Yanina Beccaria and partner Kenneth Barrington were crowned Love in the Wild's second-season champions during last week's finale of the NBC reality dating series, which featured singles attempting to find love in the Dominican Republic.

As the winning couple, Ken and Yanina received Love in the Wild's second-season grand prize -- an all-expenses paid first class trip around the world for two. The pair beat out runner-up couple Benjamin Clark and Michelle Sacco in the season's grueling final adventure, which took the couples two days to complete.

On Thursday, Yanina talked to Reality TV World about her Love in the Wild experience and relationship with Ken -- including what the status of their relationship is now, how well they kept the secret of their victory, whether she ever considered dating other guys on the show to test her relationship with Ken, and how much of a role she believed athleticism plays in the show's adventures.

Below is the first half of our exclusive interview with Yanina. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion and additional Love in the Wild interviews.

Reality TV World: Congratulations on your big win, both you and Ken!

Yanina Beccaria: Thank you, thank you!

Reality TV World: At the end of Love in the Wild's finale episode, it said you and Ken are still dating and have been visiting each other often. So how are things going? Is your relationship still going strong?

Yanina Beccaria: Yeah, that's correct! We see each other almost every weekend when we can, when work allows, and we take turns -- Miami, Chicago, every weekend or every other weekend we visit each other.

Reality TV World: A lot of contestants on other dating shows like The Bachelor have said that keeping the ending a secret and not being able to spend much time with the person they met while the show was airing had been very hard on their relationship.  So what was that like for you and Ken? How did you guys go about that?

Yanina Beccaria: It is really hard because you really can't tell anybody about it, but at the same time, obviously you want to see each other and you want to comply with your contract. And we tried our best, which was to hide and basically keep our mouths shut (laughs) until now. So, I almost feel like I lost 10 pounds of secrets. (Laughs) It's a relief that now it's over and we can talk!

Reality TV World: So you guys did try to keep it a secret from your friends and family for awhile?

Yanina Beccaria: Yeah, I mean, obviously family knows. They want to know if you met someone, if you're together, so we basically said, "Yeah, we dated," and we've met each other's families and just tried to keep it away from everyone else.

Reality TV World: How did it go when you met each other's families? How do you think they both perceived you guys?
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Yanina Beccaria: Well, they were all very happy. Obviously my family liked Ken a lot. My dad is here in Chicago. My mom lives in Argentina. And they talk over the phone. My little sister called yesterday for example, so they were all talking to Ken and my mom sends gifts for him and hopefully one day, he'll meet everybody down there.

But so far, he met my dad and I can tell when my dad likes someone, because he's very -- he's very quiet at first and then once he likes someone, he just can't stop talking and telling stories and chit-chatting.

He and Ken were just talking, and talking and talking. I actually had to [interrupt] and say, "Okay, okay, we have to go! It's been four hours." (Laughs) So yeah, I can tell when my dad is happy. He was very happy! (Laughs)

Reality TV World: I'm happy for you guys! So when is your trip around the world? How long will it be, and do you know any more details than what the show had supplied for viewers?

Yanina Beccaria: Yeah, well, not really, because we were not allowed to reveal the outcome of the show until the end and everything was aired. So we couldn't communicate with any travel agencies that we're supposed to talk to.

There's this travel agency that they gave us to talk to. So we can only talk to them after the show, and we've just started communication with them and right now, Ken is in charge (laughs) because I'm at work.

He's visiting right now for a week, so he's at home right now at my place and he's in charge of doing the whole traveling and communication. And I'm sure once you talk to him, he'll give you more details.

But we kind of have planned where we want to go, and we want to do -- hopefully in September -- for about a month and start with the South Pacific, Polynesia, then move over to India, Thailand, Bhutan, and then finish with a South-African safari.

Reality TV World: Do you and Ken have any plans to move in with each other in the near future? Have you guys discussed that possibility at all?

Yanina Beccaria: Yeah, you know, we're starting to. But right now, we're both busy with work and it's been kind of hard with the show and work. So, we've just been taking turns to visit each other, and I know Ken wants to get a place together here in Chicago and try that first, and then we'll figure it out! (Laughs) We're taking baby steps.

Reality TV World: You and Ken obviously paired up in the beginning of the show and stayed with each other ever since, but that early on, I'm sure you didn't know each other very well and you decided to hold off on the physical intimacy part. So based on how your relationship began, do you think your dynamic was ultimately a friendship that slowly grew into a romantic connection, or did you two automatically clicked and found that chemistry right off the bat?

Yanina Beccaria: I think we had that chemistry from the beginning, but we tried as much as possible, being friends first obviously. But no, I think we had chemistry from the beginning. It helped that we weren't intimate and doing all these adventures and spending so much time together, so we were forced into being friends first.

Reality TV World: Why did you originally choose Ken over Christian Seklecki in the season's premiere and had you been able to pick first amongst all the guys -- since you didn't know Ken at that point and had to base your decision solely on looks -- I know this is sort of an awkward question to answer considering the circumstances, but would you still have selected him first?

Yanina Beccaria: I think so. I really liked him and I was really shocked that he was still left by the sixth -- I was number six and he was still standing, and I was like, "Yes, I can't believe he's still there!" I kept thinking, "Oh he's going to be gone by the time it's my turn," you know? I thought it would kind of be a definite kind of thing.

I didn't want to be switching around because I didn't want to get stuck with the wrong guy, and I kept thinking within those two minutes, "Ugh, I'm going to be stuck with the wrong guy for sure."

And I looked at him and I was like, "Oh my God, I can't believe he's still left!" And then finally, it was my turn and I already knew I obviously liked him. I was playing around with the, "You, Christian, you, Christian," but I definitely thought he was one of my top choices. 

Reality TV World: Since you were with Ken from the start, throughout your time on the show, did you ever have second thoughts about staying with him and not exploring your other options? Did you ever wonder whether you maybe should get to know other guys or at least date around a bit just to make sure what you had with Ken was good and strong? I mean, from what it sounds like, that was never your intention, but I was just wondering.

Yanina Beccaria: Yeah, I didn't really want to move -- I mean, sometimes I'd get these questions behind the scenes like, "If you were not with Ken, who would you pick?" You kind of have to be like, "Oh, yeah, I don't know." So they plant that little seed of whether you'd consider someone else, and you start thinking, "Oh my God, maybe there's going to be a twist and we're going to be separated. Who would I pick?!"

But no, no, no. I never had any intentions of moving and switching and any of that, though I became really good friends with everyone else, I just didn't have that [feeling] at all.

Reality TV World: You and Ken won this season of Love in the Wild and you were the couple who most resembled Mike Spiro and Samantha Woods from the show's first season -- who had also won the trip around the world. Did you watch the show's first season?

Yanina Beccaria: I did, I did watch that. That's all I wanted! I was like, "Wow, I want to find my Mike. I think Samantha is such a lucky girl," and so is Mike, and I wanted that. I just cannot believe until now that we happened to have that luck. (Laughs) I feel blessed completely, I cannot believe it -- not that we worked for any of that, it was just one step at a time, it just happened for us, like how things developed.

Reality TV World: You just mentioned how lucky you were. So the fact Mike and Samantha were so similar to you and Ken and both couples ended up winning Love in the Wild, do you think that's just a great coincidence or that you really had that much of an advantage over couples who weren't together as long as you guys?

Yanina Beccaria: Yeah, it's a combination of both. The formula of this show works, it's design almost, for a couple that learns how to work through things together. So, I feel like it could be both because I'm lucky and, [Summer Mack and "Chase" Aaron Chase]'s side for example, they could come in last too and you're voted off.

They could've also won and they were not together for the entire length of the show. It could go either way. It just happened that we started from the beginning together and we had a little bit of an advantage, but that doesn't mean the other couples cannot win, pretty much.

Reality TV World: How much of a role do you think athleticism played in winning the adventures? Like although you and Ken worked well together and communicated extremely well, do you think a couple who were both simply athletic -- like say Summer or Chase for instance -- still could have beaten you in the finale?

Yanina Beccaria: Well, I think it's 70% percent communication, and being intellectual and smart, has to do more with winning than 30% percent athleticism, I would say. Because going through these adventures, if you're smart, you can actually do it all without being such an extreme athlete.

We were scared at points that it could define the outcome, but it's never happened that way. We were so scared when we voted off Summer and Chase instead, but I don't think that had much to do [with it]. I think if you're smart, if you work well together, if you have that chemistry, you're just unstoppable.

Reality TV World: You got very emotional when you and Ken decided to send Summer and Chase home and keep Ben and Michelle to compete against in the finale. Summer and Chase were bigger physical threats obviously, but Ken had also explained you guys thought Ben and Michelle had a relationship that more closely resembled what you two had. So now that you know Summer and Chase are still dating and in love, if you could go back, do you wish you had let them square off against you in the finale after all despite the fact you had won against Ben and Michelle?

Yanina Beccaria: I wouldn't change a thing obviously. My first idea of why I didn't want to pick [Summer and Chase] was because I was scared to compete against them! They're a great couple. We did not really see them during the challenges, so we didn't know how they were doing things, but we just always thought, "One of these guys was in the Marines and one is almost an Olympian."

They were both athletes, and as time went on, they were working better and better together, that's what we thought. So that was my first thought, that they were a strong couple and I didn't want to compete against them.

I knew Ben and Michelle were doing really well. They were getting along really well. It was just that factor of Ben chasing his own tail and I could notice that, and I was thinking, "This is a couple that we can beat easier."

Also, we were not seeing that connection between Summer and Chase, so we said, "Well this is perfect. This is Love in the Wild. This is an easier couple to compete [against] and they look like they're in love. They're acting even more like a couple than Ken and I."

Reality TV World: Did you guys come to the decision quickly or was it as difficult as the show made it appear? Did it take you awhile to decide?

Yanina Beccaria: We did because Ken had a different idea. Ken wanted to go straight for the kill and pick Summer and Chase and have a great competition and win and all that. I didn't have that idea at all, so it took us awhile to discuss what he thought and what I thought and come up with a decision.

Above is the first half of our exclusive interview with Yanina. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion and additional Love in the Wild interviews.

About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.