Fessy Shafaat talks The Challenge: Spies, Lies and Allies decision: 'I broke the rules'
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Wednesday's episode of The Challenge: Spies, Lies, and Allies.
There are two golden rules on The Challenge. If you quit, you'll never be invited back (TJ hates quitters!). And if you fight, you're gone. And since Fessy Shafaat pushed Josh Martinez's face during a drunken fight on The Challenge: Spies, Lies, and Allies, he was kicked off in this week's episode.
"It definitely sucked, but I understood," Shafaat tells EW. "They say you can't put your hands on anybody and I touched Josh's face with my hand so I broke the rules. It just sucks it was my friend too, like that shouldn't have happened. The first night was hard out of the house; you're thinking over everything and that was tough. But once I got home, I had peace of mind with it because as much as it sucked that I got kicked off, it was all under my control. I could have controlled my actions better and still been there."
Below, EW got Shafaat to open up about everything that led to him getting kicked off this season. Plus, he also discusses his feelings about how he's earned the nickname "Messy Fessy," what he's learned from the "backlash" to his decisions in his first three seasons, and so much more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This is your first time getting sent home before a final. Did you ever expect your season would end this way?
FESSY SHAFAAT: No, but after taking those two losses in the final — it was tough losing the money at the end because you make it all the way there and then come up short. Going into my third season, I didn't have as much pressure on myself. I was coming in under the impression I was going to be public enemy No. 1, like everybody was going to target me right away. But I kind of did well politically in the beginning of the game so I was sitting pretty. And I heard stuff about the way the season played out with me not there and the way my cast members and my friends made it seem like this would have been a good season for me, so it's tough.
Why did you wait so long to talk to Josh after you blindsided his partner Amber?
We were both just being very prideful. He thought I was in the wrong because I was going against him and what he wanted, but I felt like he was in the wrong because he always tries to steer me one way every time and try to, like, play my game politically for me. We were just letting it brew and brew we should have had a conversation before that happened. I think we were both just waiting for an excuse to talk about it and that night when Tori and Cory brought up Amber and went and got Josh, it was the ticking time bomb.
Do you think if you would have had a conversation with Josh earlier this whole mess could have been avoided?
I think so. What made it a tricky situation is how Josh is — Josh is a very vocal and enthusiastic person when it comes to these shows and expressing his feelings so even when it started escalating, I tried to hold my composure. And I thought I was doing a good job up until I put my hand on Josh.
What was going through your mind when you took things to that physical level?
Josh is somebody like, we're friends in real life. He's been to my house, I've been to his house. Hearing him say these things about me in my face and stuff like that, it was like, "Damn, my own friend is saying all these things about me in front of everybody." He was putting his hand in my face, like pointing at my face, so I kind of just was like ... I don't know, just get out of my face. Because me and him are tight in real life it was kind of like my friend was in my face, whatever, be quiet, stop talking all this nonsense or bulls---. I feel like if it was somebody else I was arguing with, I would have never felt comfortable getting it to that level. But me and Josh always get in arguments in the game and then hash it out later. That's how our friendship is, it's kind of all over the place because we're two different people. We get along well but he sees things different ways in the game and he plays a very different game. So when we're in the same alliance and stuff like that, we're not going to see the same on certain things I guess, so it just led up to that.
Did you know immediately that you were going to be kicked off for that or were you hoping to get let off with a warning?
Yeah, I had seen a couple seasons before and I've seen people push or do similar things that I did and they let them stay. I was just banking on the fact that Josh was my friend and they knew moving forward it wasn't going to be an issue. We had squashed it and we were comfortable with each other. Our bunk beds were right next to each other and we even slept next to each other that night and made up. I was just hoping TJ was going to give us a warning. And then the next day, we all thought something was up because TJ was coming to the house. Everyone was hugging on Josh because Josh was super emotional thinking maybe he was going to get kicked off and me, because he threw the cup at my face. So when TJ said that Josh was staying with a warning, that gave me some hope. Josh was out of line last night too and TJ's letting him stay. But then he said that I was going home. It was completely out of my control and that wasn't my call to make. It is what it is.
Do you regret putting Amber into that earlier elimination knowing the snowball effect that decision had on your season?
The only thing I regret about the decision is not having a conversation with Amber before, because looking back at her confessionals she made it seem like she was riding for Big Brother where, in the house, I didn't feel comfortable on where she stood. Me and her never spoke in the house, so I didn't know she was feeling this way where she was in on Big Brother. I thought she had come on this season telling people she wasn't working with Big Brother moving forward so that's what I felt comfortable with in my gut doing at the time. I really had no bad blood with any other females in the house. I just didn't know Josh was going to react that way about Amber. I didn't know him and Amber were that close.
Did you get any blowback from the other veterans for going against the vet alliance by putting her in that elimination?
Not a single person gave me backlash besides Josh and Amber. I told Tori and Aneesa on the bus before elimination, and I told Josh, Kaycee, Nelson, and Cory about it. So like eight or nine people besides me knew about me throwing her in. Even when I was in power and she had speculation that she might be an option, she never came and spoke to me or anything so that kind of freaked me out. Because I'm like, if you're supposedly in my alliance, why aren't you coming up to pick my brain to see what I'm about to do? Or if you feel like you are an option, why aren't you coming up to make sure you're not? That's what made it an easier decision for me. As far as the vet alliance, I guess technically she was in it? A lot of the girls gave me the thumbs up on the veteran side to put her in. And even after I threw her in, none of the guys like Kyle or CT came up to me and were mad that I threw in Amber. I think they were just more relieved that I didn't throw one of them in. At least I held true on the male side.
What's your relationship with Amber like now?
After the season we all had to go to New York for after shows and we were cool. I told her it was nothing personal, it was just I didn't know where I stood with her. And none of us made an effort to try to hash it out from last season because she felt like I slighted her when I went in to elimination to pick Kaycee for the final. She took that personally because she thought that I didn't want to run with her in the final. I'd just rather run with Kaycee. But it wasn't against her, and I think that's how she took it. Ever since then we'd kind of been wishy-washy.
How do you think Double Agents would have gone for you if you'd stayed with Amber as your partner for the final?
Well, I mean ... [laughs] obviously we saw how she performed in the final. So it looks like I probably would have had $450,000 in my bank account. But stuff happens in life and she got blessed winning that. You know, I'm happy she won. It just wasn't Kaycee and I's time in that final. It just sucks it had to go out like that, with Kaycee blowing her knee out and the way everything played out but whatever. S--- happens.
Have you learned anything from getting kicked off this season or how your other two seasons ended up that's inspiring you to make any changes moving forward?
It's hard. I definitely learned a lot this season. I think my castmates got to know me and understand me a little more so I'm grateful for that. My first two seasons, I came in as a rookie and I didn't really know anybody. Everybody was already clique-d up so I just wanted to try to win one real quick. I was hellbent on winning the whole thing and I was going to do whatever it took. And now, my third season, I'm starting to see the backlash from it. The way I play the game, however it gets shown on TV is one way but the people that I work with in the game, as long as they know how I play the game, that's all I care about. We're all there to win a lot of money, so you've got to do certain things in the game if you want to be successful. With me coming in so early on and trying to make all these moves and waves, it ruffled a lot of feathers and now I'm seeing that. But that's how I play anything in life, any competition: I play to win. I don't think a lot of people reciprocated that, my energy, they thought it was me being ... I don't know. Whatever. I definitely feel like I've got a better grasp on the game and my castmates now moving forward if I were to come back.
Let's talk about that backlash, because in your three seasons you've gotten the nickname "Messy Fessy" for how you continued to make moves that go directly against your friends and allies. There's Nelson, Amber/the Big Brother alliance, even Josh. How do you feel about earning that reputation?
Watching Double Agents, when I saw the way everything was interpreted by my castmates and the audience, it was definitely shocking to me because in my head I knew I was making some big moves or whatever but I didn't know that's the way people were taking them. Especially when I heard from people's confessionals, some of my partners like Aneesa, Nany, and Amber were saying it was hard to work with me. I was sitting there thinking I was being the best teammate I could be. I never yelled at them or anything and I'm seeing castmates yelling at each other and in each other's face, and I thought I was being supportive.
I talked to Aneesa and Nany since and they just said because of the way I compete and want to win, it put a lot of pressure on them. Obviously they had their own storylines they got going on — Nany or Aneesa haven't won yet and they've gotten close — but I'm not thinking of all that. I'm thinking: I'm trying to get to the end. It's hard to get to the end so I'm going to do whatever it takes to get to the end. And I only watched a few seasons before coming on The Challenge, but the way TJ maps out the game and the twists, you're always going to get screwed over some way in the game. I was looking at this opportunity like I may not get another chance on this show to win a million dollars. So before I get got, let me make my moves accordingly. That way I could set myself up to make it to the end to try to win this money. A lot of my castmates, all the vets have been on 10, 14, some people 18, 20 seasons, and this is my second, third season. I don't know what my future holds. I'm trying to win this money now.
Now that you're seeing backlash from that kind of strategy, what, if anything, are you doing to repair your image now?
Yeah, I think now that my castmates and everybody has seen what I'm capable of as far as in the game during these daily challenges and eliminations, I don't have to — I could sit back and play a little more calm game. I can kind of let the game come to me now; I don't have to go try to take it from everybody. I just didn't want to get picked off early on in my rookie season and second season and just be used as a number or taken advantage of. Now I can play the game a little more relaxed and, I guess, straight up? But it got to a point where it was like every move I made, somebody had a problem with it. When you win eliminations and you win daily challenges, you're forced to make moves that are going to piss somebody off. You've just got to play the game and you can't be scared to piss people off. You're only going to get so far before somebody pulls your card. Obviously, if I could take it back, I would definitely not let things escalate with Josh but far as everything else, I thought my season was going really well. I set myself up for success early on and I thought I was going to make it pretty far in this game. I thought I had a good shot of making the final again. For it to get cut short like that, without somebody taking me out, that's what was frustrating. If you get beat by somebody in elimination, they just were better than you that night and you could accept that. But [I] pretty much eliminated myself in the game by letting things escalate with Josh. We haven't seen somebody be able to pull my card down there [in an elimination] yet.
You recently went on Johnny "Bananas" Devenanzio's podcast where you said that you gave him his record-breaking seventh win on Total Madness. That's pretty hard to believe considering how grueling that final was. What did you mean by that?
That was my first final. I had talked to vets that season about finals because I didn't know what to expect and they said it's usually one full day and then an overnight, and then like a half a day in the morning. Me and Kyle had to sleep outside, we had a time penalty that next day so me and him were down bad. And then on the second day when we got to the math problem, that had only been like a 40-minute hike. I was the first one done with the math problem and took the lead. Johnny was right behind me. It was a small course because I guess they had paved just a certain walkway and you couldn't really go outside of it because the snow was so deep, so basically if I wanted to sit and just go slow, he wouldn't have nowhere to pass me. I let him pass me, that way he could take the lead and set the pace, and the next checkpoint was the end. I had paced myself and let him pass, thinking it was going to be a whole day's worth of the final and it was only like 40 minutes that next day.
Obviously I'm giving him s---. Obviously he earned it. That was just my mess up, what I took from the final. "Damn, if I would have not done this ... " But it was my inexperience of not knowing not to slow down, I guess. It sucks replaying it over and over in my head, because that's a lot of money to lose. My inexperience in that final, man ... I know, whatever, people can say I lost two in a row but I feel like if Kaycee didn't go down with a knee injury, me and Kaycee were walking out on top on Double Agents.
Well, are you working on getting better with eating for future seasons?
Absolutely not. When everybody gave me s--- for not eating, you can give me s--- but I mean, Kaycee, she couldn't walk. We were doomed right after she went down with the knee. The paramedics had to come get her, I didn't know what was going on. I was asking TJ, "If I eat this, are we DQed?" Because it was a lot of s---. "Are you guys just going to make me eat this huge pile of ram testicles and then after throwing up, tell me and Kaycee, 'You're eliminated?'" They DQed Kyle a day before when I beat him in a Hall Brawl because his pinky was dislocated. If they DQed Kyle for a pinky dislocation, they're definitely going to DQ Kaycee for a torn patellar tendon. And that was an hour into the final. There's not a million dollars for me at the end of this.
It was very hard mentally to go through that process of me and Kaycee being in first place in the final and then her slipping and going down with her knee injury. I mean, it was just traumatizing. By the time the episode came out and the way they showed it was me refusing to eat, you can paint me however you want. I already lived going through this, not winning the money because of this. Whatever. I guess only time will tell when it comes down to it if I'm going to eat. Maybe I could have ate it and they weren't going to let Kaycee continue either way. I didn't have a partner and I didn't see TJ letting me run the final by myself. You're forced to come up with a decision on the spot. I was like, "Our season is over, Kaycee's knee is done."
So do you want another shot at an eating challenge to prove yourself in the future?
I'm hoping for an eating elimination, actually. That way I can go down there and just scarf that s--- down. I just want to compete, that's what I wanted to be known for on the show. A lot of people, they talk s--- in the game and they claim this and that and then they're really not all that special. I was just trying to prove myself and then I think I just shoved it down people's throats too much. Now that people know I come on the show to compete, I can work on maybe building my relationships with people.
Speaking of relationships, you and Amanda got close this season. What's your relationship like now after the show wrapped?
We went on vacation in Mexico together. She lives in Colorado, I live in Florida, she has a one-year-old son, so there's a lot of moving pieces. We're just taking it slow and seeing where it goes.
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