‘The Challenge’: Danny Reveals Advice He Got From Wife Kiki & Who She Wanted Him Paired With (Exclusive)


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After winning The Challenge: USA in 2022, Danny McCray is back for The Challenge: World Championship, which premieres on March 8. The Survivor alum will be representing team USA on the show, along with fellow Challenge: USA winner, Sarah Lacina, and finalists, Ben Driebergen and Justin Ndiba. “After running that final for The Challenge: USA, I was like…I need to make sure my cardio is up,” Danny admitted to HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. “Before USA, I was running somewhere around 7-8 miles, so I tacked on another two to my workouts. I went to take swimming classes so I could get a little better at that, too, and not be so tired when I was done. I really just worked on getting in better physical shape for some of the stuff that The Challenge was going to have us doing.

For World Championship, the USA players will be up against competitors from installments of The Challenge in Australia, the UK and Argentina. All of the global MVPs will be paired up with a Challenge “legend” from the original MTV series. “With me having the strength, I knew I needed someone who was smart,” Danny said, of his dream partner. “I need someone who’s good at puzzles, someone who’s good at thinking quickly and very good under pressure. I wanted someone with a clear head who didn’t panic when things got tough.”

Viewers won’t know who Danny is paired up with until the show premieres. However, he told us that his wife Kiki McCray, who fans fell in love with through Danny’s confessionals on USA, wanted him partnered up with Jonna Mannion. “She knew Jonna is smart,” Danny explained. “She knew me and Jonna together would be a force to be reckoned with.”

Like Danny, Kiki is a fan of The Challenge, and she had some advice to share with her hubby before he left to film World Championship. “She told me the same thing she always tells me: ‘Don’t come home without that money!’” Danny dished. “‘Don’t come home telling me about no friends you made, FaceTiming with new people, unless you find a way to make that money. That’s the most important thing. If you gotta slice somebody’s throat, or stab somebody in the back, do whatever you need to do to bring the money back!’”

The Challenge: World Championship will premiere with back-to-back episodes on March 8. The show streams on Paramount+. See more of our interview with Danny below!

Was there anyone from the Legends side that you wanted to work with? Well, Darrell [Taylor] is someone I’ve been watching for a while now. I was always like, ‘Hey, if I ever got a chance to play with a guy like Darrell, I would want him on my side.’ He always seems like he’s on the outside of those alliances, especially with the new school MTV people. I feel like that’s a guy who would be willing to work with me.

What was your relationship like with the other ‘USA’ team members coming onto the show? We were goo. We didn’t know Justine and Ben were coming, but me and Sarah were really close. We tracked each other’s workouts and made sure we had a plan coming into the house. Justine is like my little sister, so I was excited to have her on. I knew she’d have my back. Ben is a wild card, but I had seen him a couple of times and we had a few conversations that made me feel like he’d be on my side, as well.

danny mccray
Danny for ‘The Challenge: World Championship’. (Paramount+)

What did you know about your competitors from the other countries? We came in totally blind. We didn’t get to see any of those seasons before we came on. They were all fresh new faces to us. I had never heard of any of them. We didn’t know how they fared [on their seasons]. We just assumed we were maybe in a little bit better shape than them, but they came out and fought. It was a good first impression from most people.

Now that you’ve played ‘Survivor’ and ‘The Challenge’, how do they compare? They’re both very, very fun games, but they’re totally different. The way you have to strategize and the way you have to think is totally different. The pace of the game on Survivor and the way they strip you down – no soap, no bathrooms – that’s something that you have to adapt to. On the flip side, on The Challenge you’re eating all this nasty stuff and you have to get over your fear of heights and swim long distances. They’re totally different, but equally fun and exciting.

Do you see yourself competing on either show again in the future? Never say never. I don’t think my wife would let me go back on Survivor because we don’t get any FaceTime calls and she can’t see me. She wants me to go back on The Challenge. You never know. It just depends on who calls and what the timing looks like. I have a two-year-old, and that’s the biggest thing right now.


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