‘The Challenge’ Host T.J. Lavin Says Other Reality Shows Have Copied His ‘From The Very Beginning’

T.J. Lavin attends the MMA Awards in 2014.
Ethan Miller / Getty Images

T.J. Lavin has been hosting MTV’s The Challenge for 15 years now, but the show has been on much longer than that. The show, which debuted in 1998, is one of the first reality television competition series ever and T.J. has noted that many other series have copied the hit MTV program. The BMX’er caught up with Entertainment Weekly recently and commented that he’s surprised The Challenge has never gotten any awards recognition.

“You know, we’re the first challenge competition show to bring in eliminations and all that – people have copied us from the very beginning,” he said. “It’s an honor to see what somebody else pulls from us and puts into their show, that means that we’re doing it right. I look at it as imitation is the highest form of flattery. But it’s crazy that we’ve been overlooked so much as far as getting an Emmy or outside awards.”

The Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Competition Program has gone to CBS’s The Amazing Race 10 out of the last 17 times since the category was created. The Voice, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and Top Chef have also nabbed the coveted award in the past. The Challenge has never even been nominated.

The cast of MTV's The Challenge: Total Madness
  MTV

T.J. also commented that The Challenge “pushes limits all the time,” making its absence from nomination lists surprising.

“Compared to back in the day when it was just who can put the bike together the fastest and run it across the field, it’s now big-budget stuff,” he said.

On this season of Total Madness, production has brought in tanks and helicopters for more than one challenge. As the seasons go by, the challenges and eliminations get more and more intense, something that keeps veteran players coming back time after time. But with big-budget challenges comes the risk for injury. Almost every season, a competitor is disqualified due to injury. On Total Madness, Tula “Big T” Fazakerley was the first player DQ’ed, but ironically it was from a fall during a drunken night in the bunker.

Jordan Wiseley also went home with a shoulder injury after competing against Faysal “Fessy” Shafaat in a pole wrestle elimination.

T.J. also made sure to note that the stuntmen and women the show employs are “no joke.” These stunt coordinators have to test out each challenge before the reality stars can even try to attempt them and trial and error are done to ensure everything is not only winnable, but also safe. T.J. said the challenges keep getting crazier and crazier because it keeps fans coming back. If the competitions were silly or boring, the show would have been off the air a long time ago, he added.