Shaler's Ian Terry man takes home $500,000 on 'Big Brother'
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Here is a rundown of the last 76 days of Ian Terry's life:
• Join cast of a popular reality television show.
• Try not to be overwhelmed by 15 "Big Brother" houseguests with big personalities and scheming ambitions.
• Wear funny costumes, play games. Try to forget that your every move and word are being recorded and often broadcast to millions of people.
• Get comfortable. Make friends. Influence people.
• Win $500,000. Begin round of talk shows and interviews.
So, how was your summer vacation?
"I was completely stunned; I didn't think it was going to happen," said Mr. Terry, 21, who attended Shaler Area High School and is studying engineering at Tulane University.
After Wednesday night's live finale broadcast in front of 7.6 million viewers, it was revealed that his geek charm and a practical approach to playing the game was a winning combination. Despite the social manipulations of finalists Dan Gheesling, a Michigan teacher, and Danielle Murphree, an Alabama nurse, Mr. Terry played his way into the final two and fellow castmates awarded him the grand prize by a 6-1 vote.
When Mr. Terry finally walked out of the "Big Brother" house to the cheers of the other players and a studio audience, he was mobbed. His younger brother, Ryan, rushed to lift him off his feet.
"My parents are really pumped I went on and won it," he said. "So, they're happy about that."
But Mr. Terry waited until just before leaving for Los Angeles to break the news to his mother, Sharon, and didn't tell his father, Peter, or brother. He said he was "nervous" about their reactions.
"I guess the first exposure ... were commercials where I was in them," he said.
It was a rocky start for Mr. Terry, who looks a youngish 21, and in the early going wore his oversized eyeglasses. As a student of previous "Big Brother" cycles, he worried that appearing too studious might threaten some of the others.
"I was just very lucky to shake it off for a good while and then put a good string of competition wins together to get down to the end," he said.
At one point in the finale, his two opponents were working together to convince him he should throw the all-important final Head of Household competition to Mr. Gheesling.
Insisting he's "risk averse," Mr. Terry refused to cave, despite pressure from Ms. Murphree in what must have seemed a feigned argument.
"I thought that was very fishy," he said.
Running on adrenalin 12 hours after the final broadcast -- "I didn't get an ounce of sleep" -- he described to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette a morning of binge-surfing the Internet to read what others thought of this "Big Brother" season.
He tried out for Season 14 of the popular CBS program because he's been a big fan of the show since childhood. Part of that was visiting fan forums. So entertainment sites were his first stop when he finally was able to log on after so many months.
"I've seen some things I'm not happy about, but hey, it's kind of funny, in a weird way," Mr. Terry said.
"I expected a lot of hateful comments, actually much more than I ended up getting. I read a thing just totally bashing me last night but I thought it was pretty funny. So it didn't bother me.
"I saw another thread that said I was 'clearly autistic' and that hurt my feelings pretty badly," he said. Over the course of the summer, Mr. Terry had discussed with others his obsessive compulsive disorder. Whenever he felt anxious, he liked to wander out to a hammock, where swinging back and forth "just got the stress out."
Having missed a month of school, Mr. Terry said he plans to spend some time decompressing and return to Tulane after the holidays.
"Just to calm myself down and figure things out."
He and the other finalists appeared on CBS's "The Talk" Thursday afternoon, where one of the hosts, Julie Chen, happens to be the host of "Big Brother."
After extricating himself from a long hug from host Sheryl Underwood, Mr. Terry gave a quick rundown of his strategy -- impressively mapped on a piece of paper he took with him into the "Big Brother" house -- and accepted a bright blue Snuggie embroidered with the show's logo.
In reply to Sharon Osbourne's question about what he'll do with his winnings Mr. Terry said, "Pay off student loans, but I'm going to get some sunglasses as well."
Ms. Underwood added, "You need to go on a date or something!"
Mr. Terry is scheduled to attend a fundraising event in Las Vegas, then plans to return to Pittsburgh. His late-night Internet searches tipped him off that the Pirates, who were doing well when he entered the "Big Brother" house almost three months ago, have since faltered.
But attending a game at PNC Park is still on his to-do list, as is catching up on election season. As for the possibility of jumping back onto the reality TV bandwagon, well, never say never.
"I'd do ["Big Brother"] again in a heartbeat," he said. "Once you've won it once I really don't have a lot to prove. I feel I could just take it on the chin, be more lighthearted.
"The money is great, don't get me wrong. It's a huge motivator and I'm thrilled I won that huge prize," he said. "But the real reason is, I just wanted to be on it, and I wanted to win it."
First Published September 21, 2012 12:00 am