Challenge Champs vs Stars: Interview with the Stars

I was lucky enough to be able to talk to the finalists of Champs vs Stars about their experiences on the show. This interview will disclose my conversation with the stars group: Josh Murray, Justina Valentine, and Michelle Waterson.

Overall, this was a really cool experience and the Stars had both honest and fascinating insights about the show.

Question for Josh: Did you have any fears coming on a competition like this and being viewed by your teammates as only the “Bachelorette” guy?

Josh: I would say that coming from the Bachelor, you do expect people to only view you as the dating show persona, but I knew with all the different types of personalities and my athletic background that I would be able to show people a different side of me. I feel this season people got to see a more competitive and sensitive side of me. This show was truly “real” compared to something like the Bachelor. Sometimes I get really competitive, and I love to get physical. At the end of the day, I played for a charity I care a lot about: ESP (Extra Special People).

Follow-up for Josh: How are your corneas?

Josh: They are doing fine now, though that day was intense. It’s funny because I have had so many injuries (torn ligaments, sprains, broken bones) and actually enjoy pain/testing my limits. As much as my eyes were hurting, I was playing for the people at ESP.

Question for Michelle: Fans loved watching you tackle CT and Bananas like it was nothing. Did you have any fears of getting injured while competing?

Michelle: In my opinion, they are big guys who can take a hit from a small girl. I suck at team sports, but I am good at getting physical. Whenever we were able to put hands on our opponents, I got excited, just don’t ever toss me a ball and expect me to do anything with it.

The producers actually told me that I had to settle down a bit physically because they were afraid of possible injuries. I wanted to go out and give 100%. That’s the person I am.

Follow up for Michelle: In the finale, we got to see you talk about how much you missed your kids. How difficult is it to have children and then get back in shape to fight in the Octagon again?

Michelle: To me, you have to pursue your passions and what your career is. Fighting is my job, and it’s cool experience to raise my kids, and then to show them I am a strong woman by continually training and fighting.

Question to Justina: When it was announced that people from Wild N Out were going to be on the show, fans wrote you off thinking you’d be gone the first episode. How did feel to surprise people with your athletic performances on this show?

Justina: I’ve always been a Tomboy since I was a kid. Always played sports growing up and I am the bull riding champion on Wild N Out. I think when people have high expectations and you don’t do as well, like TO in the parkour challenge, people get disappointed. Nobody expected anything from me, so when I did really well, everyone was shocked. It was super cool to finish first overall in the swimming challenge for the girls and to beat a lot of the guys.

Question for Michelle and Justina: What was it like to actually get into the game aspect and form an alliance that inevitably helped you two make the final?

Justina: I have always had the gift of gab and been able to finagle/finesse my way to the top. I am a hard worker and I found the game wasn’t going our way (with the Josh/Kim/Shawn alliance), so I decided to flip it. Michelle isn’t a person to go behind people’s backs, but she was smart enough to figure out that we would need numbers. Ariane was a floater that helped us out in the end. We eventually voted against Shawn because we thought Kim was performing better for our team.

Michelle: Justina came to me, and I knew that the way the game was playing out, it would be good to align knowing it was better them going into elimination rather than me.

Question for the all three: As people who have competed athletically on a high level, what is it like to watch CT and Wes with their Dad and Dog Bod go out there and compete at a high level?

Justina: CT is a freak of nature. You look at him and think: “how is this big ass dude going swim through those little obstacles” and then he kills it every time, majestically even. CT did say to me in a Boston accent: “the biggest muscle is the heart.” Wes doesn’t have as much of a Dad Bod, but everything he does is calculated and strategic. He is a smart competitor.

Michelle: CT shows that if you’re an athlete, you got it no matter what body you are in. Big or small, CT has something special.

Josh: If I drink the night before a competition, I can’t compete the next day. Watching someone like CT smoke cigarettes before going out there and dominating is crazy to me.

Final Question to all three: Talk about why you picked your specific charities.

Josh: I started working with Extra Special People once I returned to Georgia to play football. They are people who motivate me to be a better person and I played out there in that final for hours knowing I was playing for people I care about.

A link to Extra Special People.

Justina: I feel like I didn’t get to talk about my charity that much on the show. My charity was the Young Women’s Leadership Network. I knew going in I wanted to play for either animals or women. I wanted to win to support women to prove we are more badass than men — which we are.

Here is a link to their site.

Michelle: MVP (Merging Veterans and Players) seemed like a natural one for me. A lot of people in my family were in the military, including my husband. It’s something I will always support because the people I love have been a part of it.

Right before it ended, I asked a quick yes or no question: Would you guys consider doing a real season of the Challenge?

Justina & Michelle: Yes.

Josh (Pauses): Maybe.

Hope you all enjoyed this interview, and make sure to watch the Challenge Vendettas on Tuesday’s at 9

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