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Amazing Race's Amy and Maya: We're a "Great Underdog Story"

What will they do with the money?

Joyce Eng

Friday's Amazing Race finale was pretty sweet. Food scientists and PhD students Amy and Maya, who specialize in candy and ice cream, came from behind, thanks to the four-team finale twist, to become the third all-female team to win the $1 million -- and the fourth team to do so without having won a leg prior to the finale. "It's pretty surreal," Amy tells TVGuide.com. "You never know what's going to happen. I think just because we're not physically intimidating and because of what we do, other teams definitely underestimated us." See what else they have to say about their victory, what they'll do with the money and if they really have a beef with Brooke and Robbie.

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Congratulations! How does it feel?
It's such an out-of-body experience. And we've known for so long -- six months -- so now it's like, oh, the world knows! It's exciting, just watching the whole episode. People didn't expect us to win. The [final four twist] saved us, we were in first, then I forgot to take off [the stunt gear] and everyone did the last challenge together. It's a great underdog story.

Except for the quick change, you ran a pretty flawless leg.
Yup. We knew going into it we had to focus on directions. Our downfall the whole race was getting lost, especially getting directions. But we nailed it. We did not get lost once driving.
Maya: I don't understand how teams got lost. We're in America! [Laughs] We're driving in Los Angeles. Read the signs. Ask for directions and follow them to the T. When we were at city hall and getting directions at a park, we saw the surfers and dentists get in their cars and go. We're like, "OK, well, we're getting directions first."

How far ahead were you in the end?
We were only about 20 minutes ahead of Misti and Jim, and about an hour and 20 ahead of the surfers.

As soon as Phil described the last Roadblock and that you couldn't take notes, I was like, "Amy and Maya are gonna rock this." And you did.
Maya: We knew that if the last challenge was intellectual, we knew that we would nail it because we know how to focus. ... The race is more mental than physical. Because we're still in school, we use our intellect more than the other teams on a daily basis. We're in classes, in lab, we're constantly studying and having to memorize things.

Amy, how were you feeling between the heat exhaustion and your leg injury?
It was rough. I actually found out when I got home that I had stress fractures in my lower pelvis. I was in pretty severe pain most of the race, but that just shows you what adrenaline can do. I was actually suffering more from crashing the bike into the van last week than I was from heat exhaustion. [Laughs]

What was your relationship with the wrestlers like? They went back on the U-Turn deal, lied to you about the clue, and Brooke was not happy to see you in the final. Were they really out for you personally or was it more of a competitive racing thing?
I think it's more of a competitive thing. We ran a lot in the race with Brooke and Rob. We were together a lot in the middle of the pack. We were kind of surprised to see how it played out from their end, but they're really competitive. Ultimately, we came back at the end and we're happy with that!
Maya: We're not surprised by their reaction, Brooke especially. That was their attitude toward the cyclists. The cyclists never did anything to them. She just saw them as a threat. So we knew we were a threat to them. If you watch, they just call us candy girls. "I kick girls in the face. All she does is make ice cream." They sort of tried to bring themselves up by putting us down. We never did that. We want to bring up ourselves and show that we could compete with the best.

Check out our recap of The Amazing Race finale

I think the biggest mistake you made was when you believed them that the clue wasn't there in Manila.
Yeah. [Laughs] I'll admit: I'm so gullible. I'm "OK, they wouldn't lie to us!" If that had gotten us out, we would've been really pissed off. But they didn't, so it was just like, "OK, lesson learned. You can't believe anyone," like our taxi driver said. People often ask us, "Did you believe Brooke and Rob in the airport when they said they didn't know what you asked?" Of course, we didn't believe them!
Amy: We knew they were lying, but there was no benefit in starting something with them. You lied, OK, we'll move on. We're here to win $1 million, not to fight.

How are your backs after the cupping?
[Laughs] The scars are gone! After a week, it wasn't that bad.

Phil predicted you to come in sixth place, so you really proved him wrong.
[Laughs] You can't predict the race. You cannot.
Amy: So much can happen, from getting cabs to flights delayed to getting bad directions. There are so many variables.
Maya: One thing you can't tell from when you interview in casting is how teams will be under the stress of the race. Part of winning it and running it successfully is knowing how to race and when not to not race. I think that's something we figured out early on. We were focused and kept our eyes on the prize. Part of that is because we're getting our PhDs. It's a very long process.

Are your theses going to be Amazing Race-inspired ice cream and candy flavors?
[Laughs] I think we're going to eventually open up a couple of ice cream shops and they'll definitely have some inspired flavors. There'll probably be a cupping one and a "My ox is broken" one, a Phil eyebrow one. We'll brainstorm!

What are you going to do with the money?
I really don't know. I'm still going to be in school for three, maybe four years. I'm not going to spend it all away. I'll probably save most of it until I'm out of school. Maybe I'll help out my family.
Maya: I'm graduating in 2015. I want to open a few ice cream shops, so this is a great start for that. I also want [develop] a TV show ... so this can help with that too.

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I really like the irony of ice cream and candy scientists beating dentists.
[Laughs] It's really interesting. Getting a PhD, if you look back, they never identified us as PhD students. I think they made a mistake in underlining who we really are. That was to our benefit. Jim was like, "They were low-hanging fruit." They don't know how we were running the race. They don't know that getting PhD is not an easy feat. Our PhDs just happen to be in candy and ice cream. I mean, we're smart women. We're going to pick something that's fun and enjoyable to do. We get to play with candy and ice cream!

The Amazing Race returns Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 9:30/8:30c with a special 90-minute episode before moving to its regular timeslot Friday, Feb. 27 at 8/7c on CBS.

Check out our behind-the-scenes footage from the Season 25 start line.

(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)