TAMPA — A day after South Tampa personal trainer Nick Peterson walked away with $250,000 on the third season of the reality TV show Bachelor Pad on Monday night, he found himself defending his decision that left his partner with nothing.
Peterson, also known as "Peety," shocked viewers during the season finale of the show — an elimination-style, two-hour game show in which contestants from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette compete for dates and a final cash prize of $250,000 — when he chose to "keep" the prize money instead of splitting it with his partner.
In the first two seasons, the two finalists "shared" the pot.
However, in a surprise twist that left some fans appalled, Peterson, 27, reneged on an agreement with partner Rachel Truehart to share the money.
The show requires the final two to come to a decision that they will reveal to each other and the reality TV world during the finale. If contestants opt to "share" the money, they split the prize. If both choose "keep," no one gets the money. And if the decision is split, the one who chooses "keep" gets the entire amount.
Peterson and Truehart previously agreed to share the money. However, when it came decision time, Peterson stunned Truehart by taking the whole thing.
Social media and message boards quickly lit up as people called Peterson greedy.
However, Peterson, who remained under the radar throughout the competition, diffused much of the backlash after explaining his reasons.
Among them: Truehart never wanted to be his partner and he had to beg her to stay in the game.
"I honestly was going into it planning on sharing," Peterson said during a media conference call Tuesday morning, according to the website Zap2it.
"My intentions were to share, we talked about it leading up to the finale. And then I saw the last two episodes before we filmed the finale, we got to see them, and I saw everything she said about me — she didn't want to be my partner, she said she was backed into the partnership, she tried to get us voted off just so she could go see Michael (her partner who had been booted off).
"I didn't know any of that was going on. I was completely invested in it and she wanted nothing to do with me. So I was like, you know what? I don't owe her anything, she didn't want to be my partner … at the last second I get to see these episodes and it's like, 'Really? I can't believe you said those things.' "
The surprise left Truehart in tears.
"Was it tough sitting next to her crying?" he asked during the call. "Yes. But after the way she made me look and what she did to me, no, I didn't really feel that bad."
According to Peterson's publicist, he will continue to work as an actor and model and build his career as a television host.
Peterson was a contestant on Season 7 of The Bachelorette, and is a University of Tampa graduate who runs Peety's Personal Training.
He plans to use some of his prize money to work with runner-up Chris Bukowski to open an all-female sports bar and restaurant in Washington, D.C.