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On the season finale of ABC’s Claim to Fame, hosts Kevin and Frankie Jonas surprised the three finalists by bringing back the nine eliminated contestants. With $100,000 on the line, finalists Gabe Cannon, Jerrica “Monay” Brooks, and Chris Osmond were scrambling to confirm the identity of each other’s celebrity relatives before the final two guess offs. With only one challenge left to reveal a final clue for each, they had to heavily rely on insight from their former competitors. Who they aligned with in the game came full circle and proved to help or hinder their game in the final moments.
On shows like Big Brother and Survivor, jury management is a critical piece of the game. It’s known that the eliminated contestants will be voting for the winner. However, on Claim to Fame, relationship management isn’t discussed. The eliminated contestants have no say in the winner, but they hold more power than acknowledged.
Contestants are eliminated after their celebrity relative’s identity is correctly guessed, or they guess one of their competitors’ relatives incorrectly. The former contestants were sequestered after their elimination with no access to phones, social media, or anything that would have helped them research their fellow housemates. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have valuable information to share. Each week, more clues are revealed about each remaining contestant’s celebrity relative. The finalists are free to share these clues with the returning cast and get their insight.
Gabe, Monay, and Chris were met with mixed greetings from their former competitors. Lil Nas X’s brother Robert “J.R.” Stafford Jr. admitted he wasn’t pleased to see Chris, who was behind J.R.’s elimination. On the flip side, Karsyn Elledge, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s niece, and Dolly Parton’s niece, Jada “Jane” Star, were determined to do whatever they could to help Chris win. After being told clues about Chris’ relative, Jane was confident she knew his secret. Luckily for Chris, he developed a close relationship with Jane while they were in the house together and Jane vowed not to spread the information.
Gabe tried to get information out of Jane, the one person who single-handedly held the power to blow up Chris’ game, but she not only kept his secret, she threw out Frankie Valli as a guess to steer Gabe down the wrong path. While Chris’ identity was safe, he still had a lot of work to do in order to identify Gabe and Monay. Karsyn tried to help him by suggesting Terry Crews, the name she planned to guess if she had the opportunity, but she inadvertently was misguiding him. Chris wasn’t aligned with anyone who knew the true identity of Gabe’s relative, despite obvious clues like having more than 11 children.
Meanwhile, J.R. and Shayne Murphy, Eddie Murphy’s daughter, were discussing clues when Shayne had an epiphany: she knew who Monay was related to. It was now Monay’s identity that was at risk, but thanks to her strong relationship with Shayne, Gabe and Chris were unable to get any information out of her.
The Final Challenge Had a Massive Impact
The final challenge was a team challenge where each finalist picked three former competitors to help them. The winner of the final challenge held all the power to determine everyone’s role in the final two guess-offs, so choosing players who were willing to help them was crucial. Gabe went with athleticism, choosing Alicia Keys‘ brother Cole Cook, Neil DeGrasse Tyon’s son Travis Tyson, and Jimmy Carter’s grandson Hugo Wentzel. Chris chose his closest allies who he felt could decipher clues: Karsyn, Jane, and Jenny McCarthy’s niece Olivia Aquilina. Knowing J.R. and Shayne would lay it all on the line for her, Monay chose them and Tom Hanks’ niece Carly Reeves.
During the challenge, Jane spotted a clue for Monay’s celebrity relative and immediately knew her celebrity relative was J.B. Smoove. That was not only a name Chris hadn’t thought of, it was a name he seemed completely unfamiliar with. Without Jane, Chris wouldn’t have known either of his fellow finalists’ celebrity relatives. Had Chris won the final challenge, knowing Monay’s relative was all he needed to secure his place as the Claim to Fame champion.
Monay was looking for confirmation on Chris’ relative. During the challenge, the final clue gave her the confidence to know he’s related to Donny Osmond. Monay now knew the identity of both her fellow finalists’ celebrity relatives, putting her in the best position of the three. Had she won the challenge, she could’ve chosen either of them in the final guess off and been crowned the winner.
But it was Gabe’s team that came out victorious in the final challenge, giving him the power to decide who would be guessing in the final two guess-offs. With more time to mingle with the eliminated contestants, Gabe was able to confirm his suspicions about both Chris and Monay. At the first of the final two guess-offs, Gabe made Monay guess Chris’ celebrity relative. Monay correctly identified Donny Osmond, sending her to the final guess off with Gabe. Knowing that Monay knew his identity, Gabe had to take his shot at Monay by making himself the guesser. Before the guess off, J.R. gave Gabe a big clue: Monay’s relative was on one of the same shows as Gabe’s brother. This was the final puzzle piece Gabe needed to secure his victory, realizing both J.B. Smoove and Nick Cannon were on Real Husbands of Hollywood. After his victory, Gabe was revealed to be Nick Cannon’s younger brother.
This is two seasons in a row that eliminated contestants have returned to the game and played a critical role in determining the winner of the cash prize. While they don’t have a direct impact via a vote, their influence at the end of the game is undeniable. Future players have to prioritize relationship management. Not only do they need to keep close ties with people who may know their celebrity relative, they have to create a diverse alliance that allows them to become close with people from various backgrounds to help fill in the gaps of their own missing knowledge. In order to win the game, future contestants have to not only work to keep their celebrity relative’s identity under wraps, but also create strong enough relationships to receive critical information before the final guess-offs.