“Survivor: Ghost Island” runner-up Domenick Abbate is back on TV as one of 28 CBS reality stars that will compete on “The Challenge: USA.”
The show’s new spinoff will premiere on the network on July 6 and Heavy’s Stephen McCaugherty spoke with Domenick ahead of the first episode.
They covered everything from his decision to join the show, his prior relationships with other players in the game, wanting to see his “Survivor: Ghost Island” confidant Wendell Holland on “The Challenge” and whether or not he wants to compete on “Survivor” again.
You can watch the entire interview via the embedded YouTube video below:
During the interview, Domenick said he had never envisioned himself being cast on “The Challenge.” But when the opportunity arose for him to join the new CBS spinoff, he relished the chance of earning a big payday. The reality star had some familiarity with the MTV series beforehand and had also watched both “Real World” and “Road Rules” back in the day.
“I was just going about things, going about my day going about my life,” Domenick said. “And this past December out of nowhere I got a call asking me if I’d be interested in this ‘Challenge’ spin-off show.
“I’ve seen ‘The Challenge.’ I used to watch ‘Road Rules’ back in the day, ‘Real World.’ I knew of it. I didn’t really think it was something I’d ever do. But I think, you know, just living my life doing the same repetitive things at my job. Although I’m blessed, love my job, I think everyone likes to break free every once in a while if they have the opportunity to do so.
“So I looked at this as a moment in my life where I can maybe get away for a few weeks and do something. And more important than the adventure of it is the odds of winning a large sum of money. They don’t come around like this when the numbers are so small. Like, if you were to play the lotto, you got a one-in-10-million shot at hitting. But here, it’s like a one-in-20-something shot of hitting.
“And that’s how I looked at it on ‘Survivor.'”
Domenick went on to say that competing in “The Challenge: USA” was something he didn’t want to miss out on. “Anytime I can potentially win a large sum of money with odds that are in my favor like this, where they’re such a small number of people involved, I’m here for it. Let’s go.”
Domenick Said ‘Intimidation Crept In’ When He Met Some of the Cast, But Also Had Confidence in His Abilities
“The Challenge” is heralded as one of the most physical American reality TV shows ever. So, when Domenick first met the show’s cast, he admitted that he “went into somewhat of a panic mode.”
“I’ve only heard whispers of some of the people that we’re going to be on the show, but I’ll be honest with you, when I finally met everyone, intimidation crept in real fast,” Domenick said. “There are some physical specimens on this cast. And I immediately went into somewhat of a panic mode.”
Domenick didn’t falter, however. “But at the same time, I do have quite a bit of confidence in my abilities,” he continued.
“I’m not going to look the most fit out there, I know that I’m older — I’m 43. I’m like 215 pounds doing this show. These guys are physique freaks, I mean, in amazing shape. But looks can be deceiving, all right? I’m just telling you. And even though I don’t look it, I’ve been very active, especially the last 10 years.”
He went on to say that he was around 270 pounds at his heaviest, but in the past 10 to 12 years he’s been much more mindful about his health. He lost the weight and in his everyday life, continues a “pretty vigorous workout regimen” that includes CrossFit and running.
“I’m not gonna look the most fit out there, but I think when push comes to shove, I could probably hang with these guys,” Domenick said.
Domenick Would’ve Loved to Star in ‘The Challenge: USA’ Alongside Wendell Holland
Domenick and Wendell Holland were a dynamic duo on “Survivor: Ghost Island” and their trust in each other brought them all the way to the end. As history has it, Wendell was crowned the “Sole Survivor” and Domenick took second place.
And even though he lost to Wendell, Domenick would have “loved to play this game with Wendell.” Domenick said Wendall had received a call to compete on “The Challenge: USA,” but due to undergoing knee surgery, he couldn’t accept the offer.
Domenick said he was “bummed” that Wendell couldn’t compete.
“We did really well on our season of ‘Survivor’ together,” Domenick continued. “And most people think that I would try to get rid of Wendell as soon as possible so that I don’t lose to him again. That’s actually quite the opposite. When something works, you stick to it.
“And my relationship and my working relationship with Wendell on ‘Survivor’ was so good. It was so well oiled. And I would have hoped to have had a Wendell-like situation out there again.”