Johnny ‘Bananas’ Devenanzio Misses How ‘The Challenge’ Used to Be — and Is Ready to ‘Leave the Nest’

All’s fair in love, war and Challenges! Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio first made a name for himself on MTV during his debut season, The Real World: Key West, in 2006. Over the next 15 years, he competed on 20 seasons of The Challenge, winning seven.

After his last win in 2020, he assured Us Weekly he’s not retiring. That said, don’t expect to see him back in his speedo anytime soon.

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“I’m not somebody who’s going to sit here and be like, ‘I’m retired,’ and do that whole thing. But I will say right now, my focus is on other things,” the reality star, who is set to host LXTV’s upcoming talk show, Celebrity Sleepover, said on the Wednesday, March 31, episode of the “Watch With Us: Challenge Edition” podcast. “The Challenge has been such an amazing, incredible part of my life. I had the ability to grow up watching myself on MTV and The Challenge provided me with an incredible platform to create my brand.”

Johnny Bananas Misses How The Challenge Used to Be
Johnny Bananas Courtesy LXTV

So, how would he explain it? Devenanzio explained that The Challenge is like Never Never Land, and he’s Peter Pan.

“I want to be a kid forever, but at some point, you know, you’ve gotta leave the nest and you’ve gotta do grownup things. So right now, I feel like I’m kind of adulting,” he shared with Us. “It’s different, and it’s definitely taken some time to kind of take the character and the persona that I created on reality television and really kind of change it and finetune it into becoming a host because it’s a whole different ball of wax.”

On his new show, the 1st Look host will be chatting with celebrities from his own living room — including Tiffani Theissen, Cynthia Bailey, Sammy Hagar, the cast of the first-ever season of The Real World and members of The Challenge: All Stars.

While All Stars will be a bit different than the normal Challenge, it may bring back something Devenanzio has been missing.

'Challenge: All Stars' Cast Through the Years — Then and Now Photos

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\What made The Challenge back in the day so amazing was more of the fun, party environment that was created within the show. You’re obviously there to play the game, but the game was also almost, like, in addition to this party environment that we’re in,” he explained during the episode. “Now it’s the exact opposite. Now it’s like, we’re here to compete and we kind of party on the side, but not really. I think that’s what used to make The Challenge so much fun was showing up and being in this awesome, circus environment where you just got to have all the fun in the world.”

Johnny Bananas Misses How The Challenge Used to Be 2
Johnny Bananas Courtesy LXTV

The influencer added that that “may be the element that’s missing” from the competition show now.

“Take some of the seriousness out of the show and take some of that mind-numbing stress away and the isolation and make it more of a fun experience as opposed to, you know, prison,” the California native said.

As for when he’ll be back on MTV, he said, “This isn’t goodbye. This is —hopefully — I’ll see you later. ”

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For more from Devenanzio, listen to the full podcast above and subscribe for free for more exclusive interviews and TV news.

Celebrity Sleepover premieres on NBC Saturday, April 3, following Saturday Night Live.

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