Exclusive: 'The Amazing Race' winners Amy DeJong and Maya Warren talk Season 25 (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/22/2014
The Amazing Race crowned Amy DeJong and Maya Warren the winners of the CBS reality competition's 25th season during Friday night's finale episode.
After eight countries, 20 cities and more than 26,000 miles, the "Food Scientists" -- also nicknamed "The Candy Girls" -- wonThe Amazing Race's $1 million grand prize when they crossed the twelfth and final leg's finish line at Point Vicente Lighthouse in Los Angeles, CA, in first place. This marks the third time in The Amazing Race history an all-female team has won the Race.
"Married Dentists" Misti Raman and Jim Raman finished the Race in second place, "Married Surfers" Bethany Hamilton and Adam Dirks claimed third, and "Dating Pro Wrestlers" Brooke Adams and Robbie E. Strauss were eliminated halfway through the final leg and therefore landed in fourth place.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Monday, Amy and Maya talked about their The Amazing Race experience and victory. Below is the first half. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion and for more interviews with the season's Final 4 teams.
Reality TV World: You girls were kind of the underdogs of the season. Were you therefore shocked you managed to win the season or did you really believe you could do it all along?
Amy DeJong: We really believed in ourselves. I mean, physically, we were underdogs, but we also had a lot to offer to the Race and I think we ran a very strong race. I mean, directions were our biggest challenge, but once we figured out that in the end, we were successful. I think every time we went into it knowing we could do it. You have to believe in yourself if you're going to make it happen.
Maya Warren: One beautiful thing about the Race is that every leg is different. You start over with sort of, like, another kind of refreshing wakeup. And it's your choice as to how you're going to run the Race that day. It's also about learning from how we previously ran a leg.
And so I think that, although we were "underdogs" physically, mentally we were the top tier. And people didn't see us as a threat as mentally as much as they probably should have, and that's to their detriment. It was better for us, and so we don't really mind that. (Laughs)
We sort of ran the Race kind of behind the scenes. We were not there for air time; We were there to win a million dollars. And I think that we definitely did that, so. (Laughs)
But I was not shocked at all. I said from the beginning, "We're going to win this." Just something in me told me that, "This is ours to win." And you got to learn how to deal with the cards that you're dealt and make the most of it. And that's just a part of life. I think we did that very well.
Reality TV World: If it wasn't for the Final 4 twist this season, you girls obviously would've been deprived of your opportunity to win. So I'm sure you're biased about it, (laughs) but put yourselves in the other teams' shoes. Do you think the non-elimination at the very end was unfair? You couldn't help but feel bad for Brooke and Robbie considering they made the Final 3 and couldn't even run the whole leg.
Maya Warren: Right, but if you look back at it and look at how Brooke and Rob ran the last leg, they would've been in third place even if we weren't there. So that aside, you know, we don't make the rules, we just play by them.
So, although people don't think it's fair, life isn't fair. You have the cards that you're dealt and you make the best of it. And that's what we did. Everyone, except for the surfers, had been saved at some point. The same thing could be said for Brooke and Robbie being saved on the previous leg. So, we don't make the Race, we just make the Race happen.
Amy DeJong: Yeah, exactly what Maya said. You deal with the situation you're in, you always run your hardest. I mean, I feel bad that Brooke and Rob at least didn't get a prize for winning the last leg.
Maya Warren: Yeah.
Amy DeJong: They were in a heck of a Leg 11. I mean, they struggled throughout the entire Race. Challenges were not their thing. Leg 11 had a lot of physically-demanding challenges, and they did a great job in Leg 11. They should've -- I felt like they should've won something for that leg.
However, like Maya said, they got so lost coming out of the airport, they would've been at least an hour behind the surfers, I think. They got real lost. But that's what it is. The Race is unpredictable. Things are always changing. You could get in a bad cab, your flight could get delayed, your flight could get canceled. Anything could happen!
Maya Warren: And so, anything could happen within how they want the Race to happen. We were, according to Phil, we were going to be Team No. 6 in terms of the placement of the teams, and you never know. It's literally anyone's Race.
And it was in our favor that we didn't get eliminated, but the Race has been on for 25 seasons. You got to bring in new twists every now and then, like how they've been using "The Save" and the Express Pass and all of that. So people can say something's not fair, but it happens. We don't make the rules. We just play, and we played very well.
Reality TV World: How long did that final memory task take you, Amy? Did the pressure get to you at all? And the Race seemed to come down to that one task alone, so Maya, what was the feeling like in the air -- tense, uncomfortable?
Amy DeJong: That final task took me about an hour-and-a-half, I would say. And it was just, I mean, you're running on adrenaline at that point. All the teams got there within a few minutes of each other, so we were all really starting that challenge on even footing.
So you just have to stay focused, and for me, I just stayed focused, relaxed and tried to do it to the best of my ability. I remember -- I'll never forget the feeling of finding that last box. I was just like so excited that I almost got lost finding my way back to Maya.
She said she saw me coming around the corner and she could just see it in my eyes that we were about to head to that finish line. So, I wasn't really nervous. I was focused. And that's how we ran the Race. We tried to stay focused and do our best.
Maya Warren: For me, standing there, I mean, I was extremely comfortable. I was relaxed because I knew that Amy could do it. There's a clip of us talking from this past episode and I'm saying that, "I never doubted once that she wasn't going to be able to do it and do it great." I mean, it was a hard challenge to win.
Because we're still in school and we use our minds every day a different way than all the other teams, that was to our advantage. When it came to an intellectual task, we knew that we could do it. Bethany and Misti, awesome women, love them to death -- they got flustered. Bethany doubted herself a lot during that challenge and Misti was sort of getting flustered and stuff.
As a person still in the academic world, you can't let all that frustration fluster or get to you, especially when getting your PhD because it's such a long and grueling process. You have to stay focused and stick with it, and that's something that, I think during that challenge, she did exceptionally well.
Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion of Amy and Maya's interview and for more exclusive interviews with the season's Final 4 teams.