‘The Challenge 35’: Host T.J. Lavin Denies Reports of Rigging

[SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers from The Challenge finale.]

Throughout The Challenge Season 35, many reports have surfaced that the season was rigged for six-time champ Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio. He has denounced the rumors as well as host T.J. Lavin, who insisted there is “no funny business.”

BMX rider and television host T.J. Lavin attends Touchdown for Charity's celebrity fantasy football draft
BMX rider and television host T.J. Lavin attends Touchdown for Charity’s celebrity fantasy football draft | Gabe Ginsberg

Johnny ‘Bananas’ Devenanzio won ‘The Challenge 35’

In 2006, then 22-year-old recent college graduate Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio debuted on The Real World: Key West before competing on the 13th season of competition spinoff series, The Challenge.

Although he and his partner were eliminated first, Bananas returned for The Inferno 3, where he made it to the finals, winning $10,000. After a disappointing performance in The Gauntlet 3, he won the following two challenges, taking home over $127,000 from both.

The Real World star then lost Cutthroat before winning back-to-back seasons again, earning a total of $128,000. The veteran placed second in Rivals II, accumulating $17,500 before winning Free Agents, where he walked away with $125,000.

RELATED: ‘The Challenge’: Who Are the Top 5 Highest Paid Cast Members?

Eliminated before the finals in the following two seasons, Johnny Bananas bounced back and won Rivals III, where he infamously kept the entire $250,000 grand prize for himself.

He then missed the finals for the next six seasons in a row before winning Total Madness.

Reports of rigging for Johnny ‘Bananas’ Devenanzio

Many fans believe this season, the veteran’s 20th, was rigged for the popular cast member from what other co-stars have said and because they think the rules changed to benefit him.

For example, Cara Maria Sorbello and Paulie Calafiore claimed they, alongside several of their allies from War of the Worlds 2, were not a part of Total Madness because they previously worked against Johnny Bananas.

Sorbello has also noted she already knew this season was rigged for the six-time champ in a direct message conversation with a fan and referred to The Challenge as more of a TV show than a competition.

RELATED: ‘The Challenge’: Johnny ‘Bananas’ Devenanzio Slams Reports of Rigging and Sinking Ratings

Additionally, she claimed the 38-year-old worked out a deal with his longstanding rival Wes Bergmann before the show. Many fans found it odd that the only daily challenge worth money was the trivia one that Bergmann won before throwing himself into Purgatory against his newfound ally.

The elimination round was also a game of a chance that involved finding batteries over which production had full control. Additionally, Johnny Bananas knew that Jenny West and Dee Nguyen were competing in a Hall Brawl even though the elimination round wasn’t used every season.

Finally, throughout the season, many competitors talked about the million-dollar prize, and it seemed as if only one person would win it. However, host T.J. Lavin announced the top male and female would earn their share of the million at the finals, causing many to believe they changed it when they saw West beating the veteran.

T.J. Lavin slams reports of rigging

After The Challenge 35 finale, the 38-year-old went live on Instagram to celebrate his seventh win with his fans. Lavin popped in, and Devenanzio added him so they could discuss the finals.

The veteran asked the host to address the rumors that they reshot the introduction to change it from one winner takes all to the first place male and female so he would also win.

RELATED: ‘The Challenge’: Host T.J. Lavin Says Season 35’s Twist Prevents ‘People Skating By’

The BMX rider denounced the reports and noted he wouldn’t have reshot it because of how cold they were out there. He promised there’s “no funny business,” insisted that no one plays favorites, and claimed that “everything is 100” and “solid.”

Many fans still aren’t buying it and are convinced production rigged Total Madness to help Johnny Bananas get his seventh win for his 20th season.