The Untold Truth Of Chris 'C.T.' Tamburello

A fixture of "The Challenge," reality TV star Chris "C.T." Tamburello has more or less grown up on the series; his emotional story arc has taken him from bad boy to father figure right before our eyes. The Massachusetts native has always been a straight shooter when it comes to playing the game. Whether he's going against a longtime nemesis like Wes Bergmann or butting heads with NFL Hall of Famers like Terrell Owens, he's never backed down from a fight. As "The Challenge" franchise continues to expand and bring in new faces from around the world, one thing remains: the audience's appreciation for Tamburello and the je ne sais quoi he brings to the show. 

Though he made his reality television debut all the way back in 2003 and been a part of the MTV family ever since, there are some things you may still not know about this fan favorite. What does this small screen legend's life look like when he's not busy carrying around his competition like a backpack? Here is Chris "C.T." Tamburello's untold truth.

He rejects his past actions on the show

Ringing in his 19th season of "The Challenge" in 2021, Chris "C.T." Tamburello has made his mark on the series with his bold personality and dominant performances. His big wins came alongside a few epic fights with other cast members. During his time on the show, he received four disqualifications for fighting, breaking competition rules, and intoxication. While some may say the reality star's controversial moments have made for compelling television, Tamburello now cringes at them. 

In a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone, Tamburello admitted that he regrets some of the things he's done on the series. "Looking back now, I'm like, 'Oh my god, so many wasted opportunities.' It's all part of learning. I'm lucky that I had another chance to come back," he said. Even though his younger self had little regard for the rules and the safety of his cast mates (he once threatened to eat a fellow competitor's head, for example), his past actions did not end his "Challenge" career, but regulations were put in place. "I do think I hold the record for the longest-running alcohol restriction," he added. 

He's a father of two

Chris "C.T." Tamburello has gone from a young bull to a loving dad to two young sons. In recent seasons of "The Challenge," viewers can see him lovingly speak of his children and how he desperately wants to be a good role model for them. He credits his two boys with being the reason for switching up his approach to the competition series. "I kind of came out of retirement because after having a kid, I didn't want him to see me from the past. I wanted to get back [on] my feet, get in shape, and to get right. I feel like I've done that," he told Mashable in 2021. 

One tear-jerking moment on "The Challenge: Invasion" featured the long-time competitor calling his wife and one of his sons. "I think about him every day, wondering what he's doing, what trouble he's getting into," he said lovingly. A vulnerable C.T. is a far cry from the ferocious competitor we're all so used to seeing.

He's gone from reality TV to film

When he's not competing for another win on "The Challenge," Chris "C.T." Tamburello sure stays busy. Tamburello co-produced and starred in the horror film "Habitual" in 2020. The film was directed by Johnny Hickey, one of Tamburello's friends from childhood. The reality star proudly did his own stunts in the film, and he told People that his days on "The Challenge" helped him prepare for those physical scenes. Oh, but that's not all: In November 2021, Deadline reported Tamburello would be teaming up with veteran actor Tom Berenger for a remake of the 1930s thriller "The Most Dangerous Game." 

He's gone from "Real World" to the land of Hollywood, but Tamburello says he's not leaving MTV in the dust. "'The Challenge,' that's always going to be my first love," Tamburello said in People. "I loved doing this with Johnny and I think we have more. I would really like to go in forward and assume more of these projects that Johnny's been getting his hands on."

He almost quit the show after Diem Brown died

Chris "C.T." Tamburello and Diem Brown were one of the few couples on "The Challenge" that fans pulled for. Viewers saw their first kiss, their breakup and makeup, and the tragedy that was Diem's cancer diagnosis. At the age of 23, Diem was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and in 2012, she revealed the cancer had returned. Her journey, which was chronicled on "The Challenge," included her coming to terms with her diagnosis and regaining her confidence following her hair loss. Though Tamburello and Diem were no longer together at the time of her passing, Us Weekly reported that he had proposed to her five days before her death in 2014. 

Days following the "Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Fresh Meat" alum's death, Tamburello posted an emotional tribute on Instagram (via E! News). "Our plan to be together forever hasn't changed... it's just going to take a little longer now," he wrote. "And I'm going to hold onto this ring for you till we are together again." He soon took a brief hiatus from "The Challenge" but returned for a special tribute to Diem: He appeared alongside Diem's sister, Faith Brown, on "The Challenge: Bloodlines" for a competition in her honor. 

"Originally I was never going to do [a Challenge] again. ... I don't think I was, honestly, mentally prepared to do it," he told People. "If I was going to come back on the show, I couldn't have thought of a better way to do it than with Faith right there next to me."

He and his wife briefly separated

In 2018, Chris "C.T." Tamburello and Lili Solares tied the knot in front of the world on "CT's Getting Married." The two got together in 2017 but kept their relationship hidden from the public. After getting engaged, Tamburello explained to Us Weekly that this life-changing event was something he was ready to open up about. "[M]oving forward, I'm so proud of these times of my life I want to share them with everybody," he said. "And Lili wants to come out of hiding, too."

Some time later, the two hit a speed bump: In 2020, Tamburello revealed on "The Challenge" that he recently separated from his wife. "The last few seasons, I wasn't in the best place mentally. [My] marriage was not going well. We're separated," he said in a somber confessional. "I felt like I'd been running from problems for a long time and they finally caught up with me." A year later, their relationship seemed to be back in a good place, with Tamburello posting loving photos on Instagram

In 2022, Tamburello's relationship status was called into question again. When the MTV star shared a video with Halsey's "Without Me" playing in the background, fans speculated that he and his wife had separated again. "Hey guys, quick PSA about my post from last night, I love my wife, we're not breaking up," he said in an Instagram post (via People). "I'm sorry if I misled some of you into believing that we were breaking up, that was not my intention."

He made a big life change when he turned 40

Chris "C.T." Tamburello started his reality TV career 19 years ago on "Real World: Paris." At just 22 years old, he became TV gold with his brash attitude. He remained on television through his 20s and 30s, but once he hit 40, Tamburello decided to make a significant life change and address his mental health.

"Instead of getting myself a big fancy car or anything like that, I went to a doctor," the reality star explained to Mashable. "And I was like: 'What's wrong with me? I'm not living right.' Basically, it was mental health. It was in my own head. I was slowly killing myself, really." 

With the help of his wife and doctor, he was committed to a serious lifestyle change that involved prioritizing his mental and physical health. "I found peace and just started taking care of myself, you know. [I] laid off the bottle, laid off crappy food, stopped eating my feelings... and really [had] people that I could talk to," he said. The result? Tamburello went on "The Challenge: Spies, Lies & Allies" and came home a champion.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

He's butted heads with costars

"The Challenge" viewers may root for Chris "C.T." Tamburello, but some of his costars aren't exactly his biggest fans. For starters, teammate Tula "Big T" Fazakerley said Tamburello double-crossed her when they were paired up by "Double Agents." Fazakerley even tearfully confronted him about the way he treated her, but the heart to heart quickly turned heated as Tamburello accused her of character assassination. When a fan asked Fazakerley how she felt watching the way Tamburello spoke about her in his confessionals, she said in an Instagram Story (via Reddit), "I don't believe there is any need to act like someone's biggest cheerleader when in actuality, you're not."

Berna Canbeldek also felt blindsided when she saw him scheme behind her back to switch partners on "The Challenge: Spies, Lies and Allies." "He's the worst of all of them," she told Entertainment Weekly in 2021. "I'm not okay with him playing me like, 'I saw red flags with Berna.' It's shady. I was a great partner to you, that is what you told me. Why would you now change it for some interview?" 

Former cast mate Ryan Kehoe also didn't bite his tongue. On an episode of "MTV's Official Challenge Podcast," Kehoe name dropped Tamburello and said, "He's such a f****** tool." He did give him his props as a competitor but ended his statement by saying, "I find him to be the most vile human being in the world." Ouch.

Winning The Challenge has helped his net worth

Chris "C.T." Tamburello might not have the most "The Challenge" wins of any challenger (that title belongs to Johnny Bananas), but he's raked in a ton of dough on the MTV reality show. With five epic wins under his belt, his combined winnings total over $1.3 million, according to Mashable. As Us Weekly noted, though he hasn't won the most seasons, he's won the most prize money over the course of his "Challenge" career. 

On 2021's "The Challenge: Spies, Lies, and Allies," Tamburello and his partner Kaycee Clark won the season, and their victory included a $1 million prize. In a surprising turn of events, the pair decided to split their grand prize with the second and third-place finalists. In the end, Tamburello took home his half of $400,000. Reflecting on this moment of generosity, he told Mashable, "I know what it's like to go all that way, make it to a final, and to walk away with nothing.... 400 is enough, man, you know what I mean?"

His current net worth is estimated to be $800,000 and with no signs of slowing down, Tamburello will have more chances to win more finals and add to his growing net worth. When the 41-year-old finally decides to retire, we're sure he'll be crowned the Tom Brady of "The Challenge."