Cairns ‘cane toads’ and series-long underdogs Tess and Luke are the surprise winners of The Block 2019, pocketing a staggering $730,000 in the process.
The newlyweds beat their competitors in a nailbiting auction that saw even this year’s ‘loser’ couple going home several hundred thousand dollars richer.
“What just happened?” host Scott Cam asked after their surprise win.
And the life-changing win came just a few weeks after Tess and Luke went rogue in an interview with news.com.au, sensationally slamming the show and accusing producers of bullying them and editing them to make them look lazy.
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Speaking to news.com.au’s Shireen Khalil after Saturday’s auction, the pair were singing a different tune, declaring they had “no regrets” about signing up.
Here’s how the night played out …
THE AUCTION RESULTS
In a Block first, each couple’s house had the same reserve: $2.990 million for each of the five three-storey terraces that make up the former Oslo Hotel in St Kilda. That came as a relief to all couples, most of whom expected the reserves to be set at above $3 million.
Veteran renovators Mitch and Mark went first, the hammer falling on their house at $3.374 million, which was $384,000 over their reserve.
Passionate buyers whipped Tess and Luke’s auction into a frenzy, the couple’s house going for a whopping $3.620 million, scoring $630,000 over reserve.
Perth couple El’ise and Matt were next, selling their house for $3.450 million, which was $460,000 over their reserve.
Winners of the public vote during open for inspection, Andy and Deb’s sold for $3.420 million, $430,000 over reserve. Finally, real estate agent Jesse and his partner Mel sold their house for $3.378 million — earning $388,000 over the reserve.
Here’s how they all ranked:
WINNER: Tess and Luke, $730,000 ($630,000 over reserve $100,000 prize money)
2ND PLACE: El’ise and Matt, $460,000
3RD PLACE: Andy and Deb, $430,000
4TH PLACE: Jesse and Mel, $388,000
5TH PLACE: Mitch and Mark, $384,000
The winnings for each couple were huge this year — only two seasons ago, the fifth-placing couple won a comparatively small $95,000, while last year, fifth-placers Norm and Jess won $209,000. But the couples’ placings were an upset after a season that’s seen Mitch and Mark frequently placed frontrunners, and self-described “dark horses” Tess and Luke repeatedly portrayed as out of their depth and falling behind the rest of the competition.
About that …
‘YOU CAN’T WIN THE BLOCK BEING LAZY’
The young Cairns couple gave an extraordinary interview to news.com.au three weeks ago, declaring they wished they’d never applied for the show and accusing producers of bullying them. The pair claimed The Block was so “full of s**t” they no longer watched.
“We thought this was going to be an amazing, positive experience in our life, but we wish we never went on this bloody thing. We got bullied the whole way through (filming) the show, and now we feel like they’re bullying us on the show as well,” Luke said.
Tess also didn’t mince words. “We’re really upset — we’re not coping with it any more. We’re really heartbroken” … “We just want this over and done with. It’s really sad that we feel like we have to explain ourselves to people who have no idea who we really are. They’re judging us based on a show that is completely full of sh*t,” she said.
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Speaking to news.com.au’s Shireen Khalil after their surprise win yesterday, the couple were celebrating, but still said they were unhappy with their portrayal through the season.
“We are so grateful to be on The Block. Our lives have changed completely, but you do get really upset being portrayed a certain way and but it’s because you don’t see everything. And unfortunately we were portrayed as the lazy ones, but you can’t win The Block being lazy,” Tess told news.com.au.
“We probably weren’t the most organised but we weren’t the laziest,” said Luke.
Tess said they’d been doing it tough since filming finished, dealing with the public’s perceptions of them.
“Mentally it is still very hard. Were living this life we never thought we would live. Were going through things we never thought we would go through together and it is a struggle,” she said.
Despite those struggles, Tess said after the auction win the couple had “no regrets now” about their reality TV stint.
Some viewers were less than thrilled to see Tess and Luke take home the win:
#TheBlock The only place on earth where the people who do the least, the worst and are petulant to boot, get paid for it.
— Prue Miller (@PrueMiller) November 10, 2019
Hmm. So why did Tess and Luke’s house do so well? I wanted them to get something for sure, but I’m a bit disappointed they got so much for so little effort and such a rotten attitude. #TheBlock
— Kathryn (@pinktweetkat) November 10, 2019
I really hope that all teams walk away with at least $300K profit! What fantastic results so far. Can’t believe Tess and Luke might win though- I like them but they did the least amount of work of anyone. #TheBlock
— Missie (@missiexox) November 10, 2019
SCOTT CAM’S CHEEKY DIG
Cam couldn’t help but acknowledge the elephant in the room as an elated Tess and Luke watched their auction win.
“We feel as though maybe you thought you had made the wrong decision to come on the show. How do you feel about being on the show right now?” he asked the couple.
Turning to camera as the Tess and Luke left to celebrate with the other contestants, Cam quipped: “I tell you what — they love The Block now.”
Speaking to news.com.au after the auction, Cam insisted producers had not edited Tess and Luke to appear lazy or inept.
“We just shoot it as we see it, and that’s what we saw. It’s a rollercoaster. But later in the show, they have a good time. We didn’t edit them to look a certain way,” he said.
ANDY AND DEB ‘UNDER THREAT’
Before the auction started, an emotional Andy and Deb admitted their “hearts and minds” were elsewhere. The couple live with their children in the small NSW coastal town of Wallabi Point, which has been under threat from the fires engulfing Australia’s east coast over the weekend.
“Our house was under threat of being engulfed by fire. And along with our neighbours and community everyone has been evacuated, and, you know, our minds and hearts have been at home on that. I love everybody at home and we just hope they are all well,” said Andy, as wife Deb fought back tears.
Speaking to Domain, Scott Cam said Andy and Deb’s children and other family members were staying at a relief centre on Saturday after “eight-storey flames” came within 100 metres of the family’s home.
“I just spoke to Andy not that long ago. He’s obviously concerned about his kids and family. But they’re at the moment safe in a centre where most of the people from Wallabi Point have gone,” Cam said on Saturday morning.
MITCH AND MARK’S SURPRISE LOSS
While a profit of $384,000 is hardly a ‘loss’, Mitch and Mark’s fifth-placing in the competition was a big upset, given their frontrunner status all season. The couple scored the most room wins — four — and their ‘party house’ drew consistent praise from the judges, who felt they’d got the edge over their competitors by converting one upstairs bedroom into a living space, thereby turning the whole level into an entertaining area.
But in what was an omen of things to come, Mitch and Mark came last in the public vote when the five houses were finally opened for inspection, with Tess and Luke placing second.
Early in Sunday’s grand final, Mitch and Mark were shown volunteering to go first at auction, a decision real estate agent Jesse described as “noble.” As a top buyer’s advocate who’s bought several Block properties told news.com.au after the auction, it was also a decision that could’ve cost them the win.
Originally published as Block auction result nobody saw coming