Big Brother Canada Season 11 showmance couple Terrell “Ty” McDonald and Claudia Campbell made it to the show's final two houseguests in Thursday night's finale, but ultimately, McDonald was crowned the winner, walking away with $100,000 in cash and additional prizes.
"Surreal, I still don't believe it," McDonald told Yahoo Canada. "I knew it'd be a tough battle, thankfully the votes were in my favour, people saw the type of game I played."
McDonald, from Toronto, was very much the "comp beast" throughout the season, winning back-to-back Power of Veto (POV) competitions week after week. But the new Big Brother Canada winner revealed that wasn't even his initial strategy going into the game.
"I always knew that I could compete at the highest level however, that wasn't my strategy coming in here," McDonald said.
"Once I lost my main guys, I realized that I had to change my strategy. I had to start winning in order to have any kind of power."
'There was hope that the jury would see the game that I played'
But McDonald wouldn't have seen the final two if it wasn't for Prince Edward Island’s Claudia Campbell. She won two of three Head of Household (HoH) competitions in the two-hour finale, which meant she was tasked with having to decide who would come with her to the final, and who would be evicted. Campbell stuck to her showmance alliance, which meant Toronto's Daniel Clarke became the final jury member of the season.
"We had talked about it for a little bit of time," Campbell said about her decision to evict Clarke over McDonald. "In that moment, I really did want to stick to my word."
"But it was also that I wasn't afraid to sit next to [Ty]. I truly believed in the game that I played, I felt like I was a strong social player. I showed myself in those competitions. The jury doesn't get to see the end of the show and these competitions that I did pull off and win. Ironically, I won more competitions against Ty. ... So I believed in the game that I had."
When the final vote came in, McDonald beat Campbell with a vote of eight-to-one. Shanaya Carter was the only jury member who voted for Campbell to win.
"Part of me maybe thought he would have a lot of votes, but also there was hope that the jury would see the game that I played and hear me out," Campbell said.
"I was surprised by [Jonathan Leonard], ... we had our East Coast connection. I absolutely love that man. He is an amazing person so there's absolutely no hard feelings there, but that one did surprise me."
For Clarke, he revealed to Yahoo Canada that if the tables were turned and he had to choose to take either McDonald or Campbell to the final two, he would have chosen Campbell. Even though he voted for McDonald to win, Clarke said his vote was based on knowing how many other votes McDonald was going to get from the jury.
"I respect what they did, they wanted to make history as the showmance that made it to the final two together," Clarke said. "Good on them."
Ultimately, with Clarke having worked with both McDonald and Campbell, separately and together, Clarke said there were some difficult moments to navigate how to work with them, particularly amid their rocky relationship.
"It was definitely annoying and very hard to work around because you didn't know when they were on, when they're off and what information they're passing each other," Clarke said.
"I was just so 100 per cent genuinely myself. So all the connections I was making in the house were real, genuine connections. ... When it came down to it, people wanted to work with me because we were truly friends."
Where does the Ty, Claudia relationship stand?
Campbell herself is quite honest about what it was like navigating a showmance on Big Brother Canada, saying it was "definitely tough."
"We had completely different approaches to this game and we battled on our perspectives in this game," Campbell said. "It's really tough to play this game with someone in that sort of relationship and as much as I tried to separate my emotions from the game, it got really hard."
"That was when I decided to kind of break things off at that time, but we always really cared about each other. It all just came down to the game and us trying to put that first. I think both of us are very stubborn people and I think we both wanted to come in here and be independent and make our own marks on the game. ... But ultimately, we came together at the end and we made it to the final two, so I am proud of that."
"I think I saw her more in my strategy than she saw me in hers," McDonald said in a separate interview. "Obviously she's seen the risks associated with being associated with me, ... because it seemed that everybody that was associated with me was getting evicted."
"I understand why we had to break up at a certain point because she had to do what was best for her game. I'm just happy that we were able to ... finish this game strong together."
A major outstanding question for Big Brother Canada fans is whether this showmance will carry on into the the lives of Campbell and McDonald when they're outside the house, and there are conflicting viewpoints.
Campbell suggested that there is a possibility for this relationship to continue.
"We have been living in this Big Brother bubble for the last like 70 days, so I think we're just so excited to get out of here and to experience real life together, and see what that means," she said. "Maybe he'll come to P.E.I."
From McDonald's perspective, he was a significantly more vague about the possibility of this relationship continuing in the future.
"I don't know how she feels, however, I am happy that she still did bring me to a final two with her," McDonald said.
'I was completely, 100 per cent authentically myself'
Going home $100,000 richer, in addition to winning $10,000 towards a brand-new wardrobe, courtesy of Winners, and $10,000 worth of Shark and Ninja products, McDonald has some practical plans for his winnings.
"I definitely want to continue doing charity work," he said. "I've done charity work before coming in here but now with $100,000, I have a lot more that I can do with it."
"So I'm going to sit down and kind of plan out what kind of impact I can make with the earnings that I have, ... see where I can help my mom out, and invest the rest."
For the Campbell and Clarke, they're both excited to get back into the real world, outside of the Big Brother Canada house.
"I was so proud to be an Islander coming to the show, ... I didn't take that lightly," Campbell said. "I wanted to make everyone so proud and I hope that I have done that."
"I'm of course very excited to catch up with my friends and my family, and the news. I want to hear all the celebrity drama. I want to hear new music. I also just want to take a minute to decompress and be with my family and relax."
For Clarke, this is the end of a particularly long Big Brother Canada journey, having applied multiple times to be on the show, since Season 1.
"I was 21 years-old, I was in the closet when I was trying to apply initially and it never worked," Clarke said. "I never got a phone call."
"I've applied for 11 seasons, I've never made it one stage forward until this season, and here I am. I never made it to this point until I was completely, 100 per cent authentically myself. I know that's the annoying thing to hear, but when you audition for this show, you need to go in there and tell them, what are you're proud of? What is your passion? Why do you want to do this and show it to them."