Misa and Maiya Tanaka had the final Top 10 spot locked up on The Amazing Race 20. After engineering yet another comeback, the sisters were 80 yards from the Pit Stop — except they inexplicably missed seeing Phil Keoghan, the Pit Stop greeter and the production team. While they frantically searched the grounds of the Patios de Cafayate winery in Salta, Argentina, friends Joey "Fitness" and Danny checked in. Months later, they still can't explain completely how they didn't see Keoghan, but they tried their best below.
Amazing Race's Phil Keoghan on premiere's crazy finish: It was the most bizarre Pit Stop ever
Let's just get down to it: How the hell did you miss Phil?
Maiya: [Laughs] When you're that exhausted and you're under that must pressure, you get tunnel vision. So you only see what's a few feet in front of you. I don't know how it happened. We just didn't see him. ... And we didn't exactly know what to look for. [Laughs] We know what Phil looks like, but we didn't know he had an entourage. I know that makes no sense, but we were just frantic at that point.
You didn't know there would be a production crew?
Misa: We didn't know what it would look like. It was so frustrating because we were literally right there. And we ran around the whole property. When we got back there and realized we were just there and we missed him, it was just beyond frustrating. Me and Maiya are both really, really competitive and it was definitely heartbreaking for us to come in last knowing we were right there.
You made so many comebacks and you had it. Do you think your nine lives ran out?
Misa: Yeah, we just felt like we kept getting so unlucky, but no matter what we just kept fighting. We kept hope that if we stayed strong that we'd catch up and that we'd be able to beat out one other team at least. At the end, we just don't know what happened. We thought for sure we'd make it on the mat before the guidos.
Phil says you guys checked in a minute after them.
Misa: Yeah, it was really close. They were just getting off the mat. They got to the empanada place at least 15 minutes before us. We were disheartened, but we never gave up and we busted out those empanadas as fast as we could. We had probably 10 to 12 empanadas on them when we left. They were making them at a different pace than we were. [Laughs] But yeah, as we were running up to the mat, we saw them.
Does it make it even tougher seeing them beat you?
Maiya: I think the hardest thing to swallow was knowing that we were right next to Phil. Phil told us, "This has not happened in the history of The Amazing Race. You just made one of the biggest boo-boos I've ever seen." As soon as he said that, I started bawling my eyes out.
Misa: I was just so mad that I couldn't cry. I was just extremely frustrated and irate that we made such a huge mistake, knowing that we were so frantic during that critical time. I just couldn't understand how we made a mistake like that. We were right there!
Why didn't you bring in your bags to do the challenge?
Maiya: To be honest, our bags were so heavy and we brought them out every other time that we didn't need them. So that last time, we just weren't thinking and we were tired and were like, "Screw our bags!" ... We figured if it came down to a matter of seconds, where we had to run, we would run without our bags.
Misa: We were in such a big hurry too. We were like, "Well, we probably are gonna have to drive around after this, so let's just leave them here." We just wanted to run in and take care of the challenge in front of us because we were last.