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'Big Brother' house has been her home - twice

By Théoden Janes
Pop Culture Writer

To get an idea of how Jordan Lloyd of Waxhaw has spent two of her past three summers, just invite a dozen or so strangers into your house, lock yourself inside it with them, and don't open the door again for more than two months. Oh, and no TV, no Internet, no phones, no books, no magazines, no music allowed.

This summer, the 25-year-old receptionist spent 69 days in a CBS sound stage also known as the "Big Brother" house, where she was surrounded by cameras, microphones and a gradually dwindling number of people as part of the 13th season of one of the longest-running reality series on TV.

"You're trapped. And there's only so many places you can go in the (house)," Lloyd said, describing the experience by phone from Los Angeles on Friday. "You feel like a science project."

Lloyd ultimately finished fourth out of 14 contestants, her elimination coming with less than a week left in the competition. The season finale aired Wednesday, when Rachel Reilly - a graduate of Northwest Cabarrus High School in Kannapolis - was crowned the winner.

Both women were returning players; Reilly placed ninth in 2010, Lloyd won the $500,000 top prize in 2009. After receiving the half-million-dollar check last week, Reilly returned to her home in Las Vegas. Lloyd is back in the Charlotte area.

"It's so good to be out of the house, to see people other than your other houseguests, to just socialize with everyone, and get to go out to a restaurant and eat," said Lloyd, who plans to resume her job as a receptionist at Planet 21 Salon at The Arboretum on Providence Road.

Lloyd - a girl-next-door-type who did poorly in physical and mental challenges but made up for it with strong social skills - played much of the game alongside her boyfriend Jeff Schroeder, whom she met on the show two summers ago.

To give you an idea of how they were perceived by viewers, Lloyd was routinely referred to as "America's sweetheart," while Schroeder (who finished fifth in 2009, seventh this time) was named on finale night as the winner of a fan popularity contest that featured a $25,000 prize.

As for the next step in their relationship ...

"Well, me and Jeff, we're gonna figure out where we're gonna go - if we're gonna live in Chicago (Schroeder's hometown) or if we're gonna move out here," she said. "We haven't even gotten to talk about anything yet, so as of right now I'm just going back to work at the salon and then kind of go from there."

Lloyd suggested Chicago has the edge at the moment, but when asked what she loves about Charlotte, the Butler High School graduate said:

"I love how everybody's just so friendly there. ... Oh, and Jeff wanted me to say, 'And we get to go to Panthers games.' Jeff loves the Panthers, because every time we go, they're so nice. They gave us free tickets, and he got so excited. In Chicago, they (the Bears) don't ever do anything. They don't even care," she says, laughing.

Lloyd was born in St. Louis, but soon afterward her family moved to the Matthews-Mint Hill area. She was working three jobs when she was cast on "Big Brother" in 2009 - at Planet 21, and at Whisky River and Strike City, both at uptown Charlotte's EpiCentre. After winning in 2009, she bought a Waxhaw townhouse that she shares with her mother and brother.

In 2010, she competed with Schroeder on CBS' "The Amazing Race," finishing seventh out of 11 teams.

So, would she come back for third round of "Big Brother"?

"No," said Lloyd, who is also a part-time student at Central Piedmont Community College. "I'm retiring from 'Big Brother.' I had a great experience. I don't regret it."

She was interrupted by Schroeder, who said something inaudible in the background. "I'm doing my interview, be quiet." Then: "Jeff loves Justin Bieber, OK, and he said that Justin Bieber said 'Never Say Never.' "

So Schroeder, at least - he would go back a third time?

"He said, 'Never say never.' "

Théoden Janes: tjanes@charlotteobserver.com.
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