere, but sure.
“The one and only Jenn City. You’re the first lesbian I ever met, and I just want to make sure you know how much you touched me.”
DAN GHEESLING: Jenn and I got along very well. I learned a lot about her life, and I’d say the most important thing we talked about — and had nothing to do with her sexual preferences — was that she was in this rock band, but I couldn’t put that on blast. That’s what I really wanted to say, but she tried to hide that from people. So I don’t really know what else I can say about Jenn, but it was true that I had never really gotten to know a lesbian before. In hindsight, I don’t know if it worked. I think she saw through it.
JENN ARROYO: I don’t know how a man in his 30s hadn’t met a lesbian somewhere in Michigan, but I guess it’s possible.
BRITNEY HAYNES: That better not be true, by the way, but moving on.
IAN TERRY: That didn’t go over great, if I remember right.
JENN ARROYO: I’m sure he did meet a lesbian, but she probably just didn’t want to get all into it. I don’t know what kind of s— he may have thought about the gay lesbian transgender community, but I’m imagining he may have had some beliefs that may have been different at that time, only because of his religious background and where he came from.
“Next up is Britney. I know that we’re always going to have this bond that maybe only you and I understand as new people being married in this house and being separated from the people we love.”
DAN GHEESLING: Britney and I talked a lot about being newlyweds. I really enjoyed spending time with her, so it was the same thing with Shane and Joe, but really more genuine. I feel like we connected and related around that point, so it was just the same thing of bringing up something nonthreatening that we both enjoyed talking about. I also wanted to hit her emotional button to maybe make her cry more. It looks like she’s crying and misses her husband and we connected on this, so I’m really just trying to push emotional buttons at this point.
BRITNEY HAYNES: He knows me, and he knows how emotional I am. He knows my buttons. He knows the buttons to push. This is what is pure Dan Gheesling brilliant and why nobody else can compare to is his social game. This is such a teachable moment for the social game, in general, because he would spend hours, days, and weeks in the backyard talking to each one of us individually, one on one. And he was able to then take that information, tailor it to each of us at the funeral to put us on our most emotional peak. He was only able to do that because of the time investment that he has put in. I’ve literally never seen anything like it. He put in the time. He worked in that house 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
He never was one of the house guests who was lazy and sleeps until noon and doesn’t talk to anybody, and goes back to bed at eight. That was not his strategy. He was the houseguest who would talk to you in the backyard for hours about what you got for Christmas and what was on your second birthday cake, and what’s the best present you’ve ever been given. He would always make the conversation about you and he would always make you feel so important. He would just make you feel like he cared and that was what was so brilliant about his game. This moment in this funeral is where all of that paid off for him and came into play, because he knows each person’s individual weakness or what strings to pull.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: I remember sitting there feeling so sad, because I don’t ever want somebody to be sad or to be heartbroken, and I cared for Dan so much. I looked at Dan as family. So at this point, I’m getting really upset that he’s that upset. I’m right in the middle of his little trap at this point.
JENN ARROYO: Britney definitely sticks out to me the most, because I feel like she may have even had a box of tissues with her or something. And I’m just looking at everybody, like, “You can’t be serious. The guy’s not dying! It’s not like he’s going to walk out the door and there are people with machetes just waiting to cut him up, put him on a grill, and serve him. He’s going to be alive. He’s going to be okay. He’s just possibly going out of the house.”
JOE ARVIN: Everybody’s freakin’ crying. I’m literally looking around the room going, “You people have lost your minds over one night this guy spent in a room.” It just made no sense to me. I couldn’t believe how gullible the house was.
JULIE CHEN: I was like, “These people are in tears. It’s working!” But I was also thinking, “Oh my gosh, they’ve been in this bubble so long they can’t see through his phoniness.” I felt like I could always see it, starting with the way he always addressed me as Mrs. Chen. It just never felt genuine. It felt more like, this guy is a politician. He’s an apple polisher. Some people fall for it; I never fell for it. It always felt like he had a motive and he had an agenda, and I thought the agenda was so obvious as a viewer. But watching it work on everyone, and seeing all the tears, I’m like, “This guy is brilliant!”
“And the last three are going to be a bit tougher. Ian, the more and more I was around you, the more you remind me of myself, because you love this place for everything it’s worth. And you singlehandedly made this experience for me.”
DAN GHEESLING: I talk about wrapping a lie in truth. There was a lot of truth to that. We spent so much time together. We were kind of the kids in the house and just really enjoyed Big Brother for Big Brother. Some of those tears are real at the end welling up. I really enjoyed being around him and wanted to make him feel like me. He loved the experience, so I wanted to make him feel the experience even more, if that makes sense.
BRITNEY HAYNES: Ian was fan of the game, having seen Dan’s season. Knowing that Dan’s one of the best of the best, that’s a huge ego boost.
IAN TERRY: I was a big fan of him on Big Brother 10. He was my favorite on that season for sure, and really, probably in my top five favorite players ever. And now he’s saying something very similar to what Mike Boogie said the round before. I was also a huge Mike Boogie fan going in the season and was very starstruck throughout the entire process. Honestly, one of the things that makes my game in that season weaker is the starstruckedness with the returning players. I don’t like having to vote out those that I feel like I already have a connection with because I’ve seen them on TV. And Dan was very good at using the lore of the show against me to influence my decisions.
FRANK EUDY: I’m like, “Save it. Have these conversations with these people one-on-one if you want.” I’ve never been one for pageantry, so he’s just up there, kind of patting himself on the back for saying good things, and s—ing everyone else’s deal along the way.
“Alright, the guy in the carrot suit, Frank. There’s a couple things I’ve said about you I’m not proud of. You know, there’s something that I want to read to you upstairs and apologize face to face to you in private. Now’s not the time or place but after I’d like to talk to you by yourself and just get that off the table.”
DAN GHEESLING: If I said something nice about Frank, I think it’d blow the whole operation, because everyone at this point knows me and Frank are oil and water. We’re going head to head the whole game as competitors. That was a direct invitation because I know what’s about to happen. I’m not going to have time to tell him. It’s not about compliments with Frank. The game decision depends on him, so get him upstairs, mask it in apologizing privately, just get me and him in a room alone so no one’s thinking that we’re talking game.
FRANK EUDY: I knew the whole funeral was BS. At first, I thought it was just this last-ditch hail Mary, just trying to get some votes, and to also look like a nice guy. But the whole time I read it as BS because I knew that Dan was a competitor, and I knew that he wasn’t just rolling over, and everybody’s over there eating it up. The girls are crying. S—, Shane’s crying! And I’m just like, “You know that he doesn’t really mean this.” Dan’s won the game. The guy, he doesn’t quit, so it always read false to me the whole time. He’s just doing this because this is his way of trying to stay in the house. He obviously doesn’t mean this. He’s trying to get sympathy votes if he can. Of course, when he said, “I’ve got to talk to you, Frank,” I was curious to hear what he had to say.
JOE ARVIN: I was, “What the hell? Okay wait, wait, wait. What just happened?” Why it went from that, to “Hey, Frank, let’s meet in private.” I think everybody was stunned by that.
IAN TERRY: I was like, “Oh, this is going to be the last-ditch effort.” He’s not just up there to read him a Bible passage. I figured that he was going to make some sort of last-ditch plea, because why would you not just say it right there? But I was also like, “Well, it doesn’t matter, it’s not going to work.”
BRITNEY HAYNES: To be honest with you, I’m so dumb, and naïve, and emotional that I didn’t really suspect anything nefarious in that. I was just like, “All right, Dan has said some things about Frank. They worked on opposite sides of the house, they’ve been really against each other for the majority of the time. I think he probably just wants to clear the air and not go out on a bad note.” I really didn’t suspect that he was going to go up there and try to get off the block, I really didn’t.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: I’m starting to melt. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this is so sweet. I didn’t know Dan had this in him.” So I’m kind of anticipating what he’s going to say to me, you know? Sprinkles, flowers, rainbows, unicorns, you name it. I think that it’s about to come my way.
“So finally, you know, there’s Danielle. The last time I played this game, I learned a lot of tough lessons early on and I learned that you got to find one person and put 100 percent of your trust in them. I thought when I picked you that you would have similar qualities to Memphis Garrett, and through my own fault, I was wrong. We don’t need to get into it now, but in this game you’ll never earn my trust back. You know what you did, and in this game, you are dead to me. So don’t come to me and ask about it because it’s over. Moving forward, we can be friends outside this. I’ll be friends with all of you. But the game talk from me ends now. So I hope you guys understand that, that this was the death of Dan the player. I want the rest of the experience to be fun for everyone and not awkward. I really appreciate it.”
DAN GHEESLING: Well, it’s the crescendo, right? It’s like everybody turned over their cup. “Oh, there’s water in the cup, water in the cup, water in the cup. Oh, Danielle, no water in the cup.” I knew she was building up and waiting for the compliment like, “Hey, you’re my ride or die. I could trust you through thick or thin.” So part of that is trying to devastate her for a couple of reasons. One, the thing is when I talk about wrapping all these lies in truth, I was really upset with her. I’m not a great actor, so I was able to take that, because I really was angry, and then deliver that blow to her.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: Literally, my heart broke in half. Think about your best friend saying something horrific to you, not wanting to hear your side of it, and knowing that you had done nothing besides protect him the entire time. Before we got nominated, Frank came up to me and was like, “Would you ever turn against Dan? I was like, “Frank, I cannot lie to you. I will never vote against Dan. I cannot go against Dan.” So I was put on the block partially because of that. Dan was my one person. My word was my bond. So, to go through that and then go on the block against Dan, and then fight through the whole game like I had with him, for him to say that to me and just throw me away like a piece of trash? And then to tell me that I’m worthless, and that I don’t even compare to Memphis? I felt like I had done so much more than Memphis up until that point.
DAN GHEESLING: I didn’t know what was going to happen. I knew she’d be upset, but I didn’t know the ripple effect it would have on everyone else in the house. I knew it was going to cause confusion. What transpired around that I knew I had really little control over, but I knew Danielle would be upset by what I would say, and to me at least that could cause some diversion to the chaos.
SHANE MEANEY: My mouth dropped. I thought he was going to say the exact opposite, especially with all the nice things that he was saying to everyone else. He was her coach! I was shocked. And then I started questioning everything: “Okay, that doesn’t make sense. What did she do?” Is the Quack Pack safe?” And it made me question Britney at that point. And then it’s just like, “Okay, Is Ian still onboard?” People are playing both sides and it makes your mind go nuts.
JENN ARROYO: Holy s—, it was great! I freakin’ loved it. Especially the “You’re dead to me” part. But because they were super tight in the house, I thought she knew damn well that he was going to do something like this just to throw us all off. I was thinking that she’s got to be in on it, especially when he said, “You’re dead to me.” That’s a pretty intense thing, joking or not joking, to say to somebody. I was like, “I don’t know, man. This has got to be a setup.”
BRITNEY HAYNES: This is a hard turn and it was a total shock to me, complete and utter shock. I could not believe the words coming out of his mouth. For someone who loves to be on the sidelines of drama, for me, this can’t get better. This is incredible. This is the best night of my life. I’m just scooping up my handfuls of popcorn on the couch watching this girl melt into a pool of tears. It was so good/bad.
DAN GHEESLING: It was almost like a little payback for her getting those points in the paint situation. I’m not proud to say that, but that’s how I was able to deliver that to her. I was just going to say, “You’re dead to me,” but I truly don’t want to make someone upset, so even though it doesn’t make for as good TV I said, “In this game you’re dead to me” instead.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: I was just like, “Are you serious? You have no respect or love for me as a person or anything, after everything we’ve been through to say such horrific things to me?” I didn’t take it as gameplay, I took it as an attack and kind of bullying. It hurt, because I wasn’t in the game at that moment, I was like, “This is one of my best friends saying this to me. How could he think that I would ever do that to him? And I’m so loyal.” It felt like a character attack, because that is something I would’ve never done to him. I’m like, “What in the hell did he think that I did? Because I got Spots?! This is really all me getting Spots?”
IAN TERRY: I went from feeling bad to feeling disgust. Not even so much in what he said. I thought what he said was harsh, but not even that harsh. It’s sort of a mild statement. But then with her reaction, something struck a nerve, and I just was just disgusted by it.
SHANE MEANEY: Danielle’s mouth was open, and she started crying. I was just a shoulder to cry on and ear to listen to at this point. She was in a bad place and I just kind of wanted to be there as a friend for her. Because at that point I don’t think she did have really anyone to go to. It was just a nasty side of Dan. I think in the long run he was just playing off of her emotions to get a reaction. And he got the reaction that he wanted.
FRANK EUDY: She was crushed when Dan said that, but Danielle would be crushed because she had a big zit on her forehead all damn summer and it was going to be on camera. I was like, “I’ve been sitting here battling you guys and on the block every other week, and this guy gets on the block, and he gives you guys a big speech, and you all are all crying? Where are the tears for Frank?” I didn’t have any sympathy for any of them at that point.
DAN GHEESLING: I tried to gloss it a little bit and say, “Hey, I’ll be friends with everyone.” I’m not a jerk. My thing about Big Brother is I’ll play hard, but I don’t want to make people feel bad, and I feel like that’s one time where I made her genuinely feel bad. It was like a double-edged sword. I never want to make someone cry in the game. However, I did what I had to do.
PART V: THE IMPOSSIBLE BECOMES POSSIBLE
After detonating a bomb in the living room with his takedown of Danielle, Dan escaped with Frank up to the HOH room, where he unleashed phase two of his plan: revealing Ian as the mole and selling out the rest of the Quack Pack. “I brought this Bible up here, not to read to you, but to swear on,” Dan began. “I have no power in this game. What I do have is information.”
FRANK EUDY: I could feel like he wanted to get away because he just dropped that bomb on Danielle and I was expecting him to maybe throw somebody under the bus. I just knew he was still fighting to stay in the house, and so I was like, “Is he going to try to be buddy-buddy with me now after all this?” He just acted like he dumped Danielle in front of everybody, so he wants to come up here and be like, “Look, Frank, you’re in the house by yourself. Your only option is to team up with me. I’m by myself now, too.”
DAN GHEESLING: The last card I have to play is to let Frank know that he got swindled, not by me, because earlier in the season him and Boogie got mad because something happened where they got played and it was me covering for Ian. There was a moment in time they both sat in the HOH room grilling me and grilling me and grilling me. And I just stood there and took the heat. At this point, it’s like, “I took all this heat. Let me see what he thinks about this. Did he know?” When I find out he doesn’t know, then I’m like, “Well, maybe we’ve got a shot.” This whole thing is a complete hail Mary. I don’t know what’s going to work and what’s not. When I see Frank’s wheels start to turn and him being almost more upset or mad that Ian duped him, I’m like, “Maybe this thing has got a shot to happen.”
With an upset Frank now telling Dan he wanted the duplicitous Ian out — but Ian being safe because of the Pandora’s Box Veto — Dan swooped in with an alternative: “This is my pitch to you. Britney’s a more dangerous player. She’s covered everywhere. As tight as I am with Ian, there is no doubt in my mind he’s tighter with Britney”
FRANK EUDY: I had kind of went around everybody after that double eviction acting like they’d manipulated Ian. And now things are starting to make a little bit of sense. Obviously, I had seen the relationship between Britney and Ian get closer over the last few weeks and I was a little uncomfortable with it. All that started to make sense.
DAN GHEESLING: My reaction is, number one, I can’t believe this is working. Number two, I can’t believe this is working. And number three, how is this happening? Here’s this guy, he’s wearing a carrot suit, taking a bath, gave up two HOHs — and regardless of that he’s still considering working with me? Not only that, but there was still some residual feelings for me for taking all this heat from Frank for Ian. It’s like, this indirect shot at Ian actually feels pretty good.
FRANK EUDY: Of the five over there, Ian and Britney were the tightest little duo. I also knew that at that point, Dan wasn’t actually the favorite to win. Britney was. If anything, us sending Britney home kept Britney from winning the game because she was in a really good spot to win because everybody liked her. Nobody really wanted to send her home except for Dan. So I was like, “Okay, really the smarter game move for me despite wanting to send Dan home is to send Britney home.”
ALLISON GRODNER: The way he turned Frank like that was unbelievable. I was skeptical that that would happen. That was crazy moment.
With Frank now on board, the two came up with a plan for Jenn to use her Veto on Dan, with Britney then going up on the block in his place, and then Frank, Jenn, Dan, and Danielle would form a new four-person alliance to get to the end. Dan sealed the pact by swearing on his Bible, his wedding ring, and his dead grandfather’s cross necklace.
DAN GHEESLING: When I was swearing on the Bible, everything I was telling him was the truth. At this point I wasn’t lying to him about any of the information in the past. However, some other stuff was not subject to that swearing. Everything I was telling him about what already happened was 100 percent true, but anything that wasn’t in the past isn’t, but I’m not going to tell him that.
FRANK EUDY: That was like an over-sell to me at that point. If anything, it makes me almost want to second guess him. If it crosses a line, it’s just because it’s unnecessary. And it kind of proves that you obviously have been dishonest in the past, because you’re trying to do all this stuff to prove a point. It kind of makes me feel bad for Dan. He’s sitting there with someone who he’s been up against this whole time, and he’s making all these promises to try to prove a point. It obviously seemed a little desperate.
DAN GHEESLING: I mean, I’m desperate. It’s like, you’ve got to drag me out of the house. I’m doing whatever it takes within the confines of the rules of the game to let this guy know I’m serious that this is all true. To me, I would never go out of that game without swinging for the fences. That was my way of swinging for the fences.
FRANK EUDY: The truth is, once he brought that thing up about Ian being with them for a while and I connected him and Britney’s relationship, I didn’t really need all that stuff.
DAN GHEESLING: I remember walking out of there feeling like, “Dan, you did everything you could. Jenn using the Veto is not going to come down to anything I say. It’s going to come down to if Frank can convince her or not. I remember her coming to me asking me about it, but I don’t believe I ever went to her and asked her to use it on me because I just wanted to put that in Frank’s court. Number one, I think she’s mad at me. Number two, Frank’s her alliance and he’s going to have way more sway with her than I do anyway.
Now that Frank and Dan had made a new final four deal, Dad had to get Danielle back on board by convincing her that his takedown of her at the funeral was all an act. To this day, viewers, players, and even the executive producers and the host all believed Dan’s anger at the funeral was all a ruse. It was not. They also believed it was — as he told Danielle — meant to gain her sympathy with the jury. It was not. Yet now he had to convince Danielle of that at their meeting in the arcade room.
DAN GHEESLING: If you had interviewed me the week after coming out of the Big Brother show, I’d be like, “Oh yeah, I orchestrated the whole thing.” But that’s revisionist history. I wanted to upset Danielle to cause chaos, but being able to sell that to her as a jury sympathy play was an after-the-moment fact. It’s like, “Okay here are all these big things that happened. How can I weave this story to make you feel the best about it, and to make this feel like this was in the best interest of your game?”
DANIELLE MURPHREE: Go re-watch the scene where he goes up to talk to Frank. Dan never once volunteered my name or said, “I want to save me and Danielle.” It was Frank’s idea. And then Dan was like, “Oh, okay. Yeah, then I’ll just tell Danielle that this was fake.” I don’t know if Dan ever had intentions of working with me again. His funeral was not fake. It just worked out in a situation to where he could manipulate it to look like it was fake.
ALLISON GRODNER: That’s news to me as well. The idea that there was truth behind his lashing out at her is not something I remember. I honestly didn’t know that.
DAN GHEESLING: The whole plan was to cause chaos and to get myself in a position to survive. So to be able to sell her on the fact that there was sympathy was something that I was like, “Hey, this is something that happened that I didn’t expect. Let me try and float this to her and see if she buys it.”
DANIELLE MURPHREE: I was devastated. So upset and hurt. And then, “Oh, you want to talk now?” I was so angry. I was thinking, “He’s trying to make me look bad, so he stays.”
DAN GHEESLING: I knew the number one thing I had to do was let her know that I was still looking out for her. Because this was actually the second time I had done something like this to her. I did something early on. In one of the first weeks, I told her she was on her own. She got really upset, and then I had to reel her back in. I didn’t know how she would react, but I started to tell her what happened.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: I’m not believing it. I think that he’s totally full of s—. I really wanted to hit him with a pillow. I was already to that hysterical point that I didn’t even want to listen to him.
DAN GHEESLING: I was 100 percent worried that she wasn’t going to buy it. You never know how someone’s going to react. Danielle was a very smart player. She understood relationships in the house logically and strategically. Emotionally, she wore her heart on the sleeve, but I knew logically it would make sense to her. That gave me some confidence that there was a shot, but I didn’t know. She also could be mad because I embarrassed her in front of the whole house.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: I just remember looking at him and crying and being like, “You broke my heart.” Just devastated. And then for him to be laughing and he was smiling and acting so jovial and that it was so hysterical to him also really pissed me off. Because this is real emotion. in that moment, it wasn’t gameplay. You hurt me badly. And it’s all hysterical to you. Dan does do cruel things, because he really does have a sick, distorted sense of humor. Or maybe he got a power trip off of it, or it made him feel like the bigger guy or something to see how much I cared for him.
DAN GHEESLING: There’s a moment when I see her smirk and the light goes off that we’re going to be safe, and that’s when I knew everything was fine. That’s the one thing with Danielle that I knew is that I could read her pretty well, and that’s why I trusted her. When she hits me with a pillow, I’m like, “Okay I’ve got her. Everything’s going to be fine and she trusts me.”
With Frank and Danielle now reeled in, it was up to the Head of Household to see if Jenn would use the Veto on Dan.
FRANK EUDY: She was in a little disbelief.
JENN ARROYO: I was like, “What?!” It was a lot to wrap my head around. But I thought about it and I wasn’t against the idea of Britney going home, only because I was very much into making Ian weak. I just saw him as the winner. I was like, this guy is going to win this whole damn thing, and I felt like no one else was really paying attention. I do remember it just took a few minutes to process, like, “I’m gonna save Dan? What?” Because that’s another dude who could totally win it, and let’s get his ass out. And that’s someone who’s been in the game before, so why not get his ass out? But I had a better relationship with Dan than I did with Britney.
FRANK EUDY: In the end, she just trusted my judgment on it. We were both looking at each other during the funeral, like, “This is kind of stupid and lame,” so she was like, “Hold on, I thought this didn’t affect us.” And I told her I still thought it was her best chance, even though it wasn’t going to improve her chances at all. Kind of a s—head move on my part, but at least it’s trying to throw some discourse on the other side of the house, because it did get Ian mad at Dan.
JENN ARROYO: “Do I make a deal with the devil? I’m not scared of making a deal with the devil.” That was my thought process, because I needed another ride along in this. There was no way I could somehow make it to a final two without someone. So it was like, ‘Let’s see if this works. If I’m in a spot of trouble, maybe he’ll save my ass.” That’s absolutely what it was. One thing I was a touch hesitant on was I didn’t want to send another female out, but I was also like, “F— Britney. She’s been in this game before, she can go out.” And I was all about hurting Ian, because that was the guy who could really win it.
All that was left was the Veto ceremony to see if Jenn City and Frank would actually go through it — and how the blissfully unaware other houseguests would react.
JENN ARROYO: They would wake us up in the morning with music. And sometimes they would ask, “Hey, what do you want to hear?” And that morning, they woke me up with “P-I-M-P” from 50 Cent, and I hopped up. I was already outside, I was ready to go, I was feeling the feeling, baby. Because I knew people had underestimated me. And I knew that people just really didn’t see me as any sort of threat. They saw me as whatever. They just didn’t know. I was like, “Well, a f—ing nuclear bomb is about to hit this place and I can’t wait to f—ing pull the pin.”
DAN GHEESLING: It’s almost like you’re playing a game of Clue and you know the murderer and you know who’s about to get murdered, and you know you’re going to win. When I see Jenn stand up at the Veto ceremony and do that, I’m pinballing with my eyes looking at everyone’s reaction.
BRITNEY HAYNES: I was completely shocked. Jen had been such a non-gamer, she had been such a non-force in the house, not even someone who’s “game” I ever even really noticed. I was in shock.
DAN GHEESLING: I see Britney realize what’s going on. Maybe not realize what’s going on, but she’s shocked. Then I see Ian start to figure it out.
IAN TERRY: I’m absolutely pissed, and I’m shocked that Dan actually managed to slide out of it. I knew that Frank wisened up, and he actually was making the right play. Now Frank’s actually making the correct move, which is frustrating to me.
SHANE MEANEY: At this point, I’m like, “Okay, that’s weird. Oh, boy, maybe this isn’t good for me.”
BRITNEY HAYNES: I thought Frank was then going to put Shane up because I had seen him talking to Shane in the backyard, so I thought that he probably was just giving him some warning. It also would have made sense for Danielle and Shane to be on the block next to each other, because they were a showmance.
JENN ARROYO: No one could believe I did that. No one even thought that something like that would happen. They were already thinking about next week and just going through the motions thinking, “Dan’s going home, he’s finally leaving the house.” And to do a move like that? Yeah, it felt great to pull that pin and f—ing drop that bomb. It was awesome. I loved it.
After Jenn used the Veto on Dan, it was Frank’s turn to address the house and name his replacement nominee.
DAN GHEESLING: I get the necklace around my neck, I sit down, and Frank starts to talk. Frank has not dropped Britney’s name, but I see Ian breathing heavily, shaking, looking back and forth. He sees the puzzle put together before anyone else. And Frank’s just jabbing him and basically saying, “Hey, it’s payback time. I can’t get you, so I’m going to get Britney.” I see Britney’s mouth drop and Ian’s like “No! No!”
SHANE MEANEY: I don’t think Ian saw it. Ian took it a lot worse than I did.
IAN TERRY: I’m not someone who takes losing kindly. I’m not a good loser at any game for a lot of reasons. One, I don’t lose games much, and two, just bad history with anytime I would lose. Even in Boy Scouts, I would lose that stupid game where you have to blow a little wooden boat through water with a straw. I remember I came in third place, and I threw this massive tantrum in front of everybody. I don’t take losing well.
BRITNEY HAYNES: As his speech starts to roll out, that’s when I start to realize, “Oh my God, this is happening.” Frank and I had screamed at each other earlier in the week about him yelling at Ian, so we were not on great terms by any means, but I just was not expecting it. I was just so oblivious to it.
JENN ARROYO: It was almost like the air got sucked out of the room. There were just tears, and Britney was crying, because she knew what that meant. I loved it. I was pumped. I have no regrets about it. I don’t give a s— what people say about it. It was awesome.
DAN GHEESLING: For me, at that moment it’s not time to celebrate. It’s time to look somber. When someone’s going down, you don’t rub it in their face. That was my moment to just internally go nuts, but don’t show a sliver of it externally.
FRANK EUDY: I could see in Britney’s face that she saw the win. She saw Dan going home and her winning in the end. She could’ve taken Ian to the end, and she was going to get the votes. It didn’t matter who she took. I think she was almost tasting it. I saw that look, and I’m not reveling in it by any means, but it made me feel like I made the right decision.
IAN TERRY: Even though I was that mad at Frank, I knew he made the right play, and I actually was more impressed that Frank had the balls to do it than I was that Dan was able to get himself pulled down.
FRANK EUDY: Ian was so mad at me for sending Britney home because he thought the same thing, that when Britney went home, that he couldn’t win. Because that was his closest ally, and he was upset because then he felt exposed. And he was.
BRITNEY HAYNES: As much as I knew that Dan was dangerous, I did not know that he could pull it off. I didn’t think anything would ever distract Frank from his number one target, which was Dan, and I didn’t even see it as being a possibility. I didn’t realize that Frank was going to take what happened with Ian out on me. I didn’t see that as a possibility. These were things I wasn’t even worried about. I essentially thought I was safe.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: That was probably my biggest regret was not being able to tell Britney. It ate me alive, and that moment still breaks my heart. Oh my God, I’m sick just thinking about it. I love Britney. I knew that I was going to have to lie to her. I was like, “Please Frank, pick somebody else.” But we don’t have that many people left yet, and I knew he was going to go after Britney. I was thankful it wasn’t Shane, but I was very, very upset.
BRITNEY HAYNES: I knew that she knew about it, 100 percent. But I also knew that Dan was driving Danielle’s game. He was the puppet-master, she was the puppet. He was driving every single thing that she did.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: I could start crying right now. It still hurts me. That is the one lie throughout the entire game, even to do this day, if I take myself back to that moment, that hurts me. It was absolutely traumatic. But I was playing a game too, and I still needed to win that money.
DAN GHEESLING: I liked to see Ian squirm, but I do have a heart in the game and I really truly enjoyed playing with Britney. I felt game-wise good about Britney going home, but I didn’t feel personally good because I really like Britney.
BRITNEY HAYNES: Dan did this thing that caused me to get evicted and I was super mad about it and it was brutal. But at the end of the day, I knew that he was just a genius. Even as mad as I was, I was like, “He’s just that good. He got me. He can get whatever he wants.”
PART VI: THE AFTERMATH
Britney was eventually voted out by the house (receiving only Ian’s vote to stay), followed in order by Frank, Joe, and Jenn. On day 68. Danielle won HOH and nominated Dan and Ian for eviction. Danielle then also won the Power of Veto and agreed to Dan’s request to use the Veto on him, as long as he promised to evict Ian instead of Shane. Dan agreed, yet then voted Shane out anyway. After convincing both Ian and Danielle to throw the first part of the final HOH competition, Dan advanced straight to part three, where he lost to Ian. As the final Head of Household, Ian then evicted Danielle, leaving him and Dan as the final two members from whom the jury had to choose a winner. The jury overwhelmingly chose Ian as the champion of Big Brother 14 by a margin of 6-1, with a distraught Danielle awarding Dan his only vote.
IAN TERRY: Before the jury voted, I figured I had 90 percent chance of winning. You’ve got Joe, who says he wouldn’t piss on Dan if he were on fire. By the way, that was really the selling point for me to bring Dan to the final two. When Joe said, “I wouldn’t piss on him if he’s on fire,” that was the moment where I said, “This is the person I need to go to the end with.” So Joe’s locked. Britney is going to probably be voting for me. That’s two votes. Shane got burned horribly. You’re just accepting that that’s a vote Dan never gets now. I only need one more, with Frank and Ashley being the swing, I figured they’d vote together, and that Frank was going to be more pissed at Dan because Dan and Danielle did not give him that vote in the round where he went out.
DAN GHEESLING: I still felt like I was going to win, to be honest. I thought Jenn was a lock for me and I was counting on maybe an Ashley, a Jenn, and a Joe. I thought Britney was a toss-up and I was banking on Danielle, which would have been enough to win.
JENN ARROYO: I voted for Ian because I thought, “Damn, this kid is beating out a legend in the game.” And I felt like Dan had had his chance before, and Ian hadn’t had a chance before. And I respected that. So I threw the kid my vote.
DAN GHEESLING: I remember seeing Jenn’s vote and being like, “All right, I got no shot now.” Ian and Jenn had next to no relationship outside of being on the same team with Boogie. I put in time with Jenn. I could tell you so much about Jenn. I felt like we were friends. There’s a moment when you’re sitting in that seat and you have votes counted. When one or two don’t go your way that you’re depending on, you know you can’t win.
BRITNEY HAYNES: Frankly, at the end of the day, I knew Dan Gheesling was not going to win Big Brother 14. No matter who was up there, Dan was not going to win. They could have had a surprise twist and brought in Jodi, and put Jodi up there, and Jodi would have won the game. Dan was not going to win.
SHANE MEANEY: At that point, I was still very bitter. All the emotions were still very new. I was still struggling at that point in time. But Ian did play a good game. He had a lot of HOHs, he had some POVs, he played both sides. He and I didn’t have any arguments during the whole time. So his game play was spot on. Dan’s was good, but Ian did it in a better way — not a cutthroat way.
DAN GHEESLING: Internally, I felt if I could get to the end, as cocky as it sounds, how could you not vote for me to win? I had a huge oversight on the damage that I did in managing the jury. I had no idea that it would burn that many people. I thought people would maybe be able to take a step back and say, “Hey, look you played really hard,” but at the same time I sent people out in a brutal fashion and I definitely didn’t realize how mad they would be. I feel like I did everything I could to stay in the game and it cost me in the end, but I can’t fathom a nice way to stay in the game other than what I did.
BRITNEY HAYNES: I was around this jury and I knew for a fact Dan was not going to win. We talked about it at the roundtable. It was blatant. I’m sure they had to make it less blatant for the purpose of television, but it was blatant. He was not going to win. Me giving Ian my vote is a nod to, number one, our relationship and the fact that he was my final two. But also, Dan wasn’t going to win. He was not going to get those votes, period.
JENN ARROYO: People were mega-pissed at him. That was a bitter jury. The biggest mistake Dan made in his game was the jury management portion.
BRITNEY HAYNES: There is not a Big Brother handbook that you have to have any sort of moral compass. I don’t think that there is a fair or right way to play Big Brother. Everybody plays it different ways and it works out for people differently, but there isn’t a rule book. I think that the majority of the jury was very caught up in this rule book that they had in their mind of how people can or can’t do certain things. I know some people took the use of religion very personally and didn’t like that and that made them very anti-Dan because they thought that he manipulated religion as part of his strategy.
SHANE MEANEY: When you start swearing on the Bible, I understand it’s a reality show and you got to do what you got to get by. But that doesn’t do well with me. Do I agree with everything he did? I don’t, ethically. But I wish I went into that season knowing it was not real life and that you do everything you can to win the stinking game. You don’t care what you do, who you hurt. You give it your all. And you know what? He did. I just wish I had that same perspective.
DAN GHEESLING: 100 percent, I take responsibility for swearing on the Bible, my wedding ring and my grandfather’s cross. After everything that I’ve ever done, that’s the most backlash I got. Could I have done it without it? 100 percent. Did I need that? Nope. Did it hurt me in the end? Yes. In terms of votes, did it give a bad taste to a lot of people? Yeah. Would it have mattered? I don’t know.
JENN ARROYO: When it came to the religious stuff, I didn’t really care. I know people really took that very seriously, but I just saw it as just for the game — not like this dude does this on a daily basis at home or some s—. Give the guy a break.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: My vote for Dan was more of a bitch move of, “I see you and I see how much of a s—ty person you are, and I’m not going to stoop to your level. I’m going to stay true to who I am. No matter how much I can’t stand it. I gave you my word. I’m going to follow it through.” I didn’t want to vote for him, but I didn’t want to vote for Ian either. Every time I saw Ian, I saw Shane. I was so mad at Ian that last week. I was like, “You’re in Shane’s spot right now.” I was disgusted that Ian knew Dan was going to do that and didn’t tell me. It was bitterness. I was bitter.
JOE ARVIN: One of the biggest reasons that I heard amongst the Jury to not give it to Dan in the room wasn’t bitterness — it was that he had already won the game. That sucks. I would rather you lose to bitterness then to, “Hey, we don’t want him to win twice.” They were just hell bent on him not getting it twice. And Ian being so likable and so cute, and all that. That’s where they put him in. That’s the words that were used in that deliberation room. “We can’t give it to Dan twice, look how cute Ian is.” Ultimately, in the end, I believe the reason why Dan did not win is because no one wanted him to win twice.
IAN TERRY: That’s another reason I wanted to bring Dan to the end. In any season with returning players, there’s always at least a little bit of a bias against the returning players if the jury is mostly newbies.
BRITNEY HAYNES: Frank felt so personally burned by Dan, so bad. He was able to persuade aj lot of people in the jury that Dan had played unfairly. That made them think that he didn’t really deserve to win because he had used all of these unfair tools like his Bible and his ring, and grandfather’s cross to gain trust with people, and that shouldn’t be allowed. Frank was able to really sell that argument in the jury house. Joe was really upset in respect to the religion stuff. Pretty much the only two people who would be willing to vote for Dan were myself and Jenn City. She was the only other person who would say, “Well, that just makes him a really good gamer.” But no one else thought that way.
FRANK EUDY: I didn’t ever look at my vote as bitter. I voted for Ian because he had the biggest impact on my game and me not winning. He won the competitions when he needed to in the end. He persevered through what seemed like a level of social anxiety, bless his heart, that I think a lot of people have not had to deal with. In the end, he’s the main reason that I didn’t win. Without Ian there, we don’t probably get blindsided like that, and I don’t have the Quack Pack to deal with, the stupidest name in history. It’s embarrassing getting sent home and knowing that it was all because of a 21-year-old kid and the Quack Pack — that they let him name so he’d feel a part of the team.
ALLISON GRODNER: They were a bitter jury. Frank was duped a couple of times by Dan and had wanted him out, and then got got by him basically. And I remember that jury roundtable, and he was not happy. So there was a bitter jury component. But I have to say, Ian really had an amazing final speech. He won it hands down in that finale.
RICH MEEHAN: I remember myself watching Dan saying, “Wow, this is like the best game playing I’ve ever seen.” It was incredible. But Ian definitely got the better of Dan in those speeches and that Q&A with the jury.
JULIE CHEN: At the time, I thought the jury didn’t make the right call because I remember at the time I thought, “Wow, they probably voted emotionally, and it was their egos because they didn’t like getting played.” I remember thinking that at the time, and I thought “Ian, you’re so lucky.” But I re-watched the finale for the first time yesterday, and when Ian was stating his case and saying why he deserved to win, Dan interrupted him. He shook his head in kind of like a “that’s not true,” putting him down way. Re-watch Ian’s speech. He really did well, and there was something so likable and pure about him. And in that moment when Dan shook his head, there was something very unlikeable about Dan. And if I were voting, that would hurt my opinion of you giving you my vote. Like, let the man speak. You’re going to get your chance. Be a gentlemen.
The drama and aftershocks for some of Dan’s victims continued well after they left the Big Brother house.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: After the show, I was just done with him. My family was so upset and my dad didn’t even come to finale night because of Dan. My dad respected Dan and thought Dan was going to protect me, and my dad’s name is also Dan. So my dad was afraid to come because he would’ve confronted and gotten into a verbal altercation, and knew that he couldn’t be in that situation. He would’ve gotten very protective. I remember Dan saw my brother after and ducked inside a room, the coward.
DAN GHEESLING: I understood. I got it. We were supposed to ride to the end. If that would have happened to me, I can’t sit here and tell you I wouldn’t have been salty for a while. I get it because we were close in the house. We had a really close friendship. I trusted her implicitly.
SHANE MEANEY: You know what? I still haven’t watched the season in full, to be honest. I really struggled with it. It was how everything happened at the end with me. It was very hard to deal with.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: I didn’t speak to Dan for a really long time after the show. I didn’t speak for several reasons, including my respect for Shane. Shane was going through a lot of trouble at the time.
SHANE MEANEY: There’s a lot of things that weren’t disclosed to me about Dan and Danielle’s relationship in that show, and sometimes it hurts knowing that a lot of things weren’t said to me that Dan and Danielle had conversations about. And obviously she had her trust more so in him than me it seemed.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: Shane and I dated for a while outside the house, but Shane had a lot of stuff he needed to work through personally that he couldn’t do in a relationship.
SHANE MEANEY: She didn’t disclose a lot of stuff to me. And there was a lot of bitterness built up in my heart. I just don’t believe that I was told everything that Dan and Danielle had discussed. So I just felt like I was misled and it really broke my trust a lot. So that’s what I have struggled with the past seven years. It’s hard to get that around my brain. But God had a different plan. It wasn’t meant to be. It’s just something I got to live with.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: Shane never understood me voting for Dan over Ian. He was like, “How could you vote for somebody that did that to me?”
SHANE MEANEY: I really struggle with the fact that Danielle was the only one to vote for him. That really put a lot of bitterness in my heart, like “You’re going to vote for someone that voted me out? That doesn’t make sense. When you had my best interests at heart, you’re going to vote for him?” And she was like, “Well, I wanted to be a woman of my word.” That hurts when you see that happen at the end.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: Do you know how many times Shane wanted to get rid of Dan? And I didn’t let him. He didn’t do it because of how much he loved me, right? Then, at the very end, Dan lies to me, gets rid of Shane, and ruins my game.
DAN GHEESLING: Danielle was the only person in the house I trusted 100 percent, and I think it was vice-versa, but I was always a little bit skittish because she also had that with Shane. I’d like to believe she would have taken me over Shane, but I didn’t, so I didn’t want to leave that to chance.
SHANE MEANEY: It was bad, but God has a plan and maybe I had to go through something to learn something. But I’m still trying to dictate why I went through what I did and how hard it was for me. It is what it is. It’s all part of life. I guess what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s taken a long time for me to get strong though, to be honest.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: I waited until a few months after Shane and I had broken up. Dan had reached out to me again and he really wanted to talk to me. I hated him for a while after the show and I had really been searching my soul on it. To hate somebody takes a lot of energy, and it was taking a lot of unnecessary energy that I didn’t want to have.
DAN GHEESLING: I understand why she was mad, and I get it, and I’m just glad that she’s not mad anymore.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: Dan and I have still not seen each other since we were on the CBS lot at finale night seven years ago. I honestly don’t know what I would do if I saw him. I don’t know if I’d cry, scream, or yell. I don’t know.
Seven years later — and after watching the season play back — how do the jury members feel about their votes now?
FRANK EUDY: I’m happy with my vote. I always felt like I was close with Ian in the beginning, and even though he went against me and was part of the reason that Mike and I eventually went home, it got him to the end. I can’t blame somebody for making a move to get the win.
JOE ARVIN: No disrespect to Ian because I absolutely love him, but if I had to do it over again, it would be Dan by far. Being in the house and the way that it happened, you didn’t see the magnitude of Dan’s moves. Once you get out of that house and we start watching it for ourselves, it was crazy just how good Dan was.
SHANE MEANEY: I’d stick to Ian, 100 percent. I absolutely would. Dan broke his word with me. It was just lie after lie. I did have some bitterness. It’s gone now. I’ve forgiven Dan. And I’ve forgiven Danielle for some of things she didn’t disclose to me. But, yes, it’s very hard to vote for someone that was the reason you left the game that you potentially could have won.
BRITNEY HAYNES: I think they were both deserving to win, and I think that a vote towards either of them is a good vote. I realize the public obviously thought that Dan should have won, and I can totally see why they wanted Dan to win, but I still think a vote for Ian is fair. He was in some really bad situations, he betrayed his main original alliance, he made some big moves in the game, and he took some heat for it. I did feel and still do feel comfortable voting for either of them.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: I still would’ve done the same thing. I’m that loyal of a person. Plus, if I can take my emotions out of it, Dan, as sneaky of a snake as he is, he played the best game. I feel like Dan played a way better game than Ian, and that’s never going to change. No matter if Dan and I never talk again, I’m still going to feel that way.
JENN ARROYO: Seven years later, I sometimes think I should have thrown in my vote to Dan. And then, in other ways, I’m cool with Ian. But in most ways, I could really f—ing care less.
Considering the mixture of strategy and spectacle, is Dan’s funeral the greatest moment ever over 24 seasons of Big Brother to air in the United States?
RICH MEEHAN: There are a lot of incredible moments that have happened, but this is always the one that comes up first in our minds. This is definitely top of the list.
ALLISON GRODNER: In terms of encapsulating everything that is really fun to watch about Big Brother, it has the spectacle, it has the emotion, it has the drama, it has the immense strategy, the psychological component, the human chess game that we talk about so much when we talk about how this game is played — it had it all.
DANIELLE MURPHREE: Oh, yeah. And, you know, even still to this day, beyond the Dan stuff, Britney and I have not spoken ever since the game. I think she was so hurt and betrayed by the fact that I knew that she was going to go on the block. She’s never said an ill word about me, nor would I. But the fact that we’ve never spoken breaks my heart.
BRITNEY HAYNES: It was amazing. It was flawless. It was a culmination of all of Dan’s hard work and the power of his mist. We coined this phrase very early on in the game: the mist that he would put you under when he talked to you. You were under his mist. The funeral was the mist at the most powerful point. For me, if I’m going to have to go out and lose my second time playing Big Brother, I’m glad that I went out on something so iconic and memorable, versus just being any other old boot. It’s so sad how dumb I was though. I’m sadly not any smarter still.
JULIE CHEN: I think it probably is the single greatest moment in Big Brother history. It’s definitely the top three. To really answer that, I’d have to lock myself in the Big Brother house for a year, and then re-watch every season.
FRANK EUDY: From my perspective, any time anyone’s ever brought the funeral up, I’ve kind of scoffed at it because I never felt like the funeral did anything to change the game. It was him ratting his squad out up in the HOH room and unnecessarily making promises on his cross and Bible. None of that promising on any of that made any difference. It was just him filling me in on what I didn’t know before.
IAN TERRY: I know Dan likes to make a big spectacle of everything, right? One of the things he talked about was that he wanted to be considered the best. Fair enough, that’s an interesting thing to aspire to. But for him, the silliness and the spectacle sort of adds to that.
JENN ARROYO: It was one of the coolest, awesomest moments in Big Brother history. That segment should live in the Big Brother Hall of Fame. The storytelling, the dramatics, the everything, and just the endless spin and aftermath of it all.
JOE ARVIN: When it comes to Big Brother history and iconic moments, nothing else comes close. It’s the most epic moment in the history of Big Brother. The main question I get asked still today is, “What do you think of his funeral?” I’ll see someone in a grocery store, “How about Dan’s funeral? Did you know? How did you feel?” I’m like, “Dude, ask about me, not Dan!”
DAN GHEESLING: Is it the greatest Big Brother moment ever? That’s not up for me to say. I feel like I can walk away from Big Brother knowing that I did everything I could. My thing is I always want to play as hard as I can. When there’s an opportunity to make a big move, I want to do it and I want to do it in a memorable way because that’s what makes the show fun. I always wanted to leave my mark on the show, and whether it’s the greatest move of all time, I think you can debate that because ultimately it didn’t lead to a victory, but I’d like to believe it’s one of the most memorable. To be honest, when I got off the show, I had no idea how big that moment had become. I remember in interviews people would ask me, “Hey what about the funeral in the house?” I was like, “Oh, it was just another meeting.”
EPILOGUE: WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
DAN GHEESLING and his wife Chelsea have two sons Desmond (3) and Miles (1). Dan resides in the Detroit suburbs of Michigan and also has You Tube and Twitch channels where he is “creating clean, positive entertainment in the gaming space.”
DANILLE MURPHREE is a surgical ICU nurse in Dallas, having moved to Texas in 2017 after living in Alabama and Seattle.
IAN TERRY is working as a Business Transformation Consultant (“It’s like a management consulting type thing with a software company”) in Houston, Texas.
BRITNEY HAYNES is a married stay-at-home mom in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her three daughters, ages six, four, and two. She also appeared earlier this year on season 31 of The Amazing Race, competing with partner — and fellow Big Brother 14 contestant — Janelle Pierzina, where the duo finished in eighth place.
SHANE MEANEY is still flipping houses in Bennington, Vermont and developed his own business, Quality Homes Inc. He is currently seeing a woman named Britney he dated previously before going on Big Brother, and is very dedicated to his local Mission City Church.
FRANK EUDY is working in Naples, Florida, where he lives with his girlfriend.
JENN CITY ARROYO is still rockin’ like Dokken. She recently played on the Warped tour and her band Kittie released a live reunion DVD earlier this year. Jenn City lives in Brooklyn and just started recording her second solo album while also working in metal 3D printing.
JOE ARVIN lives in Northwest Indiana and is a global corporate executive chef for a company called Antunes. He develops recipes and does demonstration food cooking across the United States. If you run into him on the street, ask him about himself, not Dan Gheesling.
JULIE CHEN, ALLISON GRODNER, and RICH MEEHAN continue to bring us the madness and mayhem that is Big Brother three times a week. The Big Brother 21 finale will air Sept. 25 on CBS.
Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.