Spoiler warning! For those who haven’t seen Tuesday’s finale of Final Reckoning, this season’s final results will be revealed below.
The finale of Final Reckoning — the latest season of MTV’s long-running competition show The Challenge — was the best kind of déjà vu for fans.
As soon as host TJ Lavin revealed that the winner of this season would once again decide whether to keep all the money at the end or share it with their partner, images of iconic villain Johnny ‘Bananas’ Devenanzio choosing to “take the money and run” instead of splitting it with partner Sarah Rice immediately popped up on the screen.
And just like last time, the winner decided to keep the pot.
After entering the season late as Mercenaries, Ashley Mitchell and Hunter Barfield fought every possible moment while still making their way to the grueling final Challenge against three other teams. But only one of them could come out on top, and Mitchell and Barfield were crowned the champions — with Mitchell besting Barfield’s individual time.
WATCH: The Challenge: Rivals III winner Johnny Devenanzio defends his cutthroat choice
In a moment that felt like the final battle of an endless war, Mitchell chose to take the money, citing the way Barfield had treated her throughout the season as proof that he didn’t deserve his split of the cash.
PEOPLE caught up with Mitchell about the big decision and why she felt like she had to prove to Barfield — and the other men in the show — just how powerful women can be.
What was your first gut reaction hearing TJ say the winner would get the chance to split or keep the money again?
Mitchell: First, I’m gonna be honest with you — I’m a psychic, okay? Before season 29 [which Mitchell won], I knew that we were gonna be living outside, and I was. This season before I got there, I knew it was gonna be in Africa and I knew it was gonna be a million dollars. I told all my friends, “I’m gonna win a million dollars, watch.” I didn’t know how much money it was, I did not know that was an opportunity. So when TJ said that, honestly my heart dropped into my butt because I was like, “This is my dream coming true right now.” I was flabbergasted and was like, “This final is for me to win.”
And secondly: hell yes, because I hate Hunter and I can’t wait to stick this knife in his back!
So did you always know you were going to take the money if given the opportunity?
Throughout this season, when it was getting close to the end and the only girls I had left were Marie and Sylvia, I had told them both in our little girls bathroom that if I ever had the chance to do that, I was gonna do it. Because I was sick of the men in that house being so misogynistic, saying things like, “If a woman makes more money than you, that’s embarrassing, a woman should stay at home.” And that’s mostly Hunter saying things like that. So when I had the chance to show him, honey, not only am I better than you, I’m gonna be making way more money than you’re ever gonna make, as soon as I had that chance I did not even double think it. I think you saw on my face at the end. As soon as TJ asked, I started shaking my head like, nuh-uh honey, I already know what I’m gonna do [laughs].
Did you feel vindicated by the way he reacted and started yelling at you in the way you said he had all season?
No, honestly, in that moment I felt really bad. I know he had a really rough season and I saw some parts of Hunter that I had never seen before. But I can only imagine what that feeling was like. So honestly, I was not feeling boastful or like gloating. I felt really, really bad for him and his family that’s gonna be watching. I didn’t feel like he deserved that, but I feel like I deserved the million dollars.
I want to point something out: last time we talked was when you won Invasion of the Champions and I chatted with you and fellow winner CT Tamburello. We both made a joke about you turning into the next Johnny Bananas, and you hilarious replied, “Don’t put that evil on me.” Well, here we are just over a year later and you and Bananas are members of the exclusive “took the money and ran” club. How does it feel to be up there with him as the only ones to have made this decision?
[Laughs] Oh goodness gracious, it’s a double-edged sword. I take it as a compliment because it’s Bananas and hopefully they call me for the next 30 years like they do him. It is what it is. And hell, I’ll be the new Bananas as long as mine is a million dollars and not $300,000, like his.
This makes you the champ with the most money earned throughout the whole show. What’s the next goal for you?
Girl, I gotta get to three wins! The most times a girl has ever won is three, and the most anyone has ever won is Johnny Bananas with six. So I gotta put in a lot of work, but I’m definitely gonna shoot for the stars.
Looking back, what are you taking away from this incredible season for you?
That I can actually be strong. Even though I cry and bitch a lot, I can do things by myself. And the one thing that I learned from this season and last season, with Cara Maria Sorbello winning and now me winning, is that you don’t need a man — and women rule the world! That’s pretty much it.