Big Brother brought them together, but The Amazing Race made their bond permanent.
“After the Race, it 100 percent solidified it,” Victor Arroyo tells ET, gushing over his relationship with Nicole Franzel.
Victor and Nicole’s love story is now on TV on season 31 of The Amazing Race. The pair first met on season 18 of Big Brother, which Nicole won. They started dating about a year later, and a year after that, they filmed TAR.
“It was very new in our relationship,” Nicole notes. “We knew going into it that it could be make it or break it … it was scary making that decision. We were going to say yes no matter what, but knowing what could come of it, like America watching us fight and break up and do all that…”
“It's definitely a testing thing for a relationship, right?” Victor says. “You see each other at your most stressful or, I guess, your worst. You're all sweaty, you're running around. You don't know if you're going the right way or whatever it is, so like she said, it's a make it or break it, we're engaged now, so I think it worked out pretty well.”
Victor popped the question inside the Big Brother house during season 20 last summer, just after the couple finished running the Race. It was a total surprise for Nicole, who thought she was on set to host a competition for the current houseguests.
“It felt like everything came together and it was just so right,” Victor recalls of knowing it was time to propose. “Like, wow. We can really handle situations well together and, yeah, I want to marry this girl.”
Now, the pair is dreading wedding planning. They say they’re at “ground zero,” even though it’s been nearly eight months since Victor put a ring on it.
“I planned it all the day after we got engaged on a slideshow powerpoint, and then I realized, I want something different,” Nicole shares. “So now, it's nothing … It's kinda difficult, there's so many options, and with my family living in Michigan, him, his is in Puerto Rico, Florida, New Orleans -- I'm trying to make everyone happy and figure out a good solution for everyone.”
They have, at least, settled on a tentative date for the big day, sometime in June 2020, with a plan to do an intimate, destination wedding ceremony, likely in Key West, Florida, followed by a big party, “country-style” back home in Michigan afterward. And yes, there will be Big Brother alumni at both… maybe even as part of the bridal party!
“There's a possibility for sure,” Nicole admits. “We gotta figure that out. We gotta start asking people.”
“Yeah, we don't want to hurt feelings or anything like that,” Victor chimes in. “But there's definitely some people we want to invite.”
There’s also the possibility of returning to where it all started and tying the knot inside the BB house.
“You never know, right?” Victor teases. “Like, getting engaged in there wasn't a plan, and it happened, right? You never know. We're not gonna shoot it down, but we're not gonna say it's gonna happen.”
For now, Victor and Nicole are focused on The Amazing Race. They made it to the third leg, with hopefully more to go. Nicole calls the experience “life-changing,” admitting it was way more challenging than Big Brother.
“Big Brother, even though it's three times as long, I can sit in a house, I can eat, I can socialize, I can reflect,” she says. “Amazing Race felt like I was on the block every single day, and I could hardly take it.”
“At least in Big Brother, you can kinda tell if you have the relationships, if you don't,” Victor adds. “If you can feel a little more comfortable or not. And there's time between, you know, to make the adjustments you have to make. In the Race, you have seconds to make a decision, and if it's the wrong decision, it can cost you.”
It seems safe to say they loved both experiences, just differently. Nicole says she’s down to do either show again, especially if she and Victor got to compete as a couple for a whole summer of Big Brother.
“I mean, comp beast on my side this time?” she asks. “Can you imagine?!”