Toledo police Sgt. Kevin Braun went on a 10-week vacation and came back $250,000 richer.
Such are the perks of being the winner of a reality show.
Braun beat 13 other contestants on ABC's The Glass House, a Big Brother-style weekly reality series where participants lived, played, schemed, and competed against each other in a home made of glass, with cameras to record almost everything. Viewers voted for their favorites and helped determined which contestant stayed or was kicked off the show, which ended its 10-week run Monday. A handsome and physically fit 34-year-old with a nice smile, graying hair, and honest intentions, Braun was an early favorite to win the contest. And for the most part, he stayed above the fray of the player politics and conniving in the house; despite what the show's editing suggested, there was nothing going on between Erica and him, he said.
His winning strategy was simply to be himself and not play to the cameras.
"Some people tried to come up with plans and little lies they wanted to tell and that did not work. People just want to see you be yourself," Braun said. "I wanted people who knew me at home to say he's being true to himself.
"I said when I went in, they asked me what my goal was and that was to come out of the house the same way I went in, with my integrity intact."
The Glass House was a fun experience, Braun said, one that proved more mentally grueling than physical, especially being absent from family and friends for weeks.
Braun is a single dad to a 15-year-old daughter, and other than a tweet and letter she was allowed to send him, the two had no contact. He went from seeing his daughter every day to having almost no contact with her for two and a half months. He knew it would be difficult for both of them, which is why he gave his daughter veto power over his participation in The Glass House -- even as he walked into the airport to catch a flight to Los Angeles, where the show was filmed.
"She is the most important person in my life and we had long conversations ... [but] she was all for it," Braun said. "She wanted me to go and try it. She never pulled the plug on it."
Family and friends weren't all Braun missed during his extended stay in L.A. He couldn't wait to return to his job as a patrol sergeant with the Toledo Police Department. In fact, after arriving in Toledo on Tuesday, he was back on his normal 2 to 10 p.m. patrol by Thursday.
"It seems weird ... but I did miss my job," he said. "Fans were allowed to ask us questions through Twitter, and one question was 'besides family, what do you miss most?' and my answer was my job. Whenever I'm away from it too long, I miss it." It's worth noting that Braun used vacation time, off days, and even took himself off payroll to be on the show.
"It wasn't on the city's dime whatsoever," he said.
Braun said he didn't participate for the chance at the money, but for the experience of it. Not that an extra $250,000 isn't a nice reward for his effort. But don't look for fancy cars, clothes, or other perks that often come along with a sudden influx of cash. Braun plans to be "pretty boring" with his winnings.
"I have nothing planned that I want to go out and buy right away," he said. "I'll just put it away and sit on it for a while. It's a huge amount of money, but I can't quit my job or anything."
Contact Kirk Baird at email@example.com or 419-724-6734.