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.
Maiya: It was quick. We knew where our bags were; we just didn't know where Phil was! [Laughs]Misa: Right. It's hard to say if that would've made an impact on our nerves and stuff, having our bags already. Still, at the end of the day, we just missed it somehow. You talked about how competitive you are, being golfers. Were you surprised at how off your game you were? You were last at some point in all the tasks, you drove into a sand pit and you missed the Pit Stop.
Maiya: I am used to traveling, I am used to pressure, but I'm also used to going at my own pace and making my own schedule, so this was definitely outside of my comfort zone. It was a bunch of unlucky situations. We had no idea it was going to be so hard to find the clue in the balloon, but no matter what, you could tell our competitiveness by the fact that we never gave up. We sprinted up that hill up the vineyard so many times.Misa: Having skills and any physical ability — that was an advantage to us to get through these tasks, but you have to have luck on your side too. There was no skill to be able to find that [balloon] clue. And Maiya was actually the first one to try to find me when I landed [from skydiving] from the second set of teams. She didn't know where to park. She didn't realize it wasn't a four-wheel drive.Where do you think your mistake ranks among the show's biggest?
Maiya: I think it's kind of like when Kisha and Jen stopped and peed [in Season 14]. [Laughs]Misa: It's almost as bad as that.But they weren't right next to the Pit Stop. You were right next to it.
Misa: True. Yeah, we were right there. It's probably one of the worst ever. On a brighter note, at least we made history! It's not [good], but it's still history. [Laughs] What are you up to now?
Maiya: I'm getting my stuff set up for golf. I'm trying to figure out sponsorship stuff and I'm trying to get on tour full time, starting up in March. ... My theory is I got all my bad luck out on this Race that I should win a few of my events coming up!Misa: I'm back [working as a car buyer]. Hopefully other things will come out of this. My dream job is to be an entertainment host, do commercials, do some print work, things like that. Hopefully that will come into fruition and hopefully me and Maiya will be able to participate in some charity events. We'll keep everybody posted through our website, TanakaSisters.com.