Winners of 'The Challenge: Battle of the Bloodlines' Talk Through a Bittersweet Win: 'Basically, I'm Going to Therapy'

The winning team also reveals which family member to whom they're dedicating their win

Photo: Ian Spanier Photography

Bringing family into the mix certainly didn’t dilute the drama on the latest edition of The Challenge.

After competing both with and against each other on Battle of the Bloodlines, this season’s newly crowned season’s winners are exclusively telling PEOPLE about the good, the bad and the ugly of being confronted by the MTV’s competition’s famously grueling physical challenges – and the backstabbing drama outside of the dreaded Pit.

Spoiler alert: Stop reading now if you haven’t seen Wednesday night’s finale of The Challenge: Battle of the Bloodlines and don’t want to know the results.

And the winners are …

Cara Maria & Jamie!

No one saw more ups and downs on Bloodlines than eight-time Challenger Cara Maria Sorbello and newbie her Bostonian cousin, Jamie Banks. After a strong start, Cara Maria engaged in a “flirtation” with rookie competitor Thomas Buell (The Real World: Ex-plosion), and their strengthening alliance threatened Challenge legend John “Johnny Bananas” Devenanzio, who leveraged his knowledge of the secret fling to keep himself in the game.

After Cara Maria’s boyfriend Abram Boise unexpectedly joined the show and learned of his lady’s dalliance from Bananas’ cousin Vince Gliatta, the six-year relationship unraveled just as it had begun – in front viewers’ eyes, week by torturous week, on TV. In a particularly painful moment, Abram was being filmed for a live after show when he learned that Cara Maria had been caught on hidden camera confiding in Jamie one late night that she had been planning to leave him before she began Bloodlines.

After facing as many emotional as physical obstacles during her time on the show, Cara Maria reveals to PEOPLE how she’s repairing her shattered personal life as the cousins look back on their bittersweet victory.

First and foremost, congratulations! Cara Maria, it must be especially sweet for you to win after eight tries – but there were also a lot of things that happened that you probably wish had stayed in a vault somewhere and never made it to air. Did the fact that you won make up for any of the drama?
Cara Maria Sorbello: It didn’t. I don’t think money changes anything. I think if anything, the win [should] have been amazing because it’s with my cousin, it’s with someone I love. We actually spent a lot of the time talking about our grandmother who passed away, and we were doing it for her. Of course, none of that was shown [because of everything going on with Abram]. The show was supposed to be about family, so I thought it would’ve been good. It was really about the dedication to our grandmother, and unfortunately that was really kind of overshadowed by a horrible decision I made in the beginning. I really haven’t been able to let the win sink in. I’ve just kind of felt horrible ever since. Sorry.

And then Jamie, this was your first time competing on the show. You started right in eye of the hurricane! How was that going through this whole thing and then coming out as a winner?
Jamie Banks: It was a great experience overall. Everyone that’s been on the show has had some type of relationship trouble, whether it be Nany [Gonzalez], Bananas – all of them have done something stupid on TV. What Cara went through was rough, but at the same time, I think we had a great experience together.

Cara, you’ve been doing this show for basically all of your 20s. Now that you’ve won, are you done? Do you feel like you’re finished with that phase of your life?
Cara Maria: You know, I had to turn down the most recent one that they asked me to do because I was not mentally [ready], I just wasn’t feeling okay until this whole chapter closed. I will say that I probably would say yes to another one in the future that I can prepare mentally and physically for. Yeah, I got the win that I’ve been waiting for so long to get, but it’s kind of been overshadowed by other things, so maybe I need to try to get another win that nobody can complain about.

We all know what the low points throughout the season were for both of you, but what were the high points?
Jamie: The night [we went up against Johnny Bananas and his cousin Vince in the elimination Pit and won] was actually our grandmother’s birthday, so it was kind of a big night for us. We were all emotional as it was and then we’re going against Bananas, and it was like, “If you don’t win, you don’t go to Berlin – you go home.” It was probably the biggest win I’ll ever have or I’m sure Cara’s ever had.

It does seem like there’s a certain poetic justice that you beat Bananas to get to the final since he was the one who tried to orchestrate your downfall.
Cara Maria: Because Johnny has won a ton of challenges, I thought going into this season that the only competition I have is against him, and I wanted so bad to send him home myself. I had not a thought in the world that it was gonna be Jamie against Vince or Jamie against Bananas. I just felt like that was ours together: to send him home – and to send him home on a puzzle, which he is better at than me or Jamie. That was the biggest clutch win you could possibly ever want, there’s just no greater feeling at all. It was just awesome. Because it’s not like we sent home a nobody.

Let’s go back to when Bananas had Vince tip Abram off to your flirtation with Thomas. I know it’s hard in that moment, but was there ever a second when you were able to step back and say, “We’re doing exactly what he wants us to do”? Or was it just so emotionally charged that you couldn’t see outside of yourselves?
Cara Maria: I couldn’t see past it. I mean, I’ve got a lot of regrets, and my biggest regret is not being honest with Abram about how I was feeling and how things were going with our relationship before I left for the show. Even when he got there, I think if I told him after the fact, maybe we could’ve gotten past it. At the time I was afraid. I mean, everyone saw how he blew up on Tom. I was afraid something like that was going to happen, and I was afraid to say anything. I didn’t, and I should’ve. It should’ve been me, not Johnny. I don’t really know what would’ve happened, it’s just my fault for not being honest before, after, during. I just regret it horribly.

Picking up what you said about him blowing up, a lot of people have expressed concern for you about how your relationship with Abram has played out over the years. Do you want to address that or clear up anything people weren’t seeing?
Cara Maria: No. Basically, I’m going to therapy. There’s a lot I need to [figure out]. There was a lot that I’d like to do with that money I’m winning, but I need to take care of myself first. So I kind of have to deal with a lot going on. And there is a lot going on.

Where do you stand with Abram now?
Cara Maria: Right now, he’s traveling. He’s doing his thing. He’s already probably slept with plenty of people. I can’t even look at anybody or anything. I just have to take care of myself. We’re just taking a little bit of space so that I can take care of myself and then hear from basically a neutral person about how they see the situation and then I can approach it from a different light. I actually wish we could do some sort of couple’s therapy.

Well, they have a show for that.
Cara Maria: I know they do. [Laughs] We would be prime candidates for that one.

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