Being unable to unscramble five letters to spell "Franz" (as in Kafka) turned out to be quite the trial for The Amazing Race's Big Easy. The 28-year-old Harlem Globetrotter (real name: Nathaniel Lofton) struggled with the letters for almost three hours and was dealt a blow when Dan, after agreeing to work together, refused to give him the answer, offering up only the first letter. "That was his strategy. He felt like we were one of the strongest teams and he saw an opportunity to get rid of us and he went for it," Big Easy tells TVGuide.com. Rather than toil any longer, he and teammate, Herbert "Flight Time" Lang, 32, opted to incur a four-hour penalty, which ultimately led to their metamorphosis — uh, elimination. See why the pair had no regrets about the decision, what they think of Sam and Dan, and more.
TVGuide.com: Big Easy, did "Franz" ever come to mind or did you ever scribble it down in your notes and it just didn't register?
Actually, it was one of the first words I scribbled down, but for some reason I thought I went up there with it already and they rejected me. I was sitting there for two hours, so everything became a blur after a while. ... No one told me the answer [after we took the penalty]. I realized afterward, looking at the clue, that it was "Franz" and I had it two hours earlier.
Amazing Race's Gary and Matt: We don't feel like we lost TVGuide.com: Dan agreed to work with you. We saw you sharing your guesses with him. Did he share any of his?
He did tell me one or two he went up there with. ... When he didn't tell me the answer, I wasn't upset. I just realized I made a mistake. I was shocked for maybe 30 seconds after he did it. I understood why he did it, but if I had done that to him, he probably would've went crazy, but I wouldn't play the game like that. In the previous legs, we didn't lie, cheat or steal at all. We had a good time. We smiled and laughed the whole time, even after that, so it was all good.TVGuide.com: How did you decide that Big Easy was going to do this Roadblock?
You have to even out the Roadblocks and we had done five each. A lot of times in previous seasons, there's a memory challenge in the final leg and I had been keeping all the notes, so I was set to do the last Roadblock if we got there, so that's how we determined that he would do this one. ... It was frustrating to see [other contestants] come out, especially when Brian came out. But I had faith in him that he would figure it out. He did a great job and I could only imagine the frustration. [Sunday night] was the first time I actually had a chance to see what went on in the room because I had no idea. It was a challenge and it could've went either way.
Amazing Race's Maria and Tiffany: We didn't want to quit TVGuide.com: How long after Brian left did you decide to take the penalty instead of continuing?
It was maybe 10 minutes after Brian left. I realized maybe we could take the penalty and get [Flight Time] out of the cold. I was worried about him being outside in the cold weather and I figured if I couldn't do it in two and a half hours, I wasn't going to do it in the next hour or two. So I went out and told him.Flight Time:
What you saw on TV was exactly how it went and I was OK with it. That's basically what we did with everything. If he had a strong opinion about something, I agreed with it and vice versa. That's how we worked.TVGuide.com: In hindsight, do you think you should've kept plugging along? A lot of people are saying you could've figured it out in four hours instead of sitting outside doing nothing.
I don't have any regrets. I think we did the right thing. I wouldn't have changed anything we did in the whole entire race. We made a decision and we're going to live with it. ... As you saw in Dubai with the waterslide, you never know what could happen, so we thought, "Hey, maybe a team is having trouble somewhere and we can catch up and run them down." We never thought it was over.TVGuide.com: Canaan thought you guys were out of line taunting Mika on the slide. Do you think you were?
We didn't say anything mean-spirited. I don't have any regrets about it. We're professional athletes and we're competitive. We did it in a competitive nature, not in a mean nature. The only thing I said was "Don't do it." I wasn't the one physically trying to push her down the slide like he was doing. I think that was more aggressive and wrong. What we did was just all in fun.
Amazing Race's Canaan: I was not abusive toward Mika on the waterslide
TVGuide.com: Sam and Dan have been trash-talking you for a few episodes. Did you not get along off-camera?
We never, not even one time, argued off-camera. We didn't know that they were so out to get us. I didn't really realize until watching the show that some teams were really afraid of us and wanted us out. ... We ran a good race, we ran a solid race and I think they knew that we had a lot experience traveling and we were ready to do anything. We don't think of it as a rivalry. We think of them having respect for us.
TVGuide.com: What happened in Estonia when you were running alongside Sam and Dan for the Pit Stop and fell? It looked like an accident.
We blame ourselves. We finished the Roadblock at least three or four minutes before they did and we didn't realize that the Pit Stop was just ahead. Once they finished, they realized we were going the wrong way, so it became a foot race. Unfortunately for us, there was not enough space to run around them on that little bridge. I slipped one time, got up and I caught [Dan] again and our feet got tangled up. I don't think there were any elbows or anything. We got tangled up and didn't have room to maneuver. ... We also thought we were running for first place. If we realized we were running for second or third, we probably would've walked up there.