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'Big Brother' finale: Josh Martinez wins over repeat runner-up Paul Abrahamian in surprise victory


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/21/2017 

Big Brother crowned Josh Martinez its Season 19 champion over veteran houseguest Paul Abrahamian after a surprising jury vote during Wednesday night's two-hour live finale on CBS.

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"I have no words. I did it all for my family," Josh said in tears after Big Brother host Julie Chen revealed the big news.

"Every single second, I did it for you, mom. And Paul and [Christmas Abbott] had my back the whole way, so I couldn't do it alone, and thank you!"

After 92 days in the Big Brother house, Josh, a 23-year-old in haircare sales from Miami, FL who currently resides in Homestead, FL, took home the grand prize of $500,000 via a tight 5-4 jury vote over fellow houseguest Paul, 24-year-old clothing designer and band member from Tarzana, CA.

Paul received $50,000 for finishing as the runner-up, but he appeared absolutely crushed and devastated onstage. (Paul also finished in second place last season when Nicole Franzel was crowned the winner).

Julie pointed out that Paul lost this season despite winning nine competitions and avoiding the nomination block every single week until he made the Final 2. Julie also said Paul had a hand in every person's blindside or eviction.

With that being said, Paul admitted while looking at the ground, "I have no idea how I came up short. I did everything I could. It was really tough. I was in a tough spot. I was the only vet in the game. I was up against 15 people, and if people didn't see that I had to fight my way through to make it to the end, then that's on them."

When Julie asked if he believes the jury voted emotionally, Paul replied in a defeated manner, "I don't know how they voted. But the [statistics] were there."

Josh received jury votes to win from the following previously-evicted Big Brother houseguests: Jason Dent, Alex Ow, Mark Jansen, Elena Davies, and Cody Nickson.

The biggest surprises were Alex, who had gushed about wanting to convince the jury Paul deserved to win at the time of her eviction, and Cody, who seemed to absolutely hate Josh more than anyone else (except maybe Paul) during the game.

When Alex cast her vote for the winner, she said she was going to reward the person who stabbed her in the front rather than the back.

Paul earned votes to win from Christmas Abbott, Kevin Schlehuber, Raven Walton, and Matt Clines.

Christmas Abbott, a 35-year-old fitness enthusiast -- or "superstar," as CBS calls her -- placed third after Josh won the final Head of Household competition and cast the sole vote to evict her.

When Josh kicked his ride or die ally out of the game, Christmas cried to Julie about how she was proud of her best friend.

"He always acts with his heart and he finally started thinking strategically," Christmas told Julie in her post-eviction interview. "I don't know if I would've won over him, but I'm proud of him. He made the ultimate game move. I think he has a better chance [against Paul]."

Josh believed he had a better shot of beating Paul at the end than Christmas because both of the men had made enemies in the house and were responsible for betrayals and backstabbing. They also participated in heated arguments with jury members such as Cody.

Christmas, on the other hand, played a great social game and was liked by mostly everyone in the house.

After Josh's victory was announced near the end of the broadcast, Julie revealed Cody -- who was evicted twice from the Big Brother house this season and fell in love with Jessica Graf -- won the title of "America's Favorite Houseguest" and will therefore receive $25,000.

Cody seemed absolutely shocked by the announcement, telling Julie, "It doesn't make sense," as everyone in the cast laughed around him.

Kevin and Jason were also in the running for this honor, with more than 15 million votes cast, which happened to be 11 million more votes than last summer's total.

The Big Brother finale kicked off where the Friday night episode had left off, with Part 1 of the Head of Household competition featuring Paul, Christmas and Josh.

Each houseguest was required to stand on a platform and hold on to a rope trailing a flying unicorn while mist and glitter sprayed in his or her face and the platform tilted backward and moved.

The last person left standing would win Part 1 of the Head of Household competition, automatically earning a spot in the third -- and final -- part of the competition.

The whole challenge lasted less than an hour, and Josh was the first houseguest to drop after about a half hour. Christmas fell next, and so Paul was victorious.

For Part 2, dubbed "Knock Em Down," Josh had to square off against Christmas for the last spot in the third round of the HoH competition.

Separately, the two players were shown three medieval scrolls which explained evicted houseguests they needed to align with.

The goal was to "attack" the houseguests who did not apply by knocking down giant cardboard cutouts featuring the players' faces. Josh and Christmas were given two launching devices to use in order to knock down the targets, and the winner would complete the task in the fastest time.

Christmas completed the three scrolls correctly in 1 hour and 39 minutes, while Josh won Part 2 with a time of 1 hour and 32 minutes.

Meanwhile, the jury members -- minus Christmas -- were shown discussing which player would likely win the game, or at least who deserved to win.

Josh was said to be emotionally unstable and still in the game out of luck. Kevin agreed he was loud and aggressive all season long, and Cody said he had no respect for him. Jason noted that Josh was a "non-violent psychopath."

The jury agreed Christmas' biggest move was using Jason to break her foot but that she played a good social game.

As for Paul, Kevin called him a "clever little player" and said he "outsmarted everybody." Cody argued, however, that Paul had major advantages in the game, like three weeks of immunity thanks to a silly temptation twist.

Elena applauded Paul on taking out players he feared or found intelligent in order to secure his safety, but she was definitely bitter. Elena thought Paul abused relationships, lied and backstabbed to get ahead. Alex also debated that Paul "belittled" other players whom he had viewed to be beneath him, which she didn't respect or appreciate.

It was clear that if Josh and Paul went to the end together, the jury had to vote for the lesser of two evils.

After listening to everyone complain, Raven asked everyone loudly if they were playing Big Brother or "Big Baby." Raven insisted Paul played the best game, and Jason even confessed that he was being a "sore loser" because both Paul and Josh played the game with "hard work and passion."

Getting back to the game, the final part of the HoH competition was called "Scales of Just Us."

Paul and Josh had to show how well they knew Season 19's jury members by completing the second half of statements they made while in the jury house. Each correct "A or B" answer was worth one point and there were eight questions in total.

It was a close and exciting match, but Josh ended up winning the competition by scoring four points compared to Paul's two points. The scale was therefore tipped in Josh's favor and he became the season's final HoH.

Paul and Christmas had one last chance to convince Josh to keep them at the final live eviction.

Paul told Josh that he had worked hard with him and kept him around at times so he hoped for the same in return. Christmas then called Josh her "meatball" and said she had friendship with both guys and loved them both dearly.

"This is hard. I love you both dearly, and you guys gave been the best and closest friends to me in the house. To be honest with you, if it hadn't been for the both of you, I wouldn't have made it this far in the house. I love you guys," Josh announced, trying to hold his tears back.

"I worked my butt off this season and I played my heart out, and I just think about jury and I think about how many people are pissed off at me in jury and how many people I've upset in jury. And I think I have a better chance -- call me crazy -- sitting next to Paul in the end."

Josh added, "I'm so sorry, Christmas. I love you so much, thank you for being my rock in this game... I just think I wouldn't win against you. It's a game decision and I'm just doing it for my family, so I hope you can respect it."

While many fans probably thought Josh had made one of the biggest mistakes ever in Big Brother, it turned out he had made the right choice.

When it became time for the live interrogation to help determine this season's champion, Christmas and the eight other jury members got to ask questions to both Paul and Josh.

Elena accused Paul of "bullying tactics" in the house, and Paul completely rejected that idea, saying he actually stood up for many people who needed his voice or acted as the mediator in certain situations.

Josh revealed he's been a Super Fan of Big Brother since he was 14-years-old and his strategy was his social game, aligning himself with outsiders as well as Christmas and Paul.

Josh said his biggest move was taking out Alex, and he intentionally allowed people to underestimate his intelligence and gameplay in order to get ahead and not seem like a threat.

Alex asked Paul why he'd be willing to "destroy friendships and alliances" when his motto was "friendship," and Paul said that many people turned their backs on him in the game and the common misconception was that he'd toss his own game or stretch his neck out for another player to advance, possibly to his own detriment.

Jason complained that Paul could've been honest with people in the days or moments leading up to their evictions but he instead chose to blindside and lie to them. Paul said he always tried to be honest about what his intentions were.

Afterward, Josh apologized for constantly throwing other people under the bus and exposing their gameplay; however, the Florida native said it was an elaborate scheme in order to place targets on other people throughout the season.

In their final speeches of the season before votes were cast by the jury members, Paul and Josh each had a chance to explain why they deserved to win the $500,000.

Paul basically listed a very long resume of his moves, counter moves, strategy and competition wins. He explained that from the second he walked into the Big Brother doors, he was at an automatic disadvantage.

Paul said he won the Power of Veto every time he was Head of Household to secure his nominations and he was never once placed on the chopping block. Paul said he worked his ass off from Day 1 because that's what he needed to do in order to stick around.

Paul's speech was very fast-paced and eloquent, while Josh was fighting for the right words. Josh was trying to remember all of his key points as he struggled to overcome his nerves, but he argued how he had adapted throughout the game and played "fearlessly."

Josh gushed about how he played his heart out and was able to manipulate others all the while staying true to his values and morals.


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