Catch Up With Nicole Franzel, Winner Of Big Brother Season 18

What has the Michigan ER nurse been up to since she won $500,000?

Two-time Houseguest Nicole Franzel made Big Brother history when she beat Paul Abrahamian in Season 18. Not only was she the first female to win the game in five years, but she was also the first ever player to take home the grand prize sitting next to a male in the Final Two.

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So what has Nicole been up to since her major victory? Which Houseguests is she still in touch with? In the lead-up to the brand new season of Big Brother—which premieres Wednesday, June 28 at 8/7c on CBS and CBS All Access—we caught up with the former Houseguest to talk about her post- Big Brother life.

What have you been up to since your BB18 win?

Nicole Franzel: I've been traveling a ton! Before my first run on Big Brother, I don't think I had many plans of leaving my town—let alone state—and now I'm making it a goal to visit every state and as many places in the world as I can. I'm obsessed with maps and globes—plus, we all know I could use some work in the geography area.

Also, I've been doing wedding stuff—and a lot of it. Not for me, of course, but I'm in three weddings coming up, and there's a lot to do!

Other than that, just typical "Nicole" behaviors of family time, board game nights with friends, drinking coffee, and day-dreaming of getting a coffee shop up and running.

Since you've had experiences with showmances, would you say they are or aren’t a good idea?

Nicole: [Laughs] Showmances as in plural.

Um, I mean, sometimes they help your game, and sometimes they hurt your game. It all depends on how you are perceived by the other Houseguests. I've had it help and hurt my game. Having a very loyal ally is obviously a good idea, and that could be a showmance, bromance, womance, or anykindofmance.

Find your person. That's the best tip I can give you.

We're sure you're going to watch BB19. What are you most looking forward to about the new season?

Nicole: I love finding out who I want to root for and just being gung-ho for them. I pick my faves pretty early on. I'm not really a band-wagoner when it comes to who I want to win.

Who is your all-time favorite Big Brother Houseguest and why?

Nicole: After you play the game twice, you have a new perception. I would have to say Dani Donato. She is "bad ass" in and out of the game, and has a heart of gold.

What words of advice do you have for the newest batch of Houseguests?

Nicole: Have fun! It's pretty lame advice, but seriously, being a "newbie" in the Big Brother house is the best feeling in the world. I could cry thinking about how innocent, thankful, and happy I was on my first season. Stepping foot into that atmosphere is a dream come true. Soak it up and appreciate it.

Have any doors opened for you since doing BB?

Nicole: Definitely! But for the most part, I just went back to my normal routine pre-show, but by choice. I'm a pretty private person.

Like I said, I do travel a ton and get invited to a lot of cool events and meet some really great people. I do have an agent who is super helpful and, for the time being, allows me to work from home and have a decently open schedule to do some spontaneous trips. There are lots of opportunities out there for everyone. It's all about staying true to you while you pursue your dreams.

Which former Houseguests are you closest with these days?

Nicole: I actually talk to a lot of former Houseguests, honestly. I could name like 20 that I talk to monthly, or I could name people who would know how my week is going and what I had for lunch.

Hayden and Victor would be the two I talk to the most, probably every day. Derrick, Caleb, Dani, and Paul are the others that would know quite a bit about my life and vice versa. But I definitely have good relationships with several more!

What's something people would be surprised to learn about Big Brother?

Nicole: A lot of people ask me about the food. You get to cook your own meals with so many good groceries they restock each week. (No, they don't deliver us cooked meals or macchiatos). I used to hide the avocados from Zach my first season, and then it was Frank my second season. You only get six for the whole week.

Oh, and sharing a toilet with 15 other people with no lock isn't all that bad, for some reason. You just learn to adapt to everything. My body goes straight into survival mode; it can be tough in there.

My two experiences couldn't have been more different in every way possible. My first season, we ate like college students, and the biggest meal we would make was quesadillas. Then last season, I think I became a legit chef—well, Paul is a sous-chef actually—and it paid off.

Do you have any fun summer plans in the works?

Nicole: I do! I've had a few different possible opportunities come up, and I'm excited to see how they pan out. It's so hard to remain patient! I'm ready for the next step in my life.

Would you ever play Big Brother a third time?

Nicole: Duh!

Watch the Season 19 premiere of Big Brother on Wednesday, June 28 at 8/7c on CBS and CBS All Access.