Jodi Weatherton says she was never invited back to The Challenge after winning The Duel
In The Challenge hall of fame, Jodi Weatherton secured her spot a long time ago. After her tragic elimination from the Good Guys team on her first season, The Inferno 2, she came back for two more seasons, The Gauntlet 2 and The Duel — and won both. She's never met a final she didn't win. She's one of the best female players to ever compete on MTV's long-running reality competition franchise. But after winning The Duel in 2007, she never came back to The Challenge.
Until now. Weatherton is finally making her long-awaited return for The Challenge: All Stars 2, and she's eager to show fans that she's still got the heart of a champion. "I can't believe it's been 15 years," she tells EW. "And it looks like an action movie now. It's so cool."
But why did she wait so long to return to The Challenge after winning her last season? It turns out that wasn't her decision. Below, Weatherton reveals what kept her from racking up more Challenge wins all those years ago, what fans can expect from her on All Stars 2, whether she'd be open to returning for a regular season, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I can't believe we're finally seeing you back on The Challenge! Why did you want to return to the franchise after all these years?
JODI WEATHERTON: It felt like the timing was right in my life. My kids are old enough, they're not babies anymore. I was in between a part-time job and starting a full-time job. It was kind of like the timing all aligned. I just turned 40 and I was like, "Let's see what I can do now, 15 years later." I can still compete.
How do you feel about making your return on the All Stars spin-off rather than on a regular season?
Honestly, I did it because it was All Stars. I really thought 15 years ago that I was done doing the show. I really wanted to start a family and use my college degree and move on with my life. I was ready to stop doing the shows and never thought I would do one again. And then when this opportunity rolled around, it just felt different. It felt like this is a family reunion with all my crazy cousins that I haven't seen for years. It was really nostalgic for me. So it was just exciting, the opportunity to do All Stars vs. doing the regular show. And I honestly haven't really watched the show since I was on it, so I wouldn't know any of those people.
Yeah, it's changed quite a bit since you were last on The Duel. Were you ever invited back after that?
No, I actually was never called again, so it made it easy to not go back because there wasn't an opportunity to. I know a lot of fans think that we're the ones who make the call saying we want to be on the show, but that's not at all how it works. You have to get the call from them asking you to be on the show. [Laughs] But it honestly ended up being a good thing for me because I feel like it would have been enticing to go back, but I was ready to start a family, I got married. So it was good for me that that didn't happen.
But that's really shocking because you have such an impressive Challenge resume: You won two out of the three seasons you did, and you were the first-ever solo female winner. I can't imagine why they wouldn't want you back for as many seasons as you'd want to do.
Yeah, I don't know. I mean, I was kind of boring on the last show. So maybe I was just not great TV? [Laughs] I don't know, I don't get as involved sometimes in the drama maybe enough to be appreciated. I just go on there and I'm like, "I want to be me." Maybe that's not as exciting of television.
Well I'm certainly glad you're back now. How do you feel about your Challenge legacy looking back now after 15 years away from it?
It's exciting to look back and to tell my kids. My oldest is 12, going to be 13 years old, so for him to finally realize, "You were on a television show, Mom?" and for me to be able to show him some of the stuff that we did, it's cool. But it also made it a little bit nerve-wracking for me to go back, because I left winning. And now I have to go back and I want to prove to myself that I can still do it. And I don't want to let anyone down, myself included, the fans, family.
What was it like getting back into it all, especially with how the challenges have evolved since you last competed?
The physical part of the show is the part that I love the most. I'm like, "Let's do it." I'm here for anything they want to do. I'll eat the gross stuff. I'll jump off things. For me it was really exciting that it's evolved in that way.
How did your time away help you improve your game going into All Stars 2?
I don't know that it helped me improve my game. I stayed in shape, sort of — not as good as shape probably as I was back then. But I've taught group fitness for the past 12 years, I've been involved in the health and wellness industry and trying to stay fit and healthy. Going into it, I was ready in that way. But I kind of forgot how the political and social game plays such a big role, and that's not generally something I'm great at. That was probably the hardest part coming back into it for me.
Who was your biggest competition this season?
Oh, man. We had a lot of strong females there. And I didn't know who the cast was going to be until I got there. Walking into the bus for the first time to meet everybody, I maybe knew 25 percent of the people there. People that I looked at as like, "Whew!" Sophia looked like she was going to be strong, Melinda is taller than me, Jonna I knew last season came in tied for first for the women, so I was a little nervous there. Kendal's in amazing shape. There was a lot of women that were fierce and to be reckoned with. Definitely there was a lot of competition.
What was it like reuniting with Derrick this season? You two go way back.
It was so fun. I loved it. I mean I haven't seen him, physically seen him, since we both were on The Duel. I've been on his podcast, we're connected through social media, but I haven't physically seen him in person since then, so to see him after 15 years was just the greatest. But it doesn't matter how many years it's been, you have this experience that you connect with on a deep level that no one else can really understand. To me, Derrick is like family.
Who were you surprised to see return for this season?
The first person I saw when I got on the bus to see everybody was Tina. I think the last show she did was also The Duel, where she punched Beth and got kicked off, and I hadn't seen her since then. And I got so nervous getting on the bus to see everybody that I just kind of like froze up. But I remember being excited to see MJ, I hadn't seen him since The Gauntlet 2. I was excited to see Brad, I hadn't seen him since we did The Duel together, and every Challenge I've been on he's been on with me. Obviously I was excited to see Derrick, I was excited to see Darrell — I hadn't seen him since Inferno 2, when we were on the same team. There were a lot of people that I was super-pumped to be there with.
Looking at a lot of the women who compete on the main seasons of The Challenge now, it's not hard to imagine you dominating if you ever returned to the regular franchise. Would you ever be interested in ever going back for a regular season now that you've done All Stars 2?
Oh God, I feel like I'm at least 10 or 15 years older than a lot of those women. I would love to, but I feel like life-wise, I had started a full-time job actually two weeks before leaving for All Stars, and this is my first full-time job I've taken on in 12 years, since my kids were born. I feel like I'm on that career path now. My kids are older and I always said I'd go back to work full-time when they were, so the timing would just have to be right. Which it could be again, I'm not going to say don't ever call me again, because I would love to do something again, but it would just really have to be the right time.
That makes sense, especially since filming the seasons take a lot longer now than they were back when you were on the show.
Oh yeah. Lengthwise, now that you say that I don't know if I could ever do the full-length one. This one wasn't even that long and it felt long, you know what I mean? The other ones are like three months or something, which is longer than Road Rules used to be.
How long did it take to film a full season back then?
They were only like four or five weeks. They were short. And the shortened episodes were only like 23 minutes long or something. They were really short. It's like a snippet compared to now. It's a miracle how much they fit into those episodes.
Is there a moment from your past Challenges that you wish you could revisit to change in any way?
Yeah, I recently rewatched The Duel and I very specifically focused in on that episode where Robin is making some really nasty comments to Aneesa in the kitchen. We'd all come back from a night out drinking and I could see myself in the background very intoxicated making like a grilled cheese or something — who knows what I was doing? — just not being coherent enough to engage in that conversation and wishing that I was, and that I could have said something to be helpful and tell Robin, "This is an inappropriate conversation. You should not be saying this." To just be more compassionate and say something to stand up for Aneesa. That is one regret looking back that I wish that I would have said something to stand up for Aneesa in that moment. [Laughs] And not been making a grilled cheese and obviously not in my right mind. I do regret not saying anything in that moment.
Since all your Challenge seasons aired before social media existed, what is something that you think would surprise fans to know about what it was like on the show back then?
Oh my gosh, when I was on The Gauntlet 2, we had a computer in the house that we could all share and get online. Because there was no social media, it wasn't a thing, so they weren't worried about us getting on it and spoiling things. We could bring our phones and we could have a camera and take photos. I have so many great pictures from back in the day, like printed-out physical pictures that I took on the shows. A lot of things like that have changed, and that was definitely something different for me this time around.
The Challenge: All Stars 2 premieres Thursday, Nov. 11, on Paramount+.