The Challenge: Rivals III season sticks out in many fans’ minds due to that infamous final moment which featured Johnny Bananas and his rival teammate Sarah Rice winning.
After being declared winners, TJ Lavin asked Bananas if he wanted to keep the first-place prize money or split it with Sarah. He chose to keep all the money to himself, shocking Sarah and viewers, as she was left with no prize money after a winning season.
Based on recent comments from Sarah, Bananas found a way to gain an edge during the season and final, which doesn’t get talked about much. However, she shared details about the situation in a recent interview.
Sarah Rice shares how Bananas cheated for Rivals III
Former The Real World: Brooklyn star Sarah Rice transitioned to The Challenge in 2009 on The Ruins, where she reached the final in her rookie season. However, it would take her seven more seasons to get that first win. She captured that win in a partnership alongside her ex, Jordan Wiseley, on Battle of the Exes II.
As fans know, reaching that final required a power move before she did. Sarah chose to send in the team of Johnny Bananas and Nany Gonzalez for elimination. That event set in motion what would create a rivalry between Sarah and Johnny, making them partners for The Challenge: Rivals III.
It was that blindside or backstabbing move in Exes II that caused Bananas to basically claim all the prize money once he and Sarah had finished the Rivals III final in first place.
During a Mike Lewis podcast episode (below), Mike asked Sarah why her move in Exes II is “met with contention” by some.
“I just think it’s because I’m a woman doing it, and I think that wasn’t what I was supposed to do…What you saw was that cognitive dissonance, like him really thinking it was going to go one way…It felt like he was blindsided because he had painted such a clear vision of the future with his expectations and his best interests in mind,” Sarah said.
“That’s what happens when you’re a narcissist. You don’t take other people’s perspectives into consideration,” she added.
Sarah also brought up Bananas cheating in that particular season, a story that seems to get swept under the rug. Based on her retelling, he received a minor fine, which paled in comparison to the grand prize money he won.
“I don’t even fault him for doing what he did to me in the [Rivals III] season. Go ahead, that’s fine. I didn’t like how he did it and how he won, that wasn’t on air,” she shared with Mike Lewis.
Mike asked Sarah to elaborate on what wasn’t aired regarding Bananas with the Rivals III season. She explained he was caught with prescription drugs but didn’t have any prescription.
“They caught him with Adderall, and he beat me on a Challenge where you had to stay up all night…Then at the finish line, right before TJ announces, you know who won, the crew like searched his jacket and found Adderall that he didn’t have a prescription for that he was taking the whole season to give him an edge,” she added.
Part of the Rivals III final involved competitors having to stay awake while standing on logs overnight as long as possible. Once Sarah and Johnny won the final, TJ announced that Bananas had the better time or score between them, which allowed him to make that big money decision.
She went on to say that Bananas was hit with a minimal fine of about “$3,000,” which is nothing when thinking of the prize money he claimed. Based on The Challenge Wiki page for that season, the first-place prize money was $275,000- or $137,500 each, if Bananas had split it.
Will Sarah return to The Challenge again?
That Rivals III season was the final appearance for Sarah Rice on a Challenge, and now she’s working as a therapist to help others with mental health issues.
Based on her comments to Mike Lewis and her social media, her not returning to the show isn’t based on that moment in the final involving Bananas. It’s more a career and life choice.
“My not returning to the show is because I have a career outside the show now, and I make more money and, you know, have more control over my life,” she shared with Mike.
That said, fans know that the All Stars spinoff series now exists to bring back former champions and other OG competitors from the Real World, Road Rules, and Fresh Meat.
It would seem like a perfect spot for Sarah to return to The Challenge if she ever decides to in the future. However, would the production try to get her and Johnny Bananas to the same season? It would certainly make for a must-see season!
The Challenge: Spies, Lies & Allies airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on MTV.