Skip to main content

The Challenge two-time champ Mark Long has competed on the reality TV competition show since its second season in 1999. He remembers when T.J. Lavin became the host, referring to it as “a breath of fresh air.”

Mark Long called T.J. Lavin a ‘breath of fresh air’

Host T.J. Lavin has presented the reality competition series since its 11th season, The Gauntlet, in 2005. OG Mark Long, who began appearing in the second season and won twice before the Las Vegas native became the host, has seen several people attempt the job, including skier Jonny Moseley, the late BMX rider Dave Mirra, and himself alongside Real World star Eric Nies.

However, when T.J. entered the picture, Mark called him a “breath of fresh air” because it seemed like the reality TV host cared in a February 2023 interview with the Challenge Mania podcast.

On the other hand, the veteran noted that Jonny appeared only interested and doing his job and leaving.

The OG continued and claimed he noticed “substance” behind T.J. and attributes much of the show’s success to the host. Additionally, Mark pointed out that the BMX rider has become synonymous with the reality series, noting most people can’t think of the show without the host coming to mind.

How T.J. Lavin became the host of ‘The Challenge’

The cyclist revealed how he landed the hosting gig and turned it into a permanent job in an April 201 episode of MTV’s Official Challenge Podcast. He explained that he bought a house in the desert and built dirt jumps in the backyard at 22 years old.

According to the Las Vegas native, MTV heard about it and contacted him about hosting a party at his place, to which he agreed. Before the party, T.J. recalled helping production executive Vinnie Potestivo clean up, eventually sparking a friendship.

Six years later, the two reunited when he pitched the BMX rider the hosting job. T.J. then met with production company Bunim and Murray and walked away with the job but noted he called Dave Mirra for approval.

On his first day, the producers gave the cyclist lines to memorize, but he decided to retell the instructions in his own words, impressing the crew. T.J. has remained a fixture of the show and has presented spinoffs Champs vs. Stars, Champs vs. Pros, All Stars, The Challenge: USA, and The Challenge: World Championship.

Mark Long has won two seasons of ‘The Challenge’

Florida-based college graduate Mark joined Road Rules (1995) for its first season after initially trying out for David “Puck” Rainey’s replacement on The Real World: San Francisco.

Following his debut, he joined the cast of The Challenge in its second season Real World: Road Rules, where he won alongside a team from his original franchise, earning a little over $6,000.


‘The Challenge All Stars’ Season 3: Mark Long’s Age, Height, Girlfriend, and Net Worth

He returned for Battle of the Sexes, where he avoided elimination for the whole season, eventually winning the final and $50,000. The University of Florida alum missed the finals in Battle of the Sexes 2 but made it in The Gauntlet 2.

Although he didn’t win, Mark still walked away with nearly $9,000. After placing third in The Duel 2, he missed the finals in Battle of the Exes as he faced and lost his first elimination. The 2012 appearance would mark his last season on the franchise. In the summer of 2020, Mark’s public pitch for a season featuring OG players went viral, eventually leading to the creation of spinoff All Stars. He competed in the first and third seasons, placing fifth and fourth, respectively.