“[The] biggest fear whenever you return after a long break is, like, ‘Do I still got it?” he exclusively told Us Weekly ahead of the Tuesday, July 11, season 2 cast announcement. “And as soon as you get done with the first daily, you’re like, ‘OK, yeah, I still got it. … I can still hang with the young kids they’re pulling in here nowadays.”
Calafiore added that it’s “a little bit wild” to go head-to-head with stars from some of the biggest CBS reality shows, including fellow Big Brother alums Tyler Crispen, Tiffany Mitchell, Monte Taylor, Alyssa Snider, Faysal Shafaat, Josh Martinez, Ameerah Jones and Alyssa Lopez. (Calafiore previously competed on Big Brother 18 in in 2016).
Despite facing some stiff competition in the upcoming season — which premieres Thursday, August 10, on CBS — Calafiore went into The Challenge: USA with the goal of keeping his composure.
“Ultimately, I went into this season with the mindset of like, ‘There’s always two wolves that everybody has within themselves, and you can choose to feed one or the other.’ So, I chose to feed the one that was peaceful,” he told Us. “Not to say that the not peaceful one wasn’t chirping in my ear, being like, ‘Hey, what’s going on? What are you doing?’ … I really had to keep my eye on the prize this season.”
Calafiore — whose last Challenge stint was on War of the Worlds 2 in 2019 — said that his basic strategy for the season was to “kind of see who’s taking to who, see who’s migrating to who.” With several competitors who were already acquainted from past shows, the MTV personality noted that he knew right off the bat that “certain people would be working together.”
As for Calafiore’s connections in the game, he told Us he came “this close” to having the ultimate ally — his brother, Cody Calafiore. “I’m just waiting for me and Cody to be on a season somewhere together,” he said. “We were this close on Challenge: USA contracts.”
Paulie added that when he and Cody, 32, do eventually get the chance to face off on a competition show, it’s up in the air which Calafiore brother will win. “The smack talk in me wants to say me, but I mean, he’s actually pretty good,” he said.
The sibling duo both previously competed on Big Brother, and Cody was crowned the season 22 champion in 2020. Paulie revealed that this season of The Challenge: USA felt a bit like Big Brother at times because of the presence of closed doors in the house.
“Any Challenge season that I’ve ever been on, there’s no doors on any of the rooms. This season, there not only [were] doors, but the doors shut, and there was a constant feeling of, ‘Conversations are happening and I’m not a part of it.’ Throughout the house, everybody was on edge.”
In addition to Paulie and his fellow Big Brother alums, the season 2 cast also includes Challenge vets Wes Bergmann, Tori Deal, Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio, Amanda Garcia, Jonna Stephens (née Mannion) and Cory Wharton, Survivor alums Michaela Bradshaw, Cassidy Clark, Michele Fitzgerald, Chanelle Howell, Sebastian Noel, Chris Underwood and Desi Williams, and The Amazing Race personalities Luis Colon and Dusty Harris.
Season 2 of The Challenge: USA premieres Thursday, August 10, on CBS
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi