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Exclusive: Amani Pollard and Marcus Pollard talk 'The Amazing Race'


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/16/2011 

Amani Pollard and Marcus Pollard finished The Amazing Race in third place, losing to winners Ernie Halvorsen and Cindy Chiang and runners-up Jeremy Cline and Sandy Draghi during Sunday night's broadcast of the CBS reality competition's nineteenth-season finale.  

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On Monday, Amani and Marcus talked to Reality TV World about their The Amazing Race experience, which ended with a third-place finish in the Race's final leg.

To read our exclusive interview with this season's champions, Ernie and Cindy, click here. For our interview with Jeremy and Sandy, click here.

Reality TV World: How does it feel to have finished the Race in third place? Are you guys disappointed or satisfied with how you ran all the legs? Are you proud over how far you made it?

Amani Pollard: We're definitely proud of how far we made it and of course, continuing the Race to [the bank] today with the million dollars would have been excellent. But I mean, again, we didn't quit. The kids were really excited. We're really excited because a lot of people don't even make it to the Final 3, so we don't want to take away from where we made it to. But of course, everybody would love to finish first.

Reality TV World: When I talked to Ernie and Cindy, they said they thought you got to the Finish Line about 2 1/2 hours after them? Do you think that's accurate, and about How far behind Jeremy and Sandy do you think you arrived?

Amani Pollard: You know, we had no clue. No clue.

Marcus Pollard: The flight simulator took us awhile, so I don't know. I don't know how far we were behind Sandy and Jeremy, but I know when it was over, we got home pretty quick.

Reality TV World: You guys basically knew you were in third place after landing the aircraft and leaving that task, but did you have any hope that you could still win The Amazing Race? Were you optimistic that maybe another team had made a mistake somewhere along the leg or had gotten lost or something?

Amani Pollard: Something like that, and again, we just felt like if there was another challenge, it would have given us a chance to catch up. It seemed to have been our strength before when there was a Detour or something, but there wasn't one of those and it was okay.

But there was still hope because it's easy in those situations to kind of get, I don't know, disgruntled and worried and upset. But it's the Race and crazier things have been known to happen. You don't ever want to think that it's over. You just keep giving it your best and hoping for the best when you get to the Finish Line.

Reality TV World: So when you finally arrived at the Finish Line, before you saw the other teams waiting there for you, were you convinced you had finished in third place?

Amani Pollard: Because we hadn't seen it -- we saw -- I think we saw Jeremy and Sandy, so we couldn't have been that far behind them when we got to the board. I think we saw them pass us in a taxi at some point. So, we could imagine, because everybody else had gone before us, that we possibly were the last people to arrive there. But, you never...

Marcus Pollard: Unless you're Ernie and Cindy. You don't see them making a lot of mistakes.

Reality TV World: During last night's finale, Jeremy and Sandy were shown saying they thought you two had a huge advantage in the final leg because you both were from Atlanta, GA, and Marcus, you were shown being excited over your "home court advantage." How much of an advantage did you guys think you had and did it come into play once you guys finally left that flight simulator task? 

Marcus Pollard: I think the only time the home-court advantage came in was when we were heading home after the show was over because there's so much to do there. It's such a big city and I mean, to me, I was excited about going home, excited that I was in Atlanta, but it didn't really give us an advantage in anything that we did during the show.

Amani Pollard: And I think unlike [Los Angeles], if you are from there, when we were leaving, you had an advantage because you know the highways. So if we would have gotten to Atlanta and had to drive ourselves to x,y,z, then I think it would have been an advantage because I'm not from Georgia.

We've lived here now for a few years, but I'm from Michigan. So, it wasn't an advantage for me, per say. Marcus is from this area, so he's familiar with the highways. So, I think just like Marcus said, it's a huge city and there's so many things here that we haven't seen.

Everybody's got things in their cities that they haven't seen or places they didn't know were there. So, it was just exciting to be home. And even just to know the airport, we were the first people out and smoking on that.

Reality TV World: How many attempts did it actually take you guys to finish the flight simulator task? The show made it seem like it was around six tries, so was that accurate or were there even more? How long do you think it took you to finish the task overall?

Marcus Pollard: You know, I don't know how many times it took, but on the TV it said 12 attempts. That's not my favorite number.

Reality TV World: Amani, you stayed completely calm during that aircraft landing task, but Marcus, you were getting very down on yourself and frustrated. It seemed like it was important for both of you to put on a good face and set a good example for your children, but how were you really feeling at that point? Amani, were you really that calm and collected and Marcus, did you heavily downplay the frustration you were feeling?

Amani Pollard: Well really, I probably was really that calm because that's just how I am. That's just how I am everyday. What purpose does it serve for me to get frustrated? And then you've got two frustrated people in the plane and it just takes you out of your game.

So, you have to stay focused and keep your mind -- outside elements are always going to be there, but it's always important to keep in mind the goal and you never know.

You never know. So don't quit; Don't give up. You have to get your mind wrapped around that, so that was my mentality. So, that was it for me and it was -- as frustrated as I knew Marcus had to be about it, I had to stay calm for both of us. (Laughs) What about you, babe?

Marcus Pollard: Yeah, I mean, what you see is what you get with me. I wear my emotions on my sleeve often, and so, what you saw on the TV was probably as excited as I got when I started to drop in the simulator or I put my hands over my face and was praying, that would be me. In any situation, I just feel like...

Reality TV World: Marcus, could you talk a little bit about what made that flight simulator task so challenging for you? When you watched back the show and saw Jeremy and Ernie basically get it right away, did that surprise you?

Marcus Pollard: I think it was challenging for me because my feet are so big and the brake -- they didn't show that part -- I don't know how to explain it, but you have to been even-keel on the brakes and release them at the same time.

I could never get my feet on the pedals. I'm 6'5", 255 pounds, and the plane is not designed for a guy that big. So, I'm trying to figure out how to get my knees up. It was like driving a small car. I know I can drive a car. I'm more comfortable when I can lift the seat back, and that's the problem that I had -- you know, being a big guy and sitting in that seat.

At the same time, I don't like flying at all, and in the simulator, it feels just like I was flying a plane. In my mind, I was thinking about killing 30,000 people every time I crashed.

Reality TV World: We really didn't see much of you guys during last night's episode because you were seemingly very far behind the other teams because of the flight task. Did you guys end up doing the typewriter and map tasks or was it one of those situations where Ernie and Cindy had already won so the producers just had you go right to the Finish Line?

Amani Pollard: Oh no, we did everything. Marcus did the typing. We finished that and then we went and did the board where we had to map out our travels, and then because so much of our time was at the simulator, that's why that part only got shown.

Yeah, no. We finished everything. We didn't just pull up at the end. And we wouldn't have wanted to be pulled in any way. That's not the people that we are. We want to do what we're supposed to do to get to the Finish Line, and that's what we did.

Reality TV World: How easily did you figure out that the dump clue led you to Margaret Mitchell's house? Jeremy and Sandy really seemed to struggle with that clue.

Amani Pollard: Well when you talked about the advantages, that was one of the advantages that we had because we are from here and we shopped at the dump before. So we knew that when you google it, that there was "The Dump" and then there was the dump.

We knew "The Dump" was a furniture store, so it was an easy thing for us because we knew that the other dump was where we needed to go, because we were from here.

Reality TV World: Marcus, did you find the typewriting task easy? Did you finish it quickly?

Marcus Pollard: Nope, I'm a pecker. I'm a one-finger typewriting person and I thought that to be a challenge as well, because I don't really like typing and I can't do it very well. But I figured out the "1" but Amani probably could have done it much sooner than I. She also basically enjoys typing and she knows how to type. I don't.

Reality TV World: Do you have any estimate of how long it might have taken you?

Marcus Pollard: No. I don't have an estimate at all.

Amani Pollard: We were playing catch-up and we knew that we were playing catch-up. So time wasn't really something that we were thinking about. We were just thinking about getting these tasks done and getting into the Finish Line.

Reality TV World: Once you guys completed the typewriting task, how did you discover that your clue was suggesting Aaron Hank's statistics? Did you find internet service or anything? Did you come across problems trying to figure that out?

Amani Pollard: Marcus knew it immediately.

Marcus Pollard: But I didn't know immediately that it was Turner Field. I knew that 44 was Hank Aaron's number. I knew the 750 homeruns, but I didn't know what 74 was quite for. But later on, I found out it was the year that he did it. But we ended up going to a hotel and looking it up on the internet.

Reality TV World: When you guys got to the map challenge at Turner Field, who got rigged to the map and who shouted out answers from below? Did that task come easily to you guys or did you find it difficult?

Amani Pollard: I think initially, I was going to do it. They were going to rig me up, but Marcus felt like you needed a lot more upper-body strength and he thought he could do it quicker. So we pushed out of gear real quick and he went ahead and knocked it out, and I shouted out to him the best I could.

He actually did pretty good remembering and doing it on his own. We weren't done as quickly as -- they showed Ernie and Cindy finishing it like immediately, but I believed they studied all that prior, (laughs) so they were probably a step ahead on that. But we did good. I don't think we lost a lot of time there. Again, I think the simulator was our biggest fault.

Reality TV World: In past Amazing Race seasons, most teams normally prepared for a task in the finale that would test their knowledge and memory of the prior legs. You touch on this a little bit, but how much studying had you two done before that final leg or throughout the Race in general?

Amani Pollard: Well again, watching prior Races, you never know exactly what they're going to show you. Sometimes it was a person's face who was next to Phil. They're all different things that you have to put in, so you're never really sure what you're studying -- what you're studying for. So we probably prepared as well as we knew at the time, but I don't know. What do you think, baby?

Marcus Pollard: Yeah, we put in the time. We studied a lot. We still have lines -- the same lines we use in football, because I played football for most of my life. We did as much as we could with still having to manage our lives and I guess it wasn't good enough.

Maybe we should have studied harder and you keep doing the same things everyday. Some things you wish you could put in more time to do better, but you know, what can you prepare for? You can't prepare for everything in the Race like that.

Reality TV World: The clues during this final leg seemed to be very obscure. The dump clue and the Hank Aaron clue were both very vague and it seemed like they could have been easily misinterpreted or researched incorrectly. What are your thoughts about that?

Amani Pollard: Oh yeah, definitely with the dump. Again, you saw where Jeremy and Sandy ended up and for them to have ended up there is not a weird thing, because if you google the dump, that's where it's going to take you to. And with Hank Aaron, you're thinking, "Okay now, where? What does this mean? Where will this take us to?"

Marcus Pollard: I think it's easy to see how you could be confused. It was kind of vague, but that's the point about the Race -- is to make sure you have all senses going at the same time. So you have to be thinking, you have to be physical and you have to be smart -- all those things.

So that's just it. When we had access to internet, you can figure things out that way, but to have to figure that out on just a piece of paper without having the internet would have been impossible.

Reality TV World: During last night's episode, Ernie was shown saying that losing to the "Snowboarders" team would be one thing but it would be different to lose to Jeremy and Sandy or you guys. Based on that, they clearly considered Andy Finch and Tommy Czeschin to be the biggest threat. What's your response to that and do you think things would have turned out differently had Andy and Tommy competed against all of you in the finale? 

Amani Pollard: Well, we're huge fans of Andy and Tommy and Ma and Pa [Cathi Alden and Bill Alden]. So, we know that Andy and Tommy were giants. Any time they won six legs of the Race and with the three of us who went into the finals, our numbers still don't compare to theirs. Of course they're the giants, but I don't think we were mashed potatoes either. (Laughs)

Reality TV World: Cindy was also shown saying last night that losing The Amazing Race would be like losing to "C" students when they were the "A+" students. What are your reactions to that statement? Did you take that a little offensively or just laugh it off? Because it came across like they didn't really think very highly of you.

Amani Pollard: Well you know what? The truth of the matter is, there's some great "C" students out there who have done some great accomplishments in the world and there's some "A" students out there who haven't accomplished their goals. So, you know what? In the grand scheme of things, although it sounds great to be an "A" student and we want our kids to be "A" students, that's what you choose to achieve.

But the truth of the matter is, is that it's not always the brains that accomplish everything. It's the heart behind it, it's the goals, the things you set out to do. So it can be taken nasty and I'm sure Marcus takes it a little differently than I do, because I always see the rainbow and he's like, "I don't know how you find the silver lining."

But any time you got a "C" student in the Final 3, we'll take it and in other Races, there might be "C" students too and they take it. So, you know, it's okay. It is what it is. She said what she said in the heat of the moment and we're okay with that. So what. Maybe we are "C" students, and we're alright with that!

Marcus Pollard: We haven't done too bad.

Amani Pollard: (Laughs) We did good for "C" students.

Reality TV World: During the Race's sixth leg, you guys had finished in last place but happened to survive because it was a non-elimination leg. Did that last-place finish change your mindsets in the Race or have an effect on how you ran the rest of the season's legs? Did it make you work even harder or anything since you came so close to elimination that soon?

Marcus Pollard: I don't think so. I think we set out to Race every leg as best as possible in order to finish first in each one of them.

So say that we worked harder because we finished last in a non-elimination leg, you could say it gave us even more of a motivation, but just to do what we've been doing -- just to pay attention to all the details and not miss any clues and to not leave any stone unturned. I think we raced the Race from the start in LA to the finals in Atlanta the same way.

Amani Pollard: And that non-elimination round for us, actually, we raced a good Race that day. We just came up with some obstacles like being behind that dog-gone parade. Go figure, they have a parade and they take up the whole street and we get stuck behind it and our cab breaking down.

You know, it was just that I think what happened happened that day, so for us, it was good that it was a non-elimination round.

Reality TV World: If you two had won, what do you think you would have done with the money and how were you guys cast on The Amazing Race -- how did you end up on the show?

Amani Pollard: Marcus was initially thinking about doing it with a former teammate. That kind of fell through, so then him and I thought it would be a great opportunity to do it together, so we went ahead and applied and we went through the whole casting process.

It wasn't, "Oh, we want you," and they put us in. No, we were there with everyone else doing everything everybody else did. So, and what would we have done with the money? Our kids wanted a swimming pool. (Laughs)

Marcus Pollard: And some fishing poles.

Amani Pollard: And we do have a daughter who has special needs, so there's a lot of things. Just like with anybody, it could help to improve your life and there were a lot of things that would have been nice to have been able to do with it, but it is what it is and we're not taking the million dollars to the bank today. But that's okay.

We're still here and we are incredibly proud. I think that what has been the best for us is that we have gotten such tremendous feedback that we have impacted people's lives just on the issues of marriage and parenthood. For us, I know you can't take that to the bank, but that's worth so much as long as we've made some kind of impact.



(Photo credit CBS)


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