Two new winners have been crowned on The Challenge — and they may not be who fans expect.
Spoiler warning! For those who haven’t seen Tuesday’s finale of Invasion of the Champions, this season’s final results will be revealed below.
After a curveball that shook up the game in the middle of the season, a Champ and an Underdog came on top this year as they clawed their way through different partners and a three day long final that pushed them to their limits. In the end, Chris “CT” Tamburello and Ashley Mitchell had the best time — and won the hefty cash prize of $100,000 each.
The winners sat down with PEOPLE to talk all about their win (and how they plan on spending the money).
Ashley, first final, first win! How does that feel?
Mitchell: It didn’t seem real until I got the money. It’s just like a dream almost, it’s not real. As you saw in that moment, I just froze and couldn’t believe it because of how hard it was for me — more emotionally than physically. The whole season people looked down on me because they didn’t think I’m in shape, which I think is f—ing ridiculous ’cause I won two or three Challenges. And then no one wants to say that I’m a good competitor, which is insane.
Speaking of that, most of the competitors now come in with training and work out throughout The Challenge, do you think that’s necessary?
Mitchell: No, I think half of these people need to read a book. This is The Challenge, it involved brains, brawn and heart. It’s not one without the other — you have to have all three. And I may not be the best in brains and brawn, but I have the biggest heart. That’s probably why I cry so much. [Laughs]
CT, you’re back as the champ. How did it feel to take so much time off, build your life and come back and win?
Tamburello: It was great for me on a number of different levels. I didn’t expect to make it that far, never mind win it. At first I went on it because I wanted to do it for my son. I knew the time was gonna come when he was gonna be old enough to understand his old man was on TV and I didn’t want him to see me as some knucklehead punk running around with his head cut off. I wanted him to see me as I am today. I think I accomplished that, but then over time it became about me and getting my confidence back and standing on my own feet and showing that I still have it. To me, this one was the most special.
You mention you didn’t want your son to see you as a punk, is that why you hung back this time and weren’t involved in the drama?
Tamburello: Yeah, “Do as I say not as I do” — I don’t think works very well. [Laughs] Being a dad changes things. You definitely think about your actions before you act.
Ashley, you were in the thick of drama this season. Do you think that takes away from the experience or is it part of it?
Mitchell: It’s definitely a big part of The Challenge, I think CT knows that from his past a lot. I think that’s the one thing that brings me down a lot.
Tamburello: But at the same time I think that helps because people know you’re not a pushover. No one’s gonna be able to walk on you because you fight back.
Mitchell: Yeah, that’s true. The drama sucks but when you’re not in it, it’s very entertaining. And when you’re in it, you have to be in it and squash it as fast as you can or be like Amanda and let it live on forever. [Laughs]
What are you guys going to do with the money?
Tamburello: Nothing. I don’t want to see it, I don’t want to touch it.
Mitchell: Yeah, I haven’t touched mine either. I’m gonna do something smart with it, but I haven’t thought it through yet.
So is The Challenge still about the money?
Mitchell: F— yeah. What do you think I do it for? My mental health? [Laughs]
Tamburello: Yeah, in the beginning it was about the travel. I always looked at it like, “I got lucky, I won a free trip.” I didn’t think my 15 minutes was gonna last 15 years. I mean, not many people can say they’ve lived in every continent except the South Pole! But now it’s about the money — I just want to win. Get in and get out, I’m too old to keep up with these ones.
Is this your last Challenge?
Tamburello: I’d like to think so, I’d like to think this is my last. But never say never — I never thought I was going to do another one again before this. And then this happened. I didn’t want to end my career on The Challenge the way it ended on the last one before this. But I feel like I can walk away and be totally happy. There’s nothing else for me to prove. But if they want to keep offering me more money, let’s go. [Laughs]
I have to say, as a fan, it was nice seeing how well you’re doing and watching you come back to win it all.
Tamburello: Thank you, a lot of people have said that to me. It’s nice when people say that — that they actually see that change. And when people say I’ve changed for the better, it means a lot.
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What about you Ashley, what’s your plan for future Challenges?
Tamburello: Oh, she’s just getting going!
Mitchell: I wouldn’t say getting going, but I’ll be [another all-timer like] Johnny Bananas if they ask me! If the money’s right.
With your trajectory so far, you could be.
Mitchell: I mean, no, don’t — don’t you put that evil on me, girl! [Laughs] I mean, it’s a good time. We get to drink and have fun, and I get to see how strong I am. It really pushes me, I’ve learned a lot about myself.