Vanessa and Ralph
After a season-long feud with Brendon and Rachel, Vanessa and Ralph — who are no longer a couple — were edged out by their foes for the third and final spot on The Amazing Race. But who knows what would've happened had Vanessa not performed the Japanese game show Roadblock on a bum ankle. "We try not to think about it too much," she tells TVGuide.com. "It is what it is, but I can't even describe how painful it was running, jumping and falling down over and over again. ... Of course we wanted to win and beat them, but they beat us fair and square." But how did this verbal warfare all start? Get the duo's side of the story below.
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Do you know how far behind Brendon and Rachel you were?
Ralph: We were fairly close. I don't know the exact time. We saw them in the next step after you check-in, so we weren't that far behind.
Vanessa: There were a whole bunch of conflicting reports on that. Some people told us a half-hour, some people said less, but it was closer than I ever anticipated, especially after my ordeal at the Roadblock.
You guys seemed to have made up a lot of time. How long were you at the Roadblock?
Ralph: It was quite a while. We were the second team to show up and obviously the last team to leave. We made up some time because we saw Big Brother at the sushi challenge, but we were there for a very, very long time. It was surprising when we saw them. Vanessa was seriously hurt and she stuck it out. It hampered us being able to move any quicker and the situation was what it was.
Vanessa: It was a lot of falling, screaming, getting up, falling, screaming, getting up.
Your ankle looked nasty. Why didn't you tape it up?
Vanessa: We actually did. I would stop during it every once in a while and Ralph taped it up. He did a fairly good job, but every time he taped it up, it would swell so much that it looked like a tube of biscuits that you had just slammed on the counter, and my ankle would just pop out. It was gross. So the wrapping was kind of pointless. But I think they just kept using the same shot of my ankle.
Ralph, you told her to quit, but Vanessa, you were adamant about not quitting. How close were you to throwing in the towel?
Vanessa: We discussed it very, very briefly. But in a situation like that, that's not how you wanna go out. I don't think you really realize what you'd do for $1 million or really anything you care that much about until you're in that situation.
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Did you exacerbate your ankle injury even more?
Vanessa: Well, the thing is, I have a screw in that ankle. I've torn an Achilles tendon and I've broken all the bones on top of my foot, so I knew the screw was not gonna give. I did find out later that that was inaccurate! [Laughs] It is possible to chip off the part of the screw. But I think that's where my mind was. "It's not gonna break!" But it hurt like hell. ... I just lost my footing [in India]. I wish I could say I tripped over something interesting, but it was just me being clumsy! I'm a klutz and that ankle sometimes locks up, but, really, there was no reason for me to fall the way I did and just eat it.
You had a pretty serious scrape on your right shoulder too.
Vanessa: Yeah, I fell on the entire right side of my body, so I still have a scar on my shoulder, my knee. That's never going away. This shoulder looks awful! It looked like ringworm for a long time and I was really self-conscious about it.
What was your mindset like during the Race because you guys were hanging by a thread almost every leg?
Ralph: [Laughs] Our goal was to always do our best, but, yeah, we thought we were done so many times. The watermelon challenge — we were there almost seven hours. When we were driving to the Roadblock, we pretty much had discussed that it was our time to go.
Vanessa: The cab we took to the Roadblock — the guy stopped for gas, I thought he was gonna stop for a burger at one point. He was just talking to people. We were like, "This is ridiculous!"
Ralph: As a team, we probably had the worst luck. We were on a bus and the window got blown out. We're in a cab in Africa and the guy gets a flat. Thank God that spare made it! That spare looked worse than the flat tire. It always seemed like we would get going and something happens. Vanessa, unfortunately, twisted her ankle and she had to do the next Roadblock to keep our count even and of course, with our luck, it involved running. It was just like that for us. In Europe, we're in third or fourth or even the middle of the pack, and then luck seems to find us and bite us in the ass quite a bit.
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We have to talk about Brendon and Rachel obviously. How did your feud all start?
Vanessa: When everybody started talking about what they do and their lives, we started talking about my political work and they challenged my political views pretty viciously. I'm fairly liberal and by "fairly," I mean pretty strongly liberal. They said something along the lines of "Oh, so you kill babies?" I'm like, "Yes, a--holes, that's what I do. I kill babies and go around shooting puppies. What the hell is the matter with you?" Obviously that didn't air; I wish it did. And she thinks I don't like her because of her sequins! No, honey, it's not because of your sequins! It's you being dumb.
[Ed. Note: Read Brendon and Rachel's response here.]
You didn't have to continue interacting with her. Did you realize you could pick on her and kept doing it?
Vanessa: What was interesting was once I knew I could get under her skin, then it was more — I dunno — not like a pastime... [Laughs]
You seemed to revel in it.
Vanessa: Yeah. Just bless her heart. [Laughs] She's such a weak personality that anything that you say will just irk her to no end. She made it so easy. I mean, you tell me something, I kind of dust it off and it's not that big of a deal. Honestly, it's a behavior that I'm trying to modify. I didn't realize that my words would hurt people so much and seeing how vicious I could be while not even thinking twice about it and seeing it firsthand on camera has kind of opened my eyes a little bit to be nicer. So I'm being nicer.
Your nose job dig might be the line of the season.
Vanessa: Yeah, but now I think it was below the belt and it was obviously mean and wrong. In hindsight, I would never say it again. But she was really asking for it.
Ralph, I think it was pretty clear that you wanted no part of that, especially in the extended Mat Chat from last week. What was your take on this whole thing?
Ralph: I mean, I wasn't there for drama and Vanessa wasn't there for the drama either. I just didn't want any part of it. I really didn't. I dealt with it because obviously I'm gonna support my teammate and my partner. I was just so frustrated, though, and it was over stupid stuff. It would just escalate.
Vanessa: I don't think my political views are stupid.
Ralph: Well, I just think things could've been let go and handled differently. I just wanted no part of it.
Vanessa: But I just want to say that there's nothing I said about her that other people didn't say. I just said it when the cameras were on. Everything I said, whether it be about them or the Mississippi girls or whoever, I just said it while cameras were rolling and they just happened to show my comments about her.
Did you know they were on Big Brother? I think a lot of people thought you watched them on it and knew how to push her buttons.
Vanessa: No. I had never seen Big Brother in my life, which I think says more about her than anything.
Ralph: We didn't even know they were on Big Brother until we were already racing. We had no idea who they were.
Did you kiss and make up when it was all said and done?
Vanessa: [Laughs] I wouldn't say there was a kiss and a makeup. After everything wrapped, we were civil. We're human beings. We're not hanging out on the weekends or having tea or coffee or anything.
What are you up to now?
Vanessa: I am the director of corporate and community partnerships for the San Antonio Talons, the new arena football team, which is fun. On game days, I get to do their in-house announcements, so I get to have more fun. It hits the nerd side of me. I get to write, strategize, do some marketing and problem-solve, and on game day, I get to be a goofy jackass who runs around and high-fives fans. It's the best of both worlds.
Ralph: I'm just working and spending time with my daughter.