The Amazing Race All-Stars made its first elimination before the race even started. That "gut-wrenching" start Phil Keoghan described saw fan fave Bopper bow out at the starting line due to an inflamed pancreas. Instead of his BFF Mark withdrawing as well, Bopper was replaced by fellow Kentuckian and now three-time Racer Mallory. "The whole thing was just terrible timing," Bopper tells TVGuide.com. "But as much as I wish I could've gone, I wanted Mark to go even more. He shouldn't miss out on this because of me." See what else the Season 20 alum had to say about his withdrawal and how it all went down.
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How are you doing now?
Bopper: I'm doing pretty good. Thanks for asking. It's all good now. Don't worry.
That's good to hear. So what happened with your pancreas? Did it flare up all of the sudden or had you had problems before?
Bopper: My pancreas had flared up the day before we went to Los Angeles. We were ready to go and we were looking forward to winning this Race. The day before we went to Los Angeles, I had woken up with severe pain in my stomach area and didn't know what was going on. I went to the emergency room and they told me that I was having a pancreas attack. I've never had one before. I've never had any problems with my pancreas. I just had a lot of stress at the time. The day I was leaving, my daughter was going into surgery on her arm. It was just a number of factors at the wrong time. I was trying to quit smoking. I was chewing a whole lot chewing gum that helps you quit smoking. I've always been bad about swallowing my gum, so I was really chewing a lot of it and swallowing it. [Laughs] I was drinking a whole lot of boiled tea. It was just a perfect storm of anxiety, nerves and the gum.
You still flew to L.A. though. Were you hoping it would pass?
Bopper: Yeah. I went to Los Angeles hoping this would pass in a day or so and I would be OK. But as I was in Los Angeles, the pain just progressed. I told production I needed to see the doctor. He did some good work on me. He gave me a thorough exam. I was on the borderline of "can and cannot go." He told me for the benefit of my health not to go. And CBS couldn't let me go if the doctor couldn't clear me.
Did you ever fight them on it?
Bopper: I understood. I mean, in some of these countries, if you have a medical problem there, you're up a creek without a paddle so to speak. That was the biggest concern. They knew the places I would go had good medical attention, but you don't know what's going to happen when or where. You could be in the middle of nowhere with an emergency. They couldn't take that chance. So they had to make the decision to pull me out. I know they didn't want to do it, but they had to.