The Challenge has been going strong for over two decades now, thanks to a strong cast of stars competing in each season and a production crew who works tirelessly to put it all together prior to their arrival.
Justin Booth, executive producer and showrunner for MTV’s The Challenge, has been working for years to create the grueling daily challenges and finals that competitors face each season. He recently gave his thoughts during an interview about which of the finals were the toughest ever for the competitors over the years.
In addition, Justin was asked to give his “Mount Rushmore” of Challenge stars and named just one cast member he felt was deserving of a spot on the fictional mountain sculpture.
Executive producer names all-time toughest Challenge finals
The final on The Challenge is typically no joke. Just this past year, viewers watched as competitors in the final had to consume nasty food, including Carolina Reaper peppers and sheep balls on MTV’s The Challenge and Paramount+’s All-Stars spinoff. That was only a portion of what they faced.
They also had to solve complex puzzles, paddle canoes, run, bike, and hike for miles and make it through overnight sleep deprivation situations, among other tasks in the two-day events.
In the end, CT Tamburello and Amber Borzotra conquered The Challenge: Double Agents final to win, while Yes Duffy was the sole winner on The Challenge: All Stars. All other competitors finished the final on both shows, but that hasn’t always been the case as some have been unable to continue due to the tough conditions.
Challenge executive producer Justin Booth recently appeared on MTV’s Official Challenge Podcast and spoke about the show, including the various challenges and finals. Around the 50-minute mark of the podcast episode, he was asked by co-hosts Aneesa Ferreira and Tori Deal to name what he felt were the toughest finals of all time during his time working on and watching the show.
He said he’d thought about it before, and immediately named several finals, one of which took place recently for MTV’s show.
“I thought about what is the hardest combination physical and mental finale that we’ve ever done, and they’re all very difficult, so I don’t want to sell any of them short,” he said.
“But I would say that recently War of the Worlds was a really tough [final], you know because they had to deal with heat and it was dry, and the sleep deprivation. That was a real tough one,” he added.
War of the Worlds season filmed in 2018 in Swakopmund, Namibia. The two-day final, which featured four men and four women, had just one winner, Turbo Turabi who claimed the top prize of $750,000, while the runner-up, Theo, claimed $200,000, and third-place finisher, Wes Bergmann got $50,000.
While most competitors finished, Georgia Harrison was medically removed during the first leg of the final after she collapsed. Mattie Lynn Breaux withdrew from competing in the final as she felt she couldn’t continue.
Justin went on to add the final for Rivals and the one-day final for the Cutthroat season were also some of the toughest finals he has seen Challenge competitors endure. Rivals final took place in Argentina. The men’s winners were Johnny Bananas and Tyler Duckworth, while Evelyn Smith and Paula Meronek were the women’s winners.
The Cutthroat season happened in 2010 in Prague, Czech Republic. A team consisting of Brad Fiorenza, Tori Hall Fiorenza, Dunbar Merrill, and Tyler Duckworth won.
Just one star goes on Justin’s ‘Mount Rushmore’ of Challenge greats
During their coverage of The Challenge: All Stars, Aneesa and Tori have been asking cast members to give their “Mount Rushmore” of all-time Challenge greats. It’s a tough question that many cast members struggle with, but there have been common names given, including CT Tamburello, Johnny Bananas, and Coral Smith.
When showrunner Justin Booth was put on the hot seat during his appearance on the Official Challenge Podcast, he could only name one cast member he felt should be up on that fictional sculpture due to their Challenge legacy.
“Somebody that immediately comes to mind is Diem Brown…She was awesome, so I would be happy to have her working with me anytime,” Justin shared.
“Above and beyond that, I’ll leave it to y’all to figure that out,” he added regarding other choices.
Diem, who originally debuted on The Challenge’s Fresh Meat season in 2006, competed in a total of eight seasons of MTV’s show. She reached the final in two of those seasons, The Gauntlet III and Battle of the Exes. Part of her story included her off-and-on relationship with castmate Chris “CT” Tamburello, as well as her battle with ovarian cancer.
She passed away after her long fight with the disease on November 14, 2014. Her final season was that Battle of the Exes II season, which also featured the late Ryan Knight, who also passed that same month and year. MTV dedicated the season, which aired in 2015, to the two former cast members.
The Challenge Season 37 premiere date is TBA for 2021 on MTV.