Am I right, did Marcus win by 1/2 a star and Rick and Susur each had 17 stars? So very very close - it really could have been a three-way tie and split the proceeds. But that would seem like taking the easy way out for the judges, maybe.
After two seasons of TCM, I think it's evident that the judges (or producers) collaborate to prevent ties. We've seen 20 elimination challenges, many (most?) of them decided by 1/2 or 1 point, and not a single tie. If the judges came up with their scores independently (ie they wrote down their scores on a piece of paper and handed it to Kelly), then surely we'd have seen multiple ties by now.
It's interesting to speculate how this collaboration takes place. At the end of their discussions, do they announce their scores in some predetermined order, and the last person to vote is told "if you give him 4 stars, we'll have a tie; you can give him 3.5 or 4.5, but not 4"? If so, the last judge to announce his/her score would have greater voting power.