SHE became a reality TV superstar when she was crowned the winner of Big Brother in 2004.
And Nadia Almada, the CCTV house's first ever trans contestant, wasted no time in living the high life after being reintroduced to the real world.
The much-loved television personality, 46, splashed out thousands of pounds on lavish items in luxury department stores and developed a taste for the finer things in life.
In an exclusive interview with The Sun on behalf of ICE 36, Nadia joked that she wished she'd had a better financial plan in place when she was in those heady days.
Laughing, she said: "I wish I knew better. Going to Selfridges and spending £3,000 on a Fendi bag and Louis Vuitton and things like that. Lavish, kind of crazy things that when you grow up, when you come from a place where you never have that…
"I was a Platinum American Express [cardholder], I WAS, past tense [laughs]. Shoes were my thing, designer shoes, handbags; now they are in boxes somewhere. Oh, how I wish I had a better vision!
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"Holidays abroad… and when you've tasted the five star hotel you can't go to the B&B.
"Also it kind of messes with your mind. It generates this entitlement kind of thing. I wanted people to know what kind of champagne I'd drink. I remember buying cases of Veuve [Clicquot] champagne, which I love, obviously, but that's another story."
Nadia's series of Big Brother ranks among the best ever, pulling in millions of viewers and generating drama that fans of the show still vividly recall two decades later.
Nadia's iconic "I want my cigarettes" catchphrase is burned into the minds of reality TV fans around the country.
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Her success opened her up to a world of celebrity that she could only have dreamed of weeks previously.
The Portuguese star recalls eating rubbing shoulders with X Factor judges and was particularly taken by an invite to the late Tara Palmer Tomkinson's house party having watched and voted for her when she was in I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
She said: "It's kind of surreal. I remember watching her on TV Get Me Out Of Here and the next thing I know I'm in her house."
Eventually though, the allure of the bright lights faded, and Nadia realised she needed a career change for her own good.
It was thanks to a pep talk from her mum that she decided to make a go of it in the hair and beauty business.
She said: "I was working in the TV industry, had projects on and off, and then it came to the point where this is not fulfilling me anymore.
"I also had to move on. My mother came to me and said you need to have a trade. Always have a trade. So what do I like, I like fashion, beauty, all of that industry.
"I created for myself a path, and gave myself a job. It's hard after all of that recognition, and still to this day I have that, I still have clients that recognise me and appreciate me and are all very kind.
"There was a little bit of ego, and then when I stripped that back; 'let's not job shame anyone, this is what you're gonna do', and I'm very proud of it because it allowed me to work with great people, represent a great British institution in hairdressing.
"It's another path I took on; a little bit of confusion, delusional, impostor syndrome, that creative outlet emerged. It is quite difficult because there's all the other factors of 'you're earning this much and you have to go this way'. There's no shame, it's all about evolving. I think I'm forever evolving and I'm exciting."
Later this year it looks like Nadia will come full circle by revisiting the franchise that made her a household name.
Big Brother is rebooting on ITV with the fresh presenting line-up of AJ Odudu and Will Best, and there will be a whole batch of new reality wannabes.
However, we revealed this week that some familiar faces will also be entering the house, and it would seem Nadia is nailed on to be one of them.
She said: "We should be part of it. We are the OGs. We almost have a responsibility to pass on the torch.
"I was already manifesting, we need to be involved. They need to respect us and give us, not the recognition, but the value of what we created and the value of what was to come."
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She added: "Thank you for acknowledging us and we will come and show the kids how it's done [laughs]."
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