The Richmond Football Club used its number six draft pick to recruit the champion player after a a late night move overnight to head off a fan revolt.
And fans have repaid the club by signing up for Richmond memberships for next season.
Sources at the club said the membership lines had been "running hot" since news of the Cousins selection broke.
"There's been a mass of interest in membership for next year," the source said.
Cousins is understood to be flying to Melbourne today and is expected to train with the Tigers tomorrow.
Richmond forward Matthew Richardson said Cousins was "a great player" and would be a great addition to the club.
This morning as coach Terry Wallace headed into the club's Punt Rd headquarters, he told reporters the club had not yet made a decision whether to recruit Cousins.
But by 10.15am the club had decided in favour of Cousins.
Richmond players at the clubrooms this morning welcomed the news.
Several players described the decision as "fantastic" for the club, with others saying they were excited about the prospect of playing with Cousins.
Nathan Brown said he was looking forward to playing with Cousins and was not worried about his past.
"Everyone has a past. I think he'll be fantastic and I cannot wait to play with him," he said.
The decision appears to have won widespread support from footy fans generally, with the Herald Sun online's poll showing more than 80 per cent of readers backed the decision.
The Herald Sun understands the club backflipped on yesterday's claim it was "highly unlikely" it would recruit him, and instead decided late last night to give Ben Cousins a second chance.
Other players picked in the pre-season draft include
1. Liam Jurah for Melbourne
2. Josh Carr for Port Adelaide
3. Hayden Skipworth for Essendon
4. Chris Johnson for Carlton
5. Tom Rockliff for Brisbane
After a series of meetings and phone calls between Richmond directors, coaches and officials, the club decided to use its only selection in today's pre-season draft to take the fallen champ.
Meantime, Ben Cousins' manager this morning Ricky Nixon denied reports his charge was ready to fly to Melbourne today for the decision.
Other media outlets said Cousins had flown to Melbourne on a red-eye flight early this morning.
The Herald Sun was told the club finalised its decision after 10pm and some key Richmond players were immediately told.
This came after Cousins' future was again thrown into doubt after the AFL Commission yesterday denied Richmond permission to move the injured Graham Polak to its rookie list, which would have given the Tigers a second draft pick.
About 50 angry Tiger fans reacted by marching to Punt Rd last night, singing the club song and chanting "Cousins for Christmas''.
Fred Haifa, 20, from Brunswick, demanded the club recruit the confessed drug user.
"Ben Cousins at 100 per cent health can do a lot of damage on the field and he has got a point to prove,'' he said. "If Ben Cousins doesn't come to the club it will be probably the worst Christmas present ever.''
Supporters also flooded the club with emails demanding the Tigers use their only draft pick to recruit the fallen Brownlow Medal winner.
The Herald Sun was inundated with messages backing Cousins.
"Seriously if Richmond don't take Ben tomorrow they are insane,'' wrote one.
The draft starts at 10am and Tiger fans will know quickly if they have won their man.
Cousins took calls at his Perth apartment as support gathered strength.
Coach Terry Wallace faced angry supporters after training at 8.30pm but refused to speculate about what would happen today.
Cheer squad president David Norman said he had been looking forward to seeing Cousins in Richmond colours.
"Who wouldn't want Cousins? He's one of the top dozen league players in the last 10 years,'' he told the Herald Sun.
Leigh Witten, 43, planned to stay at Punt Rd overnight and vowed to remain for as long as it took to convince the club to recruit Cousins.
"What they've been doing is beating around the bush,'' he said. "We will sit on the roof of the stand until it is done.''
Richmond football operations manager Craig Cameron last night kept hopes alive of securing Cousins.
"It is not absolutely impossible,'' he told the Herald Sun.
The club would not decide until close to the 10am starting time for the draft.
The Tigers had hoped to move Polak - who was hurt when hit by a tram in June - to the rookie list, enabling them to make two draft picks and gain breathing room under the salary cap.
But AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said the competition had rules that applied to Polak's situation.
"The mechanism is there for Richmond to put Graham Polak on to the long-term injury list and to elevate a rookie who can play for as long as Graham Polak is out of football,'' Demetriou said.
Demetriou said the commission's decision should not be seen as anti-Cousins.
Fourteen clubs made submissions about Richmond's request on Polak, with a clear majority arguing against it.
Cameron initially said it was unlikely Richmond would pick Cousins because the club would probably stick to a strategy of selecting youth. "The decision we have to make has to be a long-term one and shouldn't be based on a swinging public mood.''
Kevin Sheedy, recently appointed a Richmond ambassador, has been driving the Cousins-to-Punt Rd project.
And he had plenty of support last night.
Thirty-year club member Ray Mahos drove to the club from Heidelberg desperate for answers.
"They've given him a lifeline with one hand and taken it away with another,'' he said. ``We stand to gain, even with just female members alone. He is the catalyst to make this club great again. Everybody deserves a second chance.''