‘The Challenge’: Johnny ‘Bananas’ Devenanzio Once Compared Himself to Michael Jordan and Tom Brady

The Challenge is officially back for season 36! The Challenge: Double Agents features 20 returning contestants and 10 rookies competing for the million-dollar prize. However, for the first time in a long time, Johnny Devenanzio — aka Johnny Bananas — isn’t a part of the MTV reality competition series.

The Challenge Johnny Bananas
‘The Challenge’ star Johnny Bananas

It’s not certain at this point that he’ll ever return. No matter what, he’ll always be the GOAT in his opinion. He even once compared himself to Michael Jordan and Tom Brady.

‘The Challenge’ star declares MTV the birthplace of reality TV

Long before fans were Keeping Up with Kardashians, watching contestants get voted off the island on Survivor, following the Real Housewives, or voting for their favorite singer on American Idol, there was MTV’s Real World.

Bananas says that in his mind, there’s not even an argument about the birthplace of reality TV. He told the Chicago Sun-Times that it was absolutely MTV and The Real World, which premiered 15 years before Banana showed up.

“Here’s the deal, dude, when I started reality television [in 2006], my season of The Real World, we were pretty much the only game in town,” Bananas explained. “You had Survivor and Big Brother, but The Challenge spawned off The Real World, and in my opinion will always be the most dynamic competition show out there. Because it combines everything that is amazing about reality television all into one.”

Bananas noted that The Challenge has everything. It has the drama, the hookups, and that aspect that everyone wants to see. But the game also has the strategic part, the physical and mental part of the game.

Johnny Bananas says social media has changed the competition

Bananas admitted that the physical and mental part of the game – the strategic part – has evolved “exponentially” over the years. He noted that his run on reality TV began before social media.

At that time, Bananas says that people competed for the love of the game and the love of the show. But he says that’s all changed thanks to Instagram and Twitter. Now, people are just looking for followers.

“I feel like people go on TV now for different reasons than we used to,” Bananas admitted. “I feel like a lot of reality stars are a dime a dozen now. Where I feel like back in the day in order to get cast for one of these shows … dude, my original season of The Real World I was one of 200,000 applicants for Key West.”

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Bananas says that the casting process for The Real World “back in the day” was a lot different. He described the process as “insane,” considering what they had to go through and what kind of personality you had to have to “rise to the level of being cast.”

“Now, it’s like, ‘Are you hot? Are you willing to hook up in a hot tub and get drunk? You’re cast,'” Bananas said.

‘The Challenge’ star believes he is the GOAT

Bananas takes pride in being part of The Real World and the “infancy days” of The Challenge. He loves being part of that family, even though they don’t get the recognition and respect that he believes they deserve during awards season.

“I mean shows like the Masked Singer in their first season out are getting nominated, and it’s like, dude, we’ve been around, we’ve built this fan base, have a reputation that goes back 35 seasons,” Bananas said.

Since his 2006 debut, Bananas has made a lot of changes. He’s gone from a fun-loving drunk fraternity bro, to villain, to cult hero. But in his mind, he’ll always be the GOAT of The Challenge, a show The Ringer’s Bill Simmons called “America’s fifth major sport.”

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“For me, and now 20 seasons of doing this and doing challenges for 15 years, to have the longevity I’ve had physically, but also reinventing myself and bringing something new, and now at the end of the day to have more championships than Tom Brady and Michael Jordan, you would be hard-pressed to argue that we’re not athletes as well,” Bananas said.

The Challenge: Double Agents — sans Johnny Bananas — airs Wednesday nights on MTV.