Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Challenge: USA 2 episode 5, "Operation Hat Trick."
All it took was one random vote to end Alyssa Lopez's time on The Challenge: USA season 2. And while the Big Brother alum doesn't blame Tori Deal for voting against her, since she targeted the champ earlier this season, Lopez is calling out all the veterans for their decision to randomly pick names out of a hat instead of making a strategic plan — especially since it resulted in her losing an elimination against Survivor alum Cassidy Clark and going home in Sunday's episode.
"I had one vote," Lopez tells EW. "It wasn't like people were coming after me, it wasn't like I was voted in, I strategically placed myself to not be a main hopper vote for the next two or three eliminations, so bad luck is my downfall."
Below, Lopez breaks down why she's not a fan of the vets' "Operation Hat Trick" plan, if she's spoken to Deal since her exit, and more.
Jonne Roriz/Paramount Tiffany Mitchell, Michele Fitzgerald, Josh Martinez, Chanelle Howell, Cory Wharton, Dusty Harris, Wes Bergmann, Tyler Crispen, Alyssa Snider, Michaela Bradshaw, Monte Taylor, Johnny "Bananas" Devenanzio, Desi Williams, Faysal Shafaat, Tori Deal, Sebastian Noel, Cassidy Clark, Chris Underwood, and Alyssa Lopez
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: After you were eliminated right before the final last season, what did you do differently to train, prepare for, and play this season?
ALYSSA LOPEZ: What's funny is last season I really trained physically, and this season I did not. I had more free time after Big Brother so I was training with a trainer and I felt physically strong enough to do all the challenges. This season my business had just [picked up] and it's only me running everything, so I wasn't mentally prepared and I had no time to train. I definitely didn't do as good physically this time. I did the exact opposite of what I should have done. But now I know! It's only been two seasons and I'm learning what to do.
Did you suspect you would get any votes in the hopper, or was it a surprise in the moment to see that one pop up?
I did think so, because I asked Chris if he thought I would have any balls and he said he thought I would have one. I don't know if he knew that I was going to have that one from Tori, but him saying that makes me think he knew something I didn't. Plus you're always prepared to have like one, so I wasn't surprised. And knowing the luck I have in life, I wasn't surprised my one got picked. As soon as he said it was a girls elimination, I knew he was going to say my name. I was just laughing.
Even though the odds were totally in your favor?
Yes. I knew it was going to happen. I'm thinking about trying the lottery because there was like a 93 percent chance it wasn't going to happen and it happened. Is it unlucky or is it lucky? I don't know.
Earlier this season, a clip of you telling Tori "It's not always about you" went viral since you all actually had orchestrated her elimination against Jonna with the intention of getting her out. Tell me about that confrontation and why you wanted to gaslight her in that moment.
[Laughs] I'm a very direct person. I mean, obviously it was about her. Let's be real. Obviously we wanted her out! But I'm in a room with a team I'm trying to convince to put in your best friend. If my team starts thinking that I'm going against my own teammate, they're not going to go with it. So, obviously. But I couldn't help myself [and] not say it because she was saying things like, "I'm the best teammate here, and you guys don't care about your best teammate, so I'm just not going to try in challenges." So I had to. It was a perfectly placed position for me to say something like that and I couldn't give up that opportunity. It's the game.
It was a little bit of karma though, since it was Tori's one vote against you that sent you into this elimination. Did you know it was from her?
No. When I saw the vote, I thought it was Survivor because the line had started to be drawn. And I voted in a Survivor, Chanelle, so I thought it was a Survivor girl who threw me in. I did not expect Tori. When I found out it was Tori, I thought it made sense strategically. I wanted her out, we weren't working together. And then to find out it was just a bunch of pieces of paper?! That's not a strategic plan. At the end of the day, they got out someone that didn't want them in there, so in a way it worked in their favor, but it was... interesting to see the joke of it.
Did you know the vets were planning their "operation hat trick?"
No, I found out later on. We all hang out, obviously, so I did find out a month or two after the show. But I had no idea until then. The whole time I thought it was a Survivor person or Dusty.
Jonne Roriz/Paramount Alyssa Lopez
The target used to be on the vets, so how did it turn into a Survivor vs. Big Brother war so abruptly in this episode?
The Chris elimination. Chris was trying to figure out where the votes came from. People lie and then [the vets] do this hat trick, and Survivor is really sketchy, but if Big Brother does anything, "Big Brother is sketchy, liars, this and that." Everyone's doing the same thing but there's just this stigma around Big Brother. So for Chris to announce they're just playing Big Brother, being sketchy, it made this divide. It made us realize all of them are still here but we've lost a few of ours, so maybe it's time to cut their numbers. That's how it happened. This show changes every day whenever someone leaves, so you have to think about, what are we doing this week? You can't think too long term.
What was it like competing in that elimination against Cassidy?
It was really hard. I was happy for her. Where I lacked was, first of all, I'm like 100 lbs, so rocking this crate, it would only roll once. I would have to jump and throw my whole body into it and be rolling in this crate constantly. It was pretty painful. I wish I could have gotten my momentum sooner and then maybe I could have gotten there before her. But by the time I got there, I could not reach the sign. They didn't show how many times I rolled it back, rolled it to the side, because I could not match it up with the screen.
How close was it?
It was really close. She definitely had a good lead but she also couldn't reach it. So while she was doing what I had to deal with, I caught up.
Do you have any new rivalries after this season?
Oh, I'm sure. The confessionals are kind of like my venting sessions about these people. I mean, imagine living with them? They're like free therapy. But I'm sure I do. I heard Dusty didn't like me very much, but that figures.
What's your relationship like with Tori after this season?
I haven't spoken to her once. I don't take this game personally, it's literally a game. So once I leave, I'm checked out. Things that happen in the game don't upset me in real life. So I don't have any ill will towards her or negative things to say about her personally, I just didn't work with her in the game.
Do you want to return for future seasons?
I'm ready to take a break. [Laughs] And then come back when I can have the time to mentally and physically train. This season I was not prepared, so once I have that schedule in my real life to be able to maintain my business but also have that time to train is when I would come back. I don't want to rush into it just because of the FOMO, I'd rather be ready to do that again.
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+.