The Challenge: USA final recently concluded, with two winners crowned as champions for the spinoff season. They were the only two competitors out of 10 to complete TJ Lavin’s final in Patagonia.
However, one competitor could not complete the final due to a situation she didn’t have much control over. It all came down to a strict rule: if your teammate quit, you were also out of the final.
The final consisted of checkpoints, and it was one man paired with one woman randomly for each one. Survivor star Desi Williams had the misfortune of The Algorithm randomly pairing her with Big Brother’s Enzo Palumbo for the first leg.
Enzo revealed in previous daily challenges that he’s not a fan of swimming, which came into play in the first leg of the final. Teammates had to complete a long swim in cold water to get to shore and solve a puzzle faster than their opponents.
Soon after the competitors had jumped into the water and started the swim, footage showed Enzo panicking and yelling for help. Desi tried to calm him down, but Enzo continued screaming, even telling her to get away.
Eventually, a rescue boat came to get Enzo out of the water, and he said he was done. Despite Desi’s best efforts in the water, she couldn’t convince him to keep going, which meant she was also done and going home.
In an emotional moment, viewers saw a completely devastated Desi crying on the shore as her teammate’s decision to quit cost her a chance to win The Challenge: USA final.
Desi comments about her Challenge: USA final
After The Challenge: USA, Episode 11 aired, Desi appeared in an exit interview on fellow Survivor star Wendell Holland’s YouTube channel. The podcast hosts immediately asked her how she felt about that whole situation with Enzo.
“It still kind of feels surreal that it ended that way, because yeah, this is obviously the furthest- I made it much further than Survivor…I went into this final feeling super confident and really good,” she said.
“I just couldn’t have in a million years imagined somebody quitting Leg 1 of the final,” Desi shared, adding she thought there was no way Enzo was going to quit in the first leg.
However, she said it was “literally three minutes” into the water when Enzo began panicking. She said even though she offered to help swim him to shore, he pushed her away and was cursing at her to get away.
In the episode footage, Desi spoke in her confessional interview about being crushed by what happened, even saying she wasn’t sure she could ever look Enzo in the face again after this.
“There were so many emotions. I was obviously devastated in the moment. Devastated watching it back,” Desi said in the YouTube exit interview (below), adding, “I have had time to heal and process, but I feel like this was my shot to win The Challenge, and it was literally ripped away from me.”
Taking to Instagram after the episode aired, Desi reiterated she was sad to see the season end, “especially with it ending the way it did.” She thanked all those who supported her throughout the spinoff season and said the experience helped her become “a better, stronger, more confident woman.”
Desi was part of ‘inner core’ alliance during season
Desi said they started the spinoff with “Survivor Strong” as their big alliance. However, she revealed an “inner core alliance” called “Triple D” formed about Week 2 or 3. That alliance consisted of Desi, along with Domenick Abbate and Danny McCray.
She shared that they formed their Triple D alliance due to not necessarily trusting some of their other Survivor castmates on the spinoff, such as Tyson Apostol, Ben Driebergen, and Sarah Lacina.
Being part of those alliances helped Desi quite a bit. Viewers probably noticed she was one of the few cast members to never compete in any eliminations at The Arena. She got asked about why she felt that was.
“I feel like I made very strong relationships in the game, and I feel like I made the right alliances at the right time, so literally at the end of the game, I was like, ‘I think I’m in an alliance with everyone like there’s no way I’m going into elimination,'” Desi said.
Desi said others possibly saw her as a “physical threat” from the start of the game. By the end, she had formed many strong connections or alliances. So a combination of those aspects helped keep her safe.
As far as seeing Desi on The Challenge again, it seems there’s a strong possibility, depending on the circumstances. The Survivor star has some strong motivation to return and go farther than she did before on the spinoff show.
“I feel like at this point I have to, for like redemption’s sake. So I mean, yeah, if I get the opportunity, I might be back,” she said.
The Challenge: USA episodes are available on Paramount Plus.