USA’s Danny and Sarah on Winning, Tyson Quitting

SurvivorAlums Danny McCray Sarah LacinaThe first winners of The Challenge: USAWednesday, September 14, was the end of what looked like a very difficult final challenge. It was certainly a shock ending to the spinoff MTV series.

The wins of the former NFL player (34 years old) and the 38-year-old police officer (38 years old) still sting. Us WeeklyThey spoke to me the morning after the episode aired.

“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness, I woke up pretty happy this morning,” Sarah tells Us, with Danny adding, “My mom bought me a bottle of champagne last night. That’s how happy we are. We’re still over here celebrating. She’s excited and as long as I can see my family happy, I’m good.”

Danny McCray Sarah Lacina The Challenge

Sarah Lacina & Danny McCray
Laura Barisonzi, courtesy Paramount (2)

The duo spoke out about their reactions to Tyson Apostol, a fellow SurvivorWinner, who accepts the final challenge. Domenick Abbate, Justine Ndiba Cayla Platt – all of whom couldn’t complete a Sudoku puzzle without instructions.

“When they said everybody quit, I’m like, ‘Not Tyson.’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah, Tyson quit.’ I’m like, ‘No, he didn’t,’” Sarah says. “Tyson wouldn’t quit. And, so yeah, I didn’t understand it until we were done and I talked to him and and we got the story from everybody.”

Danny was also “super surprised” by the Utah native throwing in the towel “because we all knew what type of competitor he is,” the football player explains. “He’s an ultra endurance athlete. I just assumed that he would finish it no matter what. It was so cold that you have to look at it again. You can see him without gloves. Sudoku is difficult enough that if one piece goes wrong, you must start the puzzle over. So now you gotta process, ‘Hey man, I might be up here another 35, 45 minutes. Can I take that cold or is it worth it?’ It just wasn’t worth it to some people.”

Danny McCray The Challenge USA Winners and Finalist Exit Interviews
Paramount Pictures, Jonne Roriz

There was definite confusion, for viewers at least, about which legs of the final you could “time out” of and which ones you had to complete. While the four who quit weren’t allowed to time out on the Sudoku puzzle, Justine and Sarah both had timed out in earlier legs.

“I don’t think there was a confusion with the timing out,” Sarah counters. “At least, I wasn’t confused. Dom and I went swimming after the swim. Angela [Rummans] didn’t complete that puzzle and they were done ‘cause they were last. Technically, they didn’t time out of it, I guess. Cayla finishes the next, and Justine finishes Justine’s. As far as Angela not timing out on the overnight one, the sign says ‘You have to unlock these bags to continue to the next leg.’ And so if you don’t move all your dirt and get the code, you can’t unlock the bags. How would you get to the next leg? The rules were already there. And then when I was on my puzzle that I ‘timed out’ of, it didn’t say there’s a timeout, but I wasn’t gonna quit.”

She continues, “They were gonna have to pull me off the mountain. I would’ve stayed out there till midnight trying to do it. Like Danny just touched on, up there at the Sudoku, I’m sure there was a timeout, but they stopped doing it. The difference was that I didn’t stop doing my puzzle. I could have been there for two hours before I was timed out. So to say that there wasn’t a timeout on Sudoku, I mean, they had all quit before I even got there. So they weren’t there that long. They made the decision to stop. Production didn’t say, ‘You’re done.’”

Sarah Lacina The Challenge

Sarah Lacina
Paramount Pictures, Jonne Roriz

Sarah wasn’t the biggest fan of Tyson Angela throughout the season, and it seems things haven’t changed. “Tyson says I have to do the whole thing over, ‘F that.’ Well, ‘F that’ can be translated to ‘I’m done. I quit.’ Angela goes in the tent and her words were, ‘I quit.’ I’m sure Cayla wanted to quit or opt out on the eating, and just take last, but she didn’t. She couldn’t. I’m sure Enzo [Palumbo] and Desi [Williams]They wished that they could have chosen to skip the swimming and instead took first. That’s not an option.”

As for how they’re preparing for the upcoming “World Championship” that host T.J. LavinDanny tells Danny, keeps teasing Us, “I plan on swimming more. I want to be able use my energy in the right way. So I’m not dead tired after I’m done.”

Sarah says, “Swimming and getting familiar with some other puzzles. Beyond that, I work out pretty regularly, so I feel good.”