Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Challenge: USA 2 episode 6, "A Really Good-Looking Underdog."
Dusty Harris thought he slayed one of The Challenge's best competitors.
In Sunday's episode of The Challenge: USA season 2, rookie Harris went into his first elimination in a matchup against three-time champion Wes Bergmann. It was a close battle, but the Amazing Race alum was sure that he beat the seasoned vet — and so was the rest of the cast. Even Bergmann's rival-turned-ally Johnny "Bananas" Devenanzio walked down into the sand to console a clearly defeated Bergmann in an emotional moment fans rarely see from these two. But when host TJ Lavin announced the winner of the elimination was Bergmann, with just a 37-second lead, Harris was absolutely shocked.
"I'm proud of how I competed against Wes — he's the legend in this business and I felt like I did enough to win," Harris tells EW. "The clock says otherwise."
Below, Harris breaks down that shocking elimination result, what led to his early exit, how he really feels about Bananas, and more.
Jonne Roriz/Paramount Dusty Harris and Wes Bergmann
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How are you feeling about your exit now that you've watched it on TV?
DUSTY HARRIS: This morning has been a bit somber. One thing I do want to get off my chest immediately is I know I got into this altercation with Tiffany, our screaming match where it was more me screaming at her, and I have apologized to Tiffany via phone and on the show as well. One of my Achilles heels that I knew going into this house was when s--- was going to hit the fan, you need to just walk away, take a deep breath, and analyze it before you jump to conclusions. I was completely wrong. I'm here to eat crow on that. Tiffany is a badass.
The way this entire episode was edited, leading up to and during the elimination, I truly thought you won and Wes lost. What was your reaction when TJ announced you lost?
The time waiting for them to announce who won this elimination was gut-wrenching. I felt very confident that I had won. Wes' strategy to turn the first wheel [inspired me] immediately, that's when I pivoted my strategy. I was actually glad that I got to stand on the barrel first to see what he was going to do. Wes is one of the best people in elimination history on The Challenge, so I was going to see what he does and try to make a move from that. I felt like that I balanced much better on the wheel than him. I had a bit of trouble untying the first smaller wheel — I was working from the middle and not the outside — but I still felt like that I did enough.
When you look at what happens with Bananas running down hugging Wes goodbye, everyone felt like I did enough [to win], but I just didn't. I was completely and utterly dumbfounded, to be honest with you. At first I was speechless, but when I heard 37 seconds I was like, "Man, I thought it was more than that." Then TJ announced that Wes pulled it off, he beat the curse of a knot-tying elimination, he got it done and knocked me out. I'm humbled. If I was going to lose to someone, losing to someone that has the record that Wes does, it is what it is. I'm going to learn from it. There's a definite huge advantage in experience in this game.
Jonne Roriz/Paramount Dusty Harris and Wes Bergmann
Why was everyone so sure that Wes had lost?
I think it was the time that Wes spent trying to spin the smaller wheel with me on it. All you had to do to counterbalance that was just move your weight the other way, and so my hope was to give him enough to where he would keep trying the first wheel to get me off of it, thinking that untying the second one wasn't going to be worth it. I actually had a good amount of time standing on the wheel that, if you were viewing it from the arena, it just made sense that I won. It looked like a no-brainer that I'd pulled it off. But what gave me [my downfall] was untying the first wheel in the middle of it, getting tangled in the ropes, and you hear when I'm untying the second wheel where Desi's like, "Work it from the outside." As soon as I did that, it really expedited untying the wheels.
Once I got the second wheel on, you can see it on TV, it takes one and a half turns and I put Wes in the [water]. From a visual standpoint, that looks like a win more than untying ropes. In my heart I thought I had it.
Tell me about the exact moment when you realized you didn't win.
Just absolute, utter defeat. I can't even put it into words. It was like the world crumbled down around me. It was so fast going from the feeling of I just knocked out Wes Bergmann in an elimination, I'm going to get a chance to make a move, I've made my name in the game, I've won my first elimination, I can put that in the record books, to having it ripped away by 37 seconds. This is going to be miserable. I've got to go face the music that I didn't win The Challenge when I told everyone I was going to win The Challenge.
Did you know you would get votes in the hopper?
After my incident with Tiffany, it's no secret if you watch The Challenge at all, if you cause a scene, there's a good chance you're going to go down in the sand. I've been pretty lucky up to this point, but in my mind I knew that this was it. And honestly, I didn't want to go through the season and not go into elimination. I know that's crazy to say, but you don't earn your stripes in this business until you go down, beat someone, send them home, and you can make a decision [to swap teams].
What was your reaction when you found out that Tiffany didn't vote for you in the last episode, and you blamed the wrong people?
[Laughs] It is the story of my life, what I witnessed last night, where Tiffany had nothing to do with the balls going on me. My temper got the best of me. I jumped to a preconceived notion in my head from a conversation I had with Alyssa. It just made sense to me. I told myself, "Dusty, walk away." But the argument happened, and immediately the next morning I started getting an inkling that I made the wrong decision. And then to see it on national television and look like such an idiot, it serves me right for jumping to conclusions and getting so mad. I truly believe it cost me this opportunity and put me into elimination earlier than probably I would have. But I've got to live with that and I'm going to grow from it and I'm going to become a better person from it.
Jonne Roriz/Paramount Monte Taylor, Alyssa Snider, Tyler Crispen, Michaela Bradshaw, Desi Williams, Cassidy Clark, Wes Bergmann, and Dusty Harris
You mentioned you've already apologized to Tiffany. How did that conversation go?
The next morning after this blow up, I approached Tiffany. I told her, at this point, I still in my gut felt like they were trying to get me. I wasn't sure where the votes came from, but I told her that it's no way to speak to you how I spoke to you that night. She was upset and she had all the reason to be upset, but I just had to let her know. And then I also had a phone call with her once everything wrapped up and the season was done just to reaffirm that.
It was my biggest regret of the season, how I spoke to her. There's better ways to communicate with one another, but the walls close in on you. It's a pressure cooker. I give myself no excuses though. My blowup caused me to go in and I have to live with that. And so I'm hoping that the next chance that I get, if I control my temper, I'm a dangerous player in this game.
I have no ill will towards her. I hope it's reciprocal. It was in the heat of battle. We actually had a great relationship on the show, worked well together on Team Red Flags. But the situation was completely my fault. I could have burned a bridge. I hope not, but we're going to find out.
What's something that we didn't we see on TV?
[Laughs] Wes has probably rubbed holes in every single plant in our room. His telltale sign when things are going bad is he likes to rub plants, and anytime he was in our room, I cannot believe it's not on camera but he was rubbing holes in all of our plants. It's really funny.
Jonne Roriz/Paramount 'The Challenge: USA'
Do you want to return for future seasons?
I want to go back more than anything. I have unfinished business. I have finished third in The Amazing Race, I let my temper get the best of me there, and let my temper get the best of me in the Challenge house. I owe it to myself, to my family, and to my own mental sanity to go back and beat everyone. I'm not just going back, I'm coming back to win and I will win. I will be a Challenge champion, mark my words.
You came into this season idolizing Bananas and the rest of the vets. What's your relationship like with them now?
I have a great relationship with them. We just chat through social media, it's not like we're talking on the phone all the time. I do not love Bananas, everyone. Jesus. [Laughs] The letter was real, but it was just a thank you for some great advice that he gave me. Bananas is not my hero, I assure you. He is a legend of the game, but editing is a hell of a [thing]. It's all been in good fun though. It's funny watching this with my wife and she was like, "Are you leaving me for this guy?"
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
The Challenge: USA season 2 airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT and Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.