Since The Real World launched in 1992 and Road Rules in 1995, MTV has gathered quite the lineup of athletes to compete in The Challenge. In 1998, the spinoff began as Road Rules: All Stars. Season 2, the title was changed to Real World/Road Rules Challenge.
By season 19, the show made many changes and converted to The Challenge, although it’s usually combined with a unique title — Rivals, Battle of the Sexes, Bloodlines, etc.
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While the cast now competes for a giant sum of money, that wasn’t always the case. When the show began, the members won a trip for two to San José, Costa Rica. Fast forward to 2017, when The Challenge season 30 cast competed for $1 million.
Ashley Mitchell, who began on Real World: Ex-Plosion, currently stands as the competitor with the most winnings, earning $1,121,250 in her two Challenge wins. Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio holds the title for male competing in the most Challenges at 20, while Cara Maria Sorbello holds the female title, being cast on 14.
Although it began as only Real World and Road Rules alum, cast members from Are You the One?, Big Brother, Ex on the Beach, Geordie Shore, Vanderpump Rules, The Amazing Race, Bad Girls Club, Party Down South and Survivor have since joined the show.
“We see ourselves now as the challenge show,” producer Emer Harkin told Variety in 2020 about adding in other shows. “It’s really about marrying the best of the best from those shows with the best of ours.”
While looking for someone “athletic, young, entertaining, single” is important, “they can’t just be the hottest guy or the most loved girl, they also have to not die when they come on The Challenge,” she said. “That, in and of itself, is a challenge to find them. [And] MTV being the home and safe place for the LGBTQ community and keeping casts diverse, people really want to see themselves represented on television. So all of those things mixed together create the unicorn that I am constantly searching for.”
Scroll through the gallery below to catch up with some of the biggest competitors and where they are today.