Warning: This story contains spoilers from the Thursday, January 13, finale of The Challenge: All Stars.
It all came down to this. TJ Lavin wasn’t joking when he told the cast of The Challenge: All Stars that he wasn’t going to go easy on them. In fact, he put the remaining four teams through a grueling finale.
Heading into the finals, the competitors breathed a sigh of relief after Jodi Weatherton and Brad Fiorenza — who dominated a lot of the season — were sent home in the final elimination after facing off against Darrell Taylor and Janelle Casanave.
Melinda Collins and Nehemiah Clark, Teck Holmes and Ayanna Mackins, and MJ Garrett and Jonna Mannion joined Darrell, 42, and Janelle, 39, in the finals — and everyone had a different reason for wanting to be there.
In the end, MJ, 41, and Jonna, 33, took home the crown — but not before fans witnessed some drama on the show when Ayanna, 43, exited the show mid-challenge.
“I mean, I’m not, like, that shocked only because I was also there in the race and it was so hard,” Jonna exclusively told Us Weekly on Thursday of Ayanna’s departure. “It’s the hardest thing that I’ve ever done. It was so physically demanding.”
MJ noted that the whole experience was exhausting. “It’s the next-level type stuff,” he said.
Through their own efforts, however, MJ and Jonna won the $500,000 prize, which the Tennessee native joked “weighs a lot” and is “very heavy.” MJ then sang his partner’s praises, adding, “We got very, very lucky. We worked very well as partners and played off of each other’s strengths and picked each other up where we had our weaknesses.”
He revealed that it was “unbelievable” to work for so long and then have a “common goal” that led to winning. “It’s just surreal,” MJ told Us.
Now that the duo are champions, they already have their sights set on a few big purchases — which their kids had a say in.
“I promised my kids a new swimming pool. When I left, I felt like there’s no way that I could come back without winning because they were already planning it out,” MJ, who shares two daughters with wife Mandy Weaver, said. “[They were] talking about diving off that high dive and having all their friends over at the house. So that was a lot of pressure on daddy.”
Jonna, for her part, agreed to get her daughter, Naleigh, a puppy. “Obviously, a puppy is not gonna cost $250,000. So, I mean [I’m] just [going to] save. Winning this money is great, because I don’t have to work,” she told Us. “I can just do my job and be a mom.”
The Arizona native is also mother to so Cal, whom she welcomed in 2020 with her husband.
When it comes to whether the duo will return to the MTV competition series in the future, the champs have mixed feelings.
“We’ll see. I told a couple [of] people in the house, ‘There’s no way I’m coming back. I don’t wanna take time away from my family again,’” Jonna explained. “What better way to [end] your career, you know, [than] winning? And it just so happened to be the same city that my Real World season was at.”
MJ, on the other hand, is “definitely” up for a comeback. “I feel like, you know, having the crown now, it’s kind of mine — and ours — [to] protect,” he said. “But you never know with the show. I know they’re bringing in a totally different demographic that maybe they had lost. [But] if they have more, I definitely wanna come back.”
Seasons 1 and 2 of The Challenge: All Stars are now streaming on Paramount+.