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Exclusive: Natalie Martinez talks about her 'Big Brother' experience


By Christopher Rocchio, 09/17/2009 

Natalie Martinez says she was confident she couldn't win Big Brother, and she turned out to be right.

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The 24-year-old Tae Kwon Do champion from Gilbert, AZ was defeated by Jordan Lloyd by a 5-2 jury vote during Big Brother's live eleventh-season finale on Tuesday night, claiming the CBS reality show's $50,000 second-place prize.

On Wednesday, Natalie talked to Reality TV World about how she feels she cost herself Jessie Godderz' jury vote by thwarting his alleged romantic advances in the house; how she couldn't have made it to the Final 2 without the help of Kevin Campbell; whether she has any regrets about opening Pandora's Box; and how being dishonest was woven into the fabric of her Big Brother strategy.

Reality TV World:  Before being questioned by the jury members, how confident were you that you had the votes to beat Jordan?

Natalie: I actually wasn't confident at all.  I don't know what you guys got to see and didn't get to see, but as Jordan and I are sitting in those chairs I told her, "Hey, don't worry Jordan.  This is going to be a slaughter house.  I'm only going to have [Russell Kairouz] and Kevin's votes.  So feel confident, feel safe.  You've got it.  Thank you for just bringing me to the end and giving me the opportunity for a shot.  But I know you won Jordan, so don't worry." 

I was very confident Jordan was winning it, and I told her.

Reality TV World:  That's interesting because I assumed you thought you had Jessie's vote for sure.  Why did you think only Russell and Kevin would be voting for you?

Natalie:  I knew for sure I didn't have Jessie's vote.  I knew that Jessie was bitter basically towards the rejections that I gave him towards his advancements towards me. 

Then when he found out that I got engaged, I knew that would just send him over the top because when he left the house he thought that possibly there would be a little hope once the show was over. 

But I knew he found out that I got engaged and I knew that it would send him over the top and he would just have nothing but bitterness towards me.  The only way that he could retaliate is to not vote for me.  By him not voting for me it showed how he was upset and he was bitter towards my rejections.

Reality TV World:  Just to be clear, you think Jessie gave his jury vote to Jordan out of spite for you rejecting his romantic advances?

Natalie:  Absolutely, 100%.  I have no doubt that's exactly what it was.

Reality TV World:  Interesting.  So why didn't you think you would get Lydia Tavera's vote?  Given you two had appeared to have become pretty close friends before she left the house...

Natalie:  Me and Lydia were close friends in the house?

Reality TV World:  Yeah, at least towards the end following Jessie's eviction.

Natalie:  Lydia and I were never really friends throughout this whole game.  Towards the end we talked and we were civil, but deep down inside we both didn't like each other.  We would still have bouts throughout the day with each other. 

Lydia and I are just somebody who never liked each other. I always said we would never be friends outside this house.  I knew 100% I didn't have Lydia's vote.  I don't like the girl and she doesn't like me.

Reality TV World:  So during the question and answer session with the jury, you didn't have any problems telling Lydia that you were gunning for her because she was coming between you and Jessie?  You knew you weren't getting her vote anyway?

Natalie:  Yeah, I knew I wasn't having Lydia's vote so I told her how I felt.  I wanted her out of the house, which I did, I was very vocal about it.  She was somebody I saw as a threat because I knew she liked somebody who was my ally, and I didn't want my ally becoming unfocused and to focus on a female -- I wanted him to focus on the game. 

I knew I needed to get her out because she was a threat coming between me and my ally.  I knew I didn't have her vote so why not shoot straight with her.

Reality TV World: How did you know you had Russell's vote?  Was it because he didn't like Jordan?

Natalie:  No.  I don't think Russell voted personally.  First off, Russell and I bonded.  We had times in the house where we were on opposite sides and we didn't talk to each other. 

We both have said some things about each other -- you know, you live with somebody for 24 hours a day, that's what happens.  However Russell played the game and I played the game, and I knew that Russell would respect the fact that I played the game. 

Yeah, I told a lot of lies, but this is a game.  When I walked into this house, I shut off who I was in real life and I got into a game.  That's what I did.  This was not only a game, it was a high-stakes game.  I felt that I needed to do what I needed to do to get to the end and get as close as I could to that $500,000.  I played the game. 

I didn't get strung along, I didn't get carried along.  I got to where I was because of myself, and that was because of playing the game.  I think at the end of the day, I knew Russell would respect the fact that I played the game.

Reality TV World: During one of your final statements to the jury, you stated how Jessie, Chima Simone and Ronnie Talbott were all strong competitors who helped get you to the Final 2 -- however you initially failed to mention Kevin.  How big of a role do you think Kevin played in you reaching the Final 2?  Could you have done it without him?

Natalie:  Kevin played a huge role in me getting to the Final 2 and I do not believe I could have got where I did without him.  And I don't think he could have got to the Final 3 without me.

Kevin and I's critical point in this game was "Operation L.M.L." -- Last Minute Lie.  Yeah, if that wouldn't have happened I probably wouldn't have gone home, it would have been Kevin going home that week.  However I would have been next because we were getting picked off one-by-one. 

So I knew we had to just come up with this straight-up lie in order to save us in this game.  By that happening it could put me further along because they started picking off their own alliance members and it gave us the opportunity to have a chance.  That was my critical point.

Even though I came up with L.M.L., it couldn't have happened without Kevin because Kevin was the person who executed it because he had been playing a loyal, truthful game -- so [Jeff Schroeder] was able to believe that it was true.

Reality TV World: You had seemed to grow skeptical that Kevin would have taken you to the Final 2 if he won the final HoH competition -- why was that?  Do you think he would have taken you or do you think he would have taken Jordan?

Natalie:  Towards the end I got very skeptical with Kevin.  I would say Kevin's my ally, but I didn't want him to win [the final HoH competition] because I don't feel he would take me.  Jordan I felt would take me, so I wanted her to win. 

I don't think he would have taken me because Kevin kept saying how all of the jury liked me, he kept saying how I would have all of the votes because everybody in there liked me.  But I don't think he realized the true things that happened with Jessie and I and how I pushed him off so much and how he really, really didn't like me.  I knew that he would be bitter about my engagement.  So he felt that I would beat him. 

He felt he had no chance against me, so towards the end I didn't think he would take me.  I was actually going in the Diary Room going, "I hope Jordan wins!  I hope Jordan wins!"  I'm glad she did.

Reality TV World:  So you were confident that Jordan would follow through with her promise and take you to the Final 2?

Natalie:  Yes, I was very confident with Jordan.  I'm not going to say I was 100% -- you always have a slight doubt because it's a game and you can't trust anybody fully.  However I was very confident with Jordan. 

Jordan and I actually made a Final 2 deal two days before Jeff was going home when I told her I was keeping her in the house, her and I made a Final 2 deal.  Jordan stuck by it and I'm very grateful and indebted to Jordan for that.

Reality TV World: Did you really form a friendship with Jordan in the house?

Natalie:  Absolutely.  Jordan and I formed a friendship once Jeff left.  Once Jeff left her and I really bonded and we have a lot of things the same... You know, we're actually the same in life.  She's just like one of my girlfriends.  We bonded and we formed a very close friendship. 

I'll be inviting her to my wedding.  Jordan's somebody that I'll definitely keep in contact with.  She is a nice, genuine girl -- somebody that I had no idea she was like this in the beginning of the game.  And it's just unfortunate I didn't get to know her sooner.

Reality TV World: Knowing what you know now about how the rest of the game unfolded, would you still choose to open Pandora's Box to spend time with your fiance?

Natalie:  Absolutely I would still open Pandora's Box!  Nothing could have changed that.  I was happy that I just had to sit out the [Power of Veto] competition and it wasn't more severe than that. 

It was amazing.  I got engaged and on Big Brother!  It just was history.  This went down in history. This had never happened.  Nobody [had ever had a loved one visit them inside the house], never mind an engagement. I'm super-excited to start planning my life with him.

Reality TV World:  Did you think it would hurt your relationship with Kevin at all?

Natalie:  I did think Kevin would be a little upset because I opened the box and I couldn't play in the veto competition -- we were allies and I was supposed to be saving him. 

I don't know what you guys saw or didn't see, but I said, "I know Kevin's going to be upset, but I know he would do the same.  He'd open the box.  Yes, this is a game and I have allies, but at the end of the day I'm playing this game for myself.  I'm safe [because I was HoH at the time].  By seeing [my fiance], it only can help me get this much further in the game so I'm going to play for myself and open the box."

Reality TV World: Did you really think Jordan, Kevin and Michele Noonan would buy your lie about the Final 2 reversal? 

Natalie:  At first, I kind of thought I could get away with it.  The whole plan was to basically get them to think that it was true so that way they would all want to take me to the end because I couldn't win.  But I guess it was kind of too over the top.  I ended up having to come clean about it.  But no biggie.  I still made it to the end.

Reality TV World: You got upset last night when Michele questioned if your engagement was real, but don't you see why she might think you were still lying since you initially lied about Pandora's Box?

Natalie:  I didn't necessarily get upset.  For somebody to question something that... I would hope nobody would go on TV and make up a story that they got engaged.  That's kind of pathetic if somebody were to make something up like that.  So I thought that was just too much, too over the top for somebody to lie about and for her to not believe.

But my response to her wasn't necessarily because I was upset, it was just I wanted to make sure that everybody in there knew it was a true statement -- it was a true fact -- because I was very proud of it. 

I wanted them all to know this is what happened, and I wanted everybody to know the experience that just happened to me.  I wanted them to embrace it and all of America to know I was happy about it and that's why I was a little rude towards her -- but it wasn't about being upset about it.

Reality TV World:  So you had no problem having Michele tell the jury members that you had gotten engaged even though you knew it would pretty much seal your fate with not getting Jessie's vote?  You had already kissed his vote goodbye at that point?

Natalie:  Correct.  In fact, Michele said, "Why was it so important for me to tell the jury?" Because I asked Michele to tell the jury I was engaged.  I knew it would kill my vote from Jessie, but this was something huge.  It was something I'm proud of and I don't want to hide it.  I wanted everybody to know. 

Maybe at the end of the day I thought that Jessie would actually be happy -- instead of being upset and bitter about it -- he'd be happy and want to congratulate me, and maybe since I was up-front and honest maybe he'd give me a vote, but Jessie -- by him not voting for me -- he just proved how much he really did care for me.

Reality TV World: How big of a role do you think the Coup d'Etat played in the season?  How do you think the game would have went differently?

Natalie:  The Coup d'Etat was HUGE this season.  It played a huge role for Jeff, particularly.  Jeff would not have made it to Final 5 if it weren't for that Coup d'Etat.  So Jeff needs to thank America because America got him as far as he got in this game.  He probably would have gone out the following week or the week after he used it. 

A lot happened because of the Coup d'Etat.  Chima's power was stripped and upset her a lot, it upset other people in the house a lot.  It was huge.  It made the season crazy.  This season was particularly crazy because of the Coup d'Etat.

Reality TV World: I can understand why you decided to lie about your age to the other houseguests, but I don't get why you would tell Jessie and Chima your real age.  Weren't you concerned that the other houseguests would find out and hold it against you?

Natalie:  I was actually very confident at the time that neither Jessie nor Chima would tell anybody because Jessie -- again -- he was basically in love with me.  So I knew he wouldn't say anything.  And Chima and I ended up bonding like sisters, and I knew I could tell her anything and everything and she wouldn't spill the beans.

So the two people I told I felt confident with.  That's why at the end Ronnie said he was a little hurt because he was the only one in our alliance that didn't know and it was because I didn't fully, 100% trust Ronnie like I did with the other two.

Reality TV World:  Just to touch upon Jessie again for a second, did you talk to him at all last night after the live finale aired?

Natalie:  No.  I have not talked to Jessie at all.

Reality TV World: What's next for you?  What are your plans for the $50,000?

Natalie:  As far as my plans for the $50,000, I have a wedding to plan.  We have set a date in March so I have a wedding to plan -- a lot of it will be going towards that. 

As far as my plans for the future, I would love to see what else is out there, what other opportunities can present themselves.  I'm open to anything right now and I'm just looking forward to getting back to real life. 

I have fans who don't like, but I also have fans who do like me, so I also want to meet them and thank them for their support.  Hopefully I'll get an opportunity to do something else and maybe I can change all those fans who don't like me, I could change their opinions.

(Photo credit CBS)


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