'The Traitors' Winners CT Tamburello and Trishelle Cannatella Break Down That Controversial Ending

Chris "CT" Tamburello and Trishelle Cannatella

Twenty years ago, Chris "CT" Tamburello watched Trishelle Cannatella get eliminated from The Challenge. Though the two would appear briefly in one season together almost a decade later, the lives of the two Real World vets diverged vastly since that day. While Trishelle dabbled more in other aspects of reality TV and even some professional poker, CT has gone on to win an astounding five seasons of the MTV series. So when they reunited under the grey skies of Scotland, there was much to parse through, let alone the complications of playing The Traitors.

Even under the same castle roof, CT and Trishelle's paths continued to diverge. After incorrectly pointing the group towards Peppermint at the first banishment, Trishelle's game took flight when she joined up with Peter Weber and the most "faithful of the faithful." Together, they were able to clock the traitorous trio of Dan Gheesling, Parvati Shallow, and Phaedra Parks, as they all went out near-consecutively. CT, meanwhile, was less out in front and more of a free agent. Seen primarily as an asset in the missions, he kept his words honest and his mind open, willing to go in any direction if given the right pitch.

Throughout The Traitors, CT and Trishelle did have their moments of difficulty, like her anger at him for not saving her from murder during the torch lighting, or him changing things up last-minute at the final round table to banish Sandra Diaz-Twine rather than Traitor Kate Chastain. Regardless, their trust in each other bore out, and they banished Kate alongside Mercedes "MJ" Javid. But, in a shocking and polarizing move, CT and Trishelle chose not to end the game, guaranteeing another Faithful would go. Trishelle displayed the hesitancy she walked into the castle with, throwing a last-minute vote onto CT to force a deadlock. But, much like the season itself, the two came together to eliminate MJ. And, twenty years after Trishelle and CT went their separate ways, they celebrated together as champions.

The day after the finale, Parade sat down with CT and Trishelle to break down everything that happened at the final fire, Trishelle's reactions to Peppermint's feelings on her boot, and their thoughts on MJ's comments to them at the reunion.

Related: Everything to Know About The Traitors Season 2

Of course, we have to start at the end. Did you come into that final fire ceremony with the intention to go down to the two of you? If not, what changed during the course of the evening to cause that outcome?
Chris "CT" Tamburello:
 There was a strong build-up when it came to the end. After Phaedra was gone, I had a good guestimation that it was Kate. But I'll be honest with you: The way everybody was talking, I felt like everybody was trying to tell everybody what they wanted to hear. And I felt like everybody was gonna start eating ourselves. Looking back on it,  now I know, I was suspecting Sandra. And we talked with Sandra and we all thought that there was a good probability that there were two Traitors left. But then Sandra's planting the seeds with Trishelle.

After we got rid of Kate, I thought that what was gonna happen was the girls would turn on me because she was planting a seed with Trishelle. From what I understand, she was telling Trishelle, "He's your Traitor Angel." And then, after that, they would've picked off Trishelle. So I was like, "Well, she's coming for me. I'm gonna come for her, and then we'll get rid of Kate."

The short answer is no, we didn't know we were going to do this going into it. But then all these things were happening. It was getting real suspicious. And everybody was looking at each other like, "You're a Traitor." And I remember, they didn't show this part. But right before we got ready to go down into the last firepit, Trishelle decided to let everybody know before we walked out that she thought I was working with Kate. So now everybody's kind of suspecting there's another Traitor. Now it's me, apparently.

So we get down there. And it's funny. The person that I thought I could trust tried to send me home, and the person that I didn't trust was the one that I should have trusted. It's just how it worked out. I originally thought, once all the Traitors are gone, we won. But then, when we had a vote again, we had that Spider-Man meme, three-way tie. I honestly thought we were gonna be able to red bag/green bag again. But that's not what Alan said. He said, "No, no, you guys started that. You're gonna finish it like this." And that's how it happens. 

Trishelle, what's your perspective on this?
Trishelle Cannatella: Kind of the same thing that CT said. I was confused a little bit at the end. I thought that the game would just end with Faithfuls left. And Alan was walking around after it was just like three people left. He was like, "There could still be a traitor here." And I was like, "Oh my God, is it CT?" Because Sandra was telling me CT was my Traitor Angel. And I was like, "It does make sense. Why would he give me the shield?"
CT: I was thinking because I didn't light your torch. I remember you telling me, "Oh, you knew I was gonna get murdered," or something like that.
Trishelle: Yeah, there were a couple of things that I misconstrued, like the shield thing. CT was just being a good guy. And I was like, "No, he did it cuz he's a Traitor."

You both seemed to take such different paths to get to the same outcome. Trishelle, you come out swinging with your accusations against Peppermint that prove false. At the reunion, we heard her speak about the effect unconscious bias can play in targeting those who are "different" first in these shows. What's your reaction to that, and how did that misfire play into your game moving forward?
 So I think I came into the game guns blazing. Everyone is competition, and all I could see from a competitive standpoint was competition. And I didn't really see that people were there for other reasons, like their platform, just showing the world who Peppermint is. I didn't even think of that. I literally just was thinking game terms. And so I misread a facial expression.

However, the whole game is based on assumptions and misreads. Somebody thought that John had asthma. There was little to go on in the beginning. And I think what I did learn though, because whenever Peppermint spoke at the reunion, I agree with everything that she said. I just think that from now on, I'm really going to see people as a whole and not just competition. I can be a little bit less competitive probably in the future and just really try to make it a point to get to know everyone and why they're there.

CT, you vocally disagreed with Sandra's "Traitor Angel" strategy, and doubled down at the reunion that you would never want to work with the Traitors. That surprised me, considering you were part of the "gamer" alumni and certainly had experiences making a deal with the devil. Was it always your intention to play that way?
 I'm gonna try to use them like they're using me. The Traitors are gonna use Faithfuls, and we're gonna use Faithfuls. Yeah, I have an assumption of who I think is a Traitor. Does that mean I'm gonna go over, shake hands, and kind of make that deal, "You look after me, I look after you"? Because what's gonna happen in the end? You're gonna be doing the same thing you do now, just gonna bide my time. And so when it came to Phaedra, just because you think someone's a Traitor doesn't mean you should tell everybody everybody about it. Because it's not about just finding a Traitor; you gotta survive a Traitor. So if we bang a drum, and you don't get the votes, guess what? You're going home. Or even if someone thinks you're a Traitor, you're gonna get voted off by them. So you get to them.

What was great was when we finally got the jump. It was right in the nick of time, with that whole crossbow competition. That was when I really started to believe not only Phaedra, but Sandra was a Traitor too. Because that wasn't the first time Sandra tried to sabotage somebody from getting a shield. She did it with Peter and Janelle. And then she also did it with Kevin. So it's like, "Okay, I'm going to keep you closer than my friends." And I had a good assumption that it was Kate. But then we also thought there was potentially another one. And that's what's great about the game. It's designed to keep you in a state of confusion. There's no smoking gun. 
Trishelle: It really was confusing. Because Alan would come to breakfast, some mornings and say, "Well, you know what happened last night?" And we're like, "No, what? Was there two Traitors that were recruited? What happened?" And so you're kind of always guessing, and it's the point of the game. But that's what makes the show so good.

MJ certainly had criticisms for how you two ended the game at the reunion, saying, "The Traitors were eliminated, and the greedy people decided to make it a different game." In your opinion, having been on the other side of it, do you believe there is a "right" way to win a show like The Traitors?
 The game is called The Traitors! Literally in the tagline of the show, it says "betrayal, deceit." And so I don't know why anyone would expect anything less. And also, it's a TV show! People were entertained. And so, I didn't understand why MJ was mad at me. I didn't. I tried to take her with me. I voted out my best friend in the game, CT! Because I was like, "I know MJ is a Faithful." I just 100% knew it.
CT: She voted off Sandra! That was one of her closest friends on the show. That's the game. We've seen this a lot when it comes to The Challenge where the person that you're rooting for doesn't win. So, yeah, you get upset. I get it. But I also think we have tougher skin because we've been doing these compensation shows for a lot longer. And so we know we can roll off of us easier. Really, there's really nothing personal. I'm sorry she feels the way she feels.
Trishelle: I mean, CT and I came from a very brutal background with The Challenge. And so it was hard for me at first to understand why MJ was so upset. But now that I think about it, I'm thinking back on my first challenges, whenever people tell you face to face, "I don't want you here. I'm voting you out." It feels terrible. So this is her first stint with competition reality. Hopefully, we see her again. I understand why she's upset and why it's shocking to her. But for me and him, it's not.
CT: The right way to win, I get it. Especially when you're watching it, 20/20 hindsight, and you have all the answers in front of you while you're watching it. It looks a lot easier than it really is. If we all share the money, great. But it's easier said than done. So I don't think anybody was gonna be easy no matter what. In these types of games, someone's gonna get upset. And so, even if Trishelle and MJ won, I would have been upset. Or me and MJ won, Trishelle would have been upset. It doesn't matter. We're all human. It sucks when you don't get your torch lit, so to speak.
Trishelle: I would have been upset. But I would have never acted the way that MJ did at the reunion. Ever.
CT: Yeah, I don't think you need malicious attacks.
Trishelle: And I never said one mean thing about any person on this cast that was personal. Not a single mean thing. Everything that I did was strictly strategic and gameplay.

Next, check out our interview with The Traitors star Parvati Shallow.