Is Winning the First HoH on 'Big Brother' Good or Bad?
Is Winning the First HoH on 'Big Brother' Good or Bad?
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
There's often a big debate among Big Brother fans about whether winning the first HoH competition is a good thing or a bad thing. Every season there are some HGs who purposefully throw the competition to avoid having to make a tough decision in the first week while others compete hard to get power right away.

Most people agree that getting the first HoH is a bad thing, but that's not always true. Six of the first HoHs in the history of Big Brother made it all the way to the Final 4, and three of them actually won the whole game. But for the rest, winning early doesn't end well.

The First HoH Success Stories

In season 3, Lisa Donahue won the first HoH of the season and went on to win the game, though many agree that Danielle Reyes deserved the win, only losing because the jury was not sequestered and got to see her scathing diary room comments about the other HGs.

More recently, the first HoH won the game in back-to-back seasons for Big Brother 12 and 13 with Hayden Moss and Rachel Reilly. For Hayden, winning first allowed him to form the Brigade, which dominated the game. For Rachel, winning first allowed her and the other veterans to convince weak-willed newbies to turn on each other, thus giving her a chance to win. In both cases, winning in the first week was a huge advantage.

Other first HoHs that succeeded included Janelle Pierzina during All-Stars, who ended up in third place. However, like Rachel in season 13, her success was based more on winning a lot of competitions than actual strategy. Season 10's Jerry MacDonald also finished in third after winning the first HoH, but that was due largely to him being an old man who everyone knew would be easy to beat at the end.

The sixth success story for the first HoH is last year's McCrae Olson, who made it to fourth place. Being the first HoH was the only reason he was recruited for the Moving Company (which helped him because he was able to betray that alliance and keep himself safe). It also sort of helped him because being the first HoH solidified his showmance with Amanda. While that showmance eventually ruined his game, turning him into a weakened, hollow shell of a player, her social dominance protected him for a long time.

Winning the first HoH can be successful if used properly. Hayden and Rachel knew how to get the most out of it. The first HoH can dictate the pace of the game, and done properly, it can keep that person safe until the end. Hayden was able to keep the house friendly and unified, turning everyone against Annie, while Rachel was able to create discord amongst the newbies.

The First HoH Epic Fails

Jase Wirey won the first HoH twice, in seasons 5 and 7, but both times he was way too cocky about it and failed to even make the jury both times, finishing 10th and 12th. In season 8, Kail Harbick was the first HoH, but her unease about the power led to her being nominated for three straight weeks before going home in 10th place.

The first HoH was disastrous in the couples season of Big Brother 9, when the first Power Couple and the first HoH couple were both eliminated the week after their power ended.

The most extreme example of what not to do if you win the first HoH came in season 14 with Willie Hantz. He went mad with power, organizing house meetings, speculating wildly about the coaches and, as soon as he lost the power, he went crazy and got expelled.

The First HoH Middle Tales

The other first HoHs all fall somewhere in between, all barely making it to the jury. In seasons 2, 4 and 6, the first HoH finished in eighth place, while season 9's first HoH, Jessie Godderz, finished in ninth. All of them had short-term plans for safety, but none were able to look at the long game. Big Brother is a marathon, not a sprint.


The moral of the story is that winning the first HoH on Big Brother isn't necessarily a bad thing. It all depends on how you use it. If you're only concern is staying safe and not making enemies, the fear will lead you down a dark path of failure. If you use the first HoH to set the tempo for the game, establishing a house-wide criteria for nominations and evictions while solidifying long-term partnerships, it can be a huge asset.


(Image courtesy of CBS)

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