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Image: Dan Gheesling
John P. Filo  /  AP
Dan Gheesling, 24, a teacher from Dearborn, Mich., won the $500,000 prize that goes along with the "Brig Brother 10" title.
By
msnbc.com contributor
updated 9/23/2008 4:28:54 PM ET 2008-09-23T20:28:54

He might have a lot of sins to confess when he next goes to Mass, but Catholic school teacher Dan Gheesling has 500,000 reasons for not feeling guilty about his actions on "Big Brother" this season.

Gheesling was voted the runaway winner of the show's 10th season on Tuesday, becoming the first player ever to win all seven jury votes and the half-million dollar prize. Mixologist Memphis Garrett came in second, taking home $50,000.

The victory capped a strong performance for the 24-year-old Catholic school teacher. He won Head of Household (HoH) three times, made agreements with and blatantly betrayed a pair of jury members, and had far more blood on his hands than Garrett in earning a spot in the final two despite being a target from the opening week.

Garrett never won an HoH and admitted to throwing some of the competitions to avoid the perils of power. Instead, he counted on his likability and under-the-radar style to overcome Gheesling's more obvious game-playing, and at one point he had deals with three of the remaining four houseguests agreeing to take them to the finale.

It was difficult to tell from the jury questioning who had the edge, since each of the seven voters seemed to dislike both of the finalists and considered them responsible for their eviction. Which, of course, they were, since that's how the game is played.

Slideshow: Celebrity Sightings But Keesha Smith and Renny Martyn, who were allied with the duo before being voted off the show, were both vocal in their dislike for Garrett and their respect for Gheesling's game-playing abilities. Gheesling also worked hard to earn the vote of Michelle Costa after arranging her eviction earlier in the season.

Gheesling agreed to protect Costa and Bryan "Ollie" Ollie in exchange for Ollie's throwing an HOH challenge in his favor, but instead engineered Costa's eviction, with Ollie being the next to go. After both were sent packing from the Big Brother house, he selected Costa to accompany him on a private beach trip he won while in the house both to atone for his betrayal and to lobby for her vote.

That proved successful. He also managed to win over 75-year-old Jerry MacDonald, who called Gheesling a "Judas" at several points during the season for breaking his word. April Dowling and Libra Thompson completed the sweep.

Smith also emerged as a winner on the season finale. The Hooters waitress earned the $25,000 prize for being America's favorite jury member.

Craig Berman is a writer in Washington, D.C.

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