Most recently, Tyson appeared on the 40th season of “Survivor,” battling on “Winners at War.” Tyson placed 11th overall out of the 20 returning winners and now he’s testing the waters of a new reality competition show.
Heavy’s Stephen McCaugherty interviewed Tyson ahead of the “The Challenge: USA’s” premiere. And you can watch the full interview via the embedded YouTube video below:
When Tyson was asked if he was cast on the show because he was pursuing another reality TV opportunity, he responded: “No, it’s the opposite. They were looking for me.”
The “Survivor” legend went on to explain in the typical Tyson way why CBS wanted him on “The Challenge.”
“I have a winning personality,” Tyson continued. “I can narrate a show, I can do all those things. I have great confessionals. But also I’m very easy to work with. I’m not really a diva. If we get out there, I respect that cameramen are, at the very least, my co-workers, if not my overseers to a certain degree, and things like that.
“I always respect those people out there. And I think that that makes it easy for CBS to come crawling back season after season. And to be honest, ‘The Challenge’ casting pushed pretty hard.
“I’ve been talking to them for like a year. Since last summer, for sure they reached out. And when I finally said yes, like three weeks before leaving, you could hear the sigh of relief on that casting person’s voice. She’s like, ‘Oh, thank god, oh my gosh, we didn’t know if you were gonna do it.’
“I mean, when we look at the cast, it’s like me, and then nobody else. So, I was like the guy that had to be there.”
Although He’s 43, Tyson Is Still a Major Threat on ‘The Challenge: USA’
Tyson isn’t the only former “Survivor” player to be cast on “The Challenge: USA.” Out of the 28 reality stars, eight Survivors will compete, including Sarah Lacina and Ben Driebergen.
But, in a recent video shared on “The Challenge” Instagram page, host TJ Lavin said he had his eyes on Tyson, and out of the entire cast, he was the one to beat.
When asked if felt like he was viewed by the players as a major threat going into the show, Tyson said he had to “take that into account” even though he’s 43 now and not as physically active as he was as a 28-year-old on “Survivor: Tocantins.”
“Look at these lines on my face, bro,” Tyson said.
“I’ve been doing this thing for 15 years,” he continued. “At some point, I’m gonna be too old to spank these youngsters in these little carnival games. I don’t think this is the moment. But at some point, it’s going to happen. So I’m hoping that people kind of take that into consideration. Like, I’m a dad now like. The most physical thing I do in general in my life is play pickleball once or twice a week. And then I pick my kids up. That’s my weight training is putting my kids on my shoulders.”
But, Tyson still recognizes his athletic ability, something that’s required to excel on “The Challenge.”
“In my favor is 10-20 years of professional and amateur cycling, a lifetime of swimming, NCAA Division I swimming,” Tyson said. “And that muscle memory just holds up. Like I hear a lot of people talking about like, ‘Oh, I jogged three miles once a day and, so, I have endurance.’ I was like, ‘Three miles is not even a warm-up, dude.’
“If I went out and wanted to have like an adventure on a jog, I’d go out and jog like 30 miles, N.B.D. (no big deal).”
He went on to say that if he was younger and competing on “The Challenge: USA,” he “would definitely spank at everything. Like nobody’s getting close to the younger Tyson.”
Tyson Hired a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Instructor to Prepare for ‘The Challenge,’ Plays Pickleball
If fans follow Tyson on social media, they’d likely know he’s the self-proclaimed biggest “pickleball influencer” in the world. So, coupled with his time on the court while also training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Tyson prepared before going on the “The Challenge: USA.”
“Pickleball is quick, it’s eye-hand coordination,” Tyson said. “So there’s a lot of eye-hand quickness. Also, it gives you some aerobic capacity. I’m naturally very strong at endurance. So if I have anything that just maintains that endurance just a little bit, then I’m going to be like, still three times better than the second person.
“Going into this thing, I also hired a private Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor just to, you know, get ready if I had to do any grappling. Or at least tell people about it, so they’d be more wary of grappling with me.”
Further, Tyson started jogging with a weight vest and focused on body-weight exercises. He wanted to put energy into functional training rather than weight training, unlike others on the show.
“A lot of these guys go in and their muscles are just dead weight,” the four-time Survivor said. “They’re just like, ‘I just am trying to attract someone that will love me for a night or for a lifetime, either one.’ My muscle is all functional. If there’s a muscle on my body, it has a purpose other than just looking cool.”