Cliff Hogg, Class of 1987, competed for a $500,000 prize on the 21st season of reality competition show Big Brother and ended up in the final four after the season ended on Sept. 25.
The game show follows a group of 16 competitors from different backgrounds, called HouseGuests, throughout 40 episodes. The HouseGuests are completely isolated from the outside world, are under 24-hour surveillance and participate in weekly competitions and evictions in a custom-built house.
Hogg said he and his family have been fans of Big Brother since the eighth season aired in 2007. When the show hosted an open casting call in his hometown of Houston, Hogg and his wife Sharon, Class of 1986, decided to go to watch others try out.
“I always thought I would do well in the game,” Hogg said. “We got there about ten minutes before the tryouts ended, and I just decided to try out for the fun of it, not really anticipating that anything would happen. Next thing you know, I got a call back.”
Hogg said he did not know he was cast on the show until a camera crew showed up to his home with a key to the Big Brother house. He also did not know who any of the other competitors were until he showed up to the house when the season began in June.
“When I got in the house [I was] trying to suddenly beat and remember the names of 15 other people, and immediately start figuring out who was someone I would want to work with,” Cliff said. “That first day was quite a whirlwind, and even more so for me because I was kicked out of the house on day one and had to fight my way back in. I had to complete a maze in a dark forest to get back in.”
While in the Big Brother house, Hogg led an Aggie Yell Practice and discussed the 1999 Bonfire collapse. Hogg is the fourth Aggie to stay in the Big Brother house.
“When I went in, I brought a lot of Aggie gear,” Hogg said. “Obviously I’m a very proud Aggie. Knowing that people are going to know that I’m an Aggie, I felt a responsibility to do my best to uphold the characteristics of Aggies. I wanted to represent the school well and make sure that Aggies were proud of me.”
After the season ended, Hogg returned to Houston and his family. He said it took him a few days to adjust back to his old life.
“Being in that house where you know people are plotting against you all day long, my mind was in sort of a hyperdrive,” Hogg said. “I’m still finding it very surreal when I go to the grocery store or go to a restaurant that there are people who recognize me and see me the same way I see past HouseGuests.”
Sharon said she missed Hogg while he was gone for more than 100 days, but supported him because she knew how much he loved the show.
“This was an adventure that was really fun and something that seemed natural,” Sharon said. “I think I saw more of Cliff when he was on the show than I did just typically every day. I feel like I watched more TV than I ever have because we watched the live feeds.”
Although Hogg did not win the $500,000 prize after the season finale, he said he is proud of how close he got to winning and how he played the game. Hogg said he learned what is important to him in life and realized that it was not as easy to separate his emotions from the gameplay as he thought.
“I majored in engineering at A&M,” Hogg said. “I consider myself very analytical. Yet at the end of the day, the relationships you build, I realized that it’s harder for me to abandon some of the character and integrity that I learned from A&M.”