'The Amazing Race': A chat with the winning brotherhood, Dan and Jordan
They traveled five continents in 23 days. Defeated 10 other teams. And Monday morning, Dan and Jordan Pious added another impressive number to their list when they received a $1-million oversized check on “The Early Show” as winners of 16th cycle of “The Amazing Race” -- beating out cowboy brothers Jet and Cord and the dating models Brent and Caite, who are probably out somewhere engaging in the same mind-numbing fight -- “You’re dumb!” “No, you’re dumb!”
Show Tracker stole a few minutes over the phone with the brothers during their newfound media whirlwind. Here’s what they had to say:
How does it feel? You guys got the massive check this morning, right?
Jordan: We did! And we actually had our mom presenting the check to us, which was a special moment.
How do you guys plan to spend it?
Dan: Once Uncle Sam takes his chunk, we’re going to put it in the bank; save and invest it. We both want to be responsible with the money. We both don’t want to do a Richard Hatch “Survivor” repeat in Rhode Island and not pay our taxes … Sorry, Richard.
Well, Jordan, you clearly loved the show more than anyone else we saw this season. As a fan, what’s it like to come out the victor?
Jordan: This is all so surreal to me. You know, it’s interesting. Last night we went out for the finale; there was a party for the fans where they got to meet the racers. So many of the fans came up to me and were like, “You’re like one of us,” “It’s like one of us racing.” To hear that is just huge. I’ve been such a big fan of the show for so long and this experience -- and, then, of course, winning -- has meant the world to me.
And what was the game plan -- both for the entire competition and for the final leg of it?
Jordan: My brother and I had a pretty set strategy from Day One: We wanted to fly under the radar and we wanted to not have a target on our backs … avoid those U-turns, not rub the other teams the wrong way. It wasn’t about coming in first every leg, it was about not coming in last. You never know when an elimination leg is, so it’s about not coming in last. And in that final leg, we said, “This is what we’ve been waiting for” and we put the pedal to the medal and we’re going to make it count. And we did that. And as far as the whole race, that was by far our most flawless and stress-free leg even though we had so much emotion and so much on the line.
Right. What were you thinking going into the final challenge? I mean, last week you had a pretty shoddy showing.
Dan: Going into the final, we knew we had just as good a chance to win as Brent and Caite or Jet and Cord. Our shoddy performance in the past, we never felt would be a problem. The plan all along was just not to get eliminated. At the end of the day, if we were in first place at the end of a leg or second to last place after a leg, it didn’t matter as long as we weren’t last. With the final one, we put out all the stops.
Jordan: When Dan and I came in first in the Singapore leg, we opened up the clue to start the next leg and it said, “fly to Shanghai” and all the teams were bunched up again. That is part of the race. We knew, despite coming in third or coming in last, that we would have the opportunity probably with one flight from Shanghai to San Francisco to catch up to the rest of the teams and that was the time to make moves. My brother was big on that flight with the move that he made with that flight attendant.
Well, let’s talk about airportgate. It started with the cutting in the line, which had some fans peeved. Did you think that was a fair move?
Dan: I wish Jet and Cord could be here right now to confirm this. Jordan cutting Jet and Cord in line had absolutely zero impact. Not even 1% did it matter. Not even one second. We were on the plane -- all three teams, all middle seats, all in consecutive three rows. The move that we made up to first class was something that would have happened whether we were in the middle or behind or in front. Funny enough, Brent and Caite, who actually got the first tickets and were first in line, were actually in the third row of the three teams in the back. I can’t stress enough how it made absolutely no impact on the outcome.
Jordan: I’ll add to that. It was the final leg and we said, “This is where it matters most. This is when it counts.” Someone asked if we would steal another person’s cab. We never did any of that throughout the race. But, you know what, it’s the final leg. There is a million dollars on the line. While that did not make any difference at all, we had to try to make moves and try to put ourselves ahead of this game. We weren’t trying to make lifelong friends with the other teams. We were trying to win the race.
And what made you think to move to first class?
Jordan: I give my brother this credit because he deserves it in full. There was a flight attendant who took a liking to my brother and, at that point in the game, you have to milk it for all its worth. Dan did just that. There were a few seats up at the front of the plane that were empty for landing and she agreed to move us up for there for the last 30 minutes of the flight and, really, that’s all that mattered. When we landed, we were the very first ones out of the plane and we got that 15-minute lead and never looked back.
The last leg saw you guys climbing a building, visiting a virtual computer world, carrying a trunk and unscrambling some posters. What did you consider the key moment during the final portion? The moment where you thought, ‘We’re going to win this?’
Dan: We ran such a clean leg on the last portion. For me, personally, the Coit Tower ascension was extremely difficult to do. It was something you really had to fight through. On one hand, I didn’t sleep on the plane coming over from Shanghai, so we were able to get to first class. But on the other hand, I didn’t sleep on the plane coming over from Shanghai, so I was pretty tired. Granted, adrenaline takes over and pushes you through but that was a tough part. And the virtual computer thing … I mean, we’ve never done anything like that so you really have to wing it. We have such a close bond and such a great relationship that we just are seamlessly able to communicate and work together. That was really one of the key points for us in the race.
And I was sort of surprised it stayed that way. I mean, Jet and Cord were so close to coming out ahead at that point. Jet could have easily pushed Jordan aside to get the clue.
Dan: I was surprised. Jet stood there for a minute just staring at Jordan spinning and doing all that. Yet, when they finished their two goals and they had to read the clue, it took them several minutes to figure out that Jet needed to spin in order for them to slow down the clue on the computer. I was surprised. It’s the things you don’t see when you’re racing.
Jordan: When Daniel and I were carrying the trunks through San Francisco and we got to the Great American Music Hall, we knew we were in first. We finished each of the tasks ahead of Jet and Cord. We finished the memory task in like a minute. And at that point we knew, ‘Holy crap, we’re about to win $1 million.’
Dan: Obviously the editing has to make it look close. We probably beat them in the leg by about 25 minutes.
Jordan: Right. I mean, they showed every one of the three minutes we were searching for a cab.
So, at that point, what was it like running down that stadium already knowing you’re the winners?
Dan: It was incredible. That was probably one of the few times in the race that I almost got emotional. It’s just overwhelming. I mean, walking down the 49ers locker room …
Jordan: What better place for my brother?
Dan: It was just really surreal. I’m a huge sports fan. The finish line was at the 50-yard line of the NFL stadium. It’s unbelievable. Words can’t describe it.
Jordan: Coming through that helmet and seeing eight other teams who went through the things you went through, who are clapping and cheering you on … it was just the most amazing thing. It was just a great sense of accomplishment. And I’m pretty sure I blacked out at some point between the helmet and the 30-yard line. I needed to watch it back on TV. I swear, I had to see it to believe it.
Who did you think would be your biggest competition going into the last leg?
Dan: This might sound like one of those sports lines, but it’s the truth: there wasn’t really a team. They really were equal. Any team could have won. Look at Brent and Caite. They ran a good leg, they just had a terrible driver. The cowboys could have won just as easily, too. If you make it to the final three, that’s no fluke. You got there because you’re a good team and you avoided a hell of a lot of obstacles around the world.
Brandy might think otherwise. What did you think of her outburst at the end?
Dan: I thought it was a little disappointing. Obviously, the issue between [Brandy and Caite] was very personal. But, in all fairness, it goes both ways. It was personal on both sides. Really, it’s probably an upsetting moment for all of them. I don’t think anyone’s proud about that. It is what it is. I think everyone is over it now. We’ve put it behind us.
Jordan: From watching for 15 seasons, you know when you come out and you see that finish line and you see a team out there -- or two --- you know exactly what placement you’re at. And that’s your moment. And we knew we had won. When that finish line confrontation happened, I looked at my brother and I was like, “This type of thing has never happened in 15 seasons. This is going to be on the episode and people are going to talk about it. It’s going to be an area of interest.” I mean, we knew all along throughout the season that those two teams had an issue with each other. That was the place to air it out.
And they certainly did. Lots of animosity. Did you guys even think Caite would get as far as she did?
Dan: No. I really didn’t. To be honest with you, I think I underestimated the cowboys, too. I didn’t think they would get as far as they did. I will say this about Caite, she is an athletic powerhouse. Physically, she matched up with the guys on the race. It goes to show you how far physical strength can get you in this race. She was really impressive. I remember, in Malaysia, carrying the incense up. It was incredible. She was taking two, three [incense sticks] at a time. It was impressive. Caite was very good.
Jordan: Everyone makes mistakes on the race and everyone has good moments. When you look at the second leg in Shanghai, when Caite and Brett found a young girl to look up on her phone where the bridge was … I mean, listen, I couldn’t believe it. I have to give them a ton of credit. We asked everyone and their mother in Shanghai where the bridge was and spent hours looking for it. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone gets luck.
Let’s talk about your bond. Your relationship almost overshadowed the competition this season. How has taking part in the show changed your relationship?
Jordan: I said my biggest fear going into this race was that our relationship would change for the worse, but it has strengthened it. I love my brother more than anything. There’s nobody who knows me better in this world and there’s nobody that knows him better in this world. It was a huge asset to us in the race. I made incredible memories with my best friend. It was just unbelievable.
Dan: It’s as close a brotherly bond as you can have. It is where it is and nothing is going to change that. Not a last-place or a first-place finish in “The Amazing Race.” I’m there for him and he’s there for me.
-- Yvonne Villarreal
Photo: Host Phil Keoghan congratulates brothers Jordan and Dan on their win in the 16th “Amazing Race.” Credit: CBS