Breaking up is hard to do, especially on national television. Granted, Ron Young and Kelly McCorkle didn't actually split up on The Amazing Race, but it was pretty clear to viewers that their relationship was on shaky ground. After finishing third in the season finale, the former POW and the ex-Miss South Carolina ultimately went in different directions. Here, in separately conducted interviews, the ex-lovers answer TVGuide.com's queries about their broken romance — and the night they spent in a Peruvian brothel!
TVGuide.com: Your relationship became a major issue during the last half of the season. Do you feel you were represented fairly?
First of all, I think that in order for them to put any [negative] stuff in there, you have to have said it. They never put things in there that you didn't say, but viewers don't get a chance to see how arguments are resolved. All they see is one line that's supposed to characterize the entire argument. So Kelly and I did argue, but what people missed is that it really led to nothing. There was no real flare-up, and that's why we were able to keep moving with the race and finish in third place. One thing that did bother me was how they made it look like all I talked about was freakin' Iraq. The thing is, they have [off-camera producers] asking you stuff like, "How does this compare to Iraq?" They never show me going, "This doesn't compare at all." I don't understand what the entertainment value to that was — it was just the same thing, over and over again.
Kelly McCorkle: There were times when I watched it and I thought it was accurate, even when things got tense. But other times, I thought it was a bit melodramatic. Honestly, when I came back home after the race, I told my parents that Ron and I got along great. We only had one fight.
TVG: What's the story behind Kelly's infamous POW comment?
It's funny, Ron and I said we didn't even remember that conversation. I was disturbed by that segment because it wasn't the whole conversation. Later on, I was able to explain myself more. Ron knew where I was coming from in some ways. Even his own mother has joked about him not being very full of commitment, and that was my way to try to make the situation lighthearted. It came out wrong. I certainly did not mean to be disrespectful to the military or veterans or POWs. There are so many of my family serving in the military right now; my brother goes on active duty in two weeks. I called Ron [and his] mom immediately and said, "I'm really sorry it came across that way." They both know how much I respect him for his service.
Ron:At the beginning of that conversation, I basically said that I wasn't ready for commitment, and I hoped that the entire thing would be dropped then and there. But it just wasn't happening like that. It was almost like [Kelly] kept trying to back me into a corner. Then she made that comment, and I think you could see my face. I'm like "What the heck are you talking about?" It was kind of laughed off at that point, because I think she realized how ridiculous it was. I think you saw that it didn't really bother me that much. It drove other people nuts more than it did me; the people I went through prison with called me up going, "What the hell did she say?" But knowing Kelly, it wasn't a shock to me. When you care for someone and really like them, you're able to forgive them for little slip-ups like that. I think Kelly's a great person. I've never doubted that or her commitment to our relationship. But she can sometimes put her foot in her mouth pretty fast.
TVG: You're no longer in a relationship together, correct?
Right, we're just good friends. I think people on the race could see we that we had some communication issues. Ron and I are on different paths in our lives. I think we kind of knew that before the race, but I was hoping the race would bring us together and we'd try to get on the same path. It didn't turn out that way, but life goes on. I don't think we'll be best buddies, but I have a lot of respect for him as a person and especially for his service in the military.
TVG: Did you separate immediately following the race?
Yeah, it was pretty much after the race finished. We never really had an official talk, but I think we both understood that we weren't going the same direction. We both thought, let's take some time off and see what happens.
Ron: I knew, probably by the end of [our time in] Peru, that things weren't going to work out. I still care about her and still love her, but we are just very different people in how we handle stress. She's someone for whom everything has to be laid out right away, and I'm one of those people who doesn't enjoy confrontation. She doesn't mind a certain level of confrontation and that's something I'm unwilling to accept in someone I want to be with for the rest of my life. It had nothing to do with her being a bad person or me being a bad person. Besides that, I'm not ready for a commitment like marriage. My life keeps changing 180 degrees at a time and it's really difficult to decide where I'm going to be and who I'm going to be with. Also, I'm still dealing with issues from my experience in Iraq and that makes it very difficult [to be in] relationships. It's hard to find someone who can truly identify with who you are and where you're at.
TVG: Was the finale party the first time you had seen the show together?
Yeah. It was awkward, because those two legs were very emotional. For me, watching the race up to that point was like a big road sign in the sky saying, "This is not going to work out." Anyone who has logic or analyzes the race would go, "Folks, y'all need to run like hell." The race is stressful enough without having to worry about whether you're getting married at the end of it. I would love to do it with one of the people I was in prison with, because we have a bond that's different from anyone else in the world.
TVG: Finally, what's the best thing that hit the cutting room floor?
Kelly and I stayed in a brothel one night in Lima and didn't have any idea. We told our cab driver to take us to the cheapest hotel he knew of. So he took us to this place and we got a room and went straight to sleep. The next morning, we jumped back in the cab and the camera guy goes, "So how did you like your stay in the brothel last night?" And I'm like, "The brothel?" And he's like, "Yeah, you didn't notice?" We had paid in cash, and there were mirrors all around the room, but we were so tired, we didn't realize. And it was the loudest place you ever heard in your life! It sounded like people were getting beat up in there. But it still didn't hit us. So the cameraman said, "Did you turn on the TV?" And I said "No." He said, "Well, there were two channels and both of them were porn." It's a good thing they didn't show any of that. They could really make a whole show out of that sort of extra material. [Laughs]