There isn’t a challenge that Staten Island’s own Nicole Zanatta can’t take on — or that’s how it seems to her competitors so far on this season of MTV’s “The Challenge: Invasion of the Champions.”
Zanatta, a 26-year-old NYPD officer with the 120th Precinct in Staten Island, traveled to Thailand to take on the 29th season of MTV’s toughest reality show, “The Challenge.”
Now nine weeks in, Zanatta, along with seven other “underdogs,” are still fighting their way through grueling obstacle courses to prove their dominance over some of the show’s elite competitors, including Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio and Chris “CT” Tamburello. The winners will take home their share of a $350,000 prize.
Below, NYC's "underdog" shares a bit about how her "blue-blooded attitude" helped prepare her for the show. Plus, she hints at whether or not she proves her “champ” status this season.
"The Challenge" airs Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. on MTV.
Why? What inspired you to temporarily leave Staten Island behind to sleep (basically on the ground) in a shelter and undergo strenuous challenges?
I love challenges in general. I think that's what life is filled with. It doesn't always have to be physical, but emotionally and mentally draining or inspiring, if that makes any sense at all. To be able to say I was on a "Challenge" says enough. It means that MTV thinks you can potentially play the game well, or just bad and surprise them as well as the viewers.
Coming into “The Challenge” as an “underdog,” what did you hope to prove to the other contestants?
Coming into it, I knew I was my own competitor. At the beginning, I came on [the show] with my best friends, Bruno and Tony. I knew those two were going to help me through this no matter what challenge came our way.
Do you think you solidified your status and broke away from the “underdog” stigma?
If you come on the show ever thinking you're going to win, it's an understatement. You don't know what you're walking into at all. I think I gave it my best and as you can tell, when the "champs" walked in, the game changed. I'm not afraid to go up against anyone. I'll give it my best, and if you played better, you deserve the "w" and I'll take the "l."
Do you feel that your training as an NYPD officer helped you compete?
My training as a police officer definitely helped me in different ways. It's too soon to tell, but mentally I know I'm a strong competitor. I don't know about emotionally, now that's another story.
It's funny. Everyone has their own perspective on police officers. I don't think I could have been put in a better precinct than I was. Every officer/co-worker and bosses I worked with had the warmest hearts, the best advice and were my biggest mentors.
While not fighting your way through eliminations and weekly challenges, what did a typical day look like for you?
A typical day was waking up, doing a quick workout and eating a whole lot! Spending time with the cast and getting to know them, too. It's nice to meet new people and find out how their life is outside the show. We definitely got to kick back and enjoy the bars and some pretty awesome restaurants/beach spots.
What were you so excited to do when you came back to NYC?
As soon as I came home ... we'll let's just say, I was back to work. To be honest, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. My precinct has amazing officers that became my best friends. I enjoy work. It's cliche, but if you enjoy what you, you never work a day. I've missed them tremendously!
How has your daily life changed post "Challenge"?
I guess you'll have to wait and see [how my] job, maybe dating life [changed]. Let's see in the future.
Would you do all of this again?
I would do it all over again. Probably the same way.