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Johnny ‘Bananas’ Devenanzio on Where He Stands With Paulie Calafiore: ‘Dare I Say We’re Friends?’ (Exclusive)

Is Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio and Paulie Calafiore’s The Challenge rivalry finally coming to an end after all these years?

“Life is too short to carry hate in your heart,” Johnny, 41, exclusively told Us Weekly on Tuesday, August 10, ahead of the season 2 premiere of The Challenge USA. “I didn’t know what the situation with Paulie was gonna be [on the show.] Dare I say, we’re friends or something?”

Johnny and Paulie, 43, first met on MTV’s The Challenge: Final Reckoning in 2018 before going on to appear on the first and second installments of War of the Worlds in 2019. While the duo didn’t align in their respective seasons, a feud brewed between them off-camera. Paulie and Johnny would often clap back at each other via social media. Most recently, Paulie shaded Johnny in November 2022 for his failed showmances over the years.

After butting heads for multiple seasons, the twosome seemingly buried the hatchet after they were forced to work together on the second season of The Challenge USA — the CBS spinoff of the iconic competition series. In the premiere episode, fellow competitor and Big Brother 19 winner, Josh Martinez, put Paulie and Johnny on the same team.

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“I think it worked out better in a weird way that Paulie and I were on the same team,” Johnny confessed to Us. “Only because coming into this season, he was the only one I really had long-standing issues with. He hasn’t been on [The Challenge] in a while. We’ve obviously had a very public beef So by putting the two of us in the same team, it almost kind of neutralized that right out of the gate.”

Johnny explained that he and Paulie grew closer in the game because they ended up bunking next to each other.

“It also helped that [Paulie] chose to not just room with me, but basically picked the bed right next to me,” Johnny said. “So we went from hating each other to being roommates [and] bunk mates very quickly.”

Johnny Bananas on His ‘The Challenge’ Partnership With Paulie Calafiore: ‘Dare I Say We’re Friends?’
Johnny Bananas, Paulie Calafiore Shutterstock(2)

Throughout his many reality TV appearances, Johnny is well known for igniting rivalries every season due to his fiery personality. When going into The Challenge USA earlier this year, Johnny wanted to make sure he neutralized any outstanding conflicts. His plan? To make his game easier.

“I’ve just gotten to a point in my Challenge career and in life, where it’s just like, I’ve got enough difficulty just navigating my way through the house,” he confessed. “The more of these meaningless rivalries that I could put aside. It’s just gonna make my life easier.”

Paulie, for his part, exclusively told Us in July he planned on going into the game without ruffling any feathers.

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“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 explained. “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.”

Season 2 of The Challenge USA premiered on Thursday, August 10, and featured some of the biggest personalities from MTV’s The Challenge, Big Brother, Survivor and The Amazing Race.

Part 2 of the season 2 premiere of The Challenge: USA airs on Sunday, August 13, on CBS at 9 pm ET.

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