Wednesday night’s season premiere of The Challenge: Total Madness already promises danger, a game-changing elimination twist, terrible living conditions, and a big mix of series vets and newbies from Big Brother, Survivor and more. But apparently, there’s something else people aren’t going to want to miss: Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio will be making a big announcement.
“I’m 20 seasons in and I’d be lying if I said that I’m the same person physically and mentally as I was before I started this journey 15 years ago,” Devenanzio, 37, who first appeared on MTV in The Real World: Key West in 2006, tells PEOPLE. “I don’t say this lightly, but every season that I go on The Challenge, I feel like a little piece of me dies.”
He continues, “I think at some point in life, no matter what journey you’re on, you just need to take a different path. I consider myself pretty accomplished on The Challenge. Sometimes the best out there just need to know when to say enough is enough, and when to consider changing things up and hanging them up.”
Total Madness will indeed mark the six-time winner’s 20th season. While he’s been a finalist on the show eight times, he’s struggled to make it deep into the competition over the past few years. In fact, he hasn’t made a final since 2016’s Rivals III, when he famously won with partner Sarah Rice but opted not to split the $275,000 prize with her.
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“I feel like the last season, just based on the way things have gone down, I really do feel that there’s a higher calling that’s been telling me that now is the time — and that I couldn’t ignore the signs anymore,” Devenanzio says. “If not now, then never.”
While Devenanzio won’t give away what exactly what this big revelation might be or what that “higher calling” might’ve told him, he’s certainly dropping hints.
“The last thing I would want to have happen is to look back and be like, ‘I should’ve done this sooner,’ or, ‘What took me so long?'” he teases. “I needed to do it when I felt like the time was right, and now I feel like the time is right more than ever.”
Despite all that writing on the wall Devenanzio claims to have read, he admits “fans, production, my family, my friends, basically anyone that knows me and anyone that knows how competitive I am” will all be surprised when his plans are revealed.
Still, he expects people will find this big change to be a sign of strength.
“I think people are going to look at it as maturity, and that I have grown, and that I am willing to just know when enough is enough,” he says. “Some people are going to agree with this decision, some people are going to disagree with it. That doesn’t matter to me. You can’t ever make everybody happy, but I know in my heart of hearts that it’s the right thing to do, and that’s all that matters to me.”
From the sounds of it, Devenanzio’s longtime rival, Wes Bergmann, may wind up a very happy man after this.
So what do you think this big announcement will be? Is it time for retirement? Is Devenanzio going to propose to his girlfriend, Big Brother alum Morgan Willett, whom he met filming War of the Worlds in 2018? Or could this be yet another Challenge twist?
The Challenge: Total Madness premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on MTV.