Jonathan Murray (series creator and executive producer): ”[My pick for most insane Challenge moment happened] 10 stories up in the air, Julie [Stoffer] trying to pass Veronica [Portillo]. She seemed to try to unhook Veronica’s safety gear on The Inferno. Veronica thought Julie was trying to kill her.”
We All Scream...
Rachel Robinson (seven-time Challenger, won twice): ”How can I pick just one [craziest Challenge]? I would have to say The Gauntlet when they put us in a freezer in bathing suits and made us all eat from the same huge ice cream pile. People were spitting it back up, and the next person just had to go for it and put their face in it. It was just gross!”
I Pity the Pool
Beth Stolarczyk (four time challenger): ”My all-time favorite [fight] is the love triangle involing Mark, Robin [Hibbard], and Tonya [Cooley]. Unfortunately, my designer wardrobe got destroyed in the process when Tonya went soap-opera crazy and threw my clothes and jewels in the pool and over the hillside. I’m still waiting for her to buy me a new Louis Vuitton purse and diamond earrings. I’m not holding my breath…. But seriously, it would be nice, Tonya!”
Mike ”The Miz” Mizanin (five-time Challenger, won twice): ”During Inferno II, Tanya threw Beth’s entire luggage into the pool. Not only in the pool, but in the yard and all over the house. Beth sat there and did NOTHING!”
Darrell Taylor (six-time challenger, won four times, tied for most Challenge wins): ”[The craziest thing that went down in the house was] Tonya throwing Beth’s personal belongings in the pool, luggage and all. And of course Beth just playing the victim watching her. #hilarious”
Jonathan Murray: ”CT punching Adam on Duel 2 [was the craziest house event].”
Mark Long (six-time Challenger): ”Nothing, and I mean nothing, will be more of a reality TV shocking moment than CT and Adam fighting in New Zealand during the first few days of The Duel 2. It had everything a reality junkie could want: yelling, fists flying, ripped clothes, doors ripped off hinges, lots of blood, and one of the combatants dressed as URKEL from a Halloween party we threw early that night. It lasted for hours, and was truly in my opinion the most shocking fight ever in Challenge history.”
Rachel: ”Hands down [the craziest thing that ever went down in the house was] the CT & Adam fight on The Duel 2. It was a horrific scene out of a horror movie — except it was reality!”
TJ Lavin (host): ”CT went nuts…that was pretty intense. He went through the house searching for Adam like a gorilla!”
Second Biggest Blowout
John ”Johnny Bananas” Devenanzio (10-time Challenger, won four times, biggest money winner in Challenge history, tied for most Challenge wins): ”Hands down the craziest Challenge moment had to be the fight between Darrell and Brad on The Ruins. The Challenge was rapidly approaching its conclusion, and only the strongest competitors remained in the game. The stress of the challenge affects every player differently, and sometimes for a temporary escape from the daily grind of being in the house you just need to cut loose and party. However, sometimes in the Challenge house testosterone and alcohol can be a volatile combination, and that was the case on The Ruins. After a long night of partying, a volley of threats was exchanged between Brad and Darrell, followed by a barrage of haymakers, which eventually landed Brad in the hospital and both players eliminated from the game.”
Kenny Santucci (eight-time Challenger, won three times, most appearances in a final): ”Darrell and Brad’s fight was intense. Watching that happen…it just came out of nowhere.”
Ultimate Female Challenger: Honorable Mentions
The Miz: ”For the girls, from my day, Coral [Brown]…. She was always good at challenges and very athletic.”
Sarah Rice (six-time Challenger): ”Coral is, was, and always will be the baddest bitch out there! I’m sure she’d still win if she did one today!”
Beth: ”Tori [Hall Fiorenza]. She plays a pretty clean game but I could still take her.”
Rachel: ”Veronica Portillo has pulled off more wins than any other female and she always has to prove herself, no one ever hands her anything!”
Kenny: ”The best female by far, hands down, has to be Susie [Meister]. She’s the total package. Smart, funny, and has an edge to her you would never expect.”
Ultimate Female Challenger, Second Place: Evelyn Smith
Cara Maria: ”Evelyn is fearless. And she has brains and strength that is unmatched on these shows. She can swim, fight, solve any puzzle, and has endurance for days. She will not quit. Ever. Deadly combo for one little package.”
Diem Brown (seven-time Challenger): ”I think Johnny Bananas and Ev have to be the ultimate challengers as they both come in with everyone gunning for them yet they both prevail with wins and athletic respect. ”
Ed. Note: Jonathan Murray also gave the hat tip to Evelyn.
Ultimate Female Challenger: Emily Schromm
Frank Sweeney (three-time Challenger, won once): ”I have to hand it to Emily Schromm. The girl is a beast, not to mention her smile could melt the ice caps. A strong competitor with a solid heart, how can anyone beat that?”
Paula Meronek (10-time Challenger, won twice): ”Emily Schromm can probably squat more than the guys, and she has better abs too!”
Cara Maria Sorbello (seven-time Challenger, Challenger who’s appeared in the most consecutive seasons): ”The Force: Emily Schromm doesn’t need politics to make it to a final because if she goes to a physical elimination, you bet your ass she’s going to win it and come back. Physically she has height and weight over every other girl on the shows. Add to that her nutrition and cross fit dedication and she’s pretty much unstoppable. I’d pay to see a physical elimination match against her and Laurel for sure.”
Mark: ”Hands down Emily Schromm for the girls.”
Putting a Wedgie in the Relationship
Chris ”CT” Tamburello (10-time Challenger, won once, only Challenger to have punched a cactus): ”One of the craziest things that has ever happened that wasn’t actually a challenge, was when, during the Inferno season, The Miz (Mike) gave Brad [Fiorenza] an atomic wedgie and pulled his underwear all the way up his back. You could tell that Brad was trying to act tough, but he was in real pain and ending up losing it!”
If He'd Had His Way...
Jonathan Murray: ”CT/Diem winning Battle of the Exes would have made that a perfect season. Their love story was so powerful that the storyteller in me wanted them to beat Johnny and Camila.”
You Want Me To Jump Out of Where?
Veronica Portillo (seven-time Challenger, won three times): ”Without a doubt, the craziest thing I was ever asked to do was skydive on my own [in Inferno II]. It wasn’t a tandem jump; I had to jump out of a plane, keep track of my altimeter, deploy my own parachute, and navigate my landing, all while trying to land in a target in the middle of a field. I happen to land right in the middle of the bullseye.”
Beth: ”I’m not a big fan of heights…I had to jump out of a plane. I thought, ‘Okay, Beth, you can do this and you won’t be afraid anymore!’ I felt like I was being executed, and I passed out on the way down! I will never jump out of a plane again. Been there, done that! Not cool!!!! :)”
Darrell (not pictured): ”Besides jumping off of cliffs and holding scorpios, I would have to say the craziest thing I ever done in a Challenge is swimming with SHARKs!”
Cool Your Jets
The Miz: The craziest thing I ever did on The Challenge was fly a plane during The Gauntlet. We had to drive four hours and had a whole session on how to fly a plane (which I slept through). We get up into the air, and I obviously don’t know how to fly it, and the guy lets me fly, and I end up winning the challenge.”
Abram Boise (eight-time Challenger, won twice): ”When we flew WWII fighter planes in a dogfight on the first Gauntlet — everything else just doesn’t compare.”
''Beetles in My Bunghole''
Mark: ”Being the eldest and most seasoned Challenge competitor (I’ve had a nice 18-year run), many crazy things come to mind. But I always seem to come back to this gem of a Challenge. I will call it ‘Beetles In My Bunghole’ (how fitting for MTV right?) I will give you a sneak peek: At the conclusion of that day’s challenge, I was left getting an emergency Benadryl and B-12 shot right in the buttocks. It also ended with Mike Mizzanin (now WWE superstar The Miz) assisting in flushing out dozens of bugs from every crevasse of my body (yes, every crevasse).
”The Challenge was Battle of the Sexes II (Santa Fe, N.M.), basically the boys versus the girls. Each team had to have one member sit in a glass coffin, get covered in honey, and then have thousands of beetles and insects poured over every square inch of them (including face) while wearing a Speedo. The rest of the team had to compete in a relay race that consisted of chewing up these live bugs and sprinting across a field to fill a canister.
”I thought, ‘Let’s be the HERO and volunteer to be the one that gets buried….’ Bad choice. By the end of the day, the insects started stinging and biting me so bad that I felt my throat starting to close and my body go into full shock. It was a scary, horrible day, but I know what you are thinking, did your team win?? You’re damn right we did and I still have the prize for that day (a king size Tempurpedic bed) in my apartment in L.A. And big thanks to The Miz for helping me clean out the dozens of leftover bugs from every nook and cranny of my bug-bitten body. That’s a real friend.”
Hosting is extreme, too!
TJ Lavin: ”The Challenge has given many highlights to my life over the years, but I think the craziest thing was when I had to memorize the first script (two pages) I ever got in 15 minutes. Oh, and it was raining, and there were 32 people staring right at me.”
It's a Gas Gas Gas
Sarah (not pictured): ”I can say, without a doubt, that the gas chamber challenge on Cutthroat was, hands down, the most insane thing they’ve ever asked us to do…. Run into a room filled with tear gas and solve a puzzle? Oh sure! How crazy must we be to willingly participate!? But despite the wild and outrageous challenges they come up with, I keep coming back for more!”
Ultimate Male Challenger: Honorable Mentions
Landon Lueck (four-time Challenger, won three times): ”Alton [Williams] is the toughest competitor in the game. His body is carved out of wood, he comes from a highly athletic background, is a super nice guy, and plays the game straight up as I try to do.”
Beth: ”Eric Nies [is the Ultimate Male Challenger] because, just like James Bond, he is super-sexy and kicks ass. He is truly timeless. Please come back and kick a frat boys ass! And bring your Speedo?.”
Rachel: ”I consider Evan Starkman to be the best man — he has a way of being shady & winning but you just still can’t help but love him, and he is smart and strong, which is a winning combination on the challenges.”
Abram: ”Top dogs are Landon, Alton, or CT. I was always looking to beat them, I like them as competition — my top choice is Landon though — he is sharp. A super nice guy, but he has a mean streak and you can see he likes it — it’s guys like that I am good friends with in Montana.”
Ultimate Male Challenger, Second Place: CT
Paula: ”CT…he may not win all the time, but dammit he’s crazy, and you can’t mess with crazy.”
TJ Lavin: ”I like CT a lot, Johnny Bananas is really good too. My favorites are probably Kenny and Leroy!”
Ultimate Male Challenger: Johnny Bananas
CT: ”I have a lot of respect for Johnny Bananas and what he’s done in the games.”
Kenny: ”The ultimate has proven himself time and time again. Johnny Bananas is the total package. Savvy, strategic, aggressive, bold, outspoken, athletic, and Johnny is Johnny no matter what.”
Sarah: ”As much as I hate to admit it, and give him the glory of the title, no one plays these games better than Mr. Johnny Bananas! He knows how to play the politics and he’s got the strength and endurance to back up that big mouth of his!”
Frank: ”Other than myself OBVIOUSLY, I have to hand it to Johnny Bananas. They guy has a track record no one else can touch, cockiness that will lead him through any situations of doubt, and the muscle to back it up when it really comes down to the wire.”
Mark: ”Hands down…Johnny Bananas (who I always found to be a great alliance while competing).”
Ed. Note: Johnny was Jonathan Murray‘s pick, too. That’s what we call a good, old-fashioned landslide.
Romance, Challenge Style
Abram: ”I honestly think the top woman overall would be…Cara Maria — if Cara saw how tough she really is she would be unstoppable. People really underestimate the power of the mind — it’s the biggest asset of any player.”
Cara Maria: ”Abram [is the Ultimate Male Challenger]. Because I’m sleeping with him.”
Cara Maria: ”The craziest thing I’ve had to do was the nightmare feast on the final of Rivals 2. MTV aired a lovely scene of me regurgitating a whole dead fish and then swallowing it again but they didn’t show the part where I smashed the entire plate of worms and grasshoppers down my throat. Killed it. And then vomited so hard I swear I saw my sneakers shoot out of my mouth.”
Running Against the Wind
Diem (not shown): ”Running behind a turbo jet airplane was just epic and completely insane! I do not know how they come up with these challenges!”
Frank (not shown): ”The craziest thing I was ever asked to do on a Challenge? Easy. Bunk beds. I mean, we are adults (sort of), but there are cast members in their thirties, and that’s being generous, sharing rickety Ikea bunk beds with one another. The challenges themselves? Easy. Living in a room with upwards of eight bunk beds, eight sweaty, horny, and questionable sanitary people, all with consistent tempers? Yeah, that’s a challenge.”
Kenny (not shown): ”The craziest thing I was ever ask to do is, every time they ask me to go, I am forced to sleep on a bunk bed and live with people that hate me. Think about how bizarre that is.”
Kenny (shown, top left): ”My biggest regret is not punching a few people in the face. I’ll leave nameless.”
Johnny Bananas: ”My most regrettable moment ironically came on the first challenge I ever did, The Duel way back in 2006. I somehow found myself in the first elimination of The Challenge pitted against my Real World castmate Tyler. [The elimination was basically tested your cockiness, and] I was the first to flinch…. I was eliminated shortly thereafter which concluded arguably the shortest ever appearance on a Challenge. Although this elimination was devastating, it soon became evident to me that more is learned in defeat than in victory. The best Challenge-related advice I was ever given was bestowed upon me by none other than The Challenge host with the most TJ Lavin. He pulled me aside and told me the only mistake I made was ‘leaving my fate in the hands of someone else, and not determining my own.’ I’ve carried this advice and this defeat with me ever since, and I truly believe it has a lot do with molding me into the competitor I am today.”
Sarah (shown, bottom left): ”I can’t say I have very many regrets, but I do regret some of the bedfellows and enemies I’ve made that led to me being paired up with them on later challenges! I’m cursed with the partners who get me sent home for no good reason! In the future I’ll be pickier about who I get into it with!”
Frank: ”My biggest regret on these challenges is letting some of my other cast members get the best of me. Now, that is not to say ANYONE has ever one-upped me, however, I am disappointed that I ever let anyone get under my skin and provoke me to points of irrevocable embarrassment. At the end of the day, if I walk away with one or two comrades from this INSANE social experiment, I’ll be happy. So why did I put so much value into others’ opinions along the way? I guess that was my personal challenge.”
Landon: ”My biggest regret is trusting the other finalists to be gentlemen when it got down to brass tacks. On The Duel II I made a mistake to leave the voting room, and when I returned the other guys had all nodded me to be the person to go into the elimination. [I was] totally f—ed because I was winning almost all the challenges up to that point and essentially had the final challenge in the bag. I got DQ’d for an unknown rule in the final elimination for The Duel II in New Zealand against Brad. Best of three bouts and the first went to Brad because of a s—, on-the-fly-call from TJ Lavin. During the heat of battle I was carrying Brad to my goal, and they penalized me a point. During the elimination I torn over 60 percent of my labrum in my left shoulder. I lost the elimination and went home, the night before the final challenge for the $100,000. The next morning I was in a Kiwi hospital getting an MRI while everyone else was racing to $100,000…brutal. I still get worked up about it now some five years later.”
Rachel (shown, top right): ”My biggest regret is not helping Aneesa more during the Exes competition. I could have been a better partner, and we definitely would have had a better outcome!”
CT: ”One of my biggest regrets was getting rid of Johnny Bananas instead of Big Easy (Eric) in The Gauntlet. I was playing the game emotionally, and Johnny would have obviously been a better competitor to have on my team over Easy, but I made a decision out of spite, and it came back to bite me in the ass.”
Cara Maria: ”My biggest regret is taking this s— personally by letting my cast mates get to me. I cried on TV like a little b—-, and then went off on people via social media. I hate that. But if you don’t screw up, you don’t learn. I’m thankful I’ve had the opportunity to look at myself from a different perspective and try to grow from it. I think I’ve grown up a lot.”
Beth (shown, bottom left): ”Whats my biggest regret? Getting disqualified against Svetlana after I so easily won. I loved torturing her in the log push me challenge. She was crying and whimpering because she couldn’t push me an inch. It was great!”
The Miz: ”REGRETS ARE FOR LOSERS!”
Breaking News: He'll be back!
Mark: ”My biggest regret is saying that I was permanently retiring after Battle of the Exes. Bunim-Murray Productions/MTV did a great montage of my 18 years with the network, it was awesome. But since my retirement, I have watched every season, and have slowly been getting the ‘ITCH’ again….so let this be an EW.com exclusive: I, Mark Long, the GODFATHER of this CHALLENGE franchise, am UN-RETIRING as of this article!!! I have noticed some real bad attitudes and unwarranted chips on some of these new younger competitor’s shoulders, and I think it’s time to bring a ‘man’ back to this show and do a little ‘regulating’…..If BMP allows it, I am ready to dust off my cleats and start loosening up the arm….consider me coming back to The Challenge, like the ROCK returning to WRESTLEMANIA……….BOOM!!!”