“I was definitely not, like, showing it as a badge of honor,” Sandoval, 41, told TMZ in a video posted on Friday, August 4 — one day after fellow Special Forces contestant Nick Viall claimed the Vanderpump Rules star “snuck in” the images.
“I think I was more, just, like, you know — you’re very lonely at that place, there’s no phones or nothing,” Sandoval elaborated, quipping: “But you know, [Nick’s] got a podcast to do.”
Nick made the claims on the Thursday, August 3, episode of his “Viall Files” podcast.
“He snuck in pictures of him and Rachel,” the season 21 Bachelor, 42, alleged, noting that the competitors on the Fox reality show are not allowed to bring in certain items while in training. (Rachel is Raquel’s birth name.) “And he showed them to the cast, for what’s that worth.”
Nick further explained that while he “would have loved to sneak in a picture of [my fiancée] Natalie [Joy],” Sandoval “went out of his way to bring in, like, endearing photos of him and Raquel/Rachel and show them around.”
News of Sandoval and Raquel’s affair — which led to the end of his nine-year romance with Ariana Madix — broke in March and the duo faced immediate backlash from Vanderpump Rules castmates and fans alike. Ariana, for her part, didn’t mince words when addressing her former friend during the three-part Vanderpump Rules season 10 reunion.
“F—k yourself with a f—king cheese grater. F—k you. You f—king suck,” Ariana, 38, told Raquel. “You are disgusting and I wish nothing but the worst s—t that can ever happen to a person on you.”
Sandoval and Raquel went on to confess their love for each other during the tense cast get-together. Those feelings were something that Nick picked up on during his time with Sandoval on Special Forces.
“[Sandoval] came across as a guy who cared about her, and I’m just saying that objectively. Honestly, the conversations with the cast were kinda, like, ‘Well, f—k, you might as well go for it,’” Nick recalled on Thursday’s podcast. “There seemed to be some real reluctance about [whether] the public would allow them to be together, but he came across — to me — as someone who had feelings and cared about Rachel.”
After the reunion, Raquel sought treatment for mental health and has yet to sign on for season 11 of Vanderpump Rules, which Sandoval is currently filming with his other costars.