Josh Martinez opens up about Ashley Mitchell's The Challenge exit: 'I wish her all the best'
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Wednesday's episode of The Challenge: Spies, Lies, and Allies.
Josh Martinez is walking away from The Challenge: Spies, Lies, and Allies with no hard feelings. Despite his elimination loss in this week's episode against Kyle Christie, despite his former Emerald cell member/current friend Tori Deal cutting a deal with Sapphire to team up against Emerald, and despite whatever happened to get Ashley Mitchell kicked off the show in last week's episode, Martinez wants everyone to know that he's not holding any grudges.
When EW spoke with Martinez about his own exit from season 37, he opened up about the situation that resulted in Mitchell leaving the show. "It's something that I don't want to give my energy or attention to," he says. "What I am going to say is the only people that know the truth is the cast that was there at that point in the game and production. So we're the only ones that know the reality of that situation. It's unfortunate what happened."
Martinez adds that being on the show "is such a blessing for all of us ... we are some of the luckiest people that continue to get a call back for not only the experience, the travel, the money we make. So for that person to leave that way, it is unfortunate. I send light and love to the situation. I wish her all the best. There's a whole narrative going around, and I just don't want to give my energy to it and just focus on the blessing that being part of The Challenge is for me. I just wish the best to her."
Below, EW got Martinez to break down his elimination loss, his lie to Tori Deal, those Fessy Shafaat socks, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: That elimination looked tough, and it was such a close race.
JOSH MARTINEZ: That's the one thing I'm bummed about, but I had a good season so I can't be too mad about it. I just really want that final bad. Even though I haven't had success in eliminations and all that stuff, I've become more and more confident in myself and I lost the fear of going down which is something that I'm proud of. It's something that I struggled with in the beginning — I used to be so scared to go down into elimination to where as now it's all on me. It didn't go my way. Honestly, it was depressing when I left. But I put my heart into this season and I have to be proud of that.
How long were you and Kyle battling it out?
I mean, I can't even give you an exact time because I was so tunnel vision and so locked in. It was exhausting though, from the jumping, climbing the ladder, going up and down. We missed the bell a couple times, both of us, and I guess it was just the adrenaline. We did not stop moving. Listen, I can run, I can do five miles in 40 minutes to an hour. [Laughs] I have really good endurance. So I just gained more respect for Kyle the more that I see him compete. I feel like so many people underestimate him. I mean, the better man won that night. I gave it everything that I could. It felt like forever. It was one of the hardest eliminations just from an endurance standpoint.
At what point did you realize that Kyle was going to win and your season was over?
When it came down to the last tile. When I missed that bell, we were neck-and-neck. I remember it felt so good because I had everybody cheering for me and to feel that support, it just gave me more fire. But I remember at one point I can literally just hear Kaycee screaming that we're neck-and-neck because I wasn't even focused on him, I was just focused on moving. And then as soon as I missed that bell and I saw him go up, he was already up there, that's when I knew it was done. Kyle is just a different animal. I think that Kyle is so underrated but every single time he's in the sand he proves himself. If I had to lose to anybody, I'm happy that it was Kyle, somebody that's a tough competitor.
Did you know he was going to call you out instead of Emanuel?
I was genuinely hoping that he was going to call Emanuel because Kyle did tell me the night before. [Laughs] I had Amanda come to me and say, "Listen, I think that you should campaign to switch the house vote from it being Kyle to it being somebody else." But at that point, there was so many different things that I've could have done in my game and I replayed them once I got eliminated, from conversations that I could have had, I could have convinced Logan and Emy to throw in Nelson because they thought that Kyle was going to pick Emanuel but at that point, Nelson has never crossed me in the game. I didn't want to cross him. If I have to go down, if it's my time, I'm ready to fight. And I was so confident in myself and my abilities.
How are you feeling about being the first Emerald casualty?
It was really hard. I think that this loss was the hardest one for me just because I literally envisioned myself, the whole season, "I'm going to run that final. I'm going to make it to the final." I was already training for running the final. That's where I lost sight. I got way too comfortable in the position that I was in that I dropped the ball in politicking. I was comfortable within my Emerald cell, I was comfortable within the vets, and I think that Kyle is an unpredictable player. I was already thinking about the final when we had a lot more game to be played and there were so many more conversations I probably should have had. I do regret that.
When I got eliminated it was devastating. I couldn't even pick up the phone call my family. I was just in a really bad place because to run a final and to win has become a dream for me. I've done five seasons and with every season that I do the one takeaway is there's so much more work that I've got to put in. There's so much more work mentally, physically, and I've just got to keep working on myself and hitting the gym and just grind harder. That's what I've been doing now since I've been home. I took notes of the mistakes that I've made and I'm just going to train harder for hopefully if they call me for the next one.
Do you blame anyone for how things ended for you?
I don't blame anybody but myself. I can point the finger at Tori because she cut a deal with CT. I can point the finger at so many people but at the end of the day, it came down to that elimination. It was all on me. I can't blame anyone. As the game went on, I have to admit it became so much more harder for me because I had such strong connections and relationships that I wish there was more rookies at the end — not because of targeting the rookies, just because I don't have that bond with them. As we get closer to a final, the game became way more cutthroat because now it's real friends, now we have to double cross each other. It just got way too heavy. Politicking against some of these people, it took a toll on me.
Last week we saw you tell Amanda to steal Tori's spot and then you lied to Tori about it. Now that everything has aired, have you and Tori talked about that and cleared the air?
F--- yeah, I love Tori. I don't care if people understand our friendship or not, Tori is somebody that I've, this past year, built such a solid friendship with. No matter what happens in this game, I'm always going to have love for Tori, that's never going to change and I'm never going to let a game affect that. I love Tori to death, quote that!
But did you two talk about this whole situation before the episode aired or did you have a conversation about it after it aired and she saw everything?
We had a few conversations and it was really hard. Even leading up to the challenge with Tori, it was awkward and uncomfortable. Amanda knew exactly what she was doing. And this girl is my friend but Amanda loves messiness and she loves to create chaos; she thrives in it. Love her to death but in putting me in that situation and rocking my relationship with Tori, as a friend, I don't think she should have done that. That hindered our friendship a little bit, but at that point, what's more important to me, this game? We're two months and a half in, we're so invested into running a final that I think our emotions got the best of us and I got caught up in the game.
Speaking of Tori's deal with CT, why was everyone so upset about Tori working against Emerald when she was no longer on that team? I didn't understand why she was getting so much heat for trying to make sure her new team won when that was the only way to keep herself safe in the future.
It's not the fact that she wasn't on our team, obviously we respected that. But we went into this challenge thinking we obviously had more numbers so it was very strategic and smart on their end to team up but just the way we went about it, we were completely blindsided. You see us all realize when we're in the trenches, "Holy s---, these two teams are teaming up against us." And that's when I saw red and blacked out. Like, bet, it's game time. Once we saw what was clearly happening and what had been set up, and then when we got back in the house, we found out that Tori was behind it, that's when me and Devin lost our s---. We're like, "Holy f---, we're friends with you and you basically cut a deal to sabotage us." That did hurt. I didn't want to go in on her because obviously Devin expressed how he felt, but I felt the same way Devin did. I get where you're coming from, but we felt played. I get it, she had to do what she had to do. She was in survival mode, she was trying to protect her guys. I mean, it did cost me my game. [Laughs] That situation sucked.
What did you learn from everything that happened this season?
One of the biggest things that I take away is the friendship that I have with Fessy and Kaycee but also Nany, Devin, and Tori. I learned that I need to cherish, appreciate, and protect those friendships more because those people truly had my back. With Fessy, my biggest takeaway is this kid's like my brother, and in losing him, I think if Fessy was there my endgame would have been completely different. We probably would have both been in the final. That is definitely my biggest regret.
What's your biggest issue you need to work on to become a better Challenge competitor?
My emotions! [Laughs] My temper. It's my biggest flaw and my biggest downfall. Even in the end, in those trenches, if I would have taken a step back and thought about it, is it going to benefit me targeting Kyle and Ruby or is it going to benefit me targeting Sapphire? I admire my cast mates that are able to go in there, like CT, and disconnect and just look at it from a job standpoint. For me when I walk into each challenge, I'm so invested, it becomes my life, it becomes my reality. I can't disconnect my emotions, I can't disconnect my heart. I give all of me. And good or bad, obviously my flaws are highlighted because they make for good TV but I'm truly giving you every single side of Josh, the good, the bad, the ugly. But I need to put myself in check and I need to work on that.
Now what's the deal with those Fessy socks ...
Oh my god, the Fessy socks! [Laughs] I still have them, I don't even think they're washed. Fessy is something else, man. A fan sent him like a whole bunch of socks and a blanket and all this s---. Before he left, he actually left a whole bunch of clothes behind. He gave me the socks. The socks was like, I don't know, paying respect to him? [Laughs] I don't know what was going on. But I still got the socks!
Obviously there's so much that happens during a season that fans don't get to see in the episodes. Is there anything from this season that wasn't shown that you think is important for fans to know about?
Oh my god, so much. There was so many things that happened in that house that didn't make it to air that I think a lot of us can use as a learning experience and are the only people that are going to understand that. It's not my place to — I mean, I can sit here and go on my [Instagram] live and talk about all these situations but I think the blessing is that only the cast mates that were there, that experienced all the things that we did, the good, the highs, the lows and everything, it's an opportunity for us to grow and learn and become better humans. Because at the end of the day, we're the only ones that understand how hard it is to film a season of The Challenge.
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