Toledo police officer wins ABC’s ‘Glass House’Written by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
The mental discipline Sgt. Kevin Braun honed during more than a decade as a Toledo police officer served him well inside “The Glass House.”
The 33-year-old Walbridge resident, a 12-year veteran of the Toledo Police Department, outlasted 13 other contestants on ABC’s 10-week reality show to walk away with the $250,000 grand prize Aug. 20.
“The game was a big mental game inside that house and people were breaking at certain points. They were breaking down mentally,” Braun said in a phone interview with Toledo Free Press. “After 12 years of police work, I’ve developed mental toughness and was able to keep a level head. I didn’t get wrapped up in the drama because I’ve seen it all before. Some things that were a big deal to the people in the house weren’t a big deal to me because I’ve seen real-life drama. So definitely being a police officer was the thing that helped me most in the game.”
Six of Braun’s years on the force were spent as a detective with the vice/narcotics unit. Today, he works as a supervisor in field operations and is also working on a degree in criminal justice. Not surprisingly, Braun said the best part of being on the show was winning.
“I had myself convinced there was no way I could beat [fellow finalists] Andrea or Erica. I was mentally preparing myself to lose and then when I won, it was like an out-of-body experience,” Braun said. “I was shocked. I didn’t know what to think. It was the craziest feeling to have gone the whole journey and be the last person standing. I can’t even describe it in words.”
Braun’s sister, Alisha Urbina of Walbridge, was on the set in Los Angeles when Kevin was announced as the winner.
“When his photo remained intact we just went crazy and ran on stage,” Urbina said in an email to Toledo Free Press. “It was all so surreal. We were so excited for him.”
One of Braun’s friends organized viewing parties every Monday night at Wesley’s Bar & Grill, said Urbina, who maintained Braun’s “Glass City Kevin” Facebook page.
“We usually had 40 to 50 people. However, for the finale it was standing room only and the crowd went wild!” she said.
Braun, who described himself in his online biography as someone “very competitive who hates to lose,” said that competitive drive helped him on the show.
“My whole strategy for the most part was to win the challenge every week because that was the only way to save yourself from limbo for sure,” Braun said. “I wanted to give 100 percent every challenge.”
Braun found himself in limbo once, but got enough viewer votes to stay on the show.
“It was nerve-racking,” Braun said. “It was the first week I was on the losing team in the challenge and the other side of the house voted to put me in. They wanted to guarantee Ashley would go home and thought the best way to do that would be with me, but that being said, I was completely stressed out. You convince yourself you’re going home. I didn’t think for one minute it was going to be a cakewalk. So that was a stressful time in the house.”
The ability to adapt quickly was another important factor on the show as drama flared, alliances shifted, new challenges were announced and contestants were voted off the show.
“It changed on a week-to-week basis,” Braun said. “We didn’t know who we were going to get back from limbo. Every week there were so many critical things: the limbo, the challenge, the bottom-two vote. You couldn’t really plan that much ahead. You just had to take things and deal with them.”
The show featured interaction not only with other house members but also the viewing audience, who were able to vote on what contestants wore and ate, where they slept and who got sent home each week.
“Some of them were more fun than others,” Braun said. “It was always kind of a welcome break from the monotony and gave us something to do in the downtime. We weren’t sure how weighted that was. Ultimately, viewers were watching and if they didn’t think you were letting them control the game, they were going to bounce you out.”
Braun said the worst part of the show was the downtime.
“A day in the Glass House was the equivalent of a week or a month in the real world. Time would just go slow,” Braun said. “There’s nothing but time to think. You have no TV, no newspaper. All you can do is talk or think. You can convince yourself of all kinds of things in the house. That’s where the mental aspect comes in. Some people, for all intents and purposes, thought themselves right out of the game.”
It was hard to be disconnected from the outside world, especially his 15-year-old daughter Samara, Braun said. The most surprising part was the intensity.
“It was way, way, way more intense than I thought it would be,” Braun said. “When I came out, I figured I’d just blend into the background and do good in challenges, but there was a lot of drama and I even got wrapped up in some of it. It was intense. I came out saying, ‘No drama. I’m just going to walk a path and not be involved,’ and lo and behold the first week I was going at it with Alex. It was unavoidable, the drama in the house.”
Even so, Urbina said she thought Braun managed to stay true to himself.
“We are so proud of the way Kevin played the game,” Urbina said. “He said before he left that he wanted his friends and family to see him on TV and say ‘Yep, that’s the Kevin I know’ and that is exactly what happened. He was true to himself and his character the entire time. He represented Toledo well.”
Braun, who regularly wore Toledo shirts and hats on the show, said he’s thankful to hometown friends and fans who voted for him.
“Toledo made this happen,” Braun said. “That’s why I’m very careful to never say, ‘I won this show.’ We won this show. It’s a great city and it’s the reason I won the show.”
Braun said he wore so much Toledo gear on the show that some contestants started referring to him as “Toledo” or “Mr. Toledo.” Urbina had “Mr. Toledo” T-shirts made, with proceeds benefiting the Keith Dressel Memorial Scholarship Fund. Dressel was a Toledo police detective killed on duty in 2007. For more information or to order a T-shirt, email Urbina at email@example.com.
Braun said he had a great experience overall and even made some friends on the show.
“My core alliance, Mike and Andrea, are definitely friends and I will stay in contact with them, there’s no doubt,” Braun said. “Jeffrey and some of the early people — Holly, Ashley — they’re good people and on some level I’ll have contact with them in the future.”
But for now, it’s back to reality. In his show bio, Braun wrote, “My ultimate goals in life are to raise my daughter to be a good person and to continue to work hard serving the citizens of Toledo,” and he said that’s still the plan.
“Honestly, I’m going to take it real slow,” Braun said of his winnings. “There’s nothing I’m going to run out and buy. I’ll just put it away and see what happens. I’m going to be boring with it, to be honest. I’m back home and back to work tomorrow [Aug. 23]. I woke up this morning [Aug. 22] and took my daughter to school. So that’s the plan now. Back to normal as quick as possible.”