Karen Igho: The untold story of the street girl turned millionaire

Story by JIBRIL MUSA
news
Last Updated:Sunday, August 7, 2011

Last Sunday brought a climatic conclusion to the biggest reality show on the African continent, Big Brother Amplified (BBA). The Nigerian girl with the alleged £4, 000 (approximately N1m) plastic breasts - the controversial Karen Igho - won the USD200, 000 prize money at the end of the 91-day intrigue-filled show in the BBA House. Although, a joint winner with Wendall Parson, the youthful Zimbabwean pilot, Karen’s victory was significant in more than one way. She became the third Nigerian in a row to win the prize, and she is the first and only female to win that ultimate prize.

In the beginning, Nigerians believed Karen Igho was a mistake; not worthy to fly the country’s flag because she was not cut from the same mold as Kevin Pam and Uti Nwachukwu, two Nigerians who earlier won the Big Brother contests in 2009 and 2010, respectively. By default, we pinned our hopes on the virginal Vina. Even inside the house, there was much ado about her boobs. Karen made Nigerians uncomfortable with her personality in more than one way. The Karen Persona lacked finesse: a ruthless b****, a reckless drunk; garish and garrulous character. Karen was a point-blank portrayal of a ‘street girl.’

Rather than hate her, we hailed her. Indeed, Karen wasn’t the worst even if she was not among the best inmates. Was she the only inmate with silicon breasts? The Ghanaian, Confidence Haugen, also had enhanced breasts. Karen didn’t commit the gravest of offences; there was the deviant duo of Tanzanian Bhoke Egina and Ernest Wasake from Uganda who indulged in consensual sex. The BBA’s backbone is drama and we had an artiste in the lot, who had learnt the theory of drama from Southwark College, but also tutored by the school of hard knocks. Karen Igho courted controversy; she controlled the ebbs and flows. She enjoyed it. We enjoyed it too! Didn’t we look forward to her antics? In the court of public opinion, she was the heart and soul of the Big Brother Amplified. She matched her braggadocio with bravado; her hullaballoo with humour. Karen was the reason many watched the BBA. By the time the show concluded, she was larger than life. And her triumph trumpeted a latent lesson of life: he who seizes initiatives leads; he who leads determines the turn of events. Her X Factor: even in the play-dirty, dog-eat-dog world of reality television, she displayed the finest of human nature at a point when she was up for eviction and she had the opportunity of picking a surrogate. She refrained from nominating a fellow inmate.

Though street-girl-turned-millionaire Karen Igho is no role model, can’t we make a bestseller out of her story? A book or a film? Even a song about it? With a pinch of creativity, the Karen Igho storyline can become riveting: a girl with a ‘gangster mother,’ with no father figure in her life, forced to live with her granny. To escape the drudgery of life, she flees into marriage; instead of heaven, she finds hell. After five years, she escapes out of the wedlock, and begins to try her hands at different odd jobs. In a classical case of girl gone bad, she becomes a stripper at night clubs, and her nude photos adorn the internet. The hustler by chance stumbles upon a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in a reality TV, and today she’s now an African star with fame and fortune.

How Karen and Wendall won

By OMOTOLA OLAIFA
omotolaolaifa@gmail.com

After outlasting 24 other housemates for 91 days, the duo of Karen and Wendall scooped the two USD200 000 prizes on M-Net’s Big Brother Amplified last week, in a spectacular show.

They were given the big news by presenter IK at the end of a two-hour grand finale worthy of the Amplified name.
In a show which saw drama, tears, laughter and joy along with rocking performances from Nigerian stars Wizkid and Mo’Cheddah, Tanzania’s CPWAA, South Africa’s Speedy & Professor and Fally Ipupa (DRC) – it was the Nigerian and the Zimbabwean who prevailed to pick up the spoils on the continent’s biggest reality show.

IK and Big Brother drew the tension out until the last possible second of the show, leaving Karen and Wendall delighted at the Amplified outcome. Earlier in the show, Vina and Hanni had been evicted before IK took viewers back into the house and asked the remaining 5 housemates – Sharon O, Wendall, Karen, Luclay and Lomwe to join him on stage. One-by-one he sent Sharon O, Lomwe and Luclay to join the ranks of the evicted housemates before dropping the explosive Amplified twist on the remaining duo.

IK then summoned them to the edge of the stage. “In the past, it’s always boiled down to one housemate, one moment – this is that moment,” he told them gravely. “Karen… Wendall… both of you have won USD200 000 each! Both of you are winners!” he told them, before leaving them to celebrate with friends and family.

BBA at a glance

Big Brother Africa is a television programme produced by Endemol, a worldwide network of leading entertainment companies. The show initially involved 12 countries within Africa - Angola, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Ethiopia and Mozambique were added in the fourth season. According to the programme format, each country produces a contestant living in an isolated house while trying to avoid being evicted by viewers and ultimately winning large cash prize at the end of the show.
The show premiered to audiences in 42 African countries in 2003. Whereas each of the first five editions had sole winner, the sixth outing, Big Brother Amplified, was the first to have joint winners.

Big Brother is a fictional character in George Orwell’s 1984 novel. In the society that Orwell described, everyone is under complete surveillance by the authorities, mainly by telescreens.

The people are constantly reminded of this by the phrase “Big Brother is watching you”. The worldwide reality television show Big Brother is based on the novel’s concept of people being under constant surveillance.

Chima Okoroji, Karen’s first director reacts

Chima Okoroji is an award winning movie director (Tears of a Mother, Joy of a Mother, Dying to Live and several others). He was the director of the 2009 edition of the Next Movie Star (NMS) reality show, where Karen Igho was one of the housemates under him. Below is his appraisal of the Karen personality.

“As the director, Karen was my student in the 2009 Next Movie Star TV reality show. Being her first experience on reality TV, though determined, she was constantly under the fear of eviction. Back then, she was cool rather than being controversial.

Next Movie Star gave her a platform; by the time she got to the big stage, she knew she can only succeed by being herself. In Big Brother Amplified, she had matured enough to handle reality TV shows.

In NMS, she wasn’t forthcoming about her intimate details – the boob job, her background etc. But in BBA, she was forthright about it. A sort of “This is me, this who I am, you either like me or go to hell”.

Do you have a story/gist for publication? Please email it to story@nigeriafilms.com

Dont forget Cherise won it 1st
Anago
8/7/2011 2:54:28 PM
Charise won the ultimate prize in the first edition. NFC get your facts right
Reply
blessed
Jane
8/10/2011 9:17:13 AM
You are an inspiration to many. Please live a good life now and the blood of Jesus will wash away your past.
Remain blessed
Reply
Zambia's Cherise was first
Faith
8/17/2011 10:55:38 AM
The first to win was Zambia's Cherise who won the very first, thats BBA 1. She was not only the first female but also the first person. So Karen shud not be called the first but probably applaud her being the 3rd Naija to win in a row. Get your facts very clear.
Reply
dont get it twisted.
noname
10/17/2011 8:19:22 AM
please go back and read it again. the reporter said "the first female Nigerian" okay??
Reply
Zambia's Cherise was first
Faith
8/17/2011 10:55:42 AM
The first to win was Zambia's Cherise who won the very first, thats BBA 1. She was not only the first female but also the first person. So Karen shud not be called the first but probably applaud her being the 3rd Naija to win in a row. Get your facts very clear.
Reply
Zambia's cherise was first
Roxanne
9/14/2011 2:24:24 PM
Yes, its true she was the first, but if you read the article carefully, the writer specifically says that Karen was the first and only female to win that prize.....of USD 200k...Cheise won 100k....Please understand the simple english used here.
Reply
mess!
Euphy
8/7/2011 5:19:27 PM
LIFE, ESPECIALLY OF A WOMAN IS NOT ALL ABOUT MONEY BUT VIRTUE OR WE WILL ALL BE RICH ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. A BILLIONAIRE IN THE PERSONALITY OF KAREN WILL NEVER WORTH A DIME TO ME. i wish her a better life after the wins!
Reply
mess!
Euphy
8/7/2011 5:19:52 PM
LIFE, ESPECIALLY OF A WOMAN IS NOT ALL ABOUT MONEY BUT VIRTUE OR WE WILL ALL BE RICH ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. A BILLIONAIRE IN THE PERSONALITY OF KAREN WILL NEVER WORTH A DIME TO ME. i wish her a better life after the wins!
Reply
The Positive side.
Omo Oba
8/8/2011 1:04:38 AM
Omotola, thanks for looking at Karen's case from the positive side. She is more of a good role model when you deeply look at her struggle of life. The eventual success story she now have to tell. What a rugged and persistent perosnality ? What a committed and ambitious individual ? What a tenacious and dedicated person ? To me she is a typical person for millions in the struggle of their life to emulate. Through the challenges placed on her ways, evolved a determined soul, who faces life with one goal in mind; "I shall make it". Yes she made, Karen Igho made it. Tell it to the world,turn it to night story for the little children, to embodden them with determination. Tell it to the disappointed, that there is still hope, if there is still life. Tell it to the depressed, there is no gain if you chicken out. Tell it to the lazy one, that in strength lies success. At the end of the day, Karen has succeeded not only winning a reality show, she has succeeded in giving meaning to what appeared to be a meaningless TV show.
Reply
Gold Heart Karen
Triple
8/8/2011 4:04:16 AM
Karen is the first true person on screen, she gave us her true self just the way it is. Many will be so shocked to see such like Karen in heaven cause she is ugly outside and beautiful in side her kind of heart wahooo u can't even find a million people. go Karen and be u but learn to know when to stop talking when u should. pls Karen teach how to apologize when am the one wronged
Reply
MY AMPLIFIED HERO
MENR
8/15/2011 4:10:05 PM
just as tripple has rightly said a heart of GOLD.someone who could easily say the hardest word i'm sorry.I pray everday to be like that.I don't care about her past.Her innerman says it all.K-kindness,A-amplified,R-real,E-entertainment,N-number one
Reply
congrats Karen
Babe R
8/8/2011 11:43:20 AM
KAREN WAS GOOD. CONGRATS GIRL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Reply
Cherise Makubale is the first
Oge
8/8/2011 12:57:26 PM
NFC, you guys are so misinformed and report distorted facts. The winner of BBA1 is Cherise Makubale; a Zambian and a female. Get your facts right. Your readers are not uninformed like you. You insult us when you publish r*****h!
Reply
@ Anago and Oge
Ritty
8/8/2011 2:04:50 PM
They said she is the Third and First female in Nigeria to win the prize, they did nt see she is the first female read with understanding before u start passing judgment.
Reply
p********e
KAREN
8/8/2011 10:32:29 PM
KAREN IS A BIG p********e,,,,IT IS SELF-EXPLANATORY,,,NO DOUBT ABOUT IT
Reply
Good karen
Abubakar Balogun
8/10/2011 12:00:52 PM
Keren you are the best.may allah bless you and reward you with more awards (amee)
Reply
Best Wishes
Etta Queenta
8/10/2011 1:16:53 PM
Karen mami l say die 4 ur jest.u too much.l love d way u do ur things.ur playful character,open mindedness,always ready to apologise to people wen u do dem something wrong.l am so happy dat u made it.cudos.and dere is one thing l wish u do for me.dear pls always remain who u r,never change ur ways espacially d ones l highlighted above.Karen darling,u r my ROLE MODEL.love u
Reply
Karen, i rearlly like u, likeness is understatement.
Felicia nnena
9/10/2011 3:27:13 PM
Karen, i rearlly like u, likeness is understatement, i luv u, God luvs u more, ur enemies will all die in jesus name. Luv u
Reply
@RITTY
ANONYMOUS!
8/10/2011 2:45:03 PM
YOU SEF NO UNDERSTAND ENGLISH. WHAT DOES' She became the third Nigerian in a row to win the prize, and she is the first and only female to win that ultimate prize' MEAN? BUSH WOMAN WEY NO UNDERSTAND ENGLISH.....SHIOR!

@ANAGO AND OGE.....YOU WERE RIGHT JARE
Reply
make i
ANIEKANABASI
8/10/2011 7:01:16 PM
make i do wetin na....abi she go share the cash reach my end?abeggi....she try sha
Reply
kareen ma role model
BUKOLA KINGSLEY HART
8/11/2011 8:23:15 AM
its true she has a good heart,not everyone you find in her posotion would always make the right call,but in the BBA house when she is asked to norminate she made the right call,kareen i would leave this for you,REMEMBER THE WORLD CAN NEVER GIVE YOU HALF OF WHAT YOU GIVE TO THE WORLD,KEEP YOUR HEAD HIGH.FOR ME ITS JUST A STARTING POINT TO GREATER HEIGHTS.one luv.
Reply
my love
juliet
8/11/2011 1:24:04 PM
Karen i love u so much even when criticism came i still believe in you. because you are a full package for entertainment. i hope to still see u on my screen. it is a new beginning for you. one love
Reply
BgplYnHdwkll
Cindy
8/11/2011 2:33:53 PM
Grazi for mankig it nice and EZ.
Reply
karen...out of dis world
maryjane
8/12/2011 8:57:09 AM
Not everybody can come out openly n tell a true story about oneself,she wants pple 2learn 4rm her experience.we ve right to our opinion we should luv our own instead of being judgemental.Karen pls summit ursef 2d will of GOD n everything will be new.wish u luck
Reply
karen u shock the world
mrs funmi oloyede
8/13/2011 5:21:22 PM
Forever love you, u made u proud
Reply
good
rhythmplus mc oharisi.
8/15/2011 12:52:20 AM
She is just fortunate. But she shud not forget that it was God all the way. I felicitate with her.
Reply
Karen
Gagality
8/17/2011 9:38:52 AM
Karen 2much
Reply
APPRECIATION
ANN SOLOMON
8/17/2011 6:38:11 PM
Karen is a unique ... and special Nigerian
Reply
u are gold
Peter Nsoesie,Journalist-Cam
8/17/2011 8:04:58 PM
i have never been so touched by anybody like u did Karen .u are God's treasure.I love u
Reply
Bba
Nicki adwoseyin
8/19/2011 6:27:31 AM
karen u re uniq don't 4get.am happy 4 u Goodlucky.i luv takecare
Reply
She never pretended
Rubina
8/19/2011 7:10:09 PM
Karen as per say was indeed the reason most of us watched big brother. She was never a fake and never any point pretended to be who she is not. Apart from the first female to win big brother, our very own Zambian Cherise, big brother has never again had any female housemates as real as Karen was in the house. Big up to you Karen and may your heart grow even bigger towards people now that you have money. God bless you, girl....
Reply
leave stripping
luvgirl
8/20/2011 9:12:55 PM
now dat God has blessed her i just hope she will lead a gud life n not go back to prostitution again cos she has to clean up d gutter in her life by turning to her creator
Reply
She is good
Innocent Eburuo
8/21/2011 7:09:45 PM
She is good,nice,simple,playful & shaming face I luu dat millionaire.
Reply
the entertaining girl
sibanda precious
8/21/2011 8:01:09 PM
U were. Truly keeping da bba alive your chat room session I never missed them. May god bless u and your fmly

Reply
Karen
N,
8/25/2011 10:55:04 AM
U were the best Karen ! Im a South African bt I love u not becoz Luclay loves you bt u ere not fake. Bt u said u were going to give some moneny to Mumba and Bernadine(my worst housemate ever) , did you do it ?
Reply
Karen
N,
8/25/2011 10:57:22 AM
U killed with your clothes!!!!!!!!!!! I give u the best dress housemate ever !!!!!!!! One Love
Reply
U CANNOT SATISFY THE WORLD
KENNY.O JERRY
8/28/2011 7:34:47 AM
In life it is hard 2 satisfy a human being,wen u are real they hate & wen u are fake they cruxify u dat is human 4u.Igho pls just continue to do what u knw how to do best.Gudluck
Reply
love her
lade
8/28/2011 10:00:03 PM
D very 1st bba show was won by a female
Karen is real n we shd stop judgin her, she was herself n we all shd learn 4rm her gud side
Reply
Nobody holy pass
Chikojie
8/29/2011 8:50:42 PM
Everybody has a skeleton in his or her cupboard,no one wil say they are 100% innocent. Karen has been there and done that. She should not b judge,she deserves wat she got,be good girl.
Reply
Kareem
David ogar
8/30/2011 12:38:08 AM
God pass ur enemies
Reply
Kareem
David ogar
8/30/2011 12:34:00 AM
Babe u re jst 2 gud,wen dm tlk bad against jesus who b u na?Jst do ur tin dem dey envy.
Reply
zambian cherise
harriet
8/31/2011 11:04:25 AM
Please before you post or write something, get full info, zambian cherise was the first continental winner and the first female to win the bba.
Reply
zambian cherise
harriet
8/31/2011 11:04:32 AM
Please before you post or write something, get full info, zambian cherise was the first continental winner and the first female to win the bba.
Reply
cherise
@irene
8/31/2011 12:11:10 PM
We all knw cherise 4rm Zambia won the first bba but i keep thinking that happened cos people were not sure wht the show was abt she wasn't much of an entertainer so that keeps me wondering if she wld hve won after season 1.
Reply
missing karan
charity
9/1/2011 4:28:48 PM
karan you really made my days.may the lord bless you!
hope to see you soon on TV.
Reply
missing karan
charity
9/1/2011 4:28:57 PM
karan you really made my days.may the lord bless you!
hope to see you soon on TV.
Reply
missing karan
charity
9/1/2011 4:29:04 PM
karan you really made my days.may the lord bless you!
hope to see you soon on TV.
Reply
WHAT !
MADAM
9/2/2011 2:09:45 AM
DO YOU MEAN THOSE FRONT SHE HAS ARE COSMETIC ? NA WA O, SO WHEN SHE STARTS HAVING KIDS SHE WOULD GIVE THEM SILICON MILK TO SUCK ABI ? GOD DEY.
Reply
love
bieza bernadette
9/4/2011 7:58:40 PM
God's choice of things have never been anyone just so inexperience. I love karen u got the softest heart ever. remain blessed and continue to help those u can thats the meaning of life share , love and humilty.
Reply
Helo
Amaka
9/5/2011 11:24:25 PM
Karen z ur god weldone n b careful wt boys dat wl cm for d money. Congratulations
Reply
Helo
Amaka
9/5/2011 11:27:15 PM
Dis z my no 08039548418.
Reply
Gold heart
Nicole Hlatshwayo
9/6/2011 8:02:53 PM
From day one I liked u' ...the heart that u hv let no one take it away from u
Reply
Karen
Esite
9/6/2011 10:14:29 PM
The meaning of igho is money so karem is dentiny to win in any show i love the babe.
Reply
Karen
Esite
9/6/2011 10:18:25 PM
The meaning of igho is money so karem is dentiny to win in any show i love the babe.
Reply
God of possibilities
olive etukudo
9/8/2011 11:15:25 PM
Gods love has rained on you. whom God has blessed no man can curse.My daughter no matter the circumstance in your life be guided by the fact that you have found favour with God.Remain good and may God bless you.
Reply
OH MY GOD
ISEYEMI PETER
9/11/2011 1:18:24 PM
U deserve d money' bt nt by power bt d special grace of God upon ur lyf. Which u d best of luck in lyf. Pls JESUS lov u karen.
Reply
U TAUGHT ME GUD THING WITIN DAT 91DAYS
elizabeth okorie
9/24/2011 3:38:23 PM
karen u are my role model. Ur lyf story taught me alot of lesson, u taught me neva 2 luk down on pple, 2 always remember where am cuming 4rm in evry tin dat i do, God dat started dat gud work in ur lyf wil finish it.
Reply
Karen igho
Olamibo Ayerin
9/29/2011 6:01:57 AM
I hate critics.What if she's a p********e? The most important thing is that she has won the money and there is nothing anybody can do about it. Everyboby has a past so please stop the nailling and who told who dat someone do not merit what even the bible said:- riches and honour comet from God and he giveth it to whoever he wishes to give it to. To me Karen's story is just like that of Esther or Joseph in the bible leave karen alone and let her be.
Reply
God did not forget anybody
Ayerin Olamibo
9/29/2011 6:09:23 AM
Karen's story makes me to shead tears and thought me just one thing. That in whatever situation we find ourselves we should be ourself. Karen God sees ur heart and something tells me that u are a merciful and generous person and i want you to focus more on those that have been rejected to touch some lives if not all
Reply
Wonderful
George Fabian Obinna
10/5/2011 5:22:09 AM
The condemned stone has become the pillar of the building. May God forgive and bless you (karen) as you turn back to him.
Reply
fear GOD
CHIKA
10/17/2011 4:08:28 PM
karen.truly u have a good heart.u forgive easily and quick to reconcile even with ur offenders.a good heart indeed BUT I still feel that nudity is a sin.u dont have to be nude to achieve ur aim in life.pls kill dat aspect of ur life and allow GOD to lead u.stop exposing ur endowment so that u can pls God and get a good husband for ur self.plsssssssssssssssss
Reply
karen
ifeanyi d
10/26/2011 4:17:55 PM
I really love you karen. How i wish i could just see you. Hold hug, kiss and jump around you. You are the best and always my role model. If you are reading my lines if call me 07032five579zero 3. Thanks karen i love you.
Reply
Karen
Pinky
11/3/2011 3:23:09 AM
She realy not bad no mata wat pipo say karen gal u swit
Reply
Karen the best
Alice Nkom
11/16/2011 8:36:38 AM
Its difficult to see some one who went thru all this still having the drive and energy to move forward.ur story is touching and even though i do not judge u its my prayer dat u turn a new leaf and see life in a better perspective.i learnt a lot from u and glad to say u were the reason i watched the big brother show.luv u karen
Reply
Karen the best
Alice Nkom
11/16/2011 8:39:54 AM
Its difficult to see some one who went thru all this still having the drive and energy to move forward.ur story is touching and even though i do not judge u its my prayer dat u turn a new leaf and see life in a better perspective.i learnt a lot from u and glad to say u were the reason i watched the big brother show.luv u karen
Reply
a lady of substance
karen
12/13/2011 5:18:57 AM
u r d best tin dat hapnd 2 bba. So real, so honest n so determind. I luk up 2 u. U wr d best.
Reply
CONGRATS
NTOMBI
1/8/2012 5:55:43 AM
KAREN U R THE BEST, U DID IT GIRL U R MY BEST OF THE BEST KEEP
IT UP GIRL, LOVE U
SOWETO
Reply
ENTERTAINER
BAYO
1/8/2012 6:02:22 AM
WHAT WILL BIG BROTHER BE WITHOUT U? U MADE LOT OF PEOPLE TO WATCH U ON TV, I WILL FOLLOW U EVERYWHEREVER U GO KEEP IT UP. THERE IS A SAY THAT SAYS'
UNKULUNKULU UKUSUSA PHANSI AKUSE PHEZULU' THATS WHAT
HAPPENED TO U BABS***

LOVE U
SOWETO
Reply
LADY OF SUBSTANCE
irenewhyte
4/15/2012 7:05:47 AM
YOU DID IT GIRL GOD BLESS YOU COS YOU ARE A ROLE MODEL YOU ARE DETERMINED AND YOU MADE IT YOU ARE A LADY OF SUBSTANCE YOUR KIND IS RARE TO FIND
Reply
CONGRATS
IRENE OLUCHI NWARIE
4/15/2012 7:07:18 AM
YOU ARE THE BEST
Reply
IPgIFoCjUIJcjCEZK
Bristol Airport Hotels
4/19/2012 10:50:13 PM
jqPbV8 Thank you for your article.Thanks Again. Keep writing.
Reply
eleVxFyQrB
bookmarking service
9/19/2012 8:08:59 AM
mNOZ8Z Really appreciate you sharing this article.Really looking forward to read more. Cool.
Reply
ArGFHnOXdHXmVgAJ
crork
11/4/2012 10:06:52 PM
ji8QLZ I truly appreciate this post.Really thank you! Cool.
Reply
keep up
Lum Bobga
1/21/2013 2:57:36 PM
you are the best. love everything about u.
Reply
dRQYNHwliL
lose weight pills
1/31/2013 11:35:24 PM
jfRqEB Say, you got a nice blog post.Really looking forward to read more. Awesome.
Reply

Post your comment

Disclaimer: Do not use this forum as a channel to promote hatred, tribalism or any other kind of personal grievances. The administration can delete or edit a post that violates these guidelines. Keep the posts relevant to the topic in an attempt to keep the forum organised and maintain the focus on each topic. Thank you for your understanding. READ MORE

Other sites of MG Media Group are Nigeria Films, The Nigerian Voice, Modern Ghana