Can One Bad Decision Cost You $450,000?

Bad decisions are inevitable.  Nobody is perfect.  But can one bad decision cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars?  The recent season finale of the TV show Big Brother has me wondering.

Note: The post below contains spoilers for the recent season of Big Brother (USA version), which ended on September 21, 2016.  You have been warned.

Big Brother: My Guilty Pleasure

Reality TV is not at all my thing, with one notable guilty pleasure, and that is watching Big Brother.  My wife got me into it over 10 years ago, and it’s something we enjoy.

Some might be familiar with the show, but for those who aren’t, here’s a very quick run-down: 16 ‘houseguests’ start off living together, and one houseguest per week is voted out by the other contestants.  There are a few mental and physical competitions each week, with the winners having the opportunity to pick who is up for vote, and everybody else getting to decide.  After roughly thirteen weeks, there are only 3 people left going into the finale.  The winner gets $500,000, second place gets $50,000 and third place gets nothing.

The whole show is pretty trashy, but it’s a whole lot of fun.

Finale Time

We watched the show all summer and when it got down to the finale, the three people remaining were:

  • Paul – A pretty strong player who won a lot of competitions but who had a hand in voting a lot of people out
  • Nicole – Another strong player who laid low for most of the summer and then kicked it into gear at the end
  • James – A weak player who is a lot of fun, but who won pretty much nothing all summer long.

Now, the way the finale works is that, first, the three get whittled down to two.  This is done by:

  • Competition 1: All three players compete and there is one winner.  They get a break in the next face-off.
  • Competition 2: The two ‘losers’ of competition 1 square off
  • Competition 3: The winners of the first two competitions compete.
Image via Morguefiles courtesy of Alvimann
Image via Morguefiles courtesy of Alvimann

The winner of Competition 3 is assured at least $50,000 and they also get to determine, of the remaining two players, which one stays and which one goes.

How The Competitions Were Won

The way it worked this year is that Paul won Competition 1 and Nicole won Competition 2.  Neither of these surprised me as everybody pretty much knew that James was a weak player and probably wasn’t going to win.   And he didn’t.

Now, the dynamic above has played out before in seasons past, where you have two strong players and one weak player.  See, it’s not an accident that a weaker player makes it.  Why?  Simple.  The strong players want a weaker player sitting next to them as that increases their odds of winning.

So, when Competition 3 started, I assumed that when Paul or Nicole won, that either of them would take James along.  This means that a strong player ends up with nothing, but it’s one of the quirks of Big Brother.

Competition 3 is done live during the finale, and I think that just about everybody was as shocked as I was when he picked James to leave, meaning that he would be facing off against Nicole.  Another strong player.

Well, since you read this far and you saw the title, you probably already guessed what happened.  He lost.  The way that it works is that the 9 most recent houseguests that are evicted (including James) get to cast the final vote.  Nicole got 5 votes and Paul got 4.

Did Paul Cost Himself $450,000?

I’m convinced that had Paul done the smart thing and brought James along that he would have won $500,000.  Paul said and did some mean things in the house, and that tipped the scales against him when he was against another strong player who wasn’t as mean, but I think against a weaker player, his better play would have trumped that.

Now he won $50,000.  That’s not too bad for 3 months or so worth of work.  But, after he has time to reflect, I’m sure that knowing that he potentially left $450,000 on the table by making one poor decision is going to eat at him.

Wwhile a bad decision isn’t going to cost most people $450,000,any decision has the potential to be a ‘game changer’.

Readers, what do you think about Paul’s decision?  What would you have done in his shoes?  

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2 thoughts on “Can One Bad Decision Cost You $450,000?

  1. I have never watched this show. The only reality TV we watched was a little Survivor when it first started (I still can’t believe that it’s still going). This does seem like an interesting example of how one decision can cost you, big time. It seems to me that the big issue is how this guy deals with his mistake going forward. We all make bad decisions from time to time, but it takes a whole lot of grace and perspective to learn from our mistakes for the future. I would guess that this guy was too confident in his ability to beat out another actual competitor, the result was probably pretty sobering for him. Hopefully, he learns to be a little more thoughtful about big decisions from now on.
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