‘The Challenge’: T.J. Lavin Shares Wild Story Detailing How He Became the Host

Host T.J. Lavin has become as synonymous with MTV competition series The Challenge as some of its most popular players. The former BMX rider detailed how he landed the hosting gig in an episode of the official Challenge podcast.

TJ Lavin during the Bike Stunt Dirt practice at the ESPN X-Games
TJ Lavin during the Bike Stunt Dirt practice at the ESPN X-Games | Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

T.J. Lavin previously competed as a BMX rider

Born Thomas Joseph Lavin on Dec. 7, 1976, in Las Vegas, Nevada, he began riding bikes at the age of two. He then raced until the age of 15, when he switched to dirt jumping.

Also a high school wrestler, Lavin pursued his BMX dreams and became a professional by 19-years-old. From 1995 until 2010, he became the DK Dirt Circuit Champion, a Gravity Games champion, a European championship winner, a CFB Champion, and crowned “King of the Dirt.”

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Additionally, he took home three bronze medals, a silver one, and three gold medals throughout his time competing in the X Games. The BMX rider eventually bought an acre of land in his backyard for a BMX track that includes numerous trails and dirt jumps and earned sponsorships from major companies.

However, in Oct. 2010, the BMX rider crashed during the Dew Tour event and sustained injuries that resulted in a medically induced coma. He has since made a full recovery.

He began hosting ‘The Challenge’ in its 11th season

In 2008, Lavin hosted his first season of The Challenge for its 11th season, The Gauntlet II. The show had no set hosts before his arrival, but the BMX rider has continued to return for every season.

Mostly known for his hilarious laugh when “torturing” the contestants during staple trivia challenges or his notable hatred for quitters, Lavin has become as much a part of the show as the recurring players.

During the Apr. 15 episode of the official Challenge podcast, the host spoke to veterans Aneesa Ferreira and Tori Deal about the show and how the 44-year-old initially landed the gig.

The former BMX rider explained he bought a house in the middle of the desert with dirt jumps in the backyard at the age of 22 because other trails took too long to reach during traffic. According to Lavin, MTV heard about it and reached out to him to host a party at his place.

Lavin on how he became the official host

The host recalled several notable celebrities attending, including professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, television personality Carson Daly, and actors Ashton Kutcher and Tom Green.

He explained that morning he saw Vinnie Potestivo, an MTV production executive unbeknownst to him, sweeping his porch and chose to help him, sparking a friendship.

Six years later, Lavin remembered Potestivo invited him to his office, and their conversation led to the executive pitching the BMX rider the hosting gig. He later met with production company Bunim and Murray in Los Angeles and eventually walked away with the job.

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Before accepting, he asked Dave Mirra, who hosted two seasons of The Challenge, if he could take the gig. According to Lavin, the late BMX rider gave him his blessing but noted he wouldn’t want it longer than a couple of seasons.

The host then recalled Potestivo giving him lines to memorize on the first day, but he opted to learn it and retell it how he would explain it to his friends. After nailing it, the crew decided Lavin would become their official host, a position he’s held for over 10 years.

The Challenge: Double Agents airs Wednesdays at 8/7 Central on MTV.