“The Challenge: All Stars 4” player reveals you didn't see that entire elimination

"I don't know if I'm supposed to tell you that, but I won the first round," [SPOILER] tells Entertainment Weekly.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for episode 5 of The Challenge: All Stars 4.

After 10 years of an unintentional break from reality TV, Brandon Nelson finally got his chance to return to The Challenge for All Stars 4. But after making a huge political move to pit champions Cara Maria Sorbello and Rachel Robinson against each other in an elimination, "Karma" Maria swiftly got her revenge after winning, as she sent Brandon into the very next elimination against Leroy Garrett, which he lost.

But Brandon tells Entertainment Weekly that he doesn't regret voting his friend into elimination, even though it "directly led" to his exit. "I still had control over my own fate," he says. "Unfortunately, on the personal level, Cara comes back, and I know I'm going to have hell to pay, but all I have to do is win the next challenge, and I don't have to worry about it. Then [I lost the challenge, and] I ended up getting voted in, but I still can go into elimination and win. So I wouldn't change my vote, I would just change me not winning that next challenge."

Below, Brandon dives deep on what kept him away from The Challenge for a decade, why coming back for All Stars 4 changed his life, what wasn't shown in his elimination, and more.

<p>Jonne Roriz/Paramount+</p> Brandon Nelson and Leroy Garrett battle it out on 'The Challenge: All Stars 4'

Jonne Roriz/Paramount+

Brandon Nelson and Leroy Garrett battle it out on 'The Challenge: All Stars 4'

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How do you feel this season went for you overall?

BRANDON NELSON: The feedback I've been getting has been great and very unexpected. Outside of half the people telling me I'm the dumbest person in the world for voting Cara in, other people are like, "Great move." But overall, for being gone for 10 years, I think I did fairly well. But it's not enough for me.

Were you turning down invitations to come on past seasons?

Oh, no, I would never turn down an invitation to come. They just stopped calling for whatever reason. I didn't have a great showing on Free Agents, which was my last one. I got a call, I forget what season it was for, just to see if I was available and I got nothing out of that. And I was actually an alternate on All Stars 2, but I didn't make it into the main house. But no, it was definitely not a thing of me saying no.

Why was now the right time for your return?

It happened at the most opportune time because I was going through a lot — my dad just passed, I was going through a divorce, I've been in two [car] wrecks. A lot happened in that decade that I was gone, and I was in a bad spot. I was really down on myself. But when I got the call for All Stars 4, it lit a fire under my ass to get off the couch and actually get moving, actually go outside and see the sun. It definitely pulled me out of a bad spot, and I'm really, really thankful for it. It made me feel relevant again. It's a blessing.

Did you keep up with watching the show in your time away?

It wasn't something that I was trying to watch. I still feel like an outsider to The Challenge, even though this is my sixth season. I never really felt a part of it. I felt more a part of it on this season than I have ever.

<p>Jonne Roriz/Paramount+</p> Brandon Nelson on 'The Challenge: All Stars 4'

Jonne Roriz/Paramount+

Brandon Nelson on 'The Challenge: All Stars 4'

What do you think of how the franchise has changed since you were last on?

You start bringing in people from other shows, and folks felt a certain type of way about it. Man, I did too for a little bit. I'm like, "Y'all not calling me back, but you got these weirdos from Big Brother and these other shows I've never heard of. But you can't call your boy back?" I think it's good for the exposure, but it has changed a lot. The new kids, I had no idea who any of those people are. But luckily on All Stars, I didn't really have to deal with that.

It's interesting to hear you say that you've felt like an outsider on The Challenge in the past, because in my opinion you've always played such a big role in some of the best seasons. What was it that had you feeling differently about All Stars 4?

Well, thank you for saying that. Most of it is my fault — I never really got into the political game or the kind of social stuff. I really wasn't inserting myself, but I don't like to force anything that's not supposed to be or whatever because I don't want to come off as fake, because I'm not. But going into this one, even before we got to the house, I just seemed to connect with everybody. It just seemed more natural. I was just happy to be there, and I was going to have fun and compete, and apparently that works because people were coming to me. There's so many conversations that don't make air that I've never really had in seasons past. And I'd have my one-on-one interviews, and [producers] are like, "How does it feel to be targeted? Everybody that we talk to, they say that they're worried about you." I was like, "Oh, well, that feels nice, I guess." On this one, I just felt included. I didn't have to try to be the loudest one, or to be the funniest one, or do something stupid to get some attention.

But is that a double-edged sword, now that you're being seen as a target?

Oh, no, I like it. I like being the target! Give me that energy because all I'm going to do is feed off of it. I'd much rather you come at me because you feel like I'm a threat versus coming at me because it's like, "Brandon's not going to get mad, so we can go ahead and vote for him. No big deal." No, you need to be worried.

Now let’s get into the Cara vote. Do you think that directly led to your exit?

[Laughs] That definitely led to me going home. But I had to make that decision. I love Cara to death — we're absolutely fine now. It wasn't like a betrayal of friendship. Our friendship is just different because we met on the show, we became friends because of the show, so everything as far as our friendship is concerned is associated with the show. We haven't talked in eight years. I can separate [life outside of the show] and the show. But if we weren't rocking with each other outside of the show, you wouldn't know all the stuff that I went though. I still love you, but we've got to talk, and we never did.

And then also, you can't pass up an opportunity to put Rachel and Cara against each other. TJ said it's only going to be a sole winner. I don't know if you know, but Cara lives in a CrossFit gym, Rachel basically has her own damn "Fitness with Rachel" channel on MTV, so I'm not trying to run 16 miles in the final against them. One of them's got to go. I don't know if I can beat you, so you've got to go.

<p>Jonne Roriz/Paramount+</p> Brandon Nelson on 'The Challenge: All Stars 4'

Jonne Roriz/Paramount+

Brandon Nelson on 'The Challenge: All Stars 4'

You say things are good between you and Cara now, so how did you mend things?

We just talked when she got back. There was no communication whatsoever [between us before]. I understand she's busy, she's arguably the face of the franchise right now. I'm happy to say, "That's my friend right there." But there are some details that we just didn't know about each other like she is an extreme introvert. Now that I know that, and I know what she expects from me, and she knows what I expect from her, it's been just fine. Over the past year after we did All Stars, she'll call and be like, "Hey, this is me, I'm calling you so you know I'm calling." It's like, "Thanks, friend. All right, bye," and then that's it. We're finding a happy medium. We're really good now.

It sounds like your friendship is weirdly at a better place now after you voted her in, and she got her revenge by getting you sent home.

[Laughs] Yeah, I know. It actually is.

What was your reaction when you saw that you were going to compete against Leroy in that elimination?

Luckily we didn't have to do anything physical because I'd had to hate to whoop my boy's ass. I'm playing — I'm not trying to be in that arena with Lee's big ass. Luckily it was something that we both had a chance to win.

What was it like actually competing in that hanging puzzle maze? 

It sucked. I was sore for a week and a half after that, I couldn't even put a shirt on. That thing weighed about 60 pounds. And then you have to hold for them setting up cameras and stuff. At first it wasn't too bad, and then it's like, "Damn, when are we going to start?" Also, it was actually three rounds, it wasn't just one. So we were out there for a while. I got up the next day and I could barely move my arms. It was terrible, I hated it.

I hate that we didn't see every round. Who won each point?

I don't know if I'm supposed to tell you that, but I won the first round. He won the second and third. It was pretty close though. And if the balls fall off of the puzzle, you just have to wait until TJ comes and picks it up and brings it back to you, and the other person can keep going. It doesn't stop. At first you want to flip the balls up to try to get them to the middle faster, but you're going to waste energy doing that, and you might lose the balls off the side of your puzzle. But then at the end [Leroy] did that and got all his balls in the middle, and he got me.

<p>Jonne Roriz/Paramount+</p> Brandon Nelson on 'The Challenge: All Stars 4'

Jonne Roriz/Paramount+

Brandon Nelson on 'The Challenge: All Stars 4'

Who do you blame for your exit?

I could blame Ryan because we did really well in that challenge. We closed the spigot as the water was coming out, thinking we're done, TJ blows the horn, and then Ryan's like, "Oh, s---." He had a whole other pouch of water in his shirt. That could have been the deciding factor if we came in first or not. If there's anybody to blame, it's him, and he knows it.

Was there anything else not shown this season that you wish had been included?

When Cara and Rachel were having their elimination, TJ was like, "How'd you all come to the decision to vote in Cara and Rachel?" Nobody from my team was saying anything, so I was like, "I always said, if I had the chance to come back, and I had the chance to control the vote, I was going to go for the strongest players in the house as soon as I got the chance, instead of playing that slow game of you're a rookie, you've got to earn your stripes. If I hear that earn your stripes s--- one more time ... shut up. Or, 'I don't really know you that well, so you've got to go in,' just stupid stuff. Rachel and Cara are arguably the two strongest people in this entire house. You only get one winner for this season. One of them's got to go." Then TJ goes, "Brandon, that might be one of the smartest things I've ever heard on this whole show. Why do you guys let the same people win every season?" I was like, "See! That's what I'm talking about." I wish they would've showed that, but it's all good, I know what happened.

Now that you're officially back in the franchise, how are you going to change up your game in future seasons to finally get your first win?

The previous five seasons that I did, I went along with the flow, and there was never a concern about, "If we vote Brandon in, what's the reaction going to be when he comes back?" It was just like, "He's cool. He'll take it, he's not worried about the political stuff." Now I'm like, "No, f--- that." I'm going to go for the head every time. Anytime I have the opportunity, I'm going to go for the strongest person like a CT or Johnny Bananas or Tony, anybody like that. You don't get to sit comfortably anymore.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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