Throwback: The Gauntlet 3 Finale

Much like I did last week, I am going to use this time between seasons to discuss some hot topics from previous Challenge seasons.

This week, I wanted to look at what is perhaps the most controversial decision made on The Challenge: disqualifying the veterans from the Gauntlet 3 final.


After Big Easy collapsed during the final mission, he was medically disqualified. The veteran team then continued with the final challenge, dominating the remaining stages and finishing much quicker than the rookie team. The raised their flag, but no horn was sounded. As it turns out, the entire team had to remain in tact to become the victors.

In Favor of The Rookies Winning: TJ did say that this was the Army Strong Final, and the team had to finish together. However, he never discussed (on screen) what would happen if someone was deemed unable to complete the final. The whole Army Strong campaign that aired throughout the Gauntlet 3 season promoted a “no man left behind” mission. So, in true Army Strong fashion, the veterans were violating the theme of the mission by abandoning Eric. They knew that finishing without a teammate was against the rules, so the shouldn’t have just assumed that they would be able to continue without consequence.

In Favor of The Veterans: Eric was medically unfit to continue, but given the strength of the other veterans they could have carried him across the finish line. The rookies finished hours after the veterans so they would have had plenty of time to compete the mission with Eric the anchor. Additionally, this wasn’t the first time a competitor was abandoned during the final; on The Gauntlet Coral was medically disqualified and team Real World only received a 10 minute penalty. On Cutthroat, Abe and Sarah were medically disqualified during the final and the grey team received no penalty. Regardless of the theme, the penalty has never been so severe.

To add insult to injury, on The Gauntlet 3 all prize money was given for winning the final. Despite the fact the veterans won the bulk of the missions, they walked away with $0. Many of the veterans who would have won their first Challenge needed multiple attempts to finally win. It took: CT 4 more attempts to win, Brad 3 more attempts to win, Paula 5 more attempts to win, and Evan 1 more attempt. Diem, Robin, Adam, and Big Easy would have won their first Challenge, but have still not received a title.

So who do you think deserved to win?


  1. More for a case against the Vets: the Vets also believed BIG EASY of all people that he’d be able to run a final, and were too scared to go against him in a Gauntlet. They did it to themselves bringing him to the end in the first place

  2. As much as I wanted some of the vets to win I was happy when the rookies won because it was the veterans fault for bringing to the finals and when Eric was on the ground in the finals the way some of the vets were treating him and what they were saying was terrible.

  3. The whole season was about constructing your best team for the final, cutting the weak players. The vets screwed up, they suffered the consequences.

  4. Worst final challenge ever. There is no way the vets could of carried Eric through the rest of the course. His health was in jeopardy, he was medically unfit to finish the challenge. So carrying him would of put him more at risk..he needed to be taken away. As mentioned in the post, in the Gauntlet 1, The Real World team was only given a 10 minute penalty when Coral was deemed medically unfit…should the Real World team have just carried her through the challenge, delaying her in receiving medical treatment?

    Later on, in Cutthroat, Sarah and Abe, were deemed medically unfit to complete the challenge but no penalty was given to the grey team. One could argue that it was pretty clear that the Red team was going to win at that point, but at least the grey team had a chance.

    I still think the Vets should of been given a penalty and won that challenge; however, one could argue that Eric was never technically medically unfit to finish the challenge..he was just tired and out of shape. After all, during the reunion show, Evelyn brought up that Eric was drinking and was totally fine after the final was over. One could argue that he was just out of shape and his team could of just carried him similar to how some of the Road Rules girls were carried in the final during the Gauntlet (those girls weren’t medically unfit, they were just tired and needed help).

    All in all, the Vets shouldn’t of been given such a harsh penalty; however, Eric was clearly out of shape and never should of made the final in the first place. Someone should of gone against him in an elimination, although I can see why they would hesitate because they could of lost to him and the team would of been stuck with him anyway. Like the Road Rules team did with Sarah in Gauntlet 1, Eric should of been voted into an elimination almost every time.

  5. This was a tough loss to swallow. Eric was medically unable to continue competing and he could have injured himself terribly if he kept pushing his body or if the rest of the Vets attempted to carry him. He collapsed and needed medical attention. I was shocked by TJ’s announcement that Big Easy being forced to medically withdraw meant that the Vets could not win even though they finished leagues ahead of the Rookies. However, given the stated rules and the emphasis on “no man left behind”, it did seem like a fair ruling. Eric thought that he could complete the final. He convinced others of that. He tried but he couldn’t do it. In a “no man left behind” game, the point is to build a strong team that can not only complete the final challenge but do it faster than the opposing team. Throughout the game the Gauntlet was a tool to build the strongest team possible by sending in two players on a team, retaining the winning player, and discarding the lesser player. Gauntlet deliberations are difficult for many reasons not the least of which is the fear and manipulation that allowed space for better players to be sent against each other while weaker players were allowed to remain on the teams. Eric managed to stay out of the Gauntlet becasue 1) his teammates were afraid to go against him and 2) he had a lot of friends on this season.

    I hated to see the Vets lose and even more so, I hated to see the weight of the Gauntlet 3 loss follow Big E through future seasons. I did, however, feel like it was a fair call.

    There was no policy about penalties for folks being left behind in Cutthroat which was why the Gray team wasn’t punished when Abe & Sarah succumbed to heat exhaustion. At one point, Laurel and Luke even told Sarah that it was better for Sarah to leave the game than continue to be sick and slow the team down.

    I’m really liking the posts exploring past seasons! Keep it coming.

  6. My biggest gripe was that it was actually an advantage to have less players. Ultimately the vets should have gotten rid of easy earlier in the season when they their chance, but I still think the final was completely unfair.

    1. The sad part is: The vets had only one chance to get rid of Easy (as they only lost two male Gauntlet days, and one of which he was safe).

      Let’s assume that they vote Eric instead of Johnny, but everything else plays out exactly the same. He was facing Evan in Sliders, a puzzle challenge. Eric’s no dumbass, and chances are he would win against Evan in that particular elimination (I think he would have lost to Evan in Ball Brawl, but that elimination wouldn’t have been available as the previous Gauntlet was Ball Brawl and was replaced by Spin again on the wheel).

      In other words, unless the girls decided to throw missions similar to how the guys did to them, the Vets would have likely ended up in this situation just with Johnny at the end instead of Evan.

  7. TJ made the rules as clear as Evan’s skin that you can only win if EVERYONE crosses the finish line. Since Eric did not cross, they don’t win. PERIOD! Since no other challenge had that rule (it was a different season), it’s still fair game. The vets should have just power walked from the get and probably could have won with Eric there.

    What makes this all the more humorous is that the Vets were trying so hard to get rid of the girls yet it was one of the guys that ruined it.

    Sadly, the Vets only lost two male missions and at most had two chances to get rid of him (reduced to one since the Rookies saved him the second time). The one chance they did have could have cost them Evan (he was voted in) and I don’t think anyone wants to risk Evan just to get rid of Eric.

    For some reason, I think production knew in their heads that the Vets would dominate the missions before the season started, so they set up the rules in order to give the Rooks a chance at winning something, albeit at the end.

    All in all, I’m still happy about the Rookies and karma is a witch, Vets! (Except Brad)

  8. The vets deserved this. As the article said, on no other challenge was the penalty for having a person collapse (not in anyone’s control) so severe. This final sucked!

  9. I feel really bad for both Big Easy and everyone on the Vets team because think about it, Big Easy is the reason that the Vets didnt win the money. He is the reason that Diem never won a challenge, that Kenny Santucci never won a challenge, etc He is the reason that a lot of people on that team never won a challenge before. It sucks for him because I would feel absolutely awful if I was him and if I was the reason that my whole team lost but it also sucks a lot for the Veterans team because that could have been their only win. But then again, if the veterans never got rid of Big Easy in the Gauntlet before the final challenge, thats on them. They should have gotten rid of him beforehand. Its a team game and it is what it is. But I am happy for the rookies and it was actually VERY clever and strategic of them to save Big Easy in the challenge before the finals. In the end the Rookies were smarter because they saved Big Easy, which is the reason they won the final, and the Veterans should have listened to Johnny Bananas and sent Eric home

  10. I just saw this one on Youtube again and seriously the Vets should have been awarded the win. The fact that after ALL that TIME LOST they were STILL ………..STILL able to finish and BEAT the Rookies……..they should have won! It’s a joke and really sad how the Vets swept the floor with them and the Rookies who sucked (more than sucked – were just sad) were handed the win – a joke! Those Vets rocked it and they should have received a penalty and still would have won. I would have sued MTV bc they messed up big time. I don’t care that the Rookies were nice, the Vets owned the whole game Vets<3333

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