'The Challenge' Winner Emanuel Has One Big Regret About Season 39 Game

'The Challenge' crowned Emanuel Neagu as the newest champion during the 'Battle for a New Champion' finale.

The Challenge officially has a new champ in the mix after Emanuel Neagu won Season 39, subtitled Battle for a New Champion. As Emanuel mentioned during the season, he was playing under the radar as a way to manage his threat level. But, when fans did get to see him in action onscreen, he was in the midst of some scandalous activity a.k.a. hooking up with the other contestants while having a girlfriend at home. Following the end of the season, PopCulture.com got to talk to The Challenge's reigning champ, and he explained why one of his biggest regrets ties back to that aforementioned cheating scandal. 

For much of the game, Emanuel appeared to take a back seat to mitigate his threat level. According to the newly crowned champion, this was his plan going into the season. He explained that this was his strategy during his original Survivor: Romania season and his previous season of The Challenge, Spies, Lies, and Allies. Emanuel said that the goal was to "not go into elimination, and it did work." 

The reality star may have avoided elimination all season, but he was not able to avoid criticism from the fans for that very feat. In response to those who say that he wasn't deserving enough to be in the final, let alone win, he said, "I know it might look easy, but it's not that easy to not go into elimination. If you don't make the right moves, connections, conversations at the right time, then you'll end up getting [voted] in. And I say, yes, it's easier than just being thrown in, and you always have to defend yourself and all that, but it's still part of the game." He added, "This is the game you play, right? So I don't think anyone is less deserving because we sign up for the same thing. It just depends on everyone, how it takes it, and costs, the strategies."

(Photo: The Challenge/MTV)

As Emanuel explained, he was able to avoid elimination throughout the season partly because of the connections that he was able to form. However, those very connections got him into some relationship drama. Heading into the season, Emanuel had a girlfriend back home. After hooking up with Colleen Schneider (and, as it has been rumored, with others), he found himself in some hot water. In his defense, he claimed that he and his girlfriend "knew" that they were going to break up and that, he "got into this relationship knowing that I'm not going to be in this relationship." When pressed on this topic, he said that he "wasn't ready" to be in the relationship but that he planned on sticking with it when he first entered this season of The Challenge

Emanuel admitted to having a call with his girlfriend during the season during which she asked him if she should be waiting on him at home. He said that he didn't know what to tell her, adding that he did not handle the situation in the best way. The Challenge winner said, "[I] embarrassed myself. I know I'm ashamed. I know I did very wrong. It could have been avoided." Even though he would change how he handled some things, Emanuel did express that everything happened for a reason. 

"At the same time, I'm thinking maybe the way everything played, it was the right way to win the season. Maybe if I didn't have a girlfriend, I would come in and maybe get into a romance, as you've seen before from me, and that probably would've caused some other alliances, or maybe that would've shaped the game that I played," he said. "But I would say I regret that I hurt my ex-girlfriend, but I don't want to say that I regret the way it played [out]. I don't know. Maybe I am selfish, but thinking about it that way, I know she's going to be fine. I know it's not going to be like a hundred-year thing, but this money will help me."