The Challenge: Spies, Lies and Allies eliminated player speaks: 'It was just so chaotic'
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Wednesday's premiere of The Challenge: Spies, Lies, and Allies.
One of Survivor's strongest physical and strategic threats set her sights on The Challenge for season 37. But Michaela Bradshaw was the first eliminated from The Challenges: Spies, Lies, and Allies, along with her partner Renan Hellemans. And it's all because of a lie.
"I wasn't strong enough this time," Bradshaw tells EW of the events that landed her in the first elimination against fellow Survivor alum Michele Fitzgerald and her partner at the time, Corey Lay. "But I can't sit here with a zero-one elimination record. That is abysmal."
Not only was Bradshaw the first one voted into an elimination this season and the first one to lose, the premiere also revealed that any potential Survivor alliance crumbled immediately when rumors of something known as "The List" pitted all the Survivor players against each other in a bid to save themselves from being the house vote. "We'll call it all a wash," she says. "But it was a fun experience. In Spies, Lies, and Allies, maybe my role this time was just spy out the land, take back my intelligence, change my game and try it again. So that's how I'm looking at it."
Below, EW got Bradshaw to spill the truth about "The List," how she feels about going against Fitzergald and getting thrown under the bus by her fellow Survivor allies, whether she'll return to The Challenge or Survivor in the future, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How are you feeling about how your exit played out now that you've had some time away from it?
MICHAELA BRADSHAW: In terms of the events that led to me being the house vote, I definitely learned from that situation. I have no regrets at all about trying to sway the house vote. But if I could go back, I would use my time in deliberation the same way I would use my time in a Tribal Council, instead of airing grievances, convincing people and being an influencer. That's what I should have been doing during that time. But it was just so chaotic. But then also going out on my first elimination I have a — what is that? Zero-one elimination record? Oh, that's going to burn me deep. So I'm going to have to go into several eliminations to get to the 90th percentile or something. That was just devastating to lose in a physical elimination. But in hindsight at the end of the day, with so many new players being in the game, I think a lot of people that came in the house afraid to make a move or feeling like they were safe because they're partnered with vets or whatever, over the course of the season they're going to learn a lesson. And it'll make the ground a little bit more fertile for strategy next time around.
You were voted in by pretty much everyone because of rumors about "The List." So what's the deal? What is "The List?"
There is no list! What I was talking to Michele and even Emy about was both of your names are coming up, my name is coming up, any rookie-rookie pair is coming up. We don't have to sit here and just allow the house randomly to decide who goes in, we can actually find people that we trust to make one vote together, and we can control the house vote. The "list" that came out of that conversation was me asking each of them who could you trust to vote with you? We need 17 votes to be safe. It wasn't a hit list. So all this information Emy made up, Amanda told Emy to make up dirt against a rookie to ensure that she wouldn't be voted in as the house vote. The list and the way that Emy talked about it never existed. It was genuinely a conversation about instead of just sitting here and being nervous and then being surprised in deliberation, we can intentionally choose to sway the house vote. It was like common sense Challenge conversation but something got lost in translation.
Wait, so it started with Amanda telling Emy to make up a lie?
Yeah! It's so funny to see people on Instagram be like, "Oh my god Michaela, you should know better." Y'all think I'm so stupid. [Laughs] I'd have to be a fool! But the reality is, some people like Amanda, chaos is her game. And Emy, chaos is her game. Me? Strategy has been my game, being a strong competitor has been my game. If there's a next time around I'm going to continue to play to my strengths and just realize that I got to change it up, knowing that there's people whose only strength is being chaotic.
Being called out as a strategic threat is what got you voted out from your first season of Survivor and it's heartbreaking to see that trend follow you to The Challenge. You're too big of a strategic threat!
Yeah, and now I know what makes people feel comfortable. Look, I'll never be the person that's being loud, throwing drinks, and having boom-boom time in the bathroom, but I can blend in a little bit more than I was the first time around.
What was it like in that deliberation when everything blew up?
It never crossed my mind that Emy would have been the one creating all this chaos because genuinely she was going to be the house vote up until things flipped. I genuinely thought it was Michele that started the rumors. When I realized it was Emy, it made sense. I see what she's doing, "I'll throw Michaela under the bus to save myself," whereas I was thinking, "Let's save rookie numbers as a whole." She was thinking, "Let's save me." So selfishness works. But the flip side of that was I felt really bad for throwing Michele under the bus when the reality was she wasn't actively trying to ruin my game. I felt bad in the moment because I was really thinking about the relationship with Michele above anything with an elimination.
How is your relationship with Michele and Tommy now after they both had to throw you under the bus in that deliberation?
Well they didn't have to do anything, the same conversation that they had with each other about choosing to throw me under the bus, that could have been a strategic conversation they had with me and we could have still ran the house vote. Initially I felt bad because I had only thought those things were happening but I didn't have proof, but after seeing that they had their little conversation like, "Yeah, we've got to throw Michaela under, let's do it," I didn't feel bad anymore. That said, how's my relationship with Tommy? Eh, just like it was before I met him. Relationship with Michele? I mean, we've had conversations and [pauses] I'd say we're cool. It's a game.
Is there anyone specific you blame for your elimination?
No, I always look at things of what could I have done differently. I've got a list of things I could have done differently. I could have been more aggressive picking a partner the first time around. Had I had any of the first guys that came through, I would have won the first challenge. Number two, just holding steady and waiting until right before deliberation to have any conversation, because having conversations the night before is what allowed time for stuff to fester and people to get ahead of me. And three, when this whole list lie came up I should have just played it cool and let that conversation run its course and just stuck on my focus which was ensuring that four rookies did not end up in the first elimination. Regardless of anything that anyone else did, if I would have made an adjustment on any one of those things, the outcome would have been different. So I'm just going to keep the ownership in my hands for that one.
How did you feel about having to go against Michele and not Emy in the elimination after she blew up your game like that?
I was gutted about that at the time because I'm like, I just got it wrong, I just blamed this girl for something she didn't do. And then now I have to go in an elimination against her and this is going to be a loss either way because, with it being a team-based elimination, if she wins the credit goes to Corey because everybody knows she wouldn't win that against me independently. If she loses, then I just hurt her feelings and her game is over. [Laughs] That sucks! That elimination was heart wrenching for me more than it was physically demanding. At the end of the day Corey L. is just built like a beast. And there's no way that I could drag three people. [Laughs] The most I could do was hold the line, and eventually I was like all right, Michaela, you messed up this time but you learned a lot, you met some people, take your L, come back, do better.
How long did that elimination last?
It was a while and and actually we went at it twice. The first time it was like, what strategy [is best]? I was telling Renan we've got to flip, there's no way you can push back on Corey. He's bigger than you. I can push Michele but she's attached to Corey so we've got to get them off their feet, and I did the flip. But Renan got stuck somehow! [Sighs] So we've got to just tire them out. And I don't know what Corey was on, maybe adrenaline from being thrown in as a surprise or whatever, but he just did not tire. So it was long enough to let me know that this is defeat.
You did that elimination twice? So was it a best-of-three situation?
Yeah, it was supposed to be best-of-three. That first one hit and I was like, oh lord. That second one, Renan's arm got locked up it was like, it's not worth breaking your arm. It was a struggle, everybody was fighting to stay in the game. And Corey pulled that one out for the team.
What happened with Renan's arm? We see him standing in a sling at the very end.
I don't know the medical term but he did something to it, something with his shoulder. It was hurting him for a few days after, and I think he had to go to the doctor. [Laughs] These challenges are intense! I wish I would have experienced way more of them because that's the exciting part for me. But the little taste that I received is enough to have me wanting more.
So you definitely want to come back again in future seasons. What would you do differently to train or prepare?
Training my mind is the most important part. Mentally, there's some adjustments I have to do to be able to navigate 24 hours a day with 30 people that are being chaotic and being in an environment that's constantly where you're on your toes and you can't control or anticipate much. That's something I couldn't fully grasp before having this experience in the game so now I'm really working on making sure that my mind and my spirit can handle the social elements and the unpredictable elements of the environment. And I think that combined with having some relationships now with people that I might play again with, my physical ability, and strategic ability, those things will help me be successful.
Would you ever consider going back to Survivor in the future or are you focusing now on just The Challenge?
The Challenge showed me something that I might be better suited for, to be quite honest. I like luxury! If you give me a mansion, three meals a day, pool, sauna, weight room over dirt? And a well? I'm not trying to be poor. [Laughs] I'll take creature comforts and also I'll take the ability to fight my way back into the game. I like that. Survivor would end at deliberation, and I'm not a social player. Strategy and social are two different things. My social game will always be a weakness for me in Survivor, but The Challenge, you can establish relationships with people outside of the game and then you have a way to fight to stay in the game even if the numbers turn against you. That setup will help me get closer to my goal of a million dollars.
The Challenge: Spies, Lies, and Allies airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.
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