So close yet so far. Christian Birkenberger was the latest houseguest evicted from Big Brother 23 on Thursday, August 12, and sadly, he was voted out right before the start of the jury.
Still, the 23-year-old general contractor, who won five competitions in five weeks, was in great spirits when Us Weekly caught up with him the morning after the 7-2 eviction vote to talk about his game.
“Once I sat on the block as a replacement, I knew I was going home,” Christian tells Us about his campaign to stay. “I’m very, very happy with the way I went out. A lot of people did sit down and they accepted their fate. I’m not one to do that. And I’m really, really happy with how it worked out.”
Upon leaving the game, Christian learned that although Tiffany Mitchell and his close ally Xavier Prather tried to flip the house in his favor, other members of their secret alliance, The Cookout, weren’t having it.
“I have never seen any of those people in the same room at one time ever,” Christian says of learning about the alliance of six. “I don’t know how it is a group that is so successful with the lack of team meetings that they’re having, or the fact that it’s even staying that quiet.”
The Connecticut native holds no ill will and thinks The Cookout’s “very strong group of people” can go far: “I’m extremely happy to be in the season with them because it seems as though that they are going to make history, and they may have already made history at this point.”
As for the game moving forward, Christian thinks Head of Household Derek Xiao’s move to get him out will eventually cost him. “Derek X is in trouble because he lost the shield. I don’t think he’s going to be the next one to go. I think Britini [D’Angelo], unfortunately, will see that seat for a fourth week in a row, which really does break my heart because she’s a really good person with a huge passion for the game,” Christian says. “And now that I know how the block feels, I cannot even imagine how it feels for the fourth time. So it must be difficult, but Derek X is in trouble. Britini’s in trouble, and I am so heartbroken to say it, but I think Alyssa [Lopez] is in trouble too.”
When Derek X is evicted, Christian will be waiting. “The first thing I’m going to say to him if he’s in the jury house next: ‘I told you so. I told you so. And if you kept me in the house, I promise you, it would have been at least one more week than when [you] did go out.'”
Watch above or scroll down to read our full interview with Christian where he also talks about his showmance with Alyssa, his reaction to Xavier being a lawyer, what he thought of Sarah Beth [Steagall] taking money over the veto, and more.
Big Brother airs on CBS Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at 8 p.m. ET.
Us Weekly: How are you feeling this morning?
Christian Birkenberger: I’m feeling all right. It’s good and bad. Of course, I’m sad that I’m even speaking to you, but then again, I’m just as happy that I had the opportunity, even have the ability, to talk to you. So it’s good and bad.
Us: You campaigned hard to stay. Do you think there was anything else you could’ve done to change your fate?
CB: No. Once I sat on the block as a replacement, I knew I was going home. I did fight for three days and I’m extremely happy that I did, because if I were sitting in this hotel room now thinking, “What if I tried this? What if I tried that?” I would be really disappointed with myself because I wouldn’t know how it would’ve worked out. However, I tried. I do not have a single additional point to add to why I should stay. So I’m very, very happy with the way I went out. A lot of people did sit down and they accepted their fate. I’m not one to do that. And I’m really, really happy with how it worked out.
Us: Tiffany and X tried to flip the house in your favor, but obviously it didn’t work. Are you happy to hear that at least they tried?
CB: Yeah, I am because I knew X always had my back. I know now that there was some things I wasn’t included in, but I know my game was really his best interest, and I am so thankful I had him because he’s going to be a really good friend of mine. He was inside the house and he’s going to be a really good friend of mine outside the house. Same thing for Tiffany. I felt really hurt that I didn’t have her vote considering I thought I was in the final four with her, Claire [Rehfuss], Alyssa and myself. I was very hurt by that, but I didn’t know she had better options, and she did what was best for her game at the time. So I appreciate the effort that they gave. I think it was a valiant effort, but people’s minds were made up the second I sat in that seat.
Us: You’ve learned about The Cookout at this point. What’s your reaction to that alliance?
CB: I have never seen any of those people in the same room at one time ever. I don’t know how it is a group that is so successful with the lack of team meetings that they’re having, or the fact that it’s even staying that quiet, especially since Big D’s [Derek Frazier] a part of it. He has such a loud presence. He really knows how to conduct a room, and he’s someone who hates secrets. He really hates secrets and he hates all the BS. So I’m very surprised they’re able to keep that such a secret. But I think Derek F is someone that I should have kept a closer eye on because I think he is playing a more strategic game than I think.
Us: How do you think The Cookout is going to do going forward? Do you think they will stick together?
CB: Yes. I think they have a very strong group of people that covers every single competition base and they could potentially continue because I believe they were behind every single decision that was made so far. And I’m extremely happy to be in the season with them because it seems as though that they are going to make history, and they may have already made history at this point. So I’m very happy to be a part of it. Although I was on the wrong side of it, I’m still happy to have the opportunity.
Us: Who do you think is in trouble now that you’re gone?
CB: Derek X is in trouble because he lost the shield. I don’t think he’s going to be the next one to go. I think Britini, unfortunately, will see that seat for a fourth week in a row, which really does break my heart because she’s a really good person with a huge passion for the game. And now that I know how the block feels, I cannot even imagine how it feels for the fourth time. So it must be difficult, but Derek X is in trouble. Britini’s in trouble, and I am so heartbroken to say it, but I think Alyssa is in trouble too.
Us: Let’s talk about Alyssa. You gave her a nice kiss on the way out, which definitely shocked some houseguests, including Sarah Beth who didn’t seem to be aware of how close you really were. It was obvious you were in a showmance, yet you still tried to keep it on the DL. Tell me about that.
CB: I didn’t know who knew. I knew that Tiffany had suspicion. I knew that X knew. X was the only person that I knew was fully aware of what was happening. We let our guard down in the HOH room when it was his HOH. So he walked into his own room, and it was not a smart on us. I think the entire house besides X was somewhat surprised, including Tiffany. I think she thought there was some flirting going on, but I don’t think she was expecting that. And I really don’t think SB saw it coming because I did see her reaction and it seemed pretty big. So I don’t think anyone really saw it coming.
Us: I think she’s a little worried now that people are going to look at her and Kyland’s friendship and think something else may be going on.
CB: I hope so.
Us: What do you think Alyssa needs to do to get far in this game? What do you want for her now that you’re out?
CB: I think me leaving was beneficial for her. The reason she sat on the block one week one was because of me. So I guess there are a lot of arguments that could be made to why I was bad for her game. It does suck to hear, but I could have potentially been bad for her game. Now that I’m gone, she may have a better chance working with Xavier, and Xavier was as the person I told her to go to because that’s probably the next closest person to myself that she should fully trust. So I hope Xavier – I know he’s part of The Cookout – takes her as far as she can, or as far as he can go, I hope he takes her. And of course, my hope is that they include her in The Cookout. But I understand that as a select group of people and she may not be one of them, and it may not be what’s best for their game. So I’m scared that she’s not going to be included, but I hope she somehow figures out a way to infiltrate The Cookout.
Us: I definitely don’t think she’s the No. 1 target, especially with Derek X trying to make these moves.
CB: I told him. I told him, “You are the next target if you take me out.” I do hope he’s the next one to go because the first thing I’m going to say to him if he’s in the jury house next: “I told you so. I told you so. And if you kept me in the house, I promise you, it would have been at least one more week than when [you] did go out.” So I just want to be able to rub it in his face a little bit.
Us: I know you just learned X is a lawyer. What’s your reaction to that?
CB: The man went to bed at 10 o’clock every single night. He had to be a lawyer. He was not a bartender. He was not a model. I know models. I know bartenders. And they do not have a 10 o’clock bedtime. It’s closer to about 3:00 a.m. So in hindsight, I really should have seen this coming. There was suspicion he was a lawyer though, about a week and a half ago, it was thrown out there. Everyone’s like, “Oh yeah, he’s a lawyer.” I’m like, “OK, he could be a lawyer, but he’s also by far the most attractive dude on the show. How could he be a genius and be gifted with everything that he was?” He’s playing the best game in the house and I’m so, so happy that I get to call him my friend after this, because he’s going to be someone I look forward to speaking to outside of the house.
Us: What did you think of Sarah Beth taking the $5,000? We knew she wasn’t going to get the veto, but it’s a bad look, right?
CB: Right. It is a really bad look. Someone who’s sitting on the block who takes the money over the veto just shows how comfortable and money-motivated a person is. Regardless that it did work out for her and regardless of the fact that she had Kyland [Young], Alyssa, Derek X and Britini still playing at that point – all people who either promised they would take the veto and use it on her, or if Britini won, the fact that she would take the veto from her – really she’d made a smart decision by not taking the punishment. That’s her decision, not mine. I would have taken a punishment over five grand just so that the appearance of the house wouldn’t be that I was greedy or felt secure within the house. But then again, I’m sitting here and SB still in the house. So she clearly made better decisions than me.
Us: Who do you think is playing the most solid game right now? Who do you see going far?
CB: Xavier. Xavier is going to go very far. Kyland, I also think will go very far. Hannah’s very smart. She could go far. I really, really, really want to say that Alyssa is going to go far, but unfortunately, with the lack of knowledge of this Cookout that I know she’s not a part of, I do think that they are going to run this house, and it’s also incredibly inspiring to be a part of the season because of that. I think they’re about to make some history and I’m happy to be in the house no matter what, even if I’m on the wrong end of it. So I think that Xavier is probably looking the best out of everyone in the house because of that.
Us: Do you have any interest in playing Big Brother again?
CB: Absolutely. This was the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire life. If I had the opportunity to come back, I really would take it. And I hope that America enjoyed watching me play as much as I enjoyed being in the house every single day. And I really mean every single day because I can honestly say that the most Big Brother playing and the feeling of “Wow, I’m really playing this game.” When it hit me was day two when I played Wildcard Comp, because if I didn’t win, I’d be going home. And the last three days when I was on the block. So I enjoyed every single moment, even fighting for my life in the house. I really enjoyed it. And I really hope that America saw that. I would definitely be back to play again. It was the most fun I’ve ever had. And I can honestly say the reason I’m so upset that I’m leaving this house is because I can no longer play. I would play for free. I don’t care about the money. I’m upset that I’m leaving because I no longer get to see my friends every day, and I no longer get to compete and be in such a positive, entertaining, fun environment that I enjoyed every single moment of.