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[Spoiler Alert]: Columbus contestant wins popular reality TV show & gives us all the details

[Spoiler Alert]: Columbus contestant wins popular reality TV show & gives us all the details

Sav McKee

This is your final warning! Don’t read on if you haven’t watched the finale of a certain TV show on Netflix.

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Alright, for everyone else reading, I’m guessing you’re ready for a spoiler, or you already know the outcome of the show, The Circle.

Brandon Baker, who’s lived in Columbus for the past 8 years and resides in the Short North working as a nursing assistant, is absolutely shocked to have won the entire reality TV show, not only leaving with $100k, but also a ton of new friendships with the other contestants. 

“We have a group chat and talk almost every day,” laughed Baker. 

Interesting enough though, Baker didn’t actually go on the show looking like himself. For those not aware of The Circle’s premise, a group of people are living in an apartment together, but completely separated by rooms. Their only communication is through a screen, where they’re encouraged to forge relationships just by sending messages and chats. You can choose to play as yourself, uploading your own pictures and creating your own biography, or you can pretend to be someone else (known as catfishing). It’s a strategic game based on communication, really – think of a technologically-driven Survivor. 

Baker chose to go as his alter-ego, Olivia, or “Liv,” who is actually based on his best friend, Claudia, who was really excited for him to go on the show as her. He used Claudia’s pictures, but the entire personality and backstory was still his. “I’ve been me my whole life,” he said. “I wanted to give myself a challenge, and I wanted to try something different…I wanted to be hot for a minute!”

The Circle' season 6 winner breaks down finale ending, last blocking
Photo via Netflix

He said that his ability to pretend to be a woman was maybe easier for him due to the fact that he’s gay, and he surrounds himself with women. “I feel like maybe some of the things I say might be what a woman would say anyways,” he explained. “But at the same time, I still didn’t feel like I was nailing it. I was thinking, ‘How do I speak as a woman but also myself, without sounding like a 34 year old man?’” Baker also joked that he easily knew how to flirt with the guys, since he does that in real life, too.

The only person who knew he won the show for the past 7 months has been his mother, but when Claudia found out today, she called him screaming from excitement. In a way, her own looks got her far in the game too!


And speaking of looks, Baker mentioned that being a plus sized gay man on TV, and winning the entire show, speaks volume to his personality, too. “The world’s a judgemental place, and if I was watching this from an outsider’s perspective, it would be amazing to see someone like me take the win,” he said. “Even though I was using Claudia’s photos, I was still being me the entire time I was in The Circle.”

Baker’s bright, bubbly, and warm personality was evident in every authentic conversation he had with the other contestants, and even when the cameras caught him talking strategy with himself. His clothes also spoke to his identity – shirts with rainbow Pride hearts on them, rainbow Crocs, and of course, the iconic t-shirt he said he got at a bachelorette party, that reads Hit Me Baby One More Wine.

If you ever find yourself applying to be on a show like this, Baker gave us some advice! “The game is all about forming actual connections,” he emphasized. “Reaching out to others is important. Anyone you don’t have a connection with is going to rate you low, so every single relationship matters in this game.” At one point, Baker extended an olive branch to another contestant in the show, where they both discovered that each of them lost their father. It was a pivotal moment in the game, where Baker was able to tell his story, but also bonding with a contestant that at first, was rating Baker (or should we say, Liv) low in the rankings.

And now, for the answer all of you reality TV show fans probably want to know: Yes, the camera and production crew can absolutely hear you farting, Baker told us. He said that the cameras are on 24/7, watching each contestant as they sleep. “At first, it’s weird, but then I thought it was kind of nice. I felt safe!” he said. When you have to go to the bathroom, “I had to tell them to raise their cameras. Oh, and I’d take off my mics,” he laughed.

And the answer to the other question you’re dying to know: Baker’s planning on spending the well-deserved money on helping his mother pay off her house, and planning a beach trip with his friends.

As a self-proclaimed nerdy theater kid, Baker said he never got bored, although he was stuck inside a small apartment, completely alone for weeks. He said, “I kept myself busy with dancing, bouncing a ball, dressing up, all of that!”

Ultimately, the show taught him a lot. “I need to stop beating myself up and need to fully embrace everything about myself,” he said. As a fan of the show myself, I couldn’t help thinking back to the moment where someone told him (well, Liv) that they were special, and Baker started sobbing. “I’m my hardest critic. All of this has taught me that I am important and I am special. Oh, and I loved being a catfish though. If I did this again I’d honestly be another catfish,” he joked. 

The other contestants might have fallen in love with Liv’s blue eyes and blonde hair, but really, it was Baker’s own personality behind the screen the entire time. 

Baker’s proud to be a Buckeye, and although he has newfound stardom as the winner of one of the most popular reality TV shows right now, he has no plans to leave Columbus. He said, “Columbus is such a great city, and our talent is waiting to be seen. Columbus deserves all of the attention!”

If you see him walking around the Short North, he’s always down for a picture and a hug! Hopefully he’s wearing his iconic Hit Me Baby One More Wine shirt.

Congrats, Brandon!

Brandon Baker
Photo via Netlflix

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