Need proof that the only leg that matters is the final leg on The Amazing Race? The Fabulous Beekman Boys' Josh and Brent — who had finished second to last six times during season and never in the top two before the finale — defied the odds and a three-team alliance to win the $1 million. They are the third team to win the Race without winning a previous leg. "We were the underdogs, but we didn't give up no matter how bad things got," Josh tells TVGuide.com. "I think we earned the win." Nevertheless, given their low placements throughout the Race and the fact that they seemed ready to throw in the towel to save Abbie and Ryan in Amsterdam, some fans believe they're unworthy winners. Find out why they don't mind that label, what they're doing with the money and more.
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Congratulations! What was going through your mind when you got to the finish?
Brent: We couldn't believe it. It's still kind of surreal.
Do you know how far behind the Chippendales were?
Josh: Maybe 25 to 30 minutes? I don't know actually. [Laughs] It's hard to tell because we were just in a daze in that moment.
Did you think you had this in the bag knowing you left the flags first?
Brent: We knew where Gotham Hall was from our time in the city, but regardless, we still talked to someone with an iPhone and checked and double-checked to make sure we were going to the right place. So we felt pretty confident and we had a great cab driver there at the end.
How long did the flags take you, Josh? They showed the time elapsed at two and a half hours when the sun was setting and by the time you finished, it was completely dark.
Josh: It felt like three and a half or more hours. It took a long time. But I knew once I reduced it to a mathematical problem after I did the ones I knew, I just calculated how many options there were and went through them one by one. Really, that was the only way to finish. We calculated it out and there were well over 1,100 different options and I would've stood there and done every single one. [Laughs]
I think a lot of people thought you had a mental advantage over the Chippendales, and Trey and Lexi. Were you surprised at how long it took you or that you didn't remember most of the greetings?
Josh: No, I really wasn't surprised. Once I figured out the formula, I knew that it was literally trying one flag next to another one over and over again until I got it. As soon as I realized that neither Lexi nor James could remember any more than I did, I knew that they were in the same boat I was.
You had a pretty defeatist attitude for a bit, especially in Amsterdam when you beat Abbie and Ryan. Were you really serious about bowing out for them?
Brent: We didn't want to necessarily lose or drop out, but from the very start of the Race, we could see on everyone's faces that this is a huge life-changing opportunity. ... I don't know if we were more sensitive than the other people who were racing, but it's really hard to see someone's dream come to an end. It was hard after every elimination, but we had grown close with Abbie and Ryan.
Did you think Abbie and Ryan deserved to advance further than you? That's what you were implying at the mat and when you wanted to wait for them to do the other Detour.
Josh: We checked ourselves at that moment. We always wanted to make sure that we didn't just win the Race. We wanted to run the Race in a way that we'd be proud of ourselves. We wanted to make sure that we weren't going against our own values and our own way of working together. We did check ourselves, but then we made the right decision to go ahead. Ryan and Abbie would totally back it up that there was no choice for us but to continue.
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How much did seeing the other three teams' alliance motivate you?
Brent: That was actually the biggest motivator. We took a different strategy to the Race. From watching 20 other seasons of The Amazing Race, we saw that it wasn't usually one team defeating another; it was a team defeating itself. That was really our strategy going in: not break down among ourselves. I think when we got to that point and saw that these other teams not only formed an alliance, but they formed one because they perceived us to be a weaker team, that made us go, "You know what? We've accomplished a lot in our lives. By no means were we the weakest team there and we have to prove it."
Natalie and Nadiya seemed to take the most umbrage to you guys.
Brent: We'll go on the record and say the twins are great girls. They're smart and funny — they kept us laughing the entire Race.
Josh: And they're super-competitive. They're terrific girls. They played to win and that's what a competitor does.
Do you think they were so upset with you because their plan backfired? They got rid of Abbie and Ryan and they didn't expect you guys to be beating them.
Josh: Yeah, definitely. I think they would've been upset no matter who was beating them. They're just great competitors. I don't think there was necessarily anything against us. We just happened to be at that moment their biggest threat. ... They were trying to psych us out just as much as we were trying to psych them out.
You guys did a better job of that at the dog food Detour.
Brent: That was funny because as soon as we saw that they couldn't talk and chop at the same time, we knew we had to keep them talking, so that's what we did.
That leg, you left the caves last. Did you think that was it?
Josh: I have to admit that on that car ride, we thought it was over, especially when we hit a detour — an actual detour, not a Race Detour. [Laughs] The twins had been self-navigating so well that day — they caught up to all of us after their Speed Bump — so knowing they left first and were doing so well navigating, I was really shocked to find out we were third.
Luck is a big part of the Race. How much of your whole season do you think can be attributed to luck? You guys stayed in by the skin of your teeth on a lot of legs.
Brent: Yeah, you're absolutely right. There's a lot of luck that goes into the game. I would say maybe 60 percent of the game is luck. But here's our thought on it: Every team at the starting line started out with the same amount of good luck and bad luck. Part of the Race is trying to deal with the chips as they fall, and when you're having bad luck, figuring out how to turn that around, and when you're having good luck, figuring out how to run with it. I think some of the other teams maybe did not have as much life experience as we've had and maybe weren't as good at being attuned to different situations. It's different when you're always in the front and then you then fall to the back — how are you going to respond to that? That's how life is. That's why we always go with the flow.
What was your lowest moment?
Brent: I think our lowest moment was probably when we missed the connecting flight, which put us so far behind. To that point, we had been pretty middle-of-the-road. I think we were 14 and a half hours behind and on the Race, that's almost insurmountable.
Josh: People will say we're the luckiest team ever, but one of the things that proved how hard we worked to stay in the Race was we were 14 and a half hours behind and by the time we set off for Spain, we were only three hours behind. [Flight and train] schedules are part of it, but we did make up time at some tasks.
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Some fans think you're the worst winners ever because of your low placements and never having finished higher than third before the finale. What do you have to say?
Brent: As I said, we started middle of the pack. I think just because of the way the last half of the Race went, people thought that we were always at the end. ... And there was quite a bit switching around before Tex and Lex started dominating the last few legs. I think that because of approach that we took in that we weren't always gunning to be the first team to reach the mat, when it came down to the end when it really mattered, we weren't mentally exhausted, so we could make the right decisions.
Josh: Let me go on record as saying, I would always rather be the worst winner than the best loser!
Isn't the goal ultimately to win the final leg anyway?
Brent: That's right. That's what a lot of people, particularly the people watching the show at home, lose sight of. Ultimately, it's not about winning every leg; it's just not losing a leg.
What are you going to do with the money?
Josh: We're going to pay off the mortgage on our farm so that I can move up to Sharon Springs [in upstate New York] full time and we can be together again. We're also going to buy a building on the main street in our village that will become the headquarters of our business. ... We're also starting a line of food products, where 25 percent of the profits will go to help other farmers pay off their mortgages.
Brent: Right now, we're working on our next cookbook. That comes out next fall. And just keep on farming!