Love him or love to hate him, there's no denying it: Johnny "Bananas" Devenanzio has officially achieved GOAT status on MTV's The Challenge.
As The Challenge: Total Madness reached its inevitable mountaintop conclusion Wednesday night, Devenanzio and Jenny West were named Challenge Champions and walked away with $500,000 each. But getting there was no easy feat, especially for Devenanzio, whose trip to the final marks the end of a six-season dry spell that began after he won Rivals III in 2016 and opted not to split his prize money with his partner, Sarah Rice.
This win, Devenanzio's seventh in 20 seasons of the hit reality competition series, also makes him the biggest total prize winner in the 35-season history of the show.
While Devenanzio, 38, is known for his bravado, none of those newly broken records are lost on him, which was clear as the episode drew to a close and he broke down in tears, something fans almost never see.
"The road to this final victory is arguably one of the most difficult ones that I've ever had to go down," he tells PEOPLE. "I'd be lying if I said that doubt didn't start creeping into my mind if I would ever not just win a final, but ever see a final again. Out of the seven wins I've had, this one definitely had the most riding on it. And I think this one meant the most to me."
That break, if he takes it, won't be because of naysayers who believe this season was rigged in Devenanzio's favor.
"Anyone that's watching this season objectively knows that there's no way things can be rigged for one contestant or another," he says. "If it was really rigged in my favor, why would Wes nominate himself to go into elimination against me? And then in this last challenge, well, what? Did they rig more bowling pins to fall down? In the final elimination, did they somehow rig me solving a math equation or Rogan getting nominated only for me to beat him?"
"The people who are saying it's rigged are either fans or bitter past cast members who don't want to see me be successful. They just want to invalidate what I did. But they can say whatever they want. All I know is that I am thrilled with the way things went down," says Devenanzio. "I couldn't have asked for a better season."
The Challenge recently was renewed for a 36th season. The season 35 reunion airs next Wednesday, July 22 at 8 p.m. ET on MTV.
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