Ericka Dunlap and Brian Kleinschmidt
Brian Kleinschmidt and Ericka Dunlap, both 27, caught a few breaks on The Amazing Race, but their luck ran out in Las Vegas when they lost an early lead to come in third place. "It was very discouraging to know we were in last place yet again at the poker chips when we got there second, but it just wasn't meant to be for us," Ericka, a former Miss America, tells TVGuide.com. See what else the couple, who have been married for two years, has to say about their Race game plan, their spats and more.
TVGuide.com: We didn't see the rest of your leg. Did you finish everything?
Ericka: We did. We got the poker chips correct and we did see Wayne Newton. ... We were probably about 15 minutes behind the brothers. The poker chips were our demise; it wasn't the bungee.
Brian: They made it seem like we were [doing the bungee] for an hour. We really weren't there that long because Meghan and Cheyne left the bungee, went to the Venetian and then the Monte Carlo, and we made it to the Monte Carlo before them. We were probably five minutes behind on our way to the Monte Carlo.
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TVGuide.com: Ericka, you had a few freak-outs, especially during the bell-counting, and Brian had to calm you down. Were your meltdowns played up?
Ericka: The freak-out with the bells was more so the fact that I had to walk upstairs for two hours, so imagine being on a stair-climber for two hours! There were a couple moments that we had, but I think the beauty in this show is that there are so many different relationships and dynamics. ... I'm much more comfortable with my husband than I would be with one of my girlfriends.
Brian: Staying calm was also the only choice I had. I learned my lesson when she did the duck challenge. I was screaming my head off and I saw something in myself that I didn't like. Screaming's not going to accomplish anything. She tried her hardest at everything she did. At the end of the day, I had to do six Roadblocks and she had to do six Roadblocks. You can't get that far by yourself.
TVGuide.com: And Ericka, you rappelled down the Mandalay Bay.
Ericka: That was the most exciting part of the entire race! Getting the chance to do that and really prove to a lot of people in my life and people who are observing me for the first time that, regardless of what labels and titles may be placed on me, I'm a lot different from what you expect. I'm a lot tougher than most of my family expected me to be, so that was nice to be able to shed that.
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TVGuide.com: What happened with the cab-stealing? Sam and Dan said they called for another cab for you.
Ericka: [Laughs] Whatever! They did not call for another cab!
Brian: If they did, they told them to drive really slow because it took another 45 minutes for one to get there. If you watch carefully, the same cab driver that took them, he came back to take us. We were mad and frustrated at that moment, but after that, we kind of let it go. Honestly, without Sam and Dan, we would not have made the final three because if Dan told Big Easy it was "Franz," there was no way we would've caught up!
TVGuide.com: You, unlike Dan, didn't agree to work with Big Easy.
Brian: I didn't. It was down to the wire and the thing that made me kind of mad with Big Easy is — if you watch it again carefully like I do, I got into that room and I tried to confirm the letters with him: "Did you get F, R, A, N, Z?" He just said, "Yup, I got F." He knew it started with F because Dan told him, so he tried to throw me under the bus a little, but as soon as I realized it started with an F, I wrote down "Franz." He tried to look over my shoulder, but I boxed him out. It took me about 10 minutes to go through all the phones and maybe another five to seven minutes to figure out it was "Franz."
TVGuide.com: A lot of the other teams targeted the Globetrotters. Did you as well and we didn't see it?
Brian: No. Our whole thing was, we're going to let the other teams fight and we're just going to sneak by them. If there was a U-Turn, they would've U-Turned each other. They wouldn't even have thought about us because we weren't a huge threat to them.
Ericka: I think we were the only team that wasn't intimidated by the Globetrotters. For some reason, from the moment we were on the start line, everybody was shaking in their boots about them. I knew what the game was about: It tests a variety of skills and there are a variety of opportunities [to get] lucky and anything can happen. They were great competitors, but I was more afraid of Ron and Marcy than I was of them! And we were the ones who [eliminated the Globetrotters], so that's kind of fun! [Laughs]
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TVGuide.com: Ericka, you gave a nice speech at the mat. You've said your mother doesn't approve of your relationship. What was her reaction after watching you guys this season?
Ericka: Thank you. She actually called us at the very end of the show. She used some of my words and said that she evaluated his character and she likes what she sees and she was very proud of us. That was definitely a star in her crown. It was really nice to know that we were able to get through.
TVGuide.com: What's next for you guys?
Ericka: We live in Nashville because I'm pursuing a career in country music. I'm a singer and hopefully very soon I'll be able to share my music with the world. Brian's also a performer who has all kinds of ambitions. Hopefully he'll be able to get out and do some really interesting things based on his likeability on the race.
Brian: Also, keep your eyes open. There may be a business venture with Cheyne and Meghan down the road!