Exclusive: Garrett Paul and Jessica Stout talk 'The Amazing Race'
By Christopher Rocchio, 09/28/2009
A duck with a broken foot apparently played a pivotal role in Garrett Paul and Jessica Stout's The Amazing Race ouster, however the couple used their subsequent time away from the competition to secure the status of their romantic relationship.
Garrett, a 28-year-old day trader from Aptos, CA, and Jessica is a 27-year-old freelance editor from Larkspir, CA, were eliminated during The Amazing Race's fifteenth-season premiere broadcast before being sent to Elimination Station -- where the two ended up getting engaged.
On Monday, Garrett and Jessica talked to Reality TV World about the mishaps surrounding their duck-herding experience; why they think the first leg was largely based on luck; the bittersweet wait for additional teams to arrive at Elimination Station; and how their wedding engagement went down.
Reality TV World: Jessica you were the second person to start the herding Roadblock task, however you were the last to finish it. What was the major problem you had with it -- was it more your approach to the task or were the ducks just somehow especially uncooperative with you?
Jessica: I think if you don't have any experience with animals or herding -- which was almost everybody at first -- the key was really just to remain calm. I actually -- which they didn't show on TV -- I had some technical issues.
Reality TV World: Can you elaborate on that a little?
Jessica: One of the flags they had provided was broken in half and they wouldn't replace it. Last night when I was watching one of the other [contestants], I was laughing because someone else had two flags in their hand. Another problem, one of the ducks I had had a broken foot. (laughing) I couldn't move it, I couldn't touch it. I was kind of at a standstill. So there were just some unfortunate random things out of my control that just made it impossible.
Reality TV World: You also seemed a bit defeated after time expired on your first attempt, and Garrett even commented that you have a "quick fuse" when something doesn't go your way. Do you think that played a role in your inability to complete the task?
Jessica: No. I remained really calm and just kept going back to the person that was demonstrating it and making sure I was doing it correctly. I remained really calm. There was no crying.
Garrett: They always edit it...
Jessica: Yeah, nothing was in order.
Garrett: I could have said that -- or the one time I said that or couple times I might have said it -- most of the time I was really positive and trying to help her. But of course that doesn't make it onto the show.
Reality TV World: About how long did that Roadblock task take you from beginning to end?
Jessica: What the whole thing really came down to is we had no idea that the Pit Stop would be next. This was the end of the second leg and there had not been one Detour. We thought if there was a Detour next, we'll just make it up that way. So when we heard Pit Stop we full-fledged ran. But they had the lead. It was still close.
Reality TV World: Did you learn how far behind Brain and Ericka you were in getting to the Pit Stop?
Jessica: I think it was like a minute.
Reality TV World: Wow.
Garrett: Yeah, there was some confusion about the Pit Stop of where it exactly was -- where the mat exactly was. We actually took kind of a wrong turn... but in the end it didn't matter. I think we were just about a minute behind.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when host Phil Keoghan revealed that somebody would be eliminated at the starting line?
Jessica: Pure panic. I think everybody literally dropped a few inches.
Garrett: It was chaos. They gave us that little symbol on the top of the clue, but no one saw that. Like it showed last night ["Friends" Zev Glassenberg and Justin Kanew] were the only ones during the main chaotic part that got it -- everybody else just got lucky.
Then 10-15 minutes later when it was just ["Engaged Couple" Lance Layne and Keri Morrione] and ["Married Yoga Teachers" Eric and Lisa Paskel], then they figured it out. I guess they figured it out at the exact same time -- and Eric and Lisa went right and Lance and Keri went left or something, to look for the symbol, and it just happened to be on Lance and Keri's side.
Reality TV World: Other than the bathroom stop you needed to make in Tokyo, did you guys have any problems leading your tourists to the Pit Stop?
Garrett: That one was crazy. That whole leg was just so luck-based. With the sushi roulette [Roadblock], we got lucky with the sushi roulette -- but we couldn't find anyone who knew where this tiny little shrine was.
On the other side, Brian and Ericka -- Brian ate like 30 pieces of sushi until he got out of there. He was like 10 minutes behind everyone. But as soon as he got dropped in the city, he found someone that knew exactly where the shrine was and they got there in the middle of the pack. So it was a real luck-based first leg I think.
Reality TV World: Several teams expressed frustration at the ability of "Professional Poker Players" Maria Ho and Tiffany Michelle to get on the same flight as everybody else despite incurring a two-hour penalty at the non-elimination leg. What was your take on that? Do you think it was fair they were able to land the same flight as everybody else?
Garrett: The funny thing about this season... You know, we didn't really care. It was a non-elimination leg. We were more kind of weirded out that their Speed Bump...
Jessica: Was two minutes...
Garrett: ... was like a two minute task. It wasn't anything. In years past, you see a Speed Bump and it's something that takes you half-an-hour or an hour, something way out of the way. But this one was... Basically you turned around at that dock, walked like 50 feet, went to get the soup or the pho for the dock master and come straight back.
So we were kind of shocked seeing them at the duck thing as soon as we saw them because they showed up real quickly and got done and out of there. They didn't have to do much for that.
Reality TV World: About how much money did it cost the six teams to pay the bus driver so he would leave early and do you remember if there was anybody who was against the idea?
Garrett: No one was against the idea. It was cheap. It was like...
Jessica: Only a few dollars.
Garrett: Well it was probably $30 or $40 for all the extra seats. We just made everybody chip in $5 or $6 or whatever it was, and headed out.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when you got to the boat dock and saw that you couldn't get the clue until morning any ways?
Jessica: Typical Amazing Race maneuver.
Garrett: It was an hours-of-operation thing, which does happen. So we just had to take it. It was actually kind of a fun night. We all kind of realized that we weren't going anywhere, and it was maybe 6PM or 7PM at that point, so we kind of unwound and went and ate some of the street food, some of the pho -- I think it was duck, duck pho...
Reality TV World: Did you guys run into any money problems later in the leg because you'd spent extra money paying the bus driver?
Garrett: Oh no.
Reality TV World: How were you cast for The Amazing Race? Was it your first time applying for the show?
Jessica: Yeah, it was our first time ever. We applied through sending a video...
Reality TV World: What was it that made you want to apply for the show?
Jessica: We are huge travelers. We met traveling while living in Barcelona, Spain... We were just doing it for the adventure.
Reality TV World: After you were eliminated, was there anybody you really began rooting to win the $1 million? Was there anybody you didn't want to see win?
Garrett: At that point it was weird because it was kind of bittersweet when people would win or lose because you'd want... We became kind of close with Brian and Ericka and Justin and Zev when we were still racing. So we wanted to see them do well, we wanted to see them win the $1 million.
But at the same time, we were kind of stuck on Elimination Station island in Vietnam, so we wanted them to come hang out with us. So it was kind of bittersweet anytime anybody won or lose because you'd end up with them at the island or get to root them on.
Reality TV World: Was there anybody you didn't get along with?
Garrett: Not really, no.
Reality TV World: I know you two have known each other for seven years, but how much of that of that time have you two actually been dating?
Garrett: The majority of it. Probably six out of the seven.
Reality TV World: What's the current status of your relationship?
Garrett: We are engaged now.
Reality TV World: Congratulations! Could you talk a little bit about that? Did the race play any role in it?
Garrett: Yeah... I always knew I was going to propose, but the race just kind of gave us an excuse to have a good story to go along with it. I had a ring with me the whole race. I buried it in the fanny pack, in this kind of secret compartment. I proposed after we got eliminated. I took it out when we went to that island. I proposed to her and we got engaged there.
Reality TV World: Do you have a date set?
Jessica: Yeah we figured 2010 we'll get married. A lot just happened in the last few months...
Reality TV World: What was your favorite overall experience on the show -- other than the engagement, I'm assuming.
Garrett: I enjoyed seeing Hollywood and the production side of everything. It was wild to show up in these out-of-the-way nowhere places and have 50, 60, 70 production people running around, setting up events and challenges, the cameras up in the trees, the walkie-talkies -- just everything. The whole production side was really amazing.
Reality TV World: What was your least favorite experience?
Jessica: Even though you think so much is in your control, it really is not. The show and production has a lot of control.
Garrett: They edit it to look like...
Jessica: Like it's a free-for-all...
Garrett: Well they edit it to look like the strongest team wins, and they edit it to look like there's reasons behind everything. But half of it's just chaotic and lucky. It's something different than is portrayed.
Reality TV World: That leads well into my last question. Is there anything that you wanted to make it onto the show that was edited out?
Garrett: We were hoping that they would show the duck with the broken foot and the broken flag -- all the unlucky stuff that led to us being out. But instead they just made it like it was poor communication and bad duck herding (Jessica laughing). So it was tough to see. They made it look like it was skill when a lot of it was, but a lot of it wasn't.