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Murrysville's Iocco savored her 'Big' summer on reality TV

| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:31 p.m.
Julie Chen interviews evicted houseguest Ashley Iocco, a Murrysville native, on the Aug. 23, 2012, episode of 'Big Brother.' Screen Grab | CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Murrysville native Ashley Iocco was evicted from 'Big Brother' by a vote of 5-1 on Aug. 23, 2012. Screen Grab | CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

It was a summer to remember for Murrysville native Ashley Iocco.

The Franklin Regional graduate dressed as a taco, walked the plank and found a bit of romance as a contestant on CBS's reality competition “Big Brother 14.”

A mobile spray tanner who lives in California, Iocco counts the experience among the best of her life.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Iocco, 26. “It was so much fun and I would totally do it again. I don't have any regrets.”

Iocco was one of 16 contestants on the show, which secludes houseguests in a fake house for much of the summer.

Houseguests compete for power over the house each week by competing in a “Head of Household” competition.

The winner nominates two houseguests for eviction, which is voted on by the other members of the house.

But nominated houseguests have a chance for redemption – winning the “Power of Veto” competition, which enables them to nullify one of the nominations. Iocco did not win any of the competitions.

She was, however, nominated for eviction twice – once by houseguest Shane Meaney and once by fellow Pittsburgher and eventual “Big Brother 14” winner Ian Terry. She was evicted from the house on Aug. 23 by a vote of 5-1.

She then became the first member of the jury house, where the final seven houseguests to be evicted live in sequestration until they cast a vote for the winner of the show.

The day Iocco was evicted was the first day she began to feel like herself again. Iocco spent several weeks in a haze of pain, she said, after back spasms left her in agony.

“I felt like I couldn't play the game I wanted to play,” she said.

“I don't think people realized how much pain I was in. With the medication I was taking, sometimes I felt like I wasn't myself. I just wanted to push through that and have a good time.”

Though she dealt with a lot of pain in the house, she also had a lot of fun. Among her favorite experiences were the “wacky” competitions she took part in, an “ice-cream date” with fellow houseguest Frank Eudy and her first “slop” date with Terry.

She enjoyed having someone else from the Pittsburgh area – Terry is an engineering student at Tulane University in New Orleans, who grew up in Shaler – to talk with.

“It was really comforting having someone else from Pittsburgh and being able to talk about things we have in common from home, like Kennywood and different restaurants,” Iocco said. “It was nice to have an immediate connection with somebody.”

Terry said he firmly believes the pair will stay friends now that the game is over.

“Having another Pittsburgher in the house was really cool,” Terry said of Iocco. “She was a nice girl. We won't date outside of here, I don't think, but we will stay friends definitely.”

Terry left enough of an impression on Iocco that she cast a vote for him to win the game and its $500,000 prize.

Terry wasn't the only super fan on the show. Iocco said she has watched “Big Brother” since its premier season in 2000 with her mom.

While she wasn't allowed contact with family or friends during her time in the Big Brother house, she knew that her parents and brother were her “number one fans” back home in Murrysville.

Iocco said that during the 48 days she spent in the Big Brother house, Iocco learned a lot.

“I learned so much about myself,” Iocco said. “I really learned to never give up and to believe in yourself. I learned how to be a fighter through a really hard situation. I'll never forget this.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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