Sandoval is a contestant on this season of Fox’s intense reality series, Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test, and tells ET’s Deidre Behar that he was pushed to his limits both physically and mentally while on the show.
“I was involved in a big scandal,” the 40-year-old reality TV star says, referring to his relationship ending with Ariana Madix after it was revealed he cheated on her with Rachel Leviss, which all unfolded on season 10 of Vanderpump Rules. “I really wanted to get away, get my mind off that, and to really push myself to see what I was capable of, to get myself to a more positive frame of mind and also to get away.”
He adds, “Like, we were in New Zealand it was a nice getaway, away from the phone, away from social media, news, all that stuff.”
Sandoval says the experience helped him close the Scandoval chapter of his life. “We just filmed season 11 of Vanderpump Rules and obviously there are still things that are being talked about and whatnot. But, you know, the worst of it is over which is nice.”
Sandoval has also been sober during this time. “I haven’t drank in like five months so there’s that,” he shares with ET. “I just really am into sort of pushing myself and sort of trying to better myself. I just thought this was just such a great opportunity to really see what I was made of. To be around people that inspire me as well.”
In the season 2 trailer for Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test, the Vanderpump Rules star is seen having a physical altercation that leads to him getting a bloody nose.
“The whole country is pissed off at me,” he says. “I had an affair and I want to take a beating.”
When asked if filming Special Forces was more challenging than Scandoval, the reality star had a surprising answer.
“Scandoval was a lot longer of a process but they were definitely apples and oranges,” he explains. “I mean, this was definitely one of the toughest physical things I’ve ever done in my life. Mentally, they just push you far beyond your limits.”
And when it comes to season 11 of Vanderpump Rules, Sandoval, who just wrapped filming the Bravo series, admits, “It was really probably the hardest season I’ve ever filmed. Just feeling very alone, very isolated. Obviously losing a friend, Rachel, it was tough. It was tough.”
He adds of the season, “I’m going to keep doing my best.”
As for Madix competing on season 32 of Dancing With the Stars, Sandoval tells ET that he plans to support his ex.
“I’ll be doing both, voting and watching. I’m really, I’m really excited for her,” he says. “I know she has been wanting to do this show for years. I think she’s going to do great. She’s a really hard worker. I think she’ll go far, hopefully.”
When asked about Leviss, Sandoval admits that he did break the rules of Special Forces and bring pics of her into the competition. He says the images of Leviss helped get him through some of the tough obstacles.
“That was right kind of in the peak of this whole scenario, scandal, and we [me and Leviss] were kind of the few people that we had for each other,” he says of breaking the rules. “…It’s nice to think of your family and people close to you to push you, like when you feel like quitting and giving up.”
As for where he stands with Leviss today, Sandoval says, “We don’t really talk much. I just was reaching out to her to wish her a happy birthday. I hope she’s happy and I wish her the best.”
In season 2 of Special Forces, Sandoval and the other recruits take on the harsh reality of winter warfare by training on the mountains of New Zealand where the terrain and freezing temperatures are brutal and the tasks feel like torture. The celebrities face the ice breaker drill where they are submerged into a frozen lake to find their body temperature plummeting to near hypothermic levels. They also attempt a treacherous ravine crossing atop a 4,700-foot snowcapped mountain peak as well as an emergency escape out of a helicopter submerged deep in icy waters.
Sandoval is joined on Special Forces by actress Tara Reid, model Blac Chyna, Dance Moms alum JoJo Siwa, NFL star Dez Bryant, Chrisley Knows Best star Savannah Chrisley, Beverly Hills, 90210 actor Brian Austin Green, NBA champ Robert Horry, Olympians Erin Jackson and Bodie Miller, The Osbournes star Jack Osbourne, food and travel influencer Kelly Rizzo, and Bachelor Nation alums Tyler Cameron and Nick Viall.
The cast will compete under the watchful eyes of directing staff agents Rudy Reyes, Mark “Billy” Billingham, Jason “Foxy” Fox, and Jovon “Q” Quarles, all former special-forces operatives.
Season 2 of Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test premieres Sept. 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.