Popular reality show Big Brother has recently had to answer for its lack of diversity, specifically among its winners. While the franchise has had a significant number of Black contestants over the years, viewers have noticed that they're often eliminated early on and rarely make it to the finals.
During Season 21, contestant Jackson Michie was named Big Brother camp director on Night 2, giving the 24-year-old server from LA the power to banish four fellow houseguests. Two of the four eliminated were David Alexander and Kemi Fakunle, the only Black competitors in the game.
"Jackson taking the two Black houseguests, the plus-sized Latina woman, and the old guy? LMAO who is shocked," one viewer tweeted after the episode ended.
The reality TV genre has been criticized many times before for its lack of diversity, especially among broadcast shows. One of the most well-known examples is ABC's The Bachelor, which only recently featured its first Black lead — and then faced backlash when the season's winner was called out for her racism.
Has a Black person ever won Big Brother?
After hearing fans’ complaints on Twitter, we decided to take a look back at the past 21 Big Brother winners (including Over the Top's) to see whether any non-white contestants have ever won.
The answer is no — a Black person has never won Big Brother, which David Alexander touched on in the diary room.
"The reason I wanted to win, the reason I wanted to compete and be on this show, I want to be the first, like, Black person to win Big Brother," he told the camera. "I wanted to represent African American culture in a different light. I wanted to show that."
The only Black people to win in the franchise's history were Tamar Braxton when she won Season 2 of Celebrity Big Brother in 2019 and Tychon Carter-Newman when he won Season 9 of Big Brother Canada. There are a handful of other Black contestants who have been selected as the runner-up in the OG Big Brother (Ricky Williams from Season 2, Danielle Reyes from Season 3, and Natalie Martinez from Season 11), though none have walked away as the winner.
Sadly, only three winners in the history of the series have been minorities. Korean investment manager Jun Song claimed the crown in Season 4, Latino and Cuban salesman Josh Martinez walked away with the prize money in Season 19, and Filipina pro football player Kaycee Clark came out on top in Season 20.
Though Season 1 winner Eddie McGee is white, he is remembered as the only amputee to ever play the game (the New York native lost his left leg to cancer when he was 11).
Kaycee’s victory last year also proved to be a big deal for the franchise given that she was the first openly gay female contestant to win the $500,000. "Being full lesbian, with tattoos and into sports, I was just different than what they've seen in past seasons," the 31-year-old told The Hollywood Reporter after she was crowned champion. "It's so huge to be the first lesbian to win the game. It still hasn't hit me."
The experience also taught Kaycee a few things about herself. "I recently was able to start opening up," she revealed. "I keep a lot of my feelings to myself and it's hard to really hide it in that house. I learned that it's OK to have feelings and be super vulnerable and not overthink that."
We hope CBS will rethink their casting process in the future to allow for more minorities to shine.
Watch the Big Brother cast Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays a week on CBS, and catch the 24/7 live feeds on CBS All Access.