Gheesling talks about Big Brother victory.
-By Mike Moore-
He entered the house with drums banging and guns blazing.
He pronounced his religious beliefs, as a Catholic high school teacher, in perfect accord with his political viewpoint, saying he would leave the United States if Hillary Clinton was ever elected president.
When the country was first introduced to Dearborn resident and 2001 Divine Child grad Dan Gheesling, opinions of him ranged somewhere between arrogant and cocky, as if there was much difference.
But now, some three months later, the CBS reality show and Big Brother 10 winner is being hailed as one of the gameís best players ever. He planned and schemed perfectly. He formed alliances when needed, and dissolved them equally as fast.
Most importantly, according to the winner himself, he did it all while upholding his character, practicing his faith, and standing firm in the beliefs he entered the house with.
I caught up with Gheesling recently, asking him about the process to joining the show, what it was like to win, and everything in between.
-Mike Moore: Not many people, if any, expected you to be in this situation, as the winner of Big Brother 10. Has it all set in yet, and why do you think you outlasted the other 12 houseguests?
Dan Gheesling: Well, it set in when I scratched a check to the government to pay the taxes on my winnings. (Laughs) But I canít complain about that. It costs a price to live in the greatest country in the world. As for winning, I think it took a lot of luck, some planning on my part, and some things that really went my way. Itís still pretty cool to think about, though. I mean, I won Big Brother.
-Moore: You have $500,000, before taxes. People want to know what youíll do with the money?
Gheesling: Iím going to be smart about it. Poeple have asked me when Iím getting a new car and stuff like that, but I paid my car off just before I left. Iím going to drive it until it blows up. But really, Iím going to be smart, invest, and use it in ways that will allow me to teach and coach and not have to worry about money.
-Moore: Only a select few people knew you were even trying to get on the show, what was the process like?
Gheesling: This was actually the third year I tried to make it. The other two years I had to turn them down at some point. Again this year, I sent a tape in and they were interested in what I had to offer. They called me and I went to a semifinal interview where it was down to 800 people. Then I moved onto the finals where they knocked it down to 40 people in Los Angeles. I met with CBS executives and really started playing the game in casting. I knew they wouldnít cast a normal, everyday-looking guy. So when they asked questions, I knew the type of answers they were looking for.
-Moore: When you finally learned you had made it, what was your initial reaction?
Gheesling: I was kind of shocked and at the same time excited. The casting process is a couple months, and finally the answer I wanted had arrived.
-Moore: One of the things you referenced most while on the show was the students and players at Orchard Lake St. Maryís, how tough of a decision was all this?
Gheesling: Honestly, the toughest thing was talking to head football coach Georg Porritt. I didnít want to abandon the seniors who had dedicated all their time and effort to the season. Coach Porritt told me how this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance and I had to go for it. Once I had his support I felt a lot better. At the same time, I knew I had to leave my girlfriend Monica and my family and friends. (Monica and I) talked about it, and it was tough. But I have to say, I am very lucky to have a girlfriend like that who would support me through all this.
-Moore: When you first arrived at the house, and saw everyone, what were some of your initial impressions?
Gheesling: When I got in the house, I saw a bunch of physical threats and strong-willed people who could slick talk. I didnít excel in any of those areas. I honestly thought my chances of winning were slim to none. Ö As far as the players were concerned, I found out Jerry was manipulated by young women, he wanted to make them happy. I thought Iíd get along with Ollie because we both had football backgrounds. In the first two weeks, I didnít talk to Keesha at all. Itís funny how things all played out.
-Moore: Right off the bat, you aligned with Brian, why!?
Gheesling: I thought he excelled in areas I was pretty weak. He was too convincing, though. I thought I was in a lot of trouble after week one (when Brian was evicted). I knew I had to start over at square one.
-Moore: When was the first time you actually thought you could win the whole thing?
Gheesling: Not until the end, until Memphis voted out Keesha. When I saw she was that mad I knew sheíd never vote for him in the jury house. I knew I had at least vote and I could get a few others.
-Moore: You have $500,000, before taxes. People want to know what youíll do with the money?
Gheesling: Iím going to be smart about it. Poeple have asked me when Iím getting anew car and stuff like that, but I paid my car off just before I left. Iím going to drive it until it blows up. But really, Iím going to be smart, invest, and use it in ways that will allow me to teach and coach and not have to worry about money.
-Moore: Jerry? What can you even say?
Gheesling: Jerry got pretty emotionally involved in the game (Laughs). When you are 75, you get free pass to say whatever you want.
-Moore: But he called you Judas! Did that get to you at all?
Gheesling: It was like water rolling off my back. I think he was trying to drive a stake at something that was very personal to me. It didnít work or offend me in the least bit. In the end, you have to respect Jerry because he outlasted a lot of people. If Iím 75 and can be half the competitor he was, Iíll be proud. He won challenges and played tough the whole time.
-Moore: Being Catholic in the house, how difficult was that?
Gheesling: The first time I lied was the hardest part. Itís not everyday you look someone in the eye and lie to their face. Lying is like riding a bike, once you do it, though, you donít forget how. The thing is, I was playing a game. I would never lie like that in real life. It was all part of winning.
-Moore: One of your most controversial moments was the time Jesse was eliminated, do you regret playing things the way you did and having to make two promises when you could only keep one?
Gheesling: I had to set up both sides because I didnít know which way America was going to vote. Worst case scenario, I still had to have one side to align with. Not that anyone in their right mind would have sided with (Ollie, April, Jerry and Michelle).
-Moore: WHAT WAS WITH YOU SCREAMING IN THE DIARY ROOM!?
Gheesling: I knew this question was coming. (Laughs again) In the diary room, Iíd get fired up. In the house, I could control my emotions pretty well. I got fired up in there because that was my time to let loose and have some fun. I didnít realize I blew out a few microphones that had to be replaced.
-Moore: You were probably the only player that acknowledged the cameras on a daily basis.
Gheesling: I tried to make the show as entertaining as possible. Anytime I could give the fans something funny, or give them insight into what I was thinking, I tried to do that. It was all a way to have fun.
-Moore: Besides Jerry slipping and falling in the pool, what were some of the funnier moments you enjoyed?
Gheesling: Jerry slipping was pretty funny. I had to control myself so I wouldnít laugh. But messing with Renny was the best. I was relentless with her. But she had a good sense of humor.
-Moore: In the early going, you threw a lot of competitions on purpose?
Gheesling: Yeah, early on, I threw the competitions and put my neck on the line It was a huge risk. It was kind of like playing poker. You canít lose if you donít put all your chips in the middle. Then again, you canít win much either.
-Moore: April and Ollie? Enough said?
Gheesling: Well, I think some people went in to this to win a half million. Some went for fame. April and Ollie have some interesting memories they shared with all of America.
-Moore: What about Jesse? He was pretty into himself, and based on Americaís vote, was probably the least-liked houseguest.
Gheesling: Jesse was a fierce competitor in the competitions, but in the house, he was also good at stirring things up. I guess he stirred it up one too many times, though. He didnít know when to stop, and when the pot boiled over, he got burned.
-Moore: Your decision to play ďReplacement Nominee Roulette,Ē when you essentially got rid of Michelle and Ollie was almost perfect. How did you come up with that?
Gheesling: The night before, I was up till like 5 a.m. thinking about how I would run the meeting. I didnít want it to be a run-of-the-mill meeting. It was one of those things I look back on and it was a stronger move because it caused so much chaos.
-Moore: Near the end of the game, you said you would throw Memphis under the bus if needed while he kind of said heíd never do anything of the such to you?
Gheesling: The goal was to get the two of us to the finals. But my personal goal wasnít to make sure he won the half million. If the jury asked me something and I had to throw him under, I would have been diplomatic. More or less, whether it was bad for Memphis or not, I gave the jury members the answers they wanted to hear. Ö Honestly, I was shocked to get all seven votes. I thought we would each have at least two and the rest would be a toss up.
-Moore: How difficult was it not knowing what was going on in the outside world?
Gheesling: I got burned on the Brett Farve question in one game. Who would ever think he would leave Green Bay? Ö Itís tough, though, I always stay up to with the news, politics and current events, especially in a year like this with the presidential race. Any information we got in there we thrived on.
-Moore: So when you got out, one of the first things you had to have learned about, aside from Kwame, was Sarah Palin.
Gheesling: Iím all for her. I think it was a great move by McCain. He stole a play from the Dan Gheesling playbook of surprises.
-Moore: How has it been getting back to everyday life?
Gheesling: Itís been an interesting adjustment. It took me four days to go through all my emails and phone calls. I tried to do it all at once, and I found myself staying up all night. At the same time, I had so many people that supported me. I wanted them all to know what it meant to me. I really love the fan support.
-Moore: Whatís with you and Memphis?
Gheesling: I talk to Memphis just about every day. Weíre going to have a couple Renegade shirts coming out. Weíd like to do some other business ventures together.
-Moore: People have started to love you, obviously, and for those that want an autograph or something, what can you tell them?
Gheesling: Pretty soon I will have something set up so I can get people a mailing address so they can send self-addressed things that I will sign for free. As long as it is self-adressed, Iíll sign it and send it back. People can also check out my Myspace at Myscpace.com/ghees
-Moore: Would you ever go back and do a Big Brother All-Star season?
Gheesling: I donít know. Iíd have to ask myself if I want to go out like John Elway, on top, or if I want to come back and tarnish my legacy like Jordan did. I guess weíll see.