During his stay in the first Big Brother house in L.A. two summers ago, McGee, 23, was never a contender for Mr. Congeniality. "My sole purpose was to win," he says. His straightforward strategy worked, and after 88 days the University of Texas-Arlington junior left the house $500,000 richer. McGee, who lost most of his left leg to cancer 12 years ago and now gets around on crutches, dropped out of school to launch a film career. Last year he shot two movies: Drop Dead Roses, a romantic comedy, and Parnassus, a dark comedy, both yet to find distributors. Now living with his parents and brother at their Commack, N.Y., home—which has been renovated thanks to his Big windfall—McGee may go back to college this winter to earn a teaching degree. His reality-TV days are over. "Been there, done that," he says. "I was tested, and I won."
Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? Not Darva Conger anymore
Conger's wedding next January will be a private affair for 125 guests—far short of the 23 million who witnessed her ill-fated Feb. 15,2000, nuptials on FOX to Rick Rockwell. Two months after a celibate honeymoon cruise, Conger won an annulment. But the 36-year-old nurse, who posed for Playboy in August 2000, says life is now "healthy and normal and good." Well, normal enough. She pounded former Olympian Olga Korbut in a May 15 celebrity boxing match and competed in NBC's Dog Eat Dog in July—"to finance the real things in life," she says. Like her wedding to Jim Arellano, a 27-year-old paramedic. Her 1.3-carat princess-cut engagement ring isn't quite the $35,000 "Ringzilla" she got for marrying Rockwell, but "it wouldn't matter if it was from a Cracker Jack box," she says. "It means something."
Millionaire's JOHN CARPENTER crafts a low profile
As the first seven-figure winner on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, then IRS revenue officer John Carpenter parlayed his Nov. 19,1999, victory into TV guest shots on shows such as HBO's Oz and Saturday Night Live, where he met host Jennifer Aniston. He also co-authored a book of trivia quizzes. But Carpenter, 34, has no delusions of grandeur. "I'm on a par with TV weathermen," he says. "I'm more of a curiosity than a celebrity." And nothing if not prudent. After taxes, Carpenter was left with $600,000, most of which went into "good, safe investments." He returned to the IRS, where he now works as a technical support adviser, and this year began studying law. He and his wife, Debbie, 35, moved from their three-bedroom Colonial home to a larger three-bedroom Colonial in Hamden, Conn., but status symbols—including a new BMW 528i and Chevy Silverado truck—remain at a minimum. "I go out to dinner a little more often," he says. "But it's still to Chili's or T.G.I. Friday's."
The Bachelor's choice, AMANDA MARSH, still waits
San Franciscan Alex Michel didn't propose to Marsh in April, but he did vow to move to L.A. to give the relationship a go. Four months later he was there working on a showbiz career-but Marsh, 23, had a radio deejay job in Kansas City, Kans. "I was obviously not a priority of his," she told TV Guide, "so he was not going to be a priority of mine." Still, Michel, 32, says, "we're dating long-distance and things are good." Even Marsh's mom, Joyce Cornell, reckons that "the odds are good" for an engagement. But, she adds, "I wouldn't be sure until I saw the ring on her finger."
The Amazing Race champs ROB FRISBEE and BRENNAN SWAIN remain a duo
After 31 days and 11 countries, the globe-trotting pair ended up winning by only 20 minutes. "It was like 45,000 miles of stress and adrenaline just melted away," recalls Frisbee, 29. Splitting the $1 million prize, the L.A. lawyers, who met in 1998, promptly left their jobs to chase their dreams: for Swain, 31, acting (he's now taking lessons); for Frisbee, writing (he is self-publishing three of his own science-fiction books). Both single, the pair share a Hollywood bachelor pad and work out together most days, while developing a late-night talk show they would like to cohost. The Race "was a life-changing experience," says Swain. "I'd do it again in a second."
Survivor RICHARD HATCH: Safe at Home
The show's first millionaire winner used some of his prize money to renovate his Middletown, R.I., home for himself and adopted son Christopher, 12. Among the features: a 12-person hot tub. Last February the corporate trainer, 41, got out of hot water when his 2001 conviction for assaulting a former boyfriend was overturned.
The Mole man STEVE COWLES gets real (estate)
Producers told Cowles, "Win or lose, show some emotion." So the low-key cop whooped when he won the $510,000 prize on Feb. 28,2001. Rather than splurge, though, Cowles, 32, bought a Westminster, Colo., home for himself and wife Angie, 29, a child-care worker. Professionally, he's staying put. "I'm real about it," he says. "I've had my 15 minutes."
FOR SOME TEMPTATION ISLANDERS, LOVE ENDED IN A SAD THONG
Technically, there was no winner on the FOX show, which tested the fidelity of four unmarried couples set loose among 13 babes and 13 studs on tropical Belize in 2000. Each partner got paid $5,000. Only one pair, though, wound up getting hitched; a second is still dating; the other two couples are now kaput. Among the latter are Ytossie Patterson, 36, and Taheed Watson, 31, who were ousted after the fourth episode when it was revealed that they had a child back home. Patterson, an aspiring actress who still goes on auditions, maintains that "the negative publicity" jinxed her career; she now works for a medical-supply company in Chatsworth, Calif., while raising son Tylor, 3.