30 Most Important Champions in Challenge History

With Season 30 coming to a close, I’ve decided to put out the 30 players that have not only been the best players in Challenge history, but the ones that also best represented what it means to be a Champion at times. Some had incredibly difficult paths to get there, some won unconventionally, and others consistently dominated the game. I also ceded extra points to those who used the Challenge as an outlet to become something bigger than the game.

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT A 1–30 RANKING OF THE GREATEST PLAYERS EVER, THESE ARE THE 30 PLAYERS THAT AFTER WEEKS OF MULLING THAT I HAD THE FINAL DECISION OF PICKING AS THE 30 PLAYERS WHO SHOWED WHAT BEING A CHAMPION WAS IN REGARD TO THE GAME.

I chose to split it into fifteen men and fifteen women for equal representation. I can tell that I made major mistakes because I could only pick thirty people. Great players were left off this list for one reason or another. Or simply that there were 30 great people already.

Before we begin, the most of honorable of mentions goes out to:

Jamie Murray (RW NOLA) Three time champ who was a great competitor and won every season he was on. His mark on the show besides being a ladies man is a bit unknown.
Frank Roessler (RW LV) Winner of the Gauntlet 3. Great player who only played twice. His only win came because of the death of Big Easy.
Frank Sweeney (RW SD) One of the hardest to leave off. Frank won Battle of the Seasons, famously a season filled with rookies.
Tyler Duckworth (RW KW) Another great player who made the original cut, then was removed in later. Two time champion and an absolute monster swimmer.
Dan Setzler (RR NT) A phenomenal player who never saw a true elimination season. Misses the list because the Challenges were a bit different in his day.
Jillian Zoboroksi (RR XTreme) Like Frank, a great competitor who played too little, and won because of Big Easy on Gauntlet 3.
Carley Johnson (FM2) When you get picked last, the expectations are low. Carley won mostly because of Landon, but she was a major underdog who came out on top.
Jamie Chung (RW SD) A decent one time player who won on the Inferno 2. Jamie’s true success came in the entertainment industry.
Tori Hall (RR VR) Not many women have won two seasons, let alone two out of three times. Tori gets a lot of hate, yet she was a solid player who knew how to get far in the game, and has a great elimination record.

THE 30

Sarah Greyson — Road Rules Campus Crawl
1x Challenge Champion

Everyone loves an underdog, right? I wanted to start this off with a throwback candidate. Sarah Greyson, also known as the Queen of the Gauntlet, was famous for getting voted out on her Road Rules season. When she appeared on the Gauntlet, her team used her as the early scapegoat, continuously throwing her into elimination with little remorse. This was the first season with eliminations, and Sarah saw an all time record of 5 eliminations! She wasn’t the best at daily missions (DQing her team multiple times), and was a bit of an outcast, yet her making it all the way to the end and becoming a Challenge champion in her only appearance is a true underdog story. The funny part is that Sarah wasn’t even good, and won five eliminations, some against men!

Johnny Bananas — Real World Key West
6x Challenge Champion

You can’t make this list without Bananas. Hate him or hate him more, he’s won the most Challenges for a reason, he’s great at playing the game. His signature win would be winning Season 25, Free Agents. He is the all time winner, and because of that he deserves to undoubtedly be on this list. Seriously, Bananas is the only person to hit 6 wins when nobody else has hit 5.

Darrell Taylor — Road Rules Campus Crawl
4x Challenge Champion

Another person from Road Rules Campus Crawl! Darrell has won the second most seasons of the Challenge (four), and is the only person to have ever won four straight seasons of the show. He’s humble with swagger, and combination that is hard to have on these shows. He won two titles as a Road Ruler on the Gauntlet and Inferno, then won as a Good Guy on Inferno 2, and won the first ever pairs season on Fresh Meat 1. He also won the spin-off Champs vs Pros.

Evelyn Smith — Fresh Meat 1
3x Challenge Champion

The female tied with the most wins in Challenge history is Evelyn Smith, possibly the greatest female player ever. Evelyn was the perfect mix of strength, athleticism, speed, intelligence, and ego. She not only had a desire to win, but to be the best in dominating fashion. Evelyn wanted you to know how good of a competitor she is. Evelyn also tried to win on her terms. She quit on the Ruins out of refusal to win Kenny or Johnny more money.

Ashley Mitchell — Real World Ex-Plosion
1x Challenge Champion

You may dislike her tantrums, however, Ashley becoming a champion on Invasion shows why the Challenge is an incredible game and show. In a group of stacked female athletes, Ashley was the one standing with the trophy and 100k dollar check at the end. A lot of circumstances had to go her way, but Ashley proved that you can win the game as an average athlete if you take advantage of the other factors: social game, political game, and mental game. Her tears at the end of the Invasion final when she found out she won was a great moment.

Mike the Miz — Real World Back to New York
2x Challenge Champion

While he may be overrated as a competitor, the Miz is a fitting Challenge champion. Seeing him transform himself from Real World star to WWE Superstar is one of the most surreal things for MTV fans. He took this platform and made his dreams come true. The Miz was also an absolute monster who could give a devastating wedgie.

Landon Lueck — Real World Philadelphia
3x Challenge Champion

He didn’t do these Challenges for the fame, he did them for the sport and because he is a pure adrenaline junkie. Landon has the most impressive physical resume in the history of the franchise. In four seasons, Landon won three times, and only came back to win the third after his jarring loss on the Duel 2. Nothing resembles a champion more than Landon pushing Carley up the frozen mountain on Fresh Meat 2 to defeat the powerhouse team of Kenny & Laurel.

Sarah Rice — Real World Brooklyn
2x Challenge Champion

Like Ashley, Sarah proved you can be an elite competitor without being a dominant athlete. When competing, Sarah had no fears and was always ready to compete. She had a dominant win on Rivals 3, played a perfect political game on Exes 2, and had other standout seasons like Battle of the Seasons and the Ruins. It is hard to say that there was ever a girl who played the game better than Sarah, maybe ones who were better athletes, but when it came to actually using the tools in the game to win to further herself, Sarah is the best.

Camila Nakagawa
1x Challenge Champion

Far from the best person in the world. Camila’s win on Battle of the Exes 1 came as a massive surprise. She was this girl taken from the spin-off Spring Break Challenge and was mostly seen as the girl who was really into Johnny Bananas that would get drunk and scream. Years later, Camila is one of the greatest physical players ever, and might soon be named a two time champion. It’s hard to look up to her, but not everyone is a hero.

Theo Von — Road Rules Maximum Velocity
2x Challenge Champion

Before he became Theo Von with his own podcast and Netflix special, he was coming on these Challenges to compete and have sex with hot girls. He’s hooked up with a couple girls on this list…

Back in his day, Theo was an elite competitors and spider monkey in daily missions. Like the Miz, he used this platform to further himself and become something bigger than a reality star.

Susie Meister — Road Rules Down Under
2x Challenge Champion

In four seasons, Susie has never been eliminated. Susie did an amazing job of pushing the other girls buttons, using her mental strength to get in the heads of others, and played a solid political game. She was an intimidating female who always brought it during daily missions, though she struggled in finals. It was in the Ruins that Susie put the final touches on an amazing career by taking down Kim Alexander in a heated elimination that essentially clinched her spot in the final and gave her a second win.

Tonya Cooley — Real World Chicago
1x Challenge Champion

With all the drama that happened with Tonya on the Ruins, it is often forgotten that Tonya was a good competitor. On the Inferno 2 she won two eliminations, then had a terrible showing in the final. She made up for it on the Inferno 3 by entering the season in the best shape of her life. Tonya was a major reason her team won as she was the strongest girl besides Evelyn in the game. Tonya finally came to win and after years of being a joke, she showed that she could be a damn good competitor.

Wes Bergmann — Real World Austin
2x Challenge Champion

In terms of being a “Champ of Champs”, Wes somewhat owns that title. He won the original Duel, the season with the most stacked male cast ever, and won in a game that had Prime CT and Evan. A lot of things had to go his way, but he made calculated moves, and had an alliance with all the players on the fringes. He is the Challenge puppet master who makes the most of the rules in the game to use to his advantage. Wes is not the best athlete in Challenge history, though he’s a proven elite who will win any way he can.

Abram Boise — Road Rules South Pacific
2x Challenge Champion

He got kicked off of his Road Rules season early for fighting. Abram jumped into the Challenge with even more pep. In total, Abram hooked up with four girls on this list! He won the Inferno and Inferno 3 as the wild free spirit who had a crazy switch that terrifies us all. His best season was Cutthroat, a game where he led a funky Grey team to 100k in the daily missions. Abram is the definition of an X factor, you never know what you are getting.

Cara Maria Sorbello — Fresh Meat 2
1x Challenge Champion

Another competitor with an interesting journey. Cara Maria was the number one overall pick of the Fresh Meat 2 draft. While she made the finals of Cutthroat, Rivals 1, an Rivals 2, Cara was not able to bring out her full potential until Free Agents. She followed up Free Agents with her first and only win on Battle of the Bloodlines. She went from the kid that would cry and hide behind Abram to the all time female elimination wins record holder.

Veronica Portillo — Road Rules Semester at Sea
3x Challenge Champion

The original mean girl. Veronica won 3 Challenges despite her small stature and was a competitor who often called the shots in the game. What makes Veronica a Champion is her fearlessness and resourcefulness as a competitor. She isn’t going to beat you physically, she is going to break you down mentally. Veronica dominated an era and is remembered by those who stopped watching a long time ago.

Alton Williams — Real World Las Vegas
1x Challenge Champion

I would say when it comes to “WTF” moments in Challenge history from a physical standpoint, Alton is right there with CT. He wasn’t a dominating type in the head smashing way, he was dominant in the freakish speed and skills area. In any timed event, Alton would sprint passed the crowd. My favorite Alton elimination was on the Gauntlet 2 when he faced Adam King in Capture the Flag. Adam is the one of the fastest guys in Challenge history and was completely obliterated in their cargo climb. Alton is the man.

Kenny Santucci — Fresh Meat 1
3x Challenge Champion

One could easily question Kenny’s standing a strong physical player. Don’t get it twisted, Kenny was mostly underwhelming in daily missions and when he did well it was often due to great teammates. Mr. Beautiful happens to be one of the greatest social players ever. After losing the first face-off on the Island, Kenny stayed in the game and got his key from not being voted out against Tonya. From there, he literally sailed his way to the final with people trying to get in his boat for the final. He lost, and people still clung to him. Even his biggest enemy (Evelyn), was more focused on getting Johnny out than him. The dude had a stronghold even though he did nothing. That’s how good he was as a social player.

Laurel Stucky — Fresh Meat 2
1x Challenge Champion

CT is often tabbed as the most dominant competitor in Challenge history, but I think it’s Laurel. It took ten eliminations to finally knock down the Goliath that is Laurel. After making it to three consecutive finals with second place finishes, Laurel finally won with season 25, Free Agents. She won four eliminations and took out her biggest competition (Cara Maria, Theresa, and Aneesa). To top it off, when Laurel is angry she will go for low blows, high blows, whatever it takes to win.

Paula Meronek — Real World Key West
2x Challenge Champion

Paula went from being the fun girl on the Challenges who was looking to hook up, to being a great competitor who complemented some of the greatest players in Challenge history. When it comes to finals, Paula is not someone you want to face. She was a long distance runner who never quit on herself when facing the mental fight that is a final. Paula is also the greatest eater in Challenge history.

Mark Long — Road Rules The First Adventure
2x Challenge Champion

You cannot have this list without the Godfather of the Challenge. Mark Long dominated multiple eras of the Challenge. Mark debuted on MTV in 1995, a year before I was born. He went on to win two Challenges, make four finals, and was only eliminated twice on his own accords. Once on Battle of the Sexes 2 where he gave up his spot in the final after agreeing to split the money with the other three finalist, and after suspiciously losing to Johnny Bananas on Exes 1. Mark Long made the final of a Challenge at 37 years old., and won a daily challenge at 42 years old. He is a true champion.

Evan Starkman — Fresh Meat 1
2x Challenge Champion

Evan is one of the best competitors to ever be on a Challenge. His struggles in the game were due to bad luck and CT. He dominated his rookie season (Fresh Meat 1) and was eliminated due to injuries (hernia for Evan, knee for Coral). His second challenge he lost in the Duel to CT after being neck and neck with him all season in the daily missions. The death of Big Easy killed his chance of winning on Gauntlet 3, and finally he got some luck on the Duel 2. After outlasting three Duels, Evan was given a gift from God when Brad took out Landon in the final Duel. From there, Evan became a Champion, leaving a last impression on the show, and represented as the strongest member of the JEK alliance.

Jodi Weatherton — Road Rules X-Treme

Before there was Evelyn, Laurel, or Emily, Jodi was the original dominant female athlete. She was gigantic and athletic all around. Jodi was a top tier swimmer, runner, and athlete. She could out-lift and dominate any of the girls in a physical elimination. The good thing is that on her final two seasons she dominated so much so that she never had to see an elimination. On the Duel 1, there were seven female Duel days. Jodi won immunity for five of the days by winning the daily challenges, including the final three female Duel days. True dominance.

Coral Smith — Real World Back to New York
1x Challenge Champion

The fact that Real World Back to New York ended up having both the Miz and Coral on it is staggering. Those are two of the biggest and most influential voices who defined the Real World and Challenge with their actions on and off the show. Coral may not have been able to keep up with Laurel/Emily/Evelyn, but she was bad bitch who could beat you with her mouth and in the challenges. Her dominance with Evan on Fresh Meat 1 made their elimination due to injury heartbreaking.

Brad Fiorenza — Real World San Diego
1x Challenge Champion

After years of coming up short, Brad was finally able to put together a win on Cutthroat. He will be on the Season 31 cast after an eight year delay to try and get his second win. Brad’s greatest achievements were his shortcomings — losing on both Duels in his last minute sprints. Brad’s close calls would have put him in the GOAT discussion. What is he truly known for is being the King Slayer. Brad is the only person to ever eliminate Landon, and also has an elimination win over CT.

Derrick Kosinski — Road Rules X-Treme
3x Challenge Champion

The Diesel! The Bulldog! The Polish Hammer! Derrick always had an uphill battle to contend with heavyweights of the Challenge due to his size. After eight elimination wins, five finals, and three titles, Derrick went from the guy who couldn’t catch a break to one of the greatest to ever play the game. He brought more heart than any other competitor in Challenge history. Derrick also gets high definition photos due to his recent appearance on Dirty 30 where he made his fifth career final.

Rachel Robinson — Road Rules Campus Crawl
2x Challenge Champion

Campus Crawl…giving us another gift. Rachel Robinson & Veronica Portillo were the original Evan & Kenny of the Challenge. Veronica was the brain and Rachel was the muscle. Rachel’s known for her Duel 2 performance where she dominated the competition and was the first to finish the final. In recent years she has become a fitness guru and mother of twins! One of the travesties of the Challenge is the only season Evelyn and Rachel were on together was the Island.

Emily Schromm — Real World DC
1x Challenge Champion

Emily only did three shows. That’s crazy to think about when you consider the amount of reverence that fans have for her. Similar to Landon, Emily is probably the most fit competitor ever (except for the females). Her athletic ability is sometimes questionable, yet is completely made up for by her pure strength and fitness level. Emily could probably climb a rope with no legs and no arms, so when she comes on these shows it’s basically a play pen for her. Three shows, three finals, one title, and five elimination wins cement her as one of the greats to ever play.

Even bigger, she’s taken her performances and used it to pivot into her career as a fitness guru.

Jordan Wiseley — Real World Portland
1x Challenge Champion

He might be named a two time champion soon. His performance on the Dirty 30 final showed why Jordan is an elite competitor. No matter what the situation, he puts his head down and competes. He doesn’t make excuses and only demands the most out of himself. Being born with one hand, Jordan has never wanted to be normal, he’s wanted to be the best. Sometimes he can have a bit of an ego, but it’s also deserved when it comes to Jordan. He believes in himself and he puts in the work to get where he wants. Love him or hate him, Jordan is a phenomenal representation of a champion.

Chris CT Tamburello — Real World Paris
2x Challenge Champion

Of course CT is on here. I just wanted to make you sweat for a bit. What can I say about CT? Seriously, fans are so passionate about CT that many watch only for him. Any type of Challenge fan poll about who the greatest is ends with CT being the answer. The poll could be who is the greatest female competitor all time, and if CT is on the ballot, fans will ignore the rules and vote for him. He is a 250 lb wolverine who smashes heads and eats them. Whether he is being a dad or physically imposing his will on another man, CT will be loved by his fans.

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