The Amazing Race picked up its ninth trophy (in 10 nominations) for reality-competition series at last Sunday's Primetime Emmy Awards, but the evening was special for Phil Keoghan for another reason.
"My daughter was 6 the first time we won and I told her that I would take her to the Emmys when she's 16 if we're lucky enough to be nominated then, let alone still be on the air," Keoghan tells TVGuide.com. "So a decade has gone by — I don't know how it's gone that quickly — we're still here and we got nominated, so I took her and it was great to be there with her." It wasn't smooth sailing the whole night: His daughter Elle fainted before the show from the oppressive heat (she's OK) and Keoghan had trouble getting into the theater after seeking help for her. "The entrance was blocked, so we had to go all the way around and luckily made it back in time before the category was announced," he says. "It was our own Roadblock!"
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Nine Emmys later, Race
is heading into its 21st season (Sunday, 8/7c, CBS) and raising the stakes even higher. For the first time, the show is doubling the prize money to $2 million — but there's a catch: A team must win the first and last legs to win the $2 million purse. So why up the grand prize now? What else can we expect from Season 21? Keoghan gives us the scoop. Congrats on the Emmy win! Do you still get nervous after so many wins?
Thank you! I do. Every year that we have won, I was more nervous than I ever was, last year included since we had lost [in 2010 to Top Chef
]. The first time we ever won, I was so relaxed because there were absolutely no expectations. In some respects, we were an underdog show. We weren't the highest-rated. We were just a critically acclaimed show, I think. I think that first award really put us on the map. It made people who hadn't found our show yet go, "What's this show that just won?"That one was for Season 3, which was a game-changing season. And now you're on 21.
Yeah, Season 3 was a pivotal one, [Season] 5 too. In fact, all our odd-numbered years were really pivotal — 1, 3, 5, 7 were big years for us. And now it's 21. I remember thinking five years was extraordinary. It's absolutely mind-blowing to be in the 20s now.Is that why you're upping the prize to a potential $2 million?
Yeah, that came from CBS. CBS said that they really wanted to have a game-changer, to have something that would make the audience pay attention and certainly make the teams race a little harder. Thankfully, they managed to find the resources to be able to offer it as a prize. The reaction that I got at the starting line was quite enthusiastic. "Oh, that sounds like a good idea!" (Watch a sneak peek of the starting line below.)