When Johnny Bananas took the $275,000 first place prize all for himself and left Sarah with nothing at the end of The Challenge: Rivals 3 in 2016, it was considered the most cold-blooded move in all of The Challenge history. So naturally, when The Challenge decided to offer up its largest single prize ever in the form of $1 million for The Final Reckoning, the MTV series wanted to bring that kind of drama back.
The final challenge pitted four teams against each other, promising only one team the money. On top of that, the fastest member of the team was given the choice of splitting the money with their partner or taking the full $1 million for themselves. After five legs spread over two days, Ashley and Hunter came in first place, beating Joss and Syliva by mere seconds, and Ashley was given the option of splitting the money or sharing with Hunter. It took her about half a second to decide to keep the money for herself and become the most lucrative winner in Challenge history, including Bananas. And Ashley was right to do it.
When Bananas took the money from Sarah, it was after an entire season of them mending their broken friendship. Bananas claimed he forgave Sarah for sending him into the last elimination during Battle of the Exes 2 and then pulled the rug out from under her after she helped him get to the final and win. It was a completely unexpected betrayal, which is what made it so epic. It was so bad that Sarah hasn't returned to the show since (and the behind-the-scenes drama is just as intense).
Ashley, on the other hand, never pretended to be friends with Hunter during their entire tenure on the show this season. In fact, she was valid in saying that he belittled her, insulted her and slut-shamed her throughout the season. It was actually pretty gross when MTV played back the footage. Why should she give half a million dollars to someone who told the entire house she was a slut for hooking up with one person? Hunter's explosion after Ashley made her decision only validated everything she said about him. He literally screamed, "You will burn in hell!" as he stomped around a fire pit. It's a shame there wasn't a pan to TJ Lavin's face at that moment, because it was priceless. Ashley's betrayal wasn't shocking, it was deserved.
But Ashley wasn't the only one to stab someone in the back in the emotional finale. If anyone is going to rival Bananas for the most brutal backstabbing, it would be Natalie. The Big Brotheralum and her partner Paulie were actually the favorites to win the whole thing until Natalie got lost during the first leg of the final and put them in last place. They tried to regain lost ground in Leg 2, which forced each team to stand on wooden platforms until they fell off. A couple hours into standing, Paulie and Natalie convinced both Joss and Sylvia and Hunter and Ashley to jump off their platforms to give the Big Brother alums the win. In exchange, they swore not to use their grenade — which gave whatever team it was thrown at a significant disadvantage on that leg — on either of the conceding teams. Paulie even swore on his family's lives that he wouldn't go back on his word.
Just like Ashley, it took Natalie about a half a second to decide to go back on their promise when the teams reached the final leg, which involved walking across coals to get to TJ and the prize money. She convinced Paulie to throw their grenade at Joss and Sylvia anyway, convinced that it would clear their way to the prize money. However, Natalie's screwup on that first leg was more detrimental than she thought, and Hunter's appetite during the eating portion of the final put him and Ashley much further ahead. Joss and Sylvia were forced to free themselves from having their feet locked together before being able to walk across the coals, which is what lost them first place to Hunter and Ashley.
Natalie and Paulie came in third, which means they screwed over Joss and Sylvia after swearing they wouldn't and it didn't even matter. Of course, Joss and Sylvia were stupid enough to take the deal in the first place, but this was a rivalry made in complete vain — and that's what makes it the one to watch in seasons to come.
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