Celebrity Big Brother didn't make headlines because of catfights or scandalous hook-ups. It made national news — and a White House press briefing — because of Omarosa Manigault-Newman's ominous warnings about what was in store for the American public with Donald Trump in office. Mathews may have orchestrated a masterful social game in the house, but he believes his biggest contribution was getting as much dirt out of Omarosa as possible. You're welcome to thank him now.
Mathews broke down his Omarosa strategy for TV Guide after the Celebrity Big Brother finale.
You told me before you went into the house that the last person you want to see there is Omarosa and I was scared you knew she was going to be there. Did you?
Ross Mathews: How do you think I felt?! I told people the last person I wanted to see was Omarosa and she walks in through the door. I had no idea! I was fascinated by her throughout. Every second of every day, I was fascinated by her. I was her target throughout because she knew that I had her number. I didn't believe anything that came out of her mouth and I didn't trust her for a single second. That being said, I wanted to get as much dirt out of her as I could. I felt like I was America's player before they voted me their favorite player. I went in there to play the game like a super fan and get as much dirt as I possibly could.
You made it into a White House press briefing! The conversation you had with her where she said everyone should be worried was covered by everyone.
Mathews: What? Where is my Pulitzer Prize? Give me an Edward R. Murrow Award, please! Let's come to our senses! Put me on 60 Minutes. Did they spell my name right? There's one 'T' in Mathews.
Omarosa was your target from the beginning. How worried did you get since it took so long to get her out of this house?
Mathews: I wasn't worried. I knew that if I could keep saving myself, one day she would slip up and wouldn't be able to save herself. I just knew I'd get her eventually. I knew I wasn't going to leave this house without being the one to send Omarosa home. She just came at me too hard. I told everyone before I went in this house that I am nice to everyone, but if you come at me false I will educate you. I just educated her throughout and got her out of the house.
What means the most to you: that you got Omarosa out of the house, that you made a White House press briefing or that you won America's Favorite Houseguest?
Mathews: The most amazing thing to me is being America's Player. I know the fans voted and I know the fans got what I was doing in the house. I was playing like a super fan, someone who really got this game and understood it really well. There was a time not that long ago when there weren't people like me on TV. I was on a major network show, being 100 percent myself and the country said, "We like him." That means a lot and it means a lot more to me than winning Big Brother could ever mean.
You made it to the Final 2 with your BFF, but you said earlier in the finale that if you had the choice you might not have taken her.
Mathews: I was struggling until the very last minute because I never told Marissa that I would take her to the Final 2. I never did. I knew I could beat Mark, but I don't know if I could have looked into Marissa's eyes and not taken her. I still don't know what I would have done. I would have had to sit there, look at them and make a decision. I don't know what I would have done.
What does it mean to you that you got to be in the Final 2 with your best friend in the house?
Mathews: Earlier in the season, Marissa and I were laughing so hard about how silly, how STUPID it would be if the two biggest idiots in the house made it to the finale. We were like, "We are the dumbest people in the history of television. We're just silly." The fact that it did happen is my favorite thing to have ever happened.
You say you were idiots but from the outside, it looked like you two were controlling the game from Week 2.
Mathews: That's true, but who would have thunk? We're used to being the goofballs, but the fact that we made it to the end? We are everybody. Marissa and I sit at the same table in the cafeteria. We are the everybodies. I think people related to us. If they had been in the house we probably would have been friends with them too.
You said you felt like you were the villain before you won America's Houseguest. How many apologies are you going to be making now that this is over?
Mathews: None. The game is not personal. If you don't get that then you shouldn't play it.
What would you like to say to America for voting for you as their favorite?
Mathews: I would like to say to the people, thank you. You get it. You get how I played this game. Thank you for accepting me for exactly who I am. What you saw in that house was 100 percent Ross and the fact that you picked me, I'll keep for the rest of my life.
(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS)