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Dick Donato "expected" to win after 'Big Brother 8' final jury questions


By Christopher Rocchio, 09/19/2007 

Dick "Evel Dick" Donato had a feeling he'd beat his formerly estranged daughter Danielle Donato to win Big Brother's eighth-season crown.

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"I think we both kind of expected [I'd win] due to the questions asked by the jury, I think it was kind of a tip off," Dick told Big Brother host Julie Chen during Wednesday morning's broadcast of CBS' The Early Show

Dick said Danielle took the jury questions "hard" and was "bummed and depressed," but he did his best to assure her that it didn't matter which of them won.

"I told her everybody wants to be where we are.  Who cares what they have to say?" recalled Dick to Chen.  "It doesn't matter.  Who cares who wins?  If my daughter wins $500,000... What am I going to cry if my daughter wins $500,000 and I win $50,000?"

Dick, a 44-year-old bar manager from Los Angeles, CA, defeated his 21-year-old daughter Danielle by a 5 to 2 jury vote to win Big Brother 8's $500,000 grand prize.  However Dick said he already considered himself a winner before Chen presented him with an oversized check on The Early Show.

"From the first hour walking in and the conversation in the bathroom, that was more contact then I've had with her in two years," Dick explained to Chen. "Everything that I said, that was from the heart.  That speech I gave -- 'I've already won' -- I'm leaps and bounds and miles and miles and miles into this relationship with my daughter.  It's so important to me."

Instead of the traditional father/daughter relationship, Danielle told Chen it was "more of a friendship."  However two-years-ago she said "a lot of issues" arose between them and it was her decision to bring an end to their relationship, adding she largely ignored the text messages and emails he'd send her.

"I am glad because I was at that point... [I was] absolutely numb to it.  I didn't grow-up with either of my parents," Danielle explained to Chen during an extended version of the interview available on CBS' website.  "I've never had a normal family.  And you come to the point where you kind of realize the time I'm going to have a normal family is when I start one of my own.  I'm okay with that.  After 21 years, that's all you have, and I'm okay with that.  But as much as you want to tell yourself you don't need a dad, you don't need a mom, everybody needs a dad and everybody needs a mom.  I am glad because this is definitely going to start something new."

Dick agreed, calling their 81 days together in the house a beginning of things to come.

"This is a stepping stone to getting some normalcy in our relationship that I'm really looking forward to fixing," he said.  "How has it changed me?  Not a whole lot in a lot of ways.  But I've earned a lot of respect for Danielle."

Dick and Danielle were part of Big Brother 8's "unfinished business" twist pairings, however he said he kind of knew they'd be together in the house before filming even started.

"We showed up at the audition -- not together but at the same time -- and I had a really good idea that she would be there," Dick explained to Chen.  "A matter of fact, when I left the audition I text messaged her and said, 'You better be ready for this thing to play out on national television.'"

(Two years ago when they were still on speaking terms, Dick and Danielle had also applied for Big Brother 6, which featured a "secret partner" twist.  Dick had also previously been a finalist for Big Brother 5.)

"I ignored the text," said Danielle.

The first few days in the house were difficult -- especially for Danielle -- however she eventually saw the opportunity their situation presented.

"You kind of had to make a change because you're not going to go in the house and keep fighting and keep fighting," she told Chen.  "We had to bring ourselves together and form a group, and by that -- working with somebody -- it does change the relationship.  It doesn't change the past, but it does change a lot."

With their personal relationship being patched together and their pockets a little heavier from their Big Brother winnings, Chen asked Danielle about her eighth-season "showmance" with  Nick Starcevic, a 25-year-old former professional football player from Kimball, MN.

"They were on the phone all night after the finale," jumped in Dick before his daughter could answer.  "He's moving to Orange County... I love Nick.  I really do.  I think he's a great guy."

The problem is Danielle already had a boyfriend before entering the Big Brother house.  While Danielle first told Chen she could "neither confirm nor deny" a relationship with Starcevic, she did elaborate a little.

"To be honest, I just got out of the house so I haven't had time to talk about things with people or finding things out," said Danielle, claiming she has yet to speak with her real-life boyfriend, whom she had lived with.

"Honestly I don't know what's going on with things.  Our lease was up any ways... He was moving back in with his parents," she continued.  "I didn't expect to meet somebody who I really care about in the house.  I went into the house to play the game and not really make friends... It was just a hard situation to be in.  I've never been in that kind of situation before... It was just a situation that nobody would be in unless they were in the Big Brother house.  I don't know what's going to happen, but I'll just have to wait and see."

(Photo credit CBS)


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