The Challenge: Total Madness eliminated player speaks: 'I knew it was game over'
Warning: This article contains spoilers from Wednesday's episode of The Challenge: Total Madness, "Sweet Dreams Are Made of Dee."
Jenn Lee learned the hard way what happens to rookies on The Challenge.
The Amazing Race alum was booted from the game in the first female elimination on The Challenge: Total Madness due to her rookie status, having no real alliances, being perceived as weak because of her performance in the daily challenges… and oh yeah, the fact that Dee's ex Rogan showed interest in her. Last season's champion made it her mission to get Jenn eliminated, and after throwing Challenge beast Jenny in as Jenn's opponent in Purgatory, a blowout elimination sent Jenn home.
"As Forrest Gump would say, sh— happens," Jenn tells EW with a laugh. "I was so torn about the fact that it was an unfair matchup; I wasn’t even given the chance to show what I really got. They literally put the smallest girl in the house against the biggest girl in the house. It was a no-brainer that I was going to lose."
One of her biggest regrets about leaving Total Madness so early was that she "didn't have the chance to prove" herself. "It was a David-and-Goliath situation, where Goliath was going to win anyways because it was physical," Jenn says. "I didn’t really give it my all because at that point I knew there wasn’t really any point."
Below, Jenn looks back on her short Challenge career, what went wrong in the house, whether she'll return for future seasons, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you start to realize that you’d be going in for the first female elimination?
JENN LEE: I knew pretty early on that I was getting nominated. It was really apparent from the second I walked in the house because there was some drama going on with one [laughs] particular other contestant. I knew I was the target even though I tried my best to make amends and be on her side. I would hear things through the house. It was so funny, people don’t realize that you’re in the other room or even in the same room listening! I knew way early on, from basically like day one, that I was going into this elimination.
When Bananas and Wes were "coaching" you about giving a speech at nominations, did you think they were trying to help, or did you know they were setting you up?
Talking to Wes you always know there is some sort of underlying prank or he’s trying to play puppet master, because that’s what he does. But at that point there was nothing to lose. Whatever, just go along with it. I already knew I was going home.
Once you were nominated, did you have any preferences on who you went against?
I didn’t have a preference of who I would go against because I knew no matter what it was going to be someone who was really strong. The chance to go into elimination and get a red skull is huge, and I knew there was this whole political game behind it, so I knew all the strongest players were vying for that spot to go against me. I knew pretty early on it was going to be Jenny because I would hear people talking about it while I was "sleeping." Of course, usually the first female elimination is most likely going to be a headbanger because it’s supposed to be a badass challenge. So I knew pretty early on I was going against Jenny in something physical and I most likely [laughs] did not stand a chance.
Do you think you still would have been nominated if you hadn’t been flirting with Rogan?
If Rogan wasn’t interested in me at the time, it would have helped. But I still would have been a target. I didn’t have alliances with anyone. I was the only person from Amazing Race. Every other rookie came with a background in MTV or from the same show as other rookies. I came in completely on my own. Throwing me in made sense to everybody. I didn’t have ties to anyone. With or without Rogan, I would have been a target anyways.
Was your connection with Rogan just on the show, or have you stayed in contact?
I wouldn’t say we had a connection on the show — he definitely did help me, he gave me some advice. I have seen him outside the show when he was in L.A. But we’re just friends.
Let's talk about the actual elimination: What was going through your mind when you walked into Purgatory and saw that Flip the Switch challenge?
I get off the bus and adrenaline is going. I was hoping it was going to be a puzzle or something math-related, something that would not be physical, because then I would have a chance against Jenny. In a physical match, she’s like 10 times my size. Her arm is as big as my whole body. Walking into Purgatory, I saw this weird matchstick-looking setup. It looked like a pendulum. It was definitely not a puzzle. I’m in trouble. I was worried when I saw the elimination. At that point I knew it was game over.
What did you think of how Dee didn’t nominate herself to go against you?
That was really funny. It kind of shows that she’s all talk. She’s going around trying to attack me and talking sh— about me. For her to be given the chance to beat me herself, which she probably could have, she is a strong player, for her to say no, wow. That’s really funny considering she was talking all this game and all this smack about me.
What regrets do you have now about your time on this season?
Looking back, I should have played a better social game. I should have gone in and hung out with only the girls. [Laughs] I shouldn’t have given the guys the time of day, even though they were the only ones who were being nice to me at the time. I should have ignored them anyways and only talked to the girls, even though they didn’t want to be my friend. I should have tried harder. It was just really disheartening hearing them talk about throwing me in. Emotions got the best of me. I was over it. Next time I would probably not think so emotionally, and just go along with the social game and try to be their friend.
You said "next time" — are you interested in coming back to The Challenge after this season?
Yeah, if given the chance I would 100 percent come back. I would do things so much differently. I really need to work on my social game, so I would strive to do better at that. And now that I’ve done The Challenge once, I understand how the game really works, living in the house. I had never done a show like that. On Amazing Race, you don’t live together. Most likely you won’t even see the other contestants because you’re somewhere else on the road. This is the first time I had to live with the people I’m competing against. It was a learning lesson.
What will you do to prepare for another season now that you’ve experienced this one?
I would definitely work on my physical game. I noticed that all the training I did for the show wasn’t the right type of training. I was focused more on cardio, and I realized from all the challenges I did while I was there that I need to do more weight training, CrossFit, lifting, deadlifts, heavy weights.
The Challenge: Total Madness airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on MTV.