Amazing Race's Jessica and John: We Didn't Over-Think Using the Express Pass
John Erck and Jessica Hoel
The Amazing Race's Jessica and John made dubious show history on Sunday, becoming the first team to get eliminated without using the Express Pass despite having ample chances to use it to skip a challenge. Even more questionable? After their elimination, John declared that he had no regrets and that he didn't need the $1 million, generating a classic eyebrow-raising "oy vey" from Phil Keoghan. What did he really mean? And why were they hell-bent on not using the Express Pass? Find out below.
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Let's get down to it: Why didn't you use the Express Pass?
Jessica: There are a lot of reasons. At the fruit-offering Detour, we decided not to use it because you had to get the fruit offering checked and we checked it multiple times and we never knew exactly what was wrong with it. We timed Joey and Meghan, and they took an hour and 15 minutes, so we thought it would take everyone a long time and we could save it for the Roadblock. And we also thought that the derby girls [Mona and Beth] were still behind us and that Dave and Connor could have decided to go home because they had been talking about that. When we got to the other Detour, we had no indication that the derby girls had even been there, so we were under the assumption that they hadn't arrived yet. The challenge was difficult, but it was quicker. But hindsight being 20/20, the transportation getting there and going to the next challenge, we probably wasted a lot of time. And then getting to the Roadblock, we were both super-excited because we're both surfers and we thought it was a surfing challenge.
And it wasn't.
Jessica: Right! And traditionally when you're at a Roadblock, like at the sandcastles, you could see your partner doing the challenge and then you take more transportation to Phil. But that wasn't the case. You were separated and you had to run to Phil. At that point, once we had some information that we were the last team, I couldn't communicate with John and we had to be together to use the Express Pass, so there was no way for us to get together and decide to use it. And when we got the clue out of the clue box, there was another clue in there, so that re-confirmed to us that the derby girls were behind us. And we didn't know about Dave and Connor. ... Once John got down there, Chuck was on his way up and then I talked to Wynonna. In the Race, you have to make a lot of decisions and a lot of assumptions and unfortunately they just didn't go our way. As you saw, it was a really long leg. I had been really sick the night before, so I had a lot of stress just being kind of rundown. The decisions we made about the Express Pass were mutual. We talked about it a lot.
John, when you saw Chuck running up, did you ever think, "I should just follow him and we can use the Express Pass just in case we are last"? You didn't think that it could just be an extra clue in the clue box?
John: No. And following Chuck didn't occur to me then. I was thinking about the derby girls and was under the impression that we were in front of them.
Do you think you were over-thinking using the Express Pass? You kept talking about how you wanted to be strategic with it, but the whole purpose of it is to bail you out of a losing or difficult situation.
Jessica: We just didn't think we needed to use it at the time because we made the assumption that people were behind us. Potentially that could be over-thinking it. We were obviously wrong. But we could've used it and found out that Dave and Connor withdrew or the derby girls were actually behind us that would make us regret using it. So we could've over-thought it, but you have to make really quick decisions in order to continue on. I don't think we over-thought it; we just made decisions that weren't right that day.
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John, what made you run up to Jessica without a surfboard?
John: Well, when I saw Chuck, I interpreted it as a good thing. Not only are we not in last place, but we're competing with other people. He left and didn't return, but I didn't think it was a critical thing because, again, I didn't think we were last. I ran up to Jessica because after scanning the surfboards for a while — I lost track of how long we were there — I wasn't able to figure out which sticker it was. ... So I thought I could run up where Phil was and check out the boards that have been checked in.
Which he didn't let you do anyway.
John: Exactly! That was the first point that I was brought up to speed that we were last and the derby girls were actually ahead of us the whole time. That was the first time since we pulled the clue that Jess and I were together and had the opportunity to use the Express Pass. It just happened that we were in last place, so we couldn't use it because if we skip the challenge and check in in last place, that doesn't make any sense. That's when we started thinking, "Maybe a team has some sort of penalty that we're not aware of. If we just hope for the best and finish the challenge, we can still be in the Race and still have our Express Pass." I know they aired a sound clip of me saying, "I don't know why we should use the Express Pass" — that's because we were well aware that we were in last place and it didn't seem it would be smart. Don't use it if there was no upside to using it.
Can you explain your comments about not having regrets and not needing $1 million? Phil was totally dumbfounded by it.
John: [The "oy vey"] was funny. I intentionally used the word "need" because of the fact that it's such a powerful word. Jessica and I wanted to win the $1 million. That would've been great. ... But standing there, I was just making a comment that Jess and I don't need this money. We're not running the Race exclusively as a means to get rich. We're here to have fun and lead adventurous lives. It was important to me to note how much we appreciated being on the Race and going to all these cool places. The money would've been icing on the cake and no doubt we wanted it, but it wasn't super-important to us. That's why I said that.
What does it feel like to be the first team to get eliminated without using the Express Pass?
Jessica: It's exciting! We go down in history! [Laughs] I hope when they give out Express Passes in the future, they slash our faces on them. Like a reminder: "This is meant to be used!" We can laugh about it now. We had no idea we were going to be last that day, but I guess that's our claim to fame now.
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It was hilarious when you went to a random person's house and started a Detour. Did you steal the sarongs from the house?
Jessica: [Laughs] First of all, our cab driver was awesome. It was the right house number, and [the owner] actually had this red and yellow pole and we thought it was the right place because those are Race colors. He's the nicest guy. ... The clue says to put on a sarong and he grabs sarongs from his closet and puts them on us. ... The next-door neighbor blessed our offerings and we walked into a temple in his house. They were going along with it because they didn't know what we were doing and we thought it was right because they were going along with it. [Laughs] And then they didn't give us a clue and we did run out with their sarongs. The funny part is we got to the actual challenge and people were looking at us like, "Whoa! Did you bring your own sarongs?" We made a point when we got into our cab to return the sarongs. We felt so horrible that we just ran out of there.
What are you up to now?
Jessica: We're back in Huntington Beach, [Calif.] It's been fun to watch the Race. I'm still working in sales out of my home office. John is working on website design and building his iPhone app. We're kind of just doing what were before and enjoying life.