Well played, Nick. Well played. In what I felt was the most shocking finale in Bachelor Pad history, Nick Peterson walked away with a quarter of a million dollars by betraying his partner, Rachel Truehart, in a high-stakes version of the prisoner’s dilemma. As the last two contestants in the competition, the two headed into deliberation rooms to decide between two options: keep and share. If both picked share, they would each receive $125,000. If one chose keep and one chose share, the keeper would win $250,000. However, if both greedily picked keep, the money would be split amongst the rest of the contestants.

While I was watching the earlier episodes of the season, I had always viewed Nick as the nice underdog with the eternally red face (whether from too many drinks or tanning under the California sun, I’ll never know) who kept away from the drama. He never won the competitions and was seen as the outsider – never quite accepted by the main alliance formed in the early stages of the show. The contestants on Bachelor Pad, along with viewers like me, never seriously considered him to have qualities that the winners of previous seasons portrayed.

It was therefore all the more shocking when Nick had the guts to publicly take the money all for himself. Rachel, who had just recently had her heart broken by fellow contestant Michael Stagliano and endured the guilt from betraying her best friend on the show to secure a win in the finale, came off as someone more “deserving” of the money. But in the end, she not only lost the guy, but the money too.

While what Nick did to Rachel was harsh and I probably would not have done the same if I were in his shoes, I understand his reasoning and stand by his case. Nick and Rachel were not partners from the beginning of the show; they ended up being forced together after Michael abruptly left the show. Having only been partners for a few weeks, they did not form the strong connection that other couples would have formed by then. In addition, Nick had to constantly endure Rachel’s pining for Michael and accept that Rachel would never have entered the partnership if she had a choice otherwise. In short, his desire to avenge the bitter feelings bottled up throughout the course of the season fueled his decision to place his own wants above someone else’s.

Bachelor Pad is a game that pits money against love, trust, and friendship. Whether a contestant like Rachel is more “deserving” of the money doesn’t matter. Some may call Nick the evil snake in the grass, but he simply played the game well by making his move when all those around him least expected it. He picked the quarter of a million dollars, and there is nothing wrong with that if he personally felt that he won the game on his own. In this case, we should not hate the player but hate the game for creating an atmosphere that toys with emotions and changes human character for the worse.