Exclusive: John Erck and Jessica Hoel talk 'The Amazing Race: All-Stars' (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/15/2014
The Amazing Race: All-Stars eliminated John Erck and Jessica Hoel during Sunday night's seventh episode of the CBS reality competition's 24th overall season and third all-stars edition.
The "Engaged Couple" became the fifth team eliminated from the around-the-world competition after they arrived at the Race's seventh Pit Stop at Piazza Del Popolo -- an enormous plaza surrounded by Roman architecture known as "The People's Square" -- in last place.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Monday, John and Jessica talked about their The Amazing Race experience. Below is the first half of their interview. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion.
Reality TV World: It seemed like you guys got to the Pit Stop with Herbert "Flight Time" Lang and Nate "Big Easy" Lofton expecting to still be in the Race because you assumed Jennifer Wayne and Caroline Cutbirth were still behind you. Is that accurate to say?
Jessica Hoel: Initially, when we had shared the [Roman Numerals] answer together, we thought somebody -- like Caroline and Jennifer -- was behind us, but when I got to the Pit Stop, I knew we were last because I had heard somebody in the crowd, the people who were just watching, yell to me, "If you're seventh, you are last!"
So I knew. I ran my heart out, but at that point, I knew that we were last and we were trying the best that we could to beat Flight Time and Big Easy. But I don't think the others knew that quite yet.
John Erck: Yeah, and I'd like to just confirm a little bit, Jess' and I's experience was pretty similar but a little bit different just because I was running up and down the stairs at the end and Jess was able to be involved with basically sharing answers. But at that point, I think all the teams thought -- ourselves included -- that there was still another team out on the course, "The Country Singers."
And then, yeah, Jess, I guess you could describe it in more detail. You did a good job describing before the actual sequence. But I guess the main point, when you ask if we knew that, there came a point when I was pretty certain that "The Country Singers" weren't behind us anymore. That's, I guess, what I'm trying to say.
Because when we were running down the alley, that's when -- just the nature of what was unfolding, how fast Jess was running and then how fast "The Globetrotters" were running at the end, Flight Time and Big Easy -- that's kind of when I realized, "I don't think there's anybody behind us. I think this is our race for the finish." So mine was kind of an inferred realization kind of as it transpired at the end.
Reality TV World: John, were you surprised Jamal Zadran ended up giving you the answer to that Roman Numerals equation? And did you guys have some type of relationship or alliance with Leo Temory and Jamal prior to that incident?
John Erck: I wouldn't say that we had any formal alliance, but we're definitely friends with those guys. We felt like we had a great connection with them throughout the Race for sure. And it made a lot of sense to us that they were sharing because they -- Jess and I came to the Spanish Steps and we assumed we were in last place.
And the reason is, last time we ran the Race, we thought somebody was behind us when, in fact, they weren't. So we weren't going to let that happen to us again, you know, we thought. And so we showed up to the Spanish Steps and we were surprised to even see other teams there.
We were certain we were going to be battling them for last place, but "The Globetrotters" and Leo and Jamal suggested to us that they were pretty certain "The Country Singers" were still running around Rome because they were the last ones to leave the Detour.
And Jess and I wouldn't know that because we were on the other side of the Detour. So, that was good news to us. That actually got us, you know, feeling uplifted. Because we were certain that we were going to get eliminated, so that's basically how that transpired.
Jessica Hoel: On that note, it was super nice of them to give us the answer. And if they would've thought that nobody was behind us and if they thought we were all basically in last [place], they would never have given us the answer, especially because Leo was injured. I don't know if you saw, but he was limping to the Pit Stop.
And so, if we had all gotten the answer quickly and even if it was a longer stretch, we could've even probably outran them because he wasn't running very fast.
John Erck: Right. And that's why we were so certain that there was a team behind us, because Leo and Jamal were totally open to the idea of sharing their answer. I probably should've asked them to collaborate and just asked them outright, "Hey, will you give me the answer?" But I never did that.
It was kind of happening naturally because they saw it as an opportunity, I think, to have both of us not U-Turn them, which makes total sense. And we were all like, "Oh yeah, for sure! Of course," like, "We won't U-Turn you." And it was kind of a cool little thing that we had, the three of us, the three teams.
Reality TV World: If you were still in the Race, do you think you would've held true to your word in promising not to U-Turn Leo and Jamal? I know a lot of Racers have the mentality of you do whatever you can to get ahead, even if it means breaking promises.
John Erck: I don't think -- I mean, we really didn't even think about it, but yeah. There would be no reason that we would want to U-Turn them or whatever. It wasn't even something that we thought about. It was just like, "Yeah, for sure. Okay, we won't do that."
Jessica Hoel: Yeah, I mean, obviously looking back, it would've been better -- I wish, you know, it would've been great if he didn't give us the answer and then John could've battled it out against Flight Time. But it happened and you never know who would've gotten the answer first. So, you just never know what would've happened.
John Erck: Right, I mean, there are just so many little pieces that come into play on the Race, and that's what makes it fun. So, you know, there are just so many little tiny things that you could analyze forever, but that's not -- why would you do that, you know? What we did is super cool.
Reality TV World: Your main downfall in this leg was clearly the confusion of getting to the Spanish Steps. It appeared your cab driver took you to John Keats Road and what not. Did you stop anywhere else other than that street and what else went down that viewers didn't get to see? And how far behind everyone else do you think you were at that point?
Jessica Hoel: It was definitely two-and-a-half hours before we got to the Spanish Steps, I timed it. It took crazy long. (Laughs) So basically, our cab driver, we got in. We partly take some responsibility for not figuring it out faster, I guess, or figure out how we could figure it out faster.
But we got in, he took us to John Keats Road, and I think it's unfortunate that that road exists, (laughs) because that threw us off. If it didn't exist, he wouldn't have had anywhere to take us.
But I knew that it was Piazza. I knew, "Okay, it's not a road. It's a piazza." I kept saying that over and over, but then he called like two people. We've been on the Race before, so we knew that the No. 1 thing [to do] is just call to confirm and make sure he's certain. So he confirmed, he read the clue, he was stubborn and certain. So he took us there, which was 20 minutes out of the way.
When we got there, we didn't want to just get back in the cab. We knew it was wrong, but we didn't want to get back in the cab and just drive to a random place, so we literally stopped probably like 15 to 20 people and asked them if they knew what this was. We looked on their phones. When we searched on the phones, we typed in that clue that said, "Get to John Keats' unhappy Roman holiday."
So it was just a phrase, but if you did do research a little deeper, you could find that that's where John Keats lived and died, I believe. But when we were looking on Google, obviously things would pop up.
The first couple things that popped up were three "happy Roman holidays" or just Roman Holiday hotels. And so, it's like, "Okay, is that it? Is it a hotel? Are we supposed to go check those out?" Because when you're racing, you don't know what the answer is. So you're just looking for anything that could be it.
And so, that was the first thing. Actually, we went to like a concierge lounge and I think it was an insurance company. They found these three hotels. They were like, "Yup, this is where you need to go! These three Roman Holiday hotels."
And we were like, "Okay." So we had been standing, walking around that area for like 40 minutes at that point, so we were like, "Let's just go, I guess, back towards the city at least and try these hotels."
And then as we were going, our taxi driver couldn't even find those and figure out those addresses. So we were like, "We got to get out of here. This is just chaos." And so, we found a hotel so we could sit at a desk at a computer and -- instead of using someone's phone for five seconds -- we just researched, like, "What the heck does this mean!?"
So, after doing that and spending 10 minutes -- which we could've done, I guess, right away, but we didn't know that at the time -- we were able to research and [scroll] down Wikipedia articles. And that's what the Spanish Steps were partly significant for, where John Keats died. But it's not really common knowledge, not something I had in my back pocket unfortunately.
Above is the first half of John and Jessica's exclusive interview with Reality TV World. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion.