The Challenge’s Zach Nichols explains why Tori Deal defended Season 39 winner Emanuel Neagu

the challenge zach nichols face shot from final reckoning on mtv
The Challenge winner Zach Nichols weighed in on Emanuel Neagu’s Season 39 win. Pic credit: MTV

Some viewers and former cast members have debated if The Challenge: Battle For a New Champion winner is now a legitimate champion based on their season.

While Emanuel Neagu won the final, despite some claims he cheated to win, there has been talk about how he never went into any eliminations during the season.

Some suggest it’s not as legit a championship since the Season 39 cast included all players who were relatively new to The Challenge and hadn’t won a season.

That topic came up during the Season 39 reunion, with host Maria Menounos mentioning Emanuel’s win early on and asking for the opinions of the former champs there.

Among those replying were Ride or Dies winners Devin Walker and Tori Deal, with Tori defending Emanuel’s championship.

Former show winner Zach Nichols recently weighed in with his thoughts about Emanuel’s win and explained why Tori had to defend him as a legitimate champion.

Zach says Tori ‘had to hop on that bandwagon’ with Emanuel

During the recent Zach Nichols Podcast episode, the former Real World star and Challenge winner said Tori needed to defend Emanuel’s championship because people questioned her Ride or Dies win.

“You’re going to defend people whose championships get questioned if your championship gets questioned and hers have,” Zach explained, adding, “Because of not drinking the slop drink.”

“So of course Tori is gonna hop on that bandwagon and say, ‘Oh, of course he’s a champion,'” he told his podcast co-host.


Episode 32 of the @zachnicholspodcast is out NOW 🇺🇸 All episodes of the #zachnicholspodcast are now available exclusively on Patreon 🐐 #mtv #cbs #thechallenge

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Toris Ride or Dies win came with the claim that she hadn’t fully participated in the required tasks for the final, which included drinking one of those famous smoothies that host TJ Lavin loves making finalists drink. Teams had to drink all smoothies before they could advance past that checkpoint.

If a team completed the checkpoint ahead of others, they could give one of the remaining teams extra smoothies to drink. During this part of the final, all finalists except Tori were required to drink some smoothies.

Instead, her Ride or Dies teammate Devin was allowed to drink hers since Tori indicated she was a vegan in her contract with The Challenge. Some fans questioned if that was “cheating” since all other finalists were required to drink the smoothies.

Along with that question mark on her Season 38 win, Tori had a showmance with Emanuel when he was a rookie in her previous season, The Challenge: Spies, Lies & Allies, so they also have that connection.

Zach compared Emanuel’s win to Lakers’ ‘bubble championship’

While Tori defended Emanuel’s championship, her Ride or Dies teammate Devin called him the “champion of a season of losers.”

Zach brought up Devin’s remarks during the podcast, making some comparisons.

“Devin basically said, ‘This is all the JV people who tried out for a whole season to see who gets to make varsity,'” Zach joked with his co-host.

“What did you expect? This champion to be respected?” Zach asked.

He also compared Emanuel’s win to the Los Angeles Lakers championship won in the 2020 NBA Bubble.

That 2019-20 NBA season and playoffs continued during the coronavirus pandemic but under extra precautions. All NBA players and their team staff stayed at Walt Disney World Resorts in Orlando, Florida, and played games there with the added medical protocols.

The Lakers defeated the Miami Heat during the NBA Finals, with LeBron James adding another championship to his resume. Some fans might put an asterisk next to the Lakers for that title, although others might say, “A win is a win.”

Zach previously called out Emanuel when the Season 39 winner showed up in the comments of one of his podcast clips on Instagram. Zach blasted him as a “real class act” for hooking up with multiple Season 39 castmates while having a girlfriend off the show.

The Challenge: Battle For a New Champion Reunion Part 2 airs Wednesday, March 6 at 8/7c on MTV.

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