Big Brother

Britney Haynes Explains Big Brother Reindeer Games Move Against Danielle

The “Big Brother” legend experienced her biggest high ever in the game, and then had to make “a really hard and really complicated decision.”

“I hate all of them! They sent me to my death!” That was meme queen Britney Haynes on Thursday’s edition of Big Brother Reindeer Games. And her death in the game did, indeed, seem certain.

The cause of all the drama was a hamster wheel maze with a brutal twist: The first player taking it on would be eliminated if they could not finish it in under five minutes and 30 seconds. However, if they completed it in time, the next person would have a minute less to do it. And each person after that would have one minute less than the person before, with the pattern continuing until someone was eliminated.

Frankie Grande bested the maze and picked Xavier Prather to follow. After Xavier also successfully completed it, he selected Britney — giving her only three minutes and 30 seconds to save her life in the game. Nobody — chief among them Britney — seemed to think she had a chance of saving herself, but that is exactly what she did, with well over a minute to spare.

The victory left Britney as a sobbing mess crawling around on fake snow in disbelief and celebration. (“Like, I’m crying in a candy cane forest!”) But the drama was far from over, because that meant Britney had to then choose someone else to go in and take on the wheel with only two minutes and 30 seconds. Even though Taylor Hale volunteered to go, Britney chose Danielle Reyes instead after Xavier explained that he was protecting the season 3 fan favorite.

It was a bold Big Brother-esque game move, and Danielle was then indeed eliminated, giving Britney only a half-hearted hug on her way out the door. We scored an exclusive interview with Britney to talk all about the highs and lows of her a-maze-ing hamster wheel experience.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, is that Sleigh Queen sweater some official Big Brother merch you’re wearing there?

BRITNEY HAYNES: Everyone thought that they gave me this. This was something I brought myself and I snuck it into the house and wore it intentionally. This is the one thing that I wore that they didn’t give to me.

And you haven’t taken it off since. Alright, let’s start at the beginning of this whole Jack Frost hamster wheel maze situation. First off, how did you feel about Frankie putting Xavier in after Nicole told Frankie that if he did that, Xavier would put you in next?

I was not happy about it. I did not want him to do that. So much of it got cut down and so much of it wasn’t shown. We had a pretty decent conversation where I said to him, “Don’t put Xavier in,” but what he told me was, “I’m really not sure that he can do it. I really think this might be our chance to send him out.” Everyone was threatened by him. Everyone thought he was a great competitor and he was on everyone’s radar, especially Frankie’s. And Frankie was like, this could be our chance to get him.

As far as protecting me, I don’t really think that Frankie had a better choice. I don’t think it mattered who on that side he put in because they all would’ve chosen me next anyway. So from that perspective, it probably didn’t make a huge difference in what the outcome was, but I definitely wasn’t happy about it at the time.

So then Xavier gets by and then he has to make a decision. You go up to him, you say the words, “please” and “don’t” a lot as your pitch. Did you try to strike any deals there or was it pretty much just please and don’t?

Everyone really got along for the most part on the show. There was no bad blood or deep resentment or anything like that. But the fact of the matter was he was not working with me day one, and he was in a four-person alliance out of a nine-person game — and the first two people who went out were also not a part of that four-person alliance. So we’re down to seven people in this episode, and they have a four-person strong alliance. After Nicole’s safe, after Frankie wins, I’m a sitting duck.

It felt, in that moment, [as if] I was begging for my life. And so yes, I’m aware that it looks pathetic and I’m aware that it looks sad, and I’m aware that it looked not super cohesive and put together. But in that moment there wasn’t a lot I could say to him other than, “Look, you can beat me in the end. Why put me in when you can beat me, and you can’t necessarily beat these other people?” So that is sort of what I tried to pitch to him, knowing that it probably wasn’t going to be successful, but I felt like I had to just give it a shot.

So It looked like you’d pretty much lost all hope before getting on that wheel. Is that a pretty accurate description of your mood at that point?

A hundred percent. And it honestly didn’t even play out as angry as I truly was because it didn’t even feel like I was getting to walk into the candy cane forest and play for my life. It felt like I was just straight up sent home with a three-and-a-half-minute purgatory. That’s what it felt like to me in that moment. So when he says my name, I’m just like, “Whatever.” I stormed out of the house. I slammed the back door. I truly believed that there was just no chance.

I think you got the fastest time — even faster than Frankie, although you were kind of hanging out for a little bit there before you actually pressed the button.

Yeah, I was actively not watching the time while I was doing it at first. The first time that I looked over and saw that it was at two minutes, and I could see that I only had a few turns left, I was like, “Huh? Is this how much time I’ve gone over the three-and-a-half minutes?” That was the first time that it clicked in my mind like, “Oh my God, I think I might get this. What is happening?” I was shocked.

That’s what it looked like. It looked like more confusion and disbelief than happiness.

Yes, disbelief. A hundred percent disbelief. I could not believe my eyes. I was like, “Oh my God, I’m going to survive this! Unbelievable!” I was absolutely shocked.

So how would you describe your time crawling around on fake snow and bawling in a make-believe candy cane forest?

One of the weirdest, most surreal moments of my life. Very rarely have I had a big victory. And that felt really, really big. It felt like surviving death. It was crazy and very weird because it’s eerily quiet. There’s no cheering, there’s no applause, there’s no noise. It’s silent. No one is speaking. No one is clapping. So I did it, and I feel like this rush of emotion and this rush of adrenaline, like, “Oh my God! I did this!” But it’s dead silent, with the exception of my sobbing echoing off the walls. There’s an elf standing there. The only other person who’s actually in it with me is this elf that I met today, and he’s the only person that I can talk to.

It was the weirdest, most surreal feeling. And the lights are super bright and the ground was white. It was honestly the Twilight Zone. It was some sort of a weird dream, almost like a surreal out-of-body type experience just because of the environment, the surge of emotion, and the whole thing being so abnormal. Normally if you win a big game, there’s a crowd, there’s an audience, people are cheering. This is me alone on fake snow, bright lights, white ground, crying.

How many memes do you think you created during that?

Hopefully not very many. I wasn’t looking super cute. I don’t have a great cry face, so let’s maybe stick to something cuter.

Alright, so you win. You’re losing your mind. You’re back from near-certain death. But now you have to make a decision. So once you survived, was it always going to be Danielle?

No, no, no, definitely not. It was not always going to be Danielle. However, Danielle was on my radar as far as I did not trust that she was really working with me and the girls alliance as much as I thought she was working with that four-person alliance, I felt that they were much tighter, that they were a much more secure alliance. And as you can see, watching it back, it’s even more evident to me now than it even felt in the moment.

I was very alone, kind of like an island, and I was constantly working to try to forge relationships and build trust with people because I knew that I needed to have some protection to get through this thing. So I was working really, really hard on my relationships with Frankie and Nicole. And then I was also working really hard trying to find an ally on that side as well. But they seemed so tight. I felt like I was getting nowhere.

So because I had made that handshake deal with Josh at the table, and even though Taylor had volunteered to go in, I saw myself saving both of them as an opportunity to build a relationship with them. I could build some trust with Taylor. I thought that she would see it more as, “I really want to work with you. I don’t want you to leave. I want you here. I want to work with you. I want to do this girl’s thing. I want to do this, so I don’t even want to risk putting you in.”

I was seeing that as an opportunity to build that with her. And then similarly with Josh, who I thought, if he survives this and I shook his hand and then he comes back, that’s going to be very bad for me. But if I honor the deal that we made, then at least tomorrow, if he comes into power, I have the ability to say, “Look, I honored the deal that I made with you yesterday.” So I saw not choosing them as a path for me to make some inroads on that side.

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And then I also saw Danielle was doing a really, really good job socially, and I think that you can see that on the show. You see that she really kind of has protections on both sides. No one is coming after her. And when it came down to it, Danielle and I were both playing a similar type game socially. We were both trying to do the same thing socially. And I saw if someone at some point could save me or Danielle, they’re going to save Danielle every single time. And so as much as I wanted to work with her — and if I could have had the opportunity to shake a snow globe, Danielle would’ve been in my final four — seeing how well she was doing socially and seeing how we were playing a similar type game, I knew she would always be a preference for safety over me. Because I had started winning competitions and she had done the work socially.

She had gotten in on that side with the four, but she was also in on the other side with Frankie and Nicole. And so I felt like if she went, I could kind of fill that role of like, “Oh, choose me because you can beat me.”

Well, I spoke with Danielle earlier today, and she says that you were her number one in the house and that she swore on her grandkid that she would work with you. So is that true, or were you just not convinced?

I can’t speak to what her true intentions were, but I will say that Danielle and I were working together. Maybe I was her number one. That very well may be true, but it didn’t feel like it to me there. The feeling that I had there was that her and Xavier were each other’s number ones. It just seemed like they were super tight, that they were super close.

I didn’t think that she was necessarily coming after me. However, I saw an opportunity to build trust with other people, and I also saw an opportunity to make myself the one that people would drag along because they thought they could beat her at the end. And the only way that that argument was really going to work for me the way I wanted it to was if she wasn’t there. And I don’t know if I was her number one, maybe I was. But to me, in that moment, it very much didn’t feel that way. It very much felt that that four was super solid and super strong.

So take me through your mental state as you put Danielle in there. You must have been insanely worried that she might be successful and come back into the house with major payback on her mind.

Oh my God! And she could eviscerate me with one look. Yeah, I was definitely worried about that. But I could say the same thing no matter who I had put in there. If they were going to come back into the house, they were going to be really angry.

Not Taylor though, right?

That’s true. Not necessarily Taylor. But I guess what I expected from Taylor, which is not the reality of the situation, was that she would be like, “ Thank you so much for not putting me in.” She must’ve felt very confident about it because I feel like the reaction was more like “I wanted to go in and you didn’t put me in. What the heck?” I thought that I was doing her a super solid and she was going to be so grateful and indebted to me was really how I had processed it in my mind. And that’s not how it went down.

But that was sort of the goal for me. If I could go back and do it in retrospect, I would do it completely differently. I would’ve gone in first, I would’ve then put in Frankie because I would’ve known he could survive it. And then you’re stacking your team on the safe side, and then that other four-person alliance, they’re going to have to eat each other. That would’ve absolutely been the way to go. I completely messed that up by not wanting to go in. And Nicole gave me the option, if you want to go in, I’ll put you in. And I saw that hamster wheel and said, “Uh, no thank you.”

You talked a lot about how you wanted your kids to see how you never give up — even though you kind of mentally had given up before you started — and you talked about how it was all for your kids. Did your kids watch it?

My kids watched it, and I have to tell you, pretty unimpressed. I feel like no one was giving me what I wanted out of the moment. I had built it up in my head of like: We’re going to watch this and everyone’s going to be so excited. I felt that very much from my extended family and from my friends and from the public at large. However, my own family was really just like, “Good job. That was great. Is it snack time?” Which is just so par for the course for me in my life in general.

But yes, I wanted them to see me give it my very best effort, even believing that I couldn’t really do it. I probably am going to fail at this, but I’m going to try anyway because I’m here. It’s what I came to do, and I’m going to give it my best shot.

Welcome to parenthood.

Yeah, doesn’t matter, not impressed with anything. But I do feel like it was such a multifaceted, layered decision that people saw so little of the minutiae of what built up to that decision in that moment. It had a lot to do with Xavier flat-out telling me, “Hey, I threw you in there because I was protecting her.” But there were other layers building up to it, including me trying to make inroads with Josh and Taylor and making good on my word to Josh. That also contributed to it as well.

And it was sad. It was similar to in season 14, we all got rid of Janelle. The house voted Janelle out — Janelle being my favorite Big Brother player to ever play the game. And that, for me, was a week of just torture because we were friends in the house and I was still having to talk to her. Oh, it was awful. It was like the worst I ever felt.

This was similar to that because of how much I love Danielle and how she was and is completely legendary. And for someone like me, where the Diary Room is kind of like my place on Big Brother. I feel like you could say Danielle Reyes is the pioneer of that. She built the backbone of the Diary Room. She was someone that I watched and loved and loved her gameplay. I love to watch a ruthless, vicious player in general. And she was loyal, but she was also cutthroat, and she made big moves and was just a joy to watch.

I think that also kind of played into it a little bit as well, that I knew if Danielle ever has to cut me, she totally will. I have watched her seasons. I know the type of player she is. If her and Xavier are talking about getting rid of me, no hesitation. She will get rid of me. No questions asked. So I knew that about her, but it still was so hard for me to do because of how much I really love her as a fan of the show and how much she had done for Big Brother as a program.

She was like the original Diary Room queen. And so it was a really, really hard and really complicated decision. Was it the right decision? I don’t know. Maybe not. But at the time, in that moment and with what I had to work with, it felt like my best opportunity to secure safety from the remaining people. And B, it made the most sense in terms of I thought that she was the most loyal to that four-person alliance.

Well, it contributed to one of the best episodes of TV all year.

We were all saying the whole time, “Why didn’t we just do the elf job?” That is so much better and easier. They get to come in with their cute outfits and their scrolls. They’re laughing. It’s lighthearted. They’re getting to actually enjoy this beautiful ambiance. Whereas all of us are just dressed to the max, we’re pacing, we’re crying, we’re huddling in the corner. It was so freaking stressful. Our bodies were breaking. Our brains were breaking. We were breaking down.

Even a double eviction episode on Big Brother is just a one-hour episode, and these were long, long, long, long days for them to squeeze in three competitions and all the gameplay in between. So it was like all the gut-wrenching, worst parts of a double eviction stretched out in a 13-hour day of filming. It was so hard. The most emotionally taxing show I’ve done.

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