Why Can't 'Big Brother' Contestants Share Prize Money? The Game Takes Potential For Bribery Seriously
There has been a lot of talk about bribing on Big Brother recently, but it didn't all have to do with BB Bribe that is a part of the America's Care Package twist. Instead, some houseguests had been talking about sharing their $500,000 Big Brother grand prize money with other houseguests close to them, if they make it to the end. Although, in this case, no game moves for money were discussed, some fans are concerned because offering someone else money is a really great way to manipulate people into doing your bidding. But, the house isn't just one big auction block where the highest bidder controls the votes — houseguests can't share prize money on Big Brother.
Nicole and James were recently seen talking on the feeds about how they would be more than happy to send each other and their showmance partners money or gifts if they happened to win. James even told Natalie about the plan to share the money, but it seems that later on they were instructed to rescind their offer to the other houseguests. Reddit user Xenshanni collected the whole saga, from the initial offer to the eventual apologies — but why is it against the rules? Bustle reached out to CBS for comment, but has not yet received a response.
It may not seem like a big deal in Big Brother where manipulation is all part of the game, but there are laws much larger than Big Brother that control how game shows treat prizes. An alleged Big Brother contract posted by Reality Blurred that all houseguests supposedly sign states this (emphasis mine):
I am aware that it is a federal offense punishable by fine and/or imprisonment for me or anyone to do anything that would rig or in any way influence the outcome of the Series with intent to deceive the viewing public (including, without limitation, colluding to share any prizes, stipends or other monies), and that it is a federal offense to accept any information or special or secret assistance in connection with the Series. I agree that I will not participate in any such act or any other deceptive or dishonest act with to Series. I acknowledge and agree that any agreement between me and any other participant(s) to share the Prize, if awarded to me or such other participant(s), shall constitute a deceptive or dishonest act hereunder.
Rules like this are mandatory for game shows, according to a 1960 amendment to the Communications Act of 1934 (now The Telecommunications Act of 1996) which makes it illegal to rig a "contest of intellectual knowledge or intellectual skill." Bribing from within Big Brother could be seen as a form of fixing the game as it uses something outside the game, the promise of money, to influence favor in a game that should instead challenge people's physical, mental, and social capacities.
Whatever the laws are, it just feels unethical to promise money in exchange for furthering one's self in a reality show — especially when there are absolutely no ways to hold someone to that promise. Someone could hypothetically promise a 50/50 split with everyone in the house, win the grand prize, and then never follow through on that promise.
As seen in the video above, Nicole and James were both allegedly told by production to also promise not to buy anything for their fellow houseguests after the show, since they'd already had an issue with talking about bribing. There's nothing wrong with doing a favor for your friends financially, but it seems to be best to wait until after the game is over to think about that.
Image: Sonja Flemming/CBS