“[It] was my least favorite part of the entire final,” Chris, 31, exclusively told Us Weekly of the unaired moment on Friday, October 20, one day after he and Desi, 27, were crowned the winners of the CBS reality series.
Chris went on to explain the premise of the “torturous” challenge, where the final eight competitors had to stand on “these columns that are about 12 by 12 inch[es]” and “count by the second — without any clocks or anything — to an hour.”
The contestants only had a five-minute margin of error, meaning if they didn’t step off their columns “within one hour and one hour and five minutes,” they had to start all over again.
“We got it wrong twice,” Chris revealed. “So, we were counting second by second to an hour for three hours straight while standing up on these columns in the middle of the night — and then a couple hours later [we had to] wake up to run the final. It was pretty miserable.”
The Survivor alum theorized that the grueling test didn’t make it into the finale episode because of the group’s “collaborative” approach.
“We banded together and some people counted seconds while other people kept track of minutes,” he explained. “[Johnny ‘Bananas’ Devenanzio] got it [right] first, actually. So, he got the most sleep. He was on his own and he stepped off within the right time.”
The test of Chris’ internal clock was just one of many trials he faced on his road to victory. He was repeatedly targeted in the game and won a total of four elimination rounds, including one against three-time Challenge champion Wes Bergmann.
Chris’ impressive performance on The Challenge: USA serves as redemption for him after he became known as the least deserving Survivor winner of all time following his victory on Survivor: Edge of Extinction in 2018. (Chris earned the reputation due to the “Edge of Extinction” twist, which allowed him to win despite being voted out third and then spending 26 days cut off from the game in the destitute locale known as the Edge.)
“All the couch critics can correct their statement about me,” Chris told Us of those who doubted his potential after watching him on Survivor. “It was a personal thing for me coming into this game having been out of reality TV for five years and wanting to prove that I was deserving of my first win, and that if I made it to the end, I would be deserving of this one [too].”
Desi, meanwhile, had a much different journey in the game. She formed several strong alliances, including tight bonds with fellow Survivor alums Michaela Bradshaw and Chanelle Howell and a working relationship with Challenge veteran Tori Deal. All four women made it to the final. The hardest moment of the game for Desi came when she decided to betray Tori, 30, by voting to send her into elimination.
“When I voted [for] Tori, that was kind of the first time in the game where I felt like I had truly betrayed someone who had trusted me. That was tough for me because I’m a very loyal person and I had gotten to that point in the game being loyal,” Desi exclusively told Us. “That, I would say, was my toughest moment.”
Like Chris, Desi also came into this season wanting to make up for her past experiences in the world of reality TV. She made it to the final during season 1 of The Challenge: USA last year but was disqualified when her partner, Enzo Palumbo, quit during the last leg.
“I truly felt like I could and was going to win that final. So, when it was kind of ripped from underneath me, it was like all of that [was] for nothing,” she said of her season 1 experience. “So, I was building off that same momentum [during] season 2. It was like, ‘OK, it wasn’t a fluke that I made it to the final. Now let me prove to myself and everybody else that I can win this.”