The Challenge: Battle of the Exes II Crowns a Winner — Did Nice Guys Finish First on the MTV hit?

The Challenge: Battle of the Exes II
The happy ending -- that the nice guys won The Challenge: Battle of the Exes II -- could be considered a fitting tribute to late cast members Diem Brown and Ryan Knight. Ian Spanier/MTV

It’s a miracle! MTV’s The Challenge: Battle of the Exes II crowned its winners on Tuesday night, March 24, and for once, the champions ended up being the ones with the most heart and the most fight, not just the ones who could backstab the most.

Sure, Battle of the Exes II was still a thrill ride of drunken quarter-lifers competing for cash in some of the most dangerous tests of strength, speed, and smarts on television, but this time, good guys Sarah and Jordan took top prize.

Jordan and Sarah
Nice guys finish first! Jordan and Sarah took top prize on MTV's The Challenge: Battle of the Exes II. Ian Spanier/MTV

Season 26 of the long-running MTV competition saw male-female pairings of exes (whether they had long-term relationships or just quick on-camera hookups) working together to win $250,000. The typical drama of whether exes and rivals within the The Real World/Road Rules/(and now) Are You The One? house could co-exist, but the majority of the drama going into this season came when two of the season’s contestants — Diem Brown and Ryan Knight tragically died soon after filming.

With the looming cloud of losing two of the long-running series’ most memorable, if not simply polarizing, competitors hovering over the whole season, it became difficult to even watch some weeks. Thankfully, a happy ending could be considered a worthy tribute to Brown and Knight’s memories on a show where the dirtiest players in the game tend to win. Here’s how the victory went down.

Nice Guys Finish First

“Nia can suck it. Bananas can suck it.” Toward the end of the final challenge, eternal optimist and Challenge loser Sarah used those words to motivate herself and her partner Jordan up a 5,200 foot mountain to win the $250,000 prize and prove their very vocal doubters wrong. For Sarah, this was the culmination of six Challenges without ever winning a final before — two of which involved her being sent home prematurely because of a dud of a partner. Even after her “betrayal” of her friend and ally Johnny Bananas in the episode leading up to this, this was all simply a matter of nice guys finishing first. By a lot, in fact — she and Jordan were and remained in the lead throughout the entire final competition.

The final challenge actually seemed tailor-made for them, starting off with a swimming challenge (Jordan’s strength), then right into a word puzzle (Sarah’s strength). However, it was literally gut check time when The Challenge included eating and drinking challenges that centered on fish products, in honor of their Norwegian setting. Even with Sarah’s weak stomach causing her to vomit and take a detour to “relieve” herself in the woods, she and Jordan never ended up behind their competition.

Go Ask The Wizard For A Brain

But while this season of The Challenge ended with the feel-good story of the season, the real entertainment factor came in the form of the brain trust known as Jay and Jenna. These exes spent the majority of the season arguing that they were not the easy competition or as dumb everyone thought they were — they were known in the house as the “lay-up” team, which is why Sarah and Jordan wanted them in the finals — but when it was crunch time, it turned out they were. They really, really were.

It started with Jenna walking her way through a jogging portion of the final challenge, which allowed then-third place bickerers Theresa and Leroy to pass her and Jay by. Then, when the first real challenge of the final was a word puzzle, they proved once and for all that they were not going to win a Nobel prize any time soon. They even classified themselves as “brain dead” during the puzzle, unable to understand the concept of a “five word sentence” and also not using the classic Challenge loophole of looking at another team’s correct puzzle in order to move on to the next checkpoint.

Winners Never Quit, Quitters Never Win

After finally being sent on their way to the next checkpoint simply because the 30 minutes they had for the puzzle lapsed, Jay and Jenna met their match for real when they made it to the fishy drink challenge. This was all fresh off the heels of Jenna admitting earlier in the season that she doesn’t eat seafood or really much of any food. She is a “model” who lives with her parents, after all.

But even that didn’t ruin it all for Team J & J — instead, it was Jay who dropped the ball and gave up any chance of them even winning $30,000 by refusing to drink even one glass of the fish goo, also making it clear that neither he nor Jenna actually understood the particular challenge didn’t mean they had to drink every glass of goo — only as many as it took to finally flip a coaster on top of the empty glass. To make matters worse, Jay even cried over the thought of drinking the fish juice. However, in the perfect send-off and in tried-and-true TJ Lavin fashion, the host of The Challenge gave Jay the business for being his least favorite thing in the world: a quitter.

“Jay, are you crying? Are you serious? Have you even seen this show before? … This is part of it, man. … They were right to keep you guys around,” Lavin said, not mincing words. “You know, there are some people that are made for The Challenge, and then there’s you guys. … You guys just completely sucked.”

@JayGMTV & @JennaCompono

With this finals performance, Jay and Jenna might have just gone down in the history of The Challenge as the worst team to ever make it this far, and based on the edit they got, the producers of the show had no problem telling that story. As Jay and Jenna left the competition (with Jay thinking they had finally made amends and Jenna still having “so much hate” for him), they got kicked while they were down as Jay brought up a good point: “You know how much s*** everyone on Twitter and everywhere else is gonna give us?”

Instantly, Jay and Jenna’s Twitter handles were stamped on the screen, and they left the competition the same way they had entered it — with Jay as a joke who think he’s better than he is and with Jenna as a joke who legitimately thought each state had its own President.

Tell Us: Were you rooting for the good guy team of Sarah and Jordan? Or were you secretly hoping the “lay-up” J & J team or non-entity Theresa and Leroy would squeak by for the win this season?

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