What’s it like dating Johnny Bananas?!
Admit it, it’s a question many viewers of The Challenge have asked themselves when watching the MTV veteran compete on more than a few seasons of the hit reality show.
But while fans may be used to seeing a super competitive, no nonsense athlete on the small screen, a private gentleman stands far away from the cameras hoping to win over girlfriend Morgan Willett‘s heart.
“It’s so funny because people always say, ‘You’re dating Johnny Bananas!’ And I’m like no, I’m dating John Devenanzio!” Morgan shared with E! News exclusively before celebrating her birthday today. “He really does a good job at separating his TV character from his real life character. And while yes, he still cracks jokes constantly (mainly on my behalf), he’s a sweetheart and really affectionate.”
She added, “My favorite is when he wakes up, usually a solid two hours before me. He always gives me a kiss on the cheek and leaves the room to let me keep getting my beauty sleep.”
It’s a side you likely won’t see from the reality star currently competing on The Challenge: Total Madness. But it’s the reality for a private couple who continues to surprise fans.
Sparks first flew on The Challenge: War of the Worlds when Johnny competed with his rookie partner from Ex on the Beach. While they were sent to the bottom two early on in the season and eliminated, they surprised fans at the reunion episode when they raised a few eyebrows.
Johnny told host Mike “the Miz” Mizanin they they were more than friends but less than lovers. Fast-forward to today and yes, they’ve been dating and quarantining together.
“I was a little worried about how quarantine would go for us, but it’s been absolutely great. With Johnny traveling so much for work, I don’t get to see him for long periods of time before he takes off again so I’ve loved being able to have this time together,” Morgan shared with us in between recording new episodes of her podcast Quarter Life Crisis with co-hosts Kaitlyn Herman and Amanda Kozimor-Perrin. “[Before quarantine] we went on a camping trip to Joshua Tree which was incredible to get away for a bit and a fun one to vlog. My favorite memory was playing scrabble, making s’mores and accidentally head butting his drone out of the sky…we still laugh thinking about that.”
Closer to home, the pair cooks new recipes, have watch parties for The Challenge and Johnny’s new show Worst Cooks in America. And yes, they even plant succulent gardens together.
“Morgan can attest to this. When she first met me, she said, ‘You are not who I expected you to be off the show.’ When I’m home, when I’m not filming, I’m home. I have my house that I grew up in. I’m still incredibly close to my family, my sister, my mom. Having a very normal home life helps but also, I disconnect from reality TV,” Johnny previously shared on Morgan’s podcast. “When I’m off The Challenge, I’m not one that wants to be involved in the drama year round because you need that break.”
In fact, you won’t see this couple walking every red carpet together. Even their Instagram shots are limited. But each party is more than happy to support the other and bring out the best in each other.
“Johnny’s awesome when it comes to supporting me. Obviously, I’m his No. 1 fan when it comes to all his TV shows, but he’s always looking out for me too,” Morgan shared. “He’s gotten guests for my podcast, Quarter Life Crisis, and he’s been on before too. Johnny is also the one who gave me the idea to start my online training system and fitness app, Move Like Morgan! Although now he might be regretting that because I’ve taken over his home to film workouts.”
According to a recent podcast episode, Morgan is still trying to get her man to watch Mean Girls. But perhaps it’s the small things like cooking and drinking wine together that keeps this couple connected no matter what challenge comes their way.
“I am a difficult person to date because I have a wacky lifestyle. I’ve never been a person that plans. I’m not a planner. I’m a spontaneous person. I have to be because my life changes from day to day,” Johnny shared on Quarter Life Crisis. “Since the day I’ve met her, she’s always been able to roll with the punches and go with the flow.”
So how are other couples from The Challenge doing? You may be surprised to find out the latest in our gallery below.
Cory Wharton and Cheyenne Floyd
HISTORY: While they had a brief romance in 2016 on Rivals III, the pair recently revealed they have a daughter, Ryder.
“Cory is nothing short of an amazing father,” Cheyenne said. “We are so blessed to be raising mooch as co parents together and I couldn’t have asked for a better father for my princess. Our daughter is the best of both of us.”
However, Cory is known for his many hookups throughout his Challenge career: Aneesa Ferriera, Jenny Delich, Lauren Ondersma, Kailah Casillas, Camila Nakagawa, and most recently, Alicia Wright. He recently welcomed a child with Taylor Selfridge.
Brad Fiorenza and Tori Hall
HISTORY: After meeting during a season of the show (2008’s The Gauntlet III) and going on to compete together, the couple married in 2010 and have two kids together. But Tori and Brad split in 2017. After a long hiatus, Brad returned to compete in season 31, hooking up with Britni Thornton.
Tori Deal and Derrick Henry
HISTORY: The Are You The One? Veterans entered the Dirty 30 game together, with Tori quickly becoming one of the best rookies in the show’s history. (Derrick? Not so much.) But at the reunion, it was revealed Tori cheated on Derrick with fellow competitor Jordan Wiseley. They ultimately got engaged in August 2019!
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Dario Medrano and Ashley Kelsey
HISTORY: The duo met during 2017’s Invasion of the Champions (Dario was a rookie while Ashley was a champ) but quietly broke up. Ashley is now dating Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson.
Mike Coppola/Getty Images
CT Tamburello and Diem Brown
HISTORY: CT and Diem provided the franchise with its most talked-about romance. After meeting on The Duel, bad boy CT supported Diem as she dealt with the side-effects of her chemotherapy. The couple would date on and off for years (some of them tumultuous), appearing on the show together and competing as a team during Battle of the Exes II. Unfortunately, Diem’s ovarian cancer returned and she had to leave the show, with CT by her side. Diem passed away in November 2014 at the age of 32.
CT posted a touching tribute to Diem on his Instagram following her death, writing, “Our plan to be together forever hasn’t changed… it’s just going to take a little longer now. And I’m going to hold onto this ring for you till we are together again.”
Jenna Compono and Zach Nichols
HISTORY: After falling for each other on Exes II, Jenna and Zach became a fan-favorite duo…until it was revealed he cheated on her when she called him while competing on Battle of the Bloodlines, and he called her a different girl’s name. Still, this pair was able to have a happy ending. In December 2019, they announced their engagement with E! News.
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Veronica Portillo and Rachel Robinson
HISTORY: Aneesa Ferreira dropped a bombshell during a recent Challenge season: Veronica dated her ex-girlfriend Rachel in secret for three years.
Veronica was not happy with Aneesa after the revelation, saying, “I feel honestly bad for Rachel for me to come back years later and talk about it when I didn’t talk about when we’re together, I feel like that’s really disrespectful. I think Rachel would watch it and be like, ‘What the f–k?'”
Cara Maria Sorbello and Abram Boise
HISTORY: The tumultuous couple dated on and off for six years after meeting on the show. S—t hit the fan during Battle of the Bloodlines when Abram made a late entry into the game, after Cara had hooked up with newbie, Thomas Buell. Death threats and a permanent split eventually followed. On the current season, Invasion, Cara Maria has hooked up with newbie Kyle Christie, from the UK’s Geordie Shore.
Laurel Stucky and Nicole Zanatta
HISTORY: Longtime fans were shocked when Laurel revealed she was bisexual, coming out after falling for Nicole on Invasion of the Champions. While they dated after the season ended, they split after six months.
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Wes Bergmann and Johanna Botta
HISTORY: After meeting during The Real World: Austin, the duo entered Fresh Meat as a couple. After dating for two years, they called off their engagement before The Island, where she hooked up with Kenny Santucci. All three competed on The Ruins, along with Wes’ new girlfriend KellyAnne Judd (they eventually split). Awkward!
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Danny Jamieson and Melinda Stolp
HISTORY: After falling in love during The Real World: Austin, the couple competed on Fresh Meat as an engaged couple before marrying and competing as a married couple on Gauntlet III. Alas, they divorced in 2011 and went on to compete together in Battle of the Seasons the following year.
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Sean Duffy and Rachel Campos
HISTORY: After meeting on 1998’s Road Rules: All Stars, the couple is now married with eight kids, and Duffy is now a congressman. Dream big, kids.
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Mark Long and Robin Hibbard
HISTORY: Talk about a throwback! These former Challenge competitors started dating during Battle of the Sexes II, and went on to compete together 10 years later in Battle of the Exes after their tumultuous split.
The Challenge: Total Madness airs Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. on MTV.
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