The Challenge Hall of Fame: Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio

The Challenge HOF: Johnny Bananas

To succeed on The Challenge a competitor must be smart, strong, politically savvy, or at the very least, lucky. Most competitors are average talents, and an unfortunate few perform poorly enough to earn a dubious honor (Hall of Shame coming soon!). But these competitors, the Hall of Fame class, have conquered The Challenge in one form or another, and they all share the most important quality: they know how to win.

If you watched The Duel, the first Challenge season Johnny Bananas took part in, you might have guessed he was a one-and-done type of competitor. His Real World roommate Tyler pulled him into the initial elimination and sent young Johnny packing. There’s no shame in a rookie being sent home early their first go-round, but Johnny must have found the defeat motivating, because he performed well on his next Challenge, and he clawed his way to the top a couple seasons later on The Island.

My how far we’ve come. Johnny has competed in over a dozen seasons, he’s won six times (additionally he won a season of the spin-off Champs vs. Stars), and he’s earned almost $700,000. Johnny has lost more elimination rounds than he’s won, but when he makes it to a final, the odds are he’s taking home the gold. Also, two of the elimination rounds he’s won have been against CT. No one else can say he’s eliminated CT twice.

The key to Johnny’s success is his ability to “stir the pot” and draw viewers in with his personality and in-game moves. There’s a reason MTV keeps inviting this guy back: he makes for good TV. What’s most surprising is Johnny’s ability to win even after everyone in the house is well aware that he’s the guy to beat, that he’s the guy you don’t want to see in a final. Johnny plays the political game well, and his elevated status as the all-time champ makes others hesitate to rise up against him. Jordan Wiseley created an uprising against the champ on Free Agents, challenging Johnny to an elimination battle, after which Jordan found himself on the next plane home.

Though he’s hit a bit of a losing streak recently (some say he’s cursed because he took Sarah’s half of the money on Rivals III), it wouldn’t be safe to bet against the Banana man winning again.

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