The Challenge: Double Agents host TJ Lavin shocked the cast when he announced that Natalie Anderson was “no longer cleared” to compete during the Wednesday, January 13, episode, and she was sent home.
“I have a personal matter that requires me to leave the game. I have to deal with something, and it sucks that I have to step out because all I want to do is compete,” Natalie, 34, said in her interview at the time. “It’s breaking my heart to leave.”
Following the episode, Natalie opened up exclusively to Us Weekly, revealing that she exited the MTV series after finding out that she was pregnant.
The Survivor winner, who’s been in a relationship with boyfriend Devin Perez for more than a year, explained that it all began when she called her twin sister, Nadiya Anderson, over FaceTime while filming.
“I was just joking because she’s trying to get pregnant with her second child, and I was, like, ‘Oh, my God, my period’s late. Maybe we’ll get pregnant, and we’ll have babies together when I get back!’ I was totally joking, but that triggered production to have me take a pregnancy test,” she shared, noting that she thought there was “no way” she could be pregnant and all she could think about was the competition.
“For me, the money was basically in my pocket, the check was already written,” Natalie said. “This money was mine and there was nobody who was gonna come get my skull for me. I was literally just waiting for the final to get there, so I could just cross everybody else and take the money.”
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Then the test was positive — something that didn’t immediately sink in.
“I’m this different person when I’m on these shows — like, there’s nothing that’s gonna stop me from getting what I want or trying to get what I want. So it was like this weird wave of happiness, shock, surprise, disappointment. I didn’t even process what I was actually feeling,” the New Jersey native shared. “I was just like, ‘How am I pregnant? I want to win this money!’ I love my boyfriend, but he’s not here. It was just the most awkward way to find out you’re pregnant, because it could have been an amazing feeling, but I didn’t have the opportunity to feel like that because I was just so confused and torn about having to leave the game, but also was super excited and happy.”
In fact, Natalie said she didn’t really wrap her head around the fact that she was pregnant until she arrived back home from Iceland.
“I was grieving this feeling of leaving something that I’ve trained so hard for, and I didn’t even think of the pregnancy until I got home,” she shared. “When I came back home, I was completely healthy. My mindset kind of changed when I got home, because I have these two states. One is a very masculine state and that energy is, like, go go, go. It’s a very hard exterior. Then I have a very feminine side that very rarely is shown or comes out, but really only is shown in the intimacy of me and my boyfriend. And when I’m with him, it was a different headspace of being pregnant. I could finally breathe and embrace the pregnancy in a way that I hadn’t felt while I was out there. I was now embracing in a different light. I realized everything happens for a reason. I had to give up winning, potentially, half a million dollars. But on the flip side, I get to embrace this cool journey with somebody I love and trust to be my partner in life.”
After going to the doctor for her ultrasound, the reality star got confirmation she was eight weeks pregnant.
“It’s crazy. It was so cool that I was able to compete pregnant and kick ass while my body was doing this other amazing thing,” she explained. “I was so proud of my body that it could do everything it did under that stress of living in that crazy house. I didn’t even have one symptom. I didn’t throw up once. I was living in this crazy household with a bunch of lunatics and competing in these challenges, and not once did my body fail me.”
While at home, she got back into her “regular routine of eating and training.” Since she had worked with pregnant clients in the past, she knew how to do safe workouts. “I was way less stressed at home than I was in the game, and there was way less physical stress,” the Amazing Race vet said. “I’m not tackling anybody on a tractor-trailer!”
However, a week later she began experiencing intense cramps.
“I went through a miscarriage, and it was really difficult because I had just kind of come to peace with leaving the game and saying goodbye to the competition of the challenge, which I love, came back home and changed my mindset into this new journey. And that was then taken away from me. It was hard for me,” Natalie told Us, adding that she couldn’t even tell any of her friends that she was home because of The Challenge. “I just did everything I needed to do to make peace with what had happened and embrace the difficulty of everything, but also use it as a way to strengthen my bond with my boyfriend. I think it definitely was a make or break for us because it was so much emotion and I’m just really proud of coming out of this. I was dreading the show airing because it would remind me of everything I’d gone through.”
She continued: “I did everything that I could in my power to kind of make peace with my journey and I’m just really proud of where I am right now and where we are together.”
Although Natalie was close with castmates Aneesa Ferreira and Theresa Jones during her time on the show, she didn’t tell anyone when the test came back positive. That said, she had told her roommates that her boobs were getting bigger and that her period was late so “they probably put two and two together,” the trainer shared. Additionally, the athlete didn’t drink at all during the show, adding, “I’m sure once I left, the cast were probably thinking that I knew I was pregnant because I never drank at all when I was there.”
Natalie quarantined a week before filming began and left around the fourth week of the show. During that time, she went through many tests, something she was used to with a reality show past, but never was given a pregnancy test.
“We went through so much testing [before The Challenge]. We got tested for everything,” she shared. “I probably got 15 Covid tests before, but not one pregnancy test.”
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