The Challenge: Johnny Bananas reveals he was ‘down and out’ with early illness in World Championship

johnny bananas during the challenge world championship
The Challenge star Johnny Bananas in World Championship spinoff. Pic credit: @TheChallenge/YouTube

The arrival of The Challenge: World Championship to Paramount Plus has brought a group of MTV Legends, including former show winners Jonna Mannion, Tori Deal, Jordan Wiseley, and Wes Bergmann.

The all-time winningest Challenger is also there, Johnny Bananas, as he looks to add another championship to his seven MTV Challenge seasons won.

However, his early appearances in World Championship have featured him speaking with a raspier voice and seeming not like himself.

That’s because Bananas wasn’t himself, as he recently admitted to being distant from his castmates early in the season.

The Challenge star recently revealed he was “down and out” with a nasty illness, which he says kept him down and out, and wanting to keep it as secret as possible.

This report may contain spoilers from The Challenge: World Championship’s first several episodes.

The Challenge’s Johnny Bananas thought he had COVID-19 during World Championship

The Challenge legend Bananas is known for being the life of the party and often the backbone of the reality TV show, with his witty and sarcastic commentary to castmates or in confessionals. Many also considered him the greatest player of all time, with his seven seasons won.

However, during his Death, Taxes, and Bananas podcast episode, he revealed that he just wasn’t himself during the early part of the season and was even convinced he had COVID-19.

Former Love Island and Challenge: USA star Justine Ndiba was on for the podcast episode, as she chose to be Bananas’ partner for the World Championship season. They talked about her burden of being partnered with a seven-time champ that everyone wants to get rid of.

At one point during the episode, Justine mentioned how most of the cast seemed pretty nice on the show, but Bananas was a bit “standoffish.”

He joked he was playing “hard to get” but then revealed that it was actually a bad illness that had him down and out.

“I’m pretty sure I had [COVID-19] upstairs for the first like week to like two weeks,” Bananas said during his podcast episode.

He went on to talk about how normally his voice sounds a certain way, but he was much raspier-sounding in the first several episodes of the show.

“But anybody that knows, generally, I talk a lot, and I have a very distinct voice, and if you hear it in my voice, like I’ve listened to the first few episodes of my voice in those interviews, and I’m like, ‘dude, something I have a frog in my throat,'” Bananas said.

He indicated he was convinced he had COVID-19 and took four tests, all of which came back negative. Bananas also brought up how he and Justine’s castmate, Nathan Henry, had to leave the show due to COVID-19.

Bananas explained his strategy for staying distant from castmates

“I wasn’t just distant from the house. I was estranged from my own mind and body too,” Bananas said of feeling “down and out” during the early part of the World Championship season.

Justine said that “nobody knew,” so everyone thought he was being “standoffish” or that he hated them. However, Bananas said he had good reason for his demeanor.

“You never want to let on if you’re injured in any way, if you’re ill in any way, if you are going through something mentally in any way, because people will exploit that and use that it’s like it’s like smelling blood in the water,” Bananas said.

He mentioned that during past seasons someone may have received a bad phone call, and everyone realized after that call that the person was “starting to crack.”

Justine saw something similar during her time on The Challenge: USA, when castmate Leo Temory received a stressful call about his businesses back home. Although he remained in the game, it nearly had him bail from the season on his partner, Alyssa Lopez. However, Leo and Alyssa were sent into elimination.

Through three episodes, Bananas has remained in the game and hasn’t had to worry about being targeted by his castmates. However, The Challenge only gets more intense and cutthroat with each elimination decision as these Legends all want to claim the World Championship.

The Challenge: World Championship episodes arrive Wednesdays on Paramount Plus.

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