Many “Big Brother” fans thought Paul Abrahamian was going to win Season 19 of the CBS reality show by a mile.
Then, surprisingly, Josh Martinez edged out Abrahamian at the end of Wednesday night’s finale, by an inch.
But there’s another question hanging over the proceedings as we come away from one of the wildest “BB” seasons in recent memory: Did Christmas Abbott lose by a foot?
In July, just 12 days into the game, the Raleigh CrossFit star and competitive weightlifter broke 10 bones in her foot, dislocated four toes and severed ligaments when fellow houseguest Jason Dent slipped and fell while running around with Abbott on his back.
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Ten days later, she left the house to have reconstructive surgery. For the rest of the summer, the 35-year-old Abbott – whose adult life has revolved around fitness and competition – was forced to sit out of HOH and POV competitions more often than not.
On Wednesday night, after 92 days, she was voted out by her BFF, Martinez, to finish in third place.
Less than 16 hours later, Abbott called us from Los Angeles and explained how the injury happened (hint: blame Big & Rich), whether she blames Dent, and – of course – how she feels about who won.
Q. OK, so take us back to the day you broke your foot. We saw you getting the piggyback ride from Jason, but what led to that in the first place?
A. They play three songs every morning – you guys don’t get to hear that – but that morning, they played “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy).” And we were just goofing off, horsing around, and he ran outside and slipped and fell on me. I knew I broke my foot immediately. But I also didn’t want to go to the ER, because I knew that if I left the house, then I was not gonna be able to return. So the only way that I agreed to leave was that I had a verbal confirmation that I was allowed to come back in the game.
Q. How long were you away from the house?
A. Two nights. Just for the surgery. And I was very isolated. I had earphones on, glasses, hat, everything. I didn’t see or hear or do anything. Nothing on the outside world affected me. “Big Brother” was very, very cautious of that. And let’s be honest, I was pretty doped up after (my surgery). I would have been back after one night, but unfortunately, we couldn’t get my pain under control.
Q. Speaking of pain, on YouTube there’s a clip of you lying on the ground for what seemed like a very long time.
A. It was a long time!
Q. I suspect, as an athlete, that your pain threshold is pretty high to begin with. But that looked like it hurt a lot.
A. It was the most painful thing that I’ve ever experienced in my life, hands down. I kept my cool until I got into the doctor’s office, and then the adrenaline wore off. I sobbed, I screamed; it was excruciating. It actually makes me cringe thinking about it again. I have some gnarly scars.
Q. But so you never for a second thought about pulling yourself from the game?
A. Never. Not once. It was never a thought. Even in my hardest and darkest days. It was not an option. I knew that I had to persevere for my own sanity, but also to be able to show people that when you’re in a s----- situation, you have to make the best of it. And it’s up to you to do that.
Q. How far along are you with your recovery?
A. Well, I can walk now!
Q. Without a boot?
A. No, I have my boot for a couple more weeks, then I have a (post-op) shoe for a few more weeks, then I have another surgery in January to get the hardware out. I’m a long way from being healed. Even then, I’ll have arthritis, and my foot’s not going to have the same integrity as before. I mean, it’s just really a bummer. I’m not sure what the future holds, but I’m gonna try my best to return (to fitness pursuits) as best as possible.
Q. Do you have regret over the fact that you guys were horsing around like that? And did you blame Jason at the time, or do you blame him now? Any resentment?
A. No, I don’t blame him. I mean, I obviously regret doing that, in a way. Nobody wants to break their foot. Nobody wants that to happen. Especially an athlete. That is my life, that is my career, that is where I live. And it was an unfortunate circumstance that I tried to make the best of. I’m proud of the way that I handled it, and that’s all that I can really speak to. I don’t blame Jason for anything. I couldn’t think about that. If I was gonna sit there and have ill personal feelings for him, then I couldn’t play the game with a clear head – and I wanted to do that best as possible.
Q. Also, you’ve been through hard stuff before. Do you think the fact that you’ve overcome other challenges and hardships in your life helped you cope with this better than you might have otherwise?
<p><a target="_new" href="http://www.charlotteobserver.com/living/health-family/article154644934.html">[READ MORE: Christmas Abbott: Being a ‘badass’ is about so much more than half-naked pics]</a></p>
A. Yeah, I think that it definitely helped me cope with it a little bit differently than most, and I felt that I was more of an emotional rock for some of the people in the house. That’s not to say that I didn’t have a hard time. I did. I just think that I probably showed it a little bit different, and I found peace with being able to help others through my own struggle. That’s what I did in the house, and I’m grateful for that. I wouldn’t change anything. It was just a lot to take in. I’m gonna lean on those guys a lot now that I’m out of the show.
Q. Those guys?
A. My Meatball (Martinez) and Friendship (Abrahamian). That friendship was authentic. It was real.
Q. Speaking of Josh, do you think the right person won?
A. Yeah, I love Josh so much, and I think that he had a great transformation. I know that I voted for Paul, but it’s because he hustled so hard. His work was aggressive; he thought out everything. It was really, really impressive to watch him work. But I’m just really proud of Josh. I love the fact that he won. He has such great gratitude for his family. And he worked really hard, too. We all three did.
Q. Do you think this would have been a completely different game if you hadn’t gotten hurt?
A. Yes, I do. I know that I would have been a bigger target. I was already a target the first two weeks, so I would have definitely stayed a larger target. But with breaking my foot, I had to really go hard with a social game. I didn’t want to be seen as a burden, I didn’t want to be seen as incapable, I didn’t want to be seen as anything but just somebody that’s gonna support the house team. That’s the angle I had to play.
Q. In terms of summing up the whole summer, I realize you’re less than 24 hours removed from the experience, but what would you say the biggest takeaway for you is at this point?
A. Honestly, it was so bizarre, and also the most incredible summer of my life, hands down. It didn’t end the way that I wish it had ended, but I do get to walk out with two real, genuine friendships, having had the most unique experience that I could ever imagine. And I would do it all over again. One hundred percent. But with two good feet.