A few days after America saw them finish first on The Amazing Race 12, $1 million winners TK and Rachel still had no clue when they would get their cashable grand prize check, whether taxes would be taken out of said check first or if it would be divided equally in two. They knew nothing. And much like they were last July when they raced 30,000 sweltering miles through eight countries and four continents, the Zen masters didn't really seem to care. "We got the big [mock] check," said Rachel who recently quit her job at her parents' flower shop. "But the real check, we don't know." But, TK added, "We should be hearing something soon."
TVGuide.com: You were pretty mellow until the very end when you two actually seemed to get agitated in the last cab ride.
TK: Well, we got really lost. It wasn't particularly portrayed that way, but our cab driver didn't really know where he was going. We got turned around a bunch of times. And we were basically in a position where, had Nick and Don or Ron and Chris finished the roadblock after us then gone straight, we could have been very well behind them. We didn't know where we were. And it was just that tension and anxiety building up.
TVGuide.com: Now that the finale has aired, does it feel like you've actually won?
TK: It's kind of one of those things were you have this whole incredible, amazing life-changing experience and then you come home and go right back to work the next day. Everyone just thought we went backpacking in Europe. So as the months rolled by we spent a few late nights asking. "Is it all a dream?"
Rachel: We couldn't tell anyone that we'd won. So, it ended up feeling like the whole thing never happened at all.
TVGuide.com: What was your weekly ritual for watching the show?
Rachel: We hung out with Nate and Jen a majority of the weeks. We watched it with them at their house. A couple of times we had people over to our house — like for our win in Lithuania. And last week we went to a big party that Jen and Hendekea threw in Long Beach. We tried to share it with different people every week.
TVGuide.com: Remind me: How many legs did you win?
TK: Including the last one, three.
TVGuide.com: What were your prizes?
TK: We lucked out. We won the leg that was sponsored by Travelocity so we got a 10-day trip to Japan. We're really stoked on that.
Rachel: It's a whole big thing. There are events planned for us and things like that. And then we won a five-day trip to St. Martin.
TK: Which is also going to be awesome.
TVGuide.com: Did you really finish that quickly when you had to do the speed bump in Taiwan? Or was it just located super close to your other task?
TK: It was about a mile away. And while it looks like we just got there, got dressed and ran through the fireworks, the whole process took about half an hour. We had a safety briefing. Then we had to put on all that fire retardant stuff. And after we ran through it, we had to take all that stuff back off. And we had water dumped on us.
Rachel: Ten buckets of water! It was a safety thing. You don't want any smoldering fireworks on you or anything like that. But they also said it was part of the ritual.
TVGuide.com: You were in race mode so they could have told you anything. And you wouldn't have cared.
TK: Exactly. Ten buckets of water. OK! Sure. Let's go.
TVGuide.com: Kynt and Vyxsin called themselves energizer bunnies but, in the end you two are the ones who kept calmly coming back. What was your secret?
TK: We came off a little lackadaisical sometimes. But we wanted to win so bad that we knew the best way was to not waste any time arguing amongst ourselves. I also think we ran a decent race and got lucky at the right times.
TVGuide.com: So there was no ganja smoking along the way? Hey, it's legal in some countries.
TK: [Laughs] No. No ganja smoking along the way.
TK: We didn't have time in Amsterdam to stop off anywhere. We were running through town.
TVGuide.com: You've said you watched some episodes with Jen and Nate. Well, TK, at one point she said she wanted to rip the dreads out of your head. That must have made for an awkward moment.
TK: Yeah, we were sitting right next to them. But, she told me that she had said that beforehand. So by the time it came around, we were laughing our asses off.
TVGuide.com: Were there any other such confessions from other players and did you make any confessions of our own?
Rachel: No, because we were able to make friends with everyone, even with teams that didn't get along. We were totally like the middlemen.
Once you get that money, what's the first place you're going to visit?
TK: We have some traveling to do in the States first. I have some college friends who live in a few different places that I need to visit. And then we have family in Texas and Virginia that we couldn't afford to go see before but now we're happy to. And then we're just going to kind of play it by ear.
Ron and Christina give back
They may have butted heads on the race, but now that they've crossed their final pit stop, the father-daughter team are united on one thing: They want to give something back to the children of Burkina Faso. Between January 23 and February 2, Ron and Christina Chu will auction off Ron's four "Who's Your Daddy" shirts and other gear they used on The Amazing Race. All proceeds will be donated to an orphanage in Burkina Faso. To access the auction go here.
Looking for Love in Lithuania
Did the Amazing Race make a love connection? Maybe. When 23-year-old pilot Nick of the Nick and Don grandfather-grandson team spent a frustrating four hours in Vilnius, Lithuania trying to find a remote hair salon for their Road Block, Nick met "the nicest" woman named Sigita who not only gave them excellent directions, she gave him her number. "She's only shown on air for two seconds," Nick says. "But [her help] actually ended up making the difference."
After she helped him find the hair salon, Sigita waited for Nick to read his next clue then she called her father and got detailed directions to their next small-town destination. Thanks to her roadmap, Nick says, "we were able to pass up the blonds who'd left about 10 minutes before us. We got to the small town about 10 minutes a head of them."
The jet-setter and his Lithuania crush have kept in touch since they met this summer, and they plan to meet for drinks in Washington next week. No wonder Nick claims he loved Lithuania!
Oh, and Sigita wasn't the only thing producers edited out of Nick and Don's race footage. According to Team Nick and Gramps, they took money from strangers. Throughout the race, the May-December pair always managed to finish each leg with more money in their backpacks than other teams because, they say, they made good use of the first five hours on the road when all the teams were stuck at the airport in Los Angeles. "People saw all the teams together and suspected we were from The Amazing Race," Nick says. "We had to deny it. So when they asked I would just shrug my shoulders. They'd get all excited and I'd say, "Well, can you help me?" And when a youth soccer team surrounded them, Don says all the boys, who were about 15 years old, "didn't really have any money but they all chipped in and gave us a buck or two." You took money from kids?! Says Don, "Yeah, we're not proud."
Check out clips of Amazing Race in our Online Video Guide.
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