If, like me, you were assuming that that whole dizzy string challenge on Thursday night’s episode Big Brother would last forever, I’m sorry to say you were totally wrong. I hate to be the bearer of spoilers, but that whole challenge lasted a total of thirteen minutes. Can you believe that? For what was at stake for so many of the players—a return to the house for the four jury members, a chance to vote Vanessa out for the others—I was figuring that this endurance challenge would be the longest to go down in Big Brother history. So when it turned out to be more like the shortest to go down in Big Brother history, I found myself wondering, what is the longest lasting endurance challenge?
It turns out it was waaaaaay longer than thirteen minutes. It was even way longer than thirteen hours.
Because although there was a ton at stake for the Big Brother 17 houseguests, it wasn’t enough to get them to outlast the Season 6 crew. Or maybe the challenge this time was just too demanding? I would have taken one pass through that hand spinner and probably started puking, so I have to give mad props to the houseguests who lasted more than a minute. It’s more than I could have done, that’s for sure. But thirteen minutes doesn’t give a houseguest much of a chance to stick it out, which totally sucks for the jury members who were gung ho to get back into the house’s good graces. One case of motion sickness and they were totally toast.
So when, after thirteen minutes, John and Vanessa were still standing, I was super impressed. But you know what’s more impressive than thirteen minutes?
Try fourteen hours.
That is the length of the longest endurance challenge in Big Brother history, and it happened during Season 6 (see videos—all three of them—below).
The competition was a doozy on so many levels, mainly because the houseguests had to hold a single button in an enclosed glass case without letting go. If and when they did let go, however, they were allowed to choose one of a limited amount of boxes to see if they had won a prize. And the first few to let go totally did. They won Netflix subscriptions, plasma TV’s, and even cold hard cash. So imagine, if you will, standing around holding a button for fourteen hours—probably having to pee like crazy—while your housemates gave up and won some pretty choice prizes?
The whole thing seems pretty brutal to me. Which might be why the show—in its nine seasons since—has never repeated the challenge. I think the producers learned their lesson about what was a reasonable amount of time and pressure for the houseguests to endure.
Thankfully this season’s competitions have been much more endurable. Or have been at least a lot faster getting to that whole unendurable part.
For more on this season of Big Brother, check out Bustle's podcast The Diary Room.