“The Challenge: Battle for a New Champion” winner reveals what happened after filming ended

"My season wasn't that much like a physical problem. It was more of a social problem. It's embarrassing," [SPOILER] tells EW.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for the season finale of The Challenge: Battle for a New Champion.

Another new champion has been crowned on The Challenge: Battle for a New Champion.

Season 39 set out to award a new winner in the franchise with no previous champions on the cast, and Survivor Romania alum Emanuel Neagu claimed that prize in only his second season when he crossed the finish line in first place after a two-day final.

While Emanuel dominated the first day's race, he fell behind in the last leg of five checkpoints due to a Sudoku puzzle. But while Nurys Mateo temporarily gained the lead, she eventually fell behind again and finished in second place, with Colleen Schneider finishing in third place. Corey Lay and Berna Canbeldek finished in fourth and fifth place, taking home no money.

Below, Emanuel breaks down why he was confident that he would win, what happened after filming ended with his girlfriend back home who he had cheated on this season, if he really wanted to go against Jordan Wiseley in an elimination, and more.

<p>MTV</p> Emanuel Neagu


Emanuel Neagu

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: At what point did you realize you were going to win this season?

EMANUEL NEAGU: I think it was before we started the final. I was very confident. My last season, I said if I made the final there's no way I'm not going to win. I have endurance, I know that I have what it takes to win finals, so winning it didn't surprise me. But it still felt unreal when I crossed the finish line.

Was there a point during the final when you started to doubt that, and thought someone else was going to win?

No. Even when I stopped with the Sudoku, and I saw people coming in and it's anybody's game, I still didn't think anyone is going to beat me. Because I knew if this Sudoku is hard for me, it is definitely going to be hard for everyone else. So I didn't lose the confidence I had. I was so locked in.

How far behind you did Nurys finish in second place?

I don't know. I talked to her and she said she felt like it was 10 minutes but I felt like it was 45 minutes to an hour. And I thought Corey was going to come but it was Nurys, which we should have expected because she's the puzzle queen.

The race for third also seemed close — how much time was there between when Colleen finished and Corey finished?

Honestly, I didn't actually look at anyone. When I left, Nurys had one or two checkpoints left, and that's why I thought Corey was going to [get second place], because he had only the Sudoku left.

Was there any portion of the final that wasn’t shown in the episodes? Any extra legs or checkpoints?

No. But I feel like on TV it looks easier. We really [swam] for so long. And the kayak also was very long, the run was very long. Our faces were like white when we came out of the water. But there was nothing that wasn’t shown.

What was the most difficult part of the final for you?

The night portion where we had to stay awake. That was the hardest, because you'd want to lay down. We didn't know what TJ was going to do [if we fell asleep]. He would probably just add some time or something like that. It started raining at one point and we said, "Let's get all these panels that we'd been playing the tile thing and build a fort," and that kept us awake a little bit. There are scenes where you can see me and Corey inside the little fort. [Laughs] Hopefully production didn’t need [to use] those again, because we were, like, bashing them.

<p>MTV</p> Competitors in the finale


Competitors in the finale

You didn't go into any eliminations, but you still had a tough season with how you hooked up with women in the house despite having a girlfriend back home. What has that been like, watching the episodes and seeing yourself cheat all over again?

Yeah, my season wasn't that much like a physical problem. It was more of a social problem. It's embarrassing going in talking about having a girlfriend and then cheating on her like that. That's embarrassing. I don't want to talk about the relationship I had with my ex-girlfriend because I don't want to get her involved in this, but we knew we [were] gonna break up, but I just didn't do it. She knew I wasn't ready for a relationship. Me deciding not to break up made her suffer even more. Nobody should do this. It's bad to hurt other people. But we grow and we move on.

You don’t have to get into too much personal detail if you don't want to, but are you still together today, or did that relationship end?

No, no, no. No, I came back home, I told her I cheated on her. Honestly, she didn't react like I expected because she knew this was gonna happen, probably. We're not talking now, obviously. But I know for now, because even before having this relationship, I was set on not getting into a relationship. But then we started hanging out, I started liking her, and then we got into this relationship, but I still, in the back of my head, I knew we have to break up because I'm not going to stay in a relationship. But I just didn't do it, because I was a bitch! [Laughs] I feel like I waited for the right moment. And that's just not a thing. Never wait for the right moment. It’s wrong what I did.

Did you continue hooking up with any of the women you cheated with after filming ended?

Oh, no, no, no. It's not like we were having like a showmance or relationship. It was just flirting and dancing, just chilling. It wasn't going anywhere. It was just nothing serious.

Earlier this season, you said you wish you could have gone against Jordan in his elimination appearance. Did you really mean that? How hard did you try to make that happen?

[Laughs] No, of course not. Nobody would want to go into elimination like that. Especially when you're that clear in the game where you can see that you have a chance on getting somewhere, then you're not going to be doing that. I said that after he won the elimination, but I didn't say, "I want to go against you." I said, "I would love to go against you." You know? It's a form of respect because you want to go against the best, right? I mean, if you go into elimination, at least you have a show, right? So I wasn't talking about right now. Of course I'm not going to put my place in the game [at risk] for you. If I beat you, you're not going to lose anything.

And the reason why I turned my back is because there was some online comments from him, like he said that I'm "bottom-shelf Jordan" or something like that. And then he came in and acted like, "There's people on the stage over there that like to talk online," and I felt like he was also talking about me, because I responded to him. And he won, he took $10k from our prize pot. He gives me a champion speech and I'm not gonna listen to him because he mocked me. They say if you get slapped, turn the other cheek, but I'm not gonna do that. It's a lot of money in the game, let's fight for it.

So it’s safe to say the rivalry between you and Jordan is alive and well.

Yes. I don't think he even thinks about it, honestly. Maybe if we do a season [together], probably, but it's not that deep. On my first season, I wanted to go for the best and have eliminations with the best, and that was CT. I had the chance and I didn't do it — I called Devin instead and it was a mistake, because I got sent home. But now, if I have the chance for future seasons, I'm gonna go with the best to show them what the new blood of champions means.

So who do you want to compete against in eliminations?

Definitely Jordan. Chris, the guy that won the USA one. CT, also Devin because I need to get it back. Honestly, I wish I could go against everyone. Horacio and Kyland, I want to go against. I don't know if it would be harder to beat them [with] the thought that he won so many — you know, when you go against someone and you know that he's won so many. "Oh, he might get it again," you know what I’m saying? But I was envying Kyland for winning so many eliminations. I wanted that because it's very glorifying when you win, like Horacio did on Ride or Dies and Kyland now.

Do you regret not going into more eliminations because of that? Because we’ve only seen you in two so far, and you’ve only won one. 

No, I definitely don't regret it. That's for the books to say, that you went in, had no eliminations, you won the most games where you would potentially go in, then win the season. It's nice to have it like that.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more.

Related content:

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.