Not much holiday spirit in The Challenge house! Corey Lay, who made his reality TV debut on 12 Dates of Christmas in 2020, didn’t know what to expect when he joined the MTV reality show for season 30. One thing was for sure: He didn’t know he’d be such a big target week after week.
“I did not think I would be coming in this hot, episode one being down in the elimination,” Corey, 31, shared on the “Watch With Us” podcast on Thursday, August 26. “I was one of the biggest rookies coming in. … I knew physically I was going to stand out. I did not expect, though, it to be like this.”
He first connected with the former Survivor players, forming the closest relationship with Michele Fitzgerald, with who he said he “bonded for life” after the first elimination.
During the Wednesday, August 25, episode, he and the Survivor winner, 31, knew they were going to be targeted and wanted to win the daily mission — but he wasn’t that upset when they didn’t.
“To be honest, winning would not have been in our advantage, I don’t think. We had to lose this daily mission and then win in The Lair to switch partners in order to have some kind of safety in the house,” he explained to Us. “So even though I wanted to win the mission, I always knew if we won, we’re still stuck as partners, which means the next mission, we’d be back in the same place that we’re still in anyways. We’re in such a precarious situation.”
He also shared that while he’s afraid of heights, the daily mission on Wednesday’s episode “wasn’t that hard” because he’s a great swimmer. The tougher part of each daily challenge is the waiting — which he uses as a time to meditate.
“If you go last, you’ve been waiting around all day watching everyone for maybe six or seven hours,” Corey shared. “You kinda want to go in the middle where there’s a sweet spot. For me, it gives me time to mentally prepare myself.”
Besides the fact that he’s a target, the athlete was also caught off guard by how game-focused so many of the competitors are.
“I was surprised by how cagey people are sometimes. Sometimes, I just want to have a conversation, hang out and be chill, and it felt like with some people, it was always about an agenda or, like, ‘I will only talk to you if you can do something for me,’” the personal trainer explained. “I’m someone who’s very friendly, who likes to make friends and I felt like with some people, their mind was just on the game 100 percent of the time and I wanted less of that. … I didn’t really feel like I had that many people that I could really confide in.”
While he didn’t have experience on competitive TV, Corey does credit his time on 12 Dates of Christmas for “mentally” preparing him.
“On 12 Dates of Christmas, I feel like I learned just to be myself always in any environment, and don’t compromise what I want, what I stand for [or] who I am,” he told Us. “Coming into The Challenge, you have to have a strong sense of self because there are 33 other people there with you and they have their own agendas, their own wants, their own needs and their own games that they’re playing. You can’t get lost in that.”
The Challenge: Spies, Lies and Allies airs on MTV Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET.