Amid all the illicit kisses and general rule-breaking, it’s easy to forget there’s actually a sizable cash prize to be won at the end of Too Hot to Handle. In Season 1, the $75,000 pot was split evenly amongst the contestants, with each person walking away $7,500 richer than they were before. (“Richer” might be an overstatement, but hey, money is money!)
In Season 2, however, the villa’s resident smart home with an attitude — Lana — informed the Too Hot To Handle cast that the prize money would only be awarded to one person. It came down to three finalists: Cam Holmes, Marvin Anthony, and Carly Lawrence. In another twist, their fellow cast members were left to vote on who would win the remaining $55,000 — down from the starting $100,000 — rather than Lana making the decision herself.
It wasn’t an easy choice. Each of the three finalists were partially responsible for losing a significant portion of the prize money, but they’d also all shown significant emotional and interpersonal growth during their time in the retreat. Cam overcame commitment issues and ended the show with Emily Miller as his girlfriend; Marvin realized he wanted to treat the women he dates as well as he treats his mother and similarly entered into an exclusive relationship with Melinda Berry; and though Carly had a more recent romance with Joey Joy, she realized a lot about herself and what she needs from a partner, as well as the things she personally needs to work on in her relationships.
After the votes were tallied, Marvin was declared the Too Hot To Handle Season 2 winner. “It was unbelievable! You know the type of moment where you don’t know if it’s real or not?” Marvin, who described the amount of money as life-changing on the show, tells Bustle of learning he’d won. “Getting rewarded for this type of thing made me really happy. I’ve had lots of losses in my life, professional and financial… and I felt like this win was a reward for all of the losses I’ve had in my past.”
Although Marvin and Melinda’s indiscretions cost the group the largest amount of money, the other Too Hot To Handle contestants clearly saw that as less important than Marvin’s emotional growth and openness. Marvin can’t yet reveal if he and Melinda are still together (though they appear to be dropping some potential clues on social media), but either way, being on Too Hot to Handle seems to have changed the 26-year-old model’s approach to dating for the better.