Exclusive: Art Velez and J.J. Carrell talk 'The Amazing Race' (Pt. 2)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/11/2012
Art Velez and J.J. Carrell finished The Amazing Race's twentieth season in second place during Sunday night's two-hour finale broadcast, which featured the edition's eleventh and twelfth legs, of the CBS reality competition.
The "Border Patrol Agents and Friends" finished ahead of "Engaged Couple" and former Big Brother houseguests Rachel Reilly and Brendon Villegas -- who came in third place -- and "Dating Divorcees" Vanessa Macias and Ralph Kelley, who finished fourth and were ineligible to compete in the final leg. However, Art and J.J. failed to beat champions and "Married Couple" Rachel Brown and Dave Brown by only a matter of minutes and lost the one-million dollar grand prize as a result.
On Monday, Art and J.J. talked to Reality TV World about their The Amazing Race experience -- including what they referred to as a "horrible decision" they made during the Race, why Art was very impressed with Rachel B. in the final leg, what initially sparked all the tension between the pair and Rachel R. and Brendon, and how they responded to the criticism of their fellow Racers who thought they were rude and arrogant.
Below is the concluding portion of our exclusive interview with Art and J.J. Click here to read the first half. To read Rachel B. and Dave's entire interview, click here. To check out what Rachel and Brendon had to say about the Race, click here. And finally, to read Vanessa and Ralph's interview, click here.
Reality TV World: You guys chose to blindly follow Rachel and Dave in their cab to get to the Twin Towers without researching or asking around yourselves where you should've been heading. So looking back, what would you have done differently in that situation? Because I'm sure you wouldn't thrilled with how you let that play out.
J.J. Carrell: That was a horrible decision and Art and I talked about it right before we got off the plane, and we talked about it throughout the Race, "Let's make sure we get a good cab driver." And the guy was a nice older man, but he had absolutely no clue where anything was on that island.
So we actually got rid of him and got another cab. That's the only mistake I think we made on that leg, but man, did we make up about an hour's worth of time and we flew through the ice, we ran to the helicopters, we did the search and rescue within seconds. They actually thought that we didn't do it because we did it so fast, and then like Art said, we put ourselves -- we were in position to win for over an hour.
If you could tell me that at the beginning of the Race we'll be going down a sled and you've got an hour to complete, shoot, I'll take that bet every time. It just didn't work out. It just wasn't our day.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when you saw Rachel and Dave arrive at the Hawaiian games Roadblock task when you guys were already there? Did it pump your adrenaline more to win now that you realized you were technically in first place, or did it just make you guys all the more nervous and anxious?
Art Velez: When they showed up there, I was already probably 30-45 into the thing and I was already dead tired as it was. So I'm like, "You know what? I just hope she has just as much trouble doing this thing as I am." And I actually got more defeated when she did it on her second try.
I was like, "Wow, that is awesome." I was like, "You know what...?" I was in awe. That was really cool that she was able to do that on her second try, because I had been laboring at that thing, like I said, for about an hour before they even got there.
Reality TV World: During the eleventh leg, you guys chose to do the "Bingo" Detour task, while Rachel and Dave chose to do "Photo Cut-Out" one. Rachel and Dave seemed to breeze through that Detour task, so looking back, do you guys think you made the right decision or do you regret picking the sushi task? And if you did the photo one, do you think you would have had a better chance to win the Race?
Art Velez: I don't know if we would've had a better chance to win it, but we would've had a better chance to win that leg. I wanted to do the sushi one because I was like, "Dude, we're in Japan. Let's have sushi in Japan!" He didn't want any part of it, like, "Come on, man! We're in Japan! I want to have sushi!" And he's like, "I'd rather have a steak."
Reality TV World: Earlier in the season you made a pact with Rachel and Dave to U-Turn Rachel and Brendon depending on who got to the Double U-Turn board first, however, Rachel and Dave ended up deciding not to U-Turn anybody. Could you elaborate on how you felt about their decision, because you seemed to think it was quite the betrayal or at least that's how the show edited it to appear.
J.J. Carrell: You know, there's a lot of back story to that and it was a three-way alliance, but it really wasn't an alliance. It was like a security blanket, because Dave and Rachel and Art and I in the very beginning, won the first seven -- eight -- legs, so we knew that they were going to U-Turn us.
Somebody in that Race was going to U-Turn us, and then Big Brother was going to U-Turn Ralph and Vanessa because they hated Vanessa so much. So all three of us got together and said, "Hey, if one of our teams fall in the back, the other two will U-Turn back-to-back at a Double U-Turn, or if it's a single U-Turn, just U-Turn Big Brother."
And we all agreed to it as a security for us, so going into that leg, Dave actually looked at me at 5:30 in the morning across the table from breakfast and said, "Are we still on for what we've discussed?" And I was like, "Absolutely. We're on. Okay, we're still in agreement."
So, Vanessa and Ralph are in the back and they're expecting Dave and Rachel to use their U-Turn on Art and I, so whenever I got up there on the U-Turn, it was a no-brainer. We were like, "Absolutely. This is our word. This is what we've gotta do." So, I don't know if betrayal is the right word. It was just that another man didn't keep his word, so that's the whole back story to that.
Reality TV World: Did you guys and Rachel and Dave ever solve your issues or talk things out after that U-Turn moment or did your hard feelings towards them remain until the end?
J.J. Carrell: Yeah, it remained all the way until the end because there was nothing to talk about and they began to align with other teams immediately, and we were just like, "You know, all bets are off. Let's just run it. You and I -- we're supposed to win this Race anyway, so let's just do it." And that was our attitude.
Reality TV World: You guys said during last night's finale episode that Rachel and Brendon didn't deserve to be in the Race because they were just followers and basically had no real racing skills. Could you talk a little bit more about that? It was clear you didn't think highly of them during the Race, but considering they made it to the end and came in third place, have you changed your mind about them as a team and whether they deserved to be there or are you going to stick with your initial opinions?
Art Velez: When we started this thing, I had no idea who Rachel and Brendon were. I had never watched Big Brother -- had no clue about that whole thing -- nothing. I just got way too many things to do to even figure out what that show's about.
But you gotta understand that at the very beginning, on the very first leg, Brendon's the one that pointed out the fact that we're border patrol agents and he doesn't like us anyway because he's half Mexican.
So that attitude right there -- which we didn't even know was said -- that already carried through in the way that he acted towards us anyway. So the things that they would do is what ended up creating the hostility, because they were using their "Big Brother tactics" or whatever it is they use in that house, to put other people against people.
And we saw that, and when they would jump in front of lines and cut lines and look back and say, "What are you going to do about it?" I was like, "Really dude? Come on man."
So that's that whole part of it, and do they deserve to be there? Whatever, they got there. But like I said, they got there by following people everywhere they went. They never finished first because you can't finish first if you're always following somebody.
Reality TV World: Many of the other teams seemed to have an issue with you guys in which they thought you were arrogant or rude and what not. I guess, what's your response to how many of the other teams had viewed you in a negative light. Would you say you were just playing competitively and that's what you needed to do to try to win, or looking back, do you wished you had toned your behavior down a bit and attempted to get along with your fellow Racers a little better?
J.J. Carrell: I don't know where in the history of America that [being] ambitious and confident men is in fact a sin. We were racing for a million dollars. I don't think that we were rude.
People think that we're rude because two women that are federal agents and are lying, and we catch them in a lie, or we make jokes to stir the pot up, it's a million-dollar race! We might be aggressive guys but we're not rude and we're not jerks.
You can call it a lot of things, but we're not that. It did strike me strange that we were that disliked, because I thought we got along with everyone pretty well, but it also just struck me as very unique that being two men that are ambitious and direct and competitive -- that's somehow an evil thing -- that we should've been patty-caking with everybody.
Above is the concluding portion of our exclusive interview with Art and J.J. Click here to read the first half. To read Rachel B. and Dave's entire interview, click here. To check out what Rachel and Brendon had to say about the Race, click here. And finally, to read Vanessa and Ralph's interview, click here.