The Challenge: USA is here! Every week, Parade.com will speak with the CBS reality alumni who were eliminated from the all-star competition.
Though fate brought Xavier Prather and Shan Smith together on The Challenge: USA, they found themselves undone by the same thing: Their reputations preceding them. At the time of filming, the cast has just seen a season of survivor dominated by Shan. And though she claimed not to be purposely plotting, her competition was humming a different tune. As the winner of Big Brother 23, Xavier knew his fellow houseguests might be out for revenge but hoped the work he did after the season would mend fences. But those fences were as flimsy as a punchable pane of glass. when Kyland Young and Alyssa Lopez came into power, they were looking to get their pound of flesh for Xavier’s betrayal last summer. So they shocked most of the cast when they sent their ally and Shan into elimination, where their game shattered against fellow big brother students David Alexander and partner Justine Ndiba.
Now out of the game, Parade.com speaks with the eliminated pair about their reactions to how their blindside played out, the alliance structures with survivor and big brotherand how Xavier offering Tiffany’s name actually played out.
Related: Meet the Cast of The Challenge: USA
Xavier, you certainly had some words for your fellow Big Brother 23 cast members. You called them “petty little bitches” and said they play to get even rather than win. Do you still feel that way now that you have seen how everything went down?
Xavier Prather: Well, it’s funny, because I was like, “Oh, y’all broke!” (laughs.) And then, right after I got off the show, I had to pay my taxes. And I was like, “Ah, karma! That’s what you get for talking trash, Xavier. Because taxes came swiftly and were like, “You know what? Give us a lot of that money.”
But do I regret what I said? I don’t, to be honest. As a game move, it was stupid. I didn’t understand it. I was like, “Why would y’all do this now?” It’s not that y’all took a shot. I expected y’all to take a shot at me. But I expected y’all to take a shot at me when it’s most beneficial for you. Don’t take a shot at me when it primarily benefits everyone around you. Alyssa, I’m not even coming for you. Why would you take out someone who’s never coming for you? That doesn’t make sense, at least at that point in the game. The only person that I understood why they did it was Kyland because I had blindsided him on Big Brother. And I’m a male competitor. I’m directly adverse to him. Granted, I wasn’t coming after him either. But it made the most sense for him.
Shan, you had some thoughts as well. You called Kyland insufferable and Alyssa “a little weasel.” Do you still feel that way now?
Shan Smith: I mean, I played a good game on survivor. They were right to think of me as a strategic social threat because that’s what I bring to the table. I feel like in the game, I showed up as a competitor. I never came last in any of the dailies. I held my own even though I might look scrawny. I feel like I would have gone really far in the game. I was collateral damage. But I had a lot of fun playing with X and going into elimination with him. I’m so proud of how we did.
But would I change anything I said about Alyssa and Kyland in the last episode? No, I still think Alyssa is a weasel. I don’t really like her. I don’t really enjoy Kyland. I didn’t enjoy him on big brother. Trash, trash, trash, all day trash. And I am not afraid to say it, post it, tweet it, or do whatever you need to do with it. I don’t care. They thought that I was not to be trusted. And I guess that’s true. I don’t know if you can trust anybody in any of these games. But I think I get maybe judged a little bit harsher because I’m a pastor, and I’m a believer. But I showed up to play, and I have no issue with that.
Yo do have an issue with being gaslit by Angela. But that’s the only thing that I’m still really upset about. Because it’s fresh. I just saw it. But it makes sense that that strategy came from Angela, not Alyssa. Because I don’t think Kyland and Alyssa are very strategic and smart players. So it makes sense that it came from Angela.
Shan, it seemed like the survivor players were working together, though you were eyeballing Tyson in last week’s episode. What was the dynamic like among the alums?
Shan: the survivor group was really, really survivor strong. We were locked in with each other, and we were not going to break. But nobody trusted Tyson. And I would dare to say that maybe even some of us didn’t like Tyson because of how he played on survivor. There’s just history there between Sarah and Ben. But I think most of us had our eyes on Tyson. Even though we were like, “It makes sense for us to stay survivor strong,” we’re also like, “Oh, but Tyson, we see you in the corner there trying to make all the people making money come together.”
But it made a lot of sense for survivor and big brother to join in personal preservation. Yeah, we’re in the elements and competing on an island. But big brother‘s right up there as well, with the mental endurance of being in a house for 90 days. So then, when you’ve got Love Island and La carrera asombrozawhy not eat those two shows up? big brother, you’re going to need numbers. Because survivor is going to take it certainly going to take it if you guys eat each other alive.
And that’s why I think the strategy was really, really short-sighted and poor. I think they were just really, really blinded by revenge for Xavier. I mean, we all did not want Xavier to win! (laughs.) I love him, but he won $750,000. Of course, we don’t want you to win. Spread some of that around, Xavier! But I do think that they took the shot too soon. It was stupid to jump show lines like that. Alyssa was just waiting for her moment of her, and I think she just ended up showing her ass of her in the end.
So Xavier, let’s talk about the big brother of it all. You faced a special dynamic in not only having fellow houseguests, but specifically a chunk of people from your cast. Was there some unspoken agreement you would look out for each other?
Xavier: Not a damn thing was unspoken! (laughs.) There was a group chat with everyone on BB23 where people said, “We need to look out for each other.” People were primarily concerned about Kyland I and whether we were going to be able to work together. But I don’t care to take a shot at Kyland. I’d rather face Kyland in the end than Tyson! I can take him in at the end; then he can get his Batman / Superman moment from him. There you go, buddy.
Generally, we were going to try to stick together. That was a conversation. But two of the six of us were like, “No, we gotta get the rest of them out.” And it just is what it is. I don’t know how beneficial that’s going to be for them. But that was kind of the case. Personally, I was trying to win. The way I viewed the game was, “Okay, with big brother, there’s nine of us. It’s a lot of us.” And everyone knows the general gist. Even if they haven’t seen bigbrother, they know we’re different. And so for me, I’m like, “No one trusts us outside of this. So it makes sense that we have to work together. We’re on the outs with anybody else. So we have to work together.”
So how does that tie into what happened with Tiffany a couple of episodes ago, when you and Alyssa end up being part of the group to pitch her going into elimination?
Xavier: It’s funny, because everyone’s always hearing everyone else’s side. People think Alyssa just batted her eyelashes with me, and I was like, “Oh, let me get up and come to Tyson.” No, that’s not what happened! Alyssa and I actually got into it. When I found out about Tiffany’s name being brought up, I didn’t throw Tiffany under the bus. She and I got into probably the most intense discussion we’ve ever had on the shows. I did n’t throw Tiffany under the bus when I heard Tiffany’s name from her.
Ultimately, what pushed me to say Tiffany’s name, which everyone forgets, is that Azah and I were an option. Like you go back to the episode. The first two names that are said are Alyssa and Enzo and Azah and Xavier. Just because Tyson said we’re good, I’m not good until he says a name out of elimination that isn’t me. And so we were still very much an option. I was obviously closer personally with Alyssa than Tiffany. But for big brother as a whole, we can either lose two of our numbers, or we can lose one. And it’s not even guaranteed that we lose that one. Tiffany can go into elimination and come back, and then I just have to make sure big brother is still on the same page. I don’t care if she hates Tyson. Good. Let’s go get them. But it makes sense for us to risk one number as opposed to two. Unfortunately, that number is Tiffany just because her name got brought up. But I was even surprised that her name got brought up. The easy decision was Alyssa and Enzo. But James was Jamesing! He was playing that game. I was like, “Go ahead, boy. Show us what Amazing Race got.” (laughs.)
Finally, in honor of the infamous”[expletive] They Should Have Shown” episode of the old-school days of The Challengewhat’s one moment from your time on the show that you wish had made the edit?
Xavier: Again, my conversation with Alyssa. People think she just batted her eyelashes and are like, “Oh, Xavier’s a simp.” not the [expletive] he is not! We got into it because I didn’t immediately throw Tiffany under the bus. And then she guilt tripped me, saying, “Oh, it feels like you’re doing it to me again.” I approached it similarly to how I did when SB and Christian were on the block in big brother. You two duke it out because I honestly care about both of y’all.
Shan: There’s this moment where I’m sharing with Sarah Lacina how Tiffany’s gameplay was going. The edit made it seem like I was pouring everything out to Lacina. I couldn’t stand Lacina. In fact, she and I got into a big heated fight over that, because she wanted to know so much more. But I didn’t rock with her on the show. I made nice with her because survivor players needed to stick together. But Sarah wasn’t my favorite player watching survivor. Politically I don’t really align with her. So I wish that was shown. There was a lot more division there than there actually was unity.
Xavier: If I could offer up one more, Mike. There was that conversation with Tyson where it looked like I said I was 100% up for doing damage control if he put Tiffany in. That was a completely separate part of the conversation. You notice the camera angles switch. Because when he first starts, he says, “Will you help me with damage control?” I say, “Exactly.” Because I’m trying to make sure there’s not a war between big brother and survivor because we don’t want that smoke. “100%” was talking about keeping like sides at bay until there’s no one else left. But they threw that clip in there, and I was like, “What the hell?” It seems like I was overly eager to throw Tiffany under the bus. That’s not what happened.
Next, read our interview with Tasha Fox and James Wallington, who were eliminated in The Challenge: USA episode 3
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