Jackson Michie won season 21 of Big Brotheron Wednesday, but his win comes with something of an asterisk.
The controversial season of the long-running reality show was marred by complaints of racist and sexist behavior by several houseguests, including Michie, who seemed to be taken by surprise when confronted with the accusations by his fellow competitors during the finale. The $500,000 winner looked a bit shell-shocked as he accepted his prize, and prepared to face the social media storm that's been raging as he was sequestered in the Big Brother house.
"I made my bed and I gotta lie in it," Michie told ET's Brice Sander following the live finale on Wednesday. "I will go full-force in it, I'm not gonna sugarcoat. First thing I'm doing is watching this whole season. I want to know exactly what has happened in the way it's being portrayed."
The newest winner of the CBS reality hit admitted to being "an intense person" who can come off as "aggressive" and "abrasive," but maintained it was never his intention to be derogatory to any marginalized group.
"I do everything full speed and that is the good and the bad," he explained. "When someone upsets me, they upset me, regardless of race, religion, age, sexual orientation, whatever it might be, gender... And I know that about myself, and I know I need to work on it, but at no point am I ever targeting someone or speaking badly about someone because of any of those factors. It's because something they have said has upset me... Just like in real life, people argue, but the difference is [here] people say it and you're on record, you're on camera, you're on audio and there is no escaping that."
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"I will own everything I said," he continued. "There are some things I wish I could change, but at the end of the day, the reason I said them were never malicious, they were never about race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, any of that nature... I have made mistakes in life, and some of the biggest mistakes I've made have led me to this point and I will learn from them, I will grow from them, and this is no different. I have no idea what people can, will or have been saying about me, but what I do know is who I am and I know what I stand for, and I know I accomplished a goal I came here for. Whatever happens after this, I will again, take it on the chin."
One of Michie's biggest critics during the finale was housemate Kemi Fakunle, who was the subject of several controversial moments (and possibly, multiple N-word drops) from Michie and Jack Matthews that Big Brother viewers spotted on the show's live feeds. Following the finale, Fakunle told ET that she was "not feeling" the winning vote -- or Michie's apology.
"I'm one of those people who, I just don't accept apologies if they're not genuine," she explained. "I feel like you really have to understand why you're apologizing for something, and what you're actually sorry about, and then that can lead to a further conversation. But if it's just like, 'Oh, I'm sorry...' I just, I can't take it seriously. So, you know, I'm glad that they were able to hear from the jury themselves, and when they're able to see how they were received, they understand why we felt that way."
"I think they really need to understand why they said the things that they said, and where it actually came from, and if they can kind of explain that and why that even was a thing, then a lot of us pre-jurors would be willing to have a conversation," she continued. "But because it seemed so surface-level and like it was rooted in nothing, a lot of the season has been focused on, 'Oh, what is my appearance going to be? Oh, how does this make me look to America?' It's going to be hard to think that's it genuine."
Of his critics, Michie said simply, "Everyone has an opinion."
"I know that I busted my a** in this game. I came in to play Big Brother, and there's nothing I wouldn't do to win Big Brother," he continued. "Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards... I adapted to my environment, I conformed to succeed and I fought day in and day out and a lot of my strategy at the beginning of this thing was to paint targets on other people bigger than myself and boost egos, the loud personalities, fuel them, build them up, so that way I would not be the first picked off... [The] first half, I wasn't allowing myself to compete. I wasn't being my true self, my personality, I was being what the people in my alliance were, and I was doing whatever necessary to fuel the large targets in my alliance. After that, I was on my own and I had nothing to lose."
See what the rest of the Big Brother season 21 houseguests had to say about Michie's win below:
Jack Matthews: "I think what we do in the past is really difficult to change, and we can't change, and there's no power above or anywhere that we can change what we have done. The only thing that I can do is actively be as powerful as I possibly can in being as caring and as thoughtful and as unconditional, love-spreading person that I possibly can be. The person that I was in that household, I don't believe was a reflection of myself. However, that is definitely how it looks and so, with that being said, I absolutely can only adjust my ways and the way that I carry myself, and I definitely need to look at myself on how I do -- carry out conversations with people or relationships with people moving forward. I didn't like what I saw -- and it was me. So, there's only one thing that I can do and that's really focus on myself. The things that I said about Kenny and the things that I said about David, the things that I said about Ovi, the things that I said about Bella, all those things were really ignorant, ugly things and the only thing that I can do is move forward trying to make up for those wrongs that I did in the past.
We actually formulated the jury questions to [Michie]. I wanted to make sure that he had a platform to be able to speak, even in the finale, on the main show. I wanted him to be able to be asked the question of controversial statements. He still doesn't know what he said. I think knowledge will help him. I stand by him. I think he's a great kid. I think he means well. He was definitely in the game. I was definitely in the game. But that doesn't speak to the wrongdoings of what we said in any way, shape or form. But I know, if I know Jackson the way that I think I know him, he'll do an incredible job of doing and making it an effort-- an endless task to right the wrongs that he's done in any way, shape or form."
Holly Allen: "These are things-- I mean, we have a lot of downtime over 99 days, and these are all things that I’ve worried about. I didn’t know specifically, you know, I knew that we would face hard stuff. I am devastated that he had to deal with that. Some of the racist remarks surprised me, just because I was there for his decision-making in that, and it was very game-oriented and also it just didn’t occur to me as far as the degrading to women stuff.
I know how he treats me. I’ve never seen him act like that towards anyone. I just know how he treats me and he is so [motivated], a very big character and gets very worked up, so let’s not ignore that fact. I get that. You know, he’s Michie, he’s a lot. But to me, he was always supportive and proud of you and motivating and even today, he was like, all right, let’s duke it out. Let’s battle. You know what I mean? So he was always really empowering to me, so that’s all I know. I don’t know. It’s rough."
Christie Murphy: "Honestly, like, it was, like, heartbreaking. I'm not going to cry. I am not a hateful person. I am not someone who categorizes people by gender, race, religion. I genuinely love everyone, and the only people that I will speak ill on are people that are genuinely getting on my nerves. I hope that I didn't offend anyone, specifically. I made sure to be careful in the things that I said, because everything comes back and you're being watched and it's a reflection, but did I lose my cool a few times in the pressure cooker of the house? Yes. Was I hormonal? Yes. Did I act and say emotionally impulsive things? Yes, but never from a place of hate or for a category of a certain people. I love everyone in the jury, and pre-jury -- everyone in the house! And when I watch back, if there is anything that I regret, that hurt people, I will personally make it right. But it was really hard to hear, yeah."
Kathryn Dunn: "There were a lot of controversial things said by Michie that we knew about, and just morally, I couldn't make that decision to vote for him, just as a person... I know that that kinda meshes personal and game, but at the end of the day, when you walk into that house, you have to know that everything you say is technically game.
I think Michie's been very enabled his entire life. We actually have a lot of great conversations. I truly don't believe that it comes from a place of disrespect, even though they are very disrespectful words. I think that he's been absolutely enabled his entire life -- he's a very aggressive person -- and I think that by watching this show, he's going to be able to really think about the words that he says and how he makes people feel. It's a really difficult lesson to learn, and he had to do it on national TV, but... it's a shame that he forgets so quickly because America doesn't forget and there's videos of it... I don't necessarily see us being the best of friends in the future, but I truly believe in people's abilities to make amends and move forward."
Tommy Bracco: "You know, it's really weird to be in that house. We have no idea what's going on. I'm hearing there's a lot of controversies with this season, and I think that Michie has been caught up in a lot of those things, and I think that's a very scary thing to not know what you're facing, but know that something's coming. So, I think that that's what he's dealing with right now. It's an internal struggle, but there's also the fact that he won, yes, but his girlfriend lost. So, you know, there are pros and cons. He's in a tough position right now, and I think that he played the best game and I think he deserves that win, and I'm happy for him."
Analyse "Sis" Talavera: "I'm happy that they got the chance to apologize, that's huge. I hope that the people that were affected end up seeing that their apology was sincere. If I was in that position, it would be really tough because you're not really-- a lot of them seemed like they didn't really understand what was said and what was going on. So to be in that position and not really know kinda sucks but at least they got to apologize and, hopefully, they take it with sincerity."
Nicole Anthony: "It's very scary, you know, I have lived with these people, and I know there was a whole incident when they locked me out of the room, and that was my incident. I don't know what was said, but I was able to move forward and forgive and just proceed, and I didn't know it was still a thing. I don't know how bad it is, I haven't seen it, and I always say these people are my friends, so when I hear these things, I worry about the people they have hurt, the people they have said things about, obviously, and I do also worry about them, because I know social media can attack and I think it was very frightening to hear those things on the stage. Because I only know from Nicole's game, like, Nicole had fun, Nicole was nice to everyone, and to hear that is like, oh no, what went wrong and when. It's very scary."
Nick Maccarone: "I mean, I knew the questions that were gonna be asked to him, we created them. I can't speak on what he said, like, when I got evicted I spoke very highly of him. I didn't really know what was completely going on in the house, which you might find interesting. You know, I thought that he handled them as well as he can. I didn't see the show, I don't know what was portrayed, I don't know what was said, I wasn't around him all the time. So he's gonna have to handle the situations the best that he can... I do see a really good person in him, and I hope that what he said wasn't too bad. But I just don't know what he said."
Jessica Milagros: "I don't think he really, fully understood what the question was, and I honestly think it was one of the reasons why I didn't vote for him. I think it was a good way of him kind of derailing a situation, but not really answering it and confronting it. I don't, by any means, like I said, I love him, I don't think that by any means that he is a racist or a bigot or anything, any of those nasty words. But I do think there's maybe misinformation, ignorance in a way of what he actually did. So, I just wanted him to fully understand it, and it looked like he was like, 'I don't understand. I don't know what you're talking about.' But that's kind of what I wish that he would have answered and addressed, but hopefully, he'll see the season and maybe he'll realize it. Either way, he played a great game."
Cliff Hogg: "I don't know, I give him credit. I made some threats. I said, 'If you send me out of here, I am not going to give you my vote,' but it was more a strategic thing. I didn't want to be a bitter juror. I wanted to be objective and I felt like he played a great physical game with the competitions, and he conned-- he pulled one over on me, and he did a lot of strategy in that house that I saw. I hope-- I don't know everything that has been talked about, I've heard little whispers here and there, being inside the house, cut off, I just don't know. I hope it's not severe enough that it creates issues. I don't want anyone from this season to be tainted. I've worked all over the world and the thought that I can now work with 15 other people from all backgrounds and all diverse, that's what I wanted in this game, so I hope that is not tainted."
Ovi Kabir: "People may be upset about some actions he took, but no one can say he isn't a deserving winner. I mean, strategically, comp wins? He beasted the game! I mean, that's the way it works. You're not going to like everybody in certain ways, but you can't deny how good they are at the game.
It's always tough to see people hit with those things, because they don't expect it. But at the same time, we all know what we signed up for. Big Brother's a game. It's a reflection on society, and we have tough questions in today's day, in society, that we need to answer. At the same time, when those things happen on Big Brother, we need to answer to them, too. So, I think it's important that those things happen on a national level, where we see this, people see this, and we say, 'Hey, we can talk about this too -- in our classrooms, our workplaces, in all areas.'"
Bella Wang: "One thing that for me, I thought was so hard is being in a similar shoe like he kind of is in now. Social media is so hard, Twitter is so crazy, like, this mentality, I feel like of people being really negative towards the houseguests kind of perpetrated that, like, negativity and that bullying. So I don't really like to be part of it. It's hard. I still deal with it every day and the fans are ruthless! And, you know, you can apologize so many times, but it doesn't matter.
For Jack and Jackson, it's about the, like, [coming] to terms with what they did and when they finally apologize to themselves and realize, 'I really did mess up.' 'Cause right now they don't know everything. So they're saying it, but they don't know. When I first came out, I feel like I did kind of process it, but it wasn't until, like, you know, a few weeks later that I finally saw what had accumulated. Then I was finally realizing, 'OK. Yes. I am sorry because I know exactly what happened.'"
David Alexander: "We all saw him walk out. He looks like the most unhappiest half-a-million-dollar winner ever. I think it's gonna be a road he's gonna have to walk down. He said some very interesting things in the house. I hope that he's able to grow as an individual from them and become a better person as a result."