Exclusive: 'The Amazing Race' winners Kelsey Gerckens and Joey Buttitta talk (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/14/2015
The Amazing Race crowned "Dating Co-Workers and News Anchors" Kelsey Gerckens and Joey Buttitta the winners of the series' 27th season during Friday night's finale broadcast on CBS.
Kelsey and Joey from Santa Barbara, CA, crossed the finish line together in first place and won $1 million on the twelfth leg after conquering five continents, 10 countries and more than 34,000 miles.
Second place went to "Engaged Couple and Amazing Race Super Fans" Justin Scheman and Diana Bishop, while "Dating Paparazzi Business Partners" Logan Fazio and Chris Gordon finished in third.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Monday, Kelsey and Joey talked about their The Amazing Race experience and victory. Below is the first half. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion.
Reality TV World: When you two were running to the finish line and you saw all the teams waiting for you and applauding, what was going through your minds? Were your minds just blank because you were in shock or what were you thinking?
Kelsey Gerckens: It literally went into slow motion for us. It was the most incredible feeling and because it was like in slow motion, you could see the genuine look of happiness on all of our [fellow] Racers' faces. Just to see them so excited and jumping up and down to see us crossing the finish line, it was surreal. I watched it on TV 26 times before, and to be living it was incredible.
Joey Buttitta: Yeah, I mean, we were competitors with all of them. They genuinely were happy to see us coming, which was really cool.
Reality TV World: Awesome. I'm sure the show edited things to make it look close. But how long after you did Justin and Diana arrive at the finish line? And then what about Chris and Logan?
Kelsey Gerckens: It was about 45 minutes.
Joey Buttitta: It was at least -- I don't even know if it was that long, but it was at least 20, if not more, like Kelsey said.
Kelsey Gerckens: I think it was a good 45 minutes before Justin and Diana came, and it was dark by the time Chris and Logan came, so another hour or so after Justin and Diana I think Logan and Chris came.
Reality TV World: When Justin and Diana were working on that Adirondack chair task at the same time as you guys, it seemed like a very tense atmosphere, like Joey, you told Kelsey not to let Justin rattle your cages with his shout outs. Did their presence make you work harder and better, or did it become more challenging to complete the task because of all that pressure?
Joey Buttitta: I mean, Justin was just trying to get in our heads, so that's fine. It's sportsmanship and all that stuff. That's cool; That's all part of it. We just needed to concentrate on what we were doing, and that's what I was telling her, "Zone him out. We don't need to worry about it."
We had already done a bunch of chairs. We were already working on the last couple when they got there. So they had a long way to go, and it took a while to put the Adirondack chairs together. So we knew we still had a good cushion and, you know, he just kept trying to rattle us a little bit. Rightfully so. But we were just zoned in and we kept doing what we needed to be doing.
Reality TV World: The final leg was made up of many small tasks and quick destinations rather than one big Detour and stuff like that. Which task in the leg was the most time consuming and challenging? Because viewers just see bits and pieces of you guys working on the tasks.
Kelsey Gerckens: I think the hardest part physically was the lobster thing. All of ours actually ended up getting tangled together, so we had to pull up all those lobster cages at once, untangle them, and then pull them up one by one as indicated for our task. So that was the most physically exhausting thing we've ever done. It was nearly impossible.
The fishermen were telling us, "They're not going to be able to do it. It's impossible. It's not supposed to be like this." But we just had to go and do it. So we were literally using every drop of energy left in us to pull them up, and that was, oh my gosh, if you looked at our outfits, we were the ones covered in so much soot because we had to pull all six of them up at the same time.
Joey Buttitta: Yeah, we had all the mud and dirt from the bottom of the ocean on us because we were pulling so hard. That was physically draining, and we had to pull all six at once instead of one at a time, which was what made it difficult.
Kelsey Gerckens: And it was the most time-consuming task for us because of the issue with ours. Just as you've seen in other legs, where like [James Earl Corley]'s net was tangled, all of our lobster things were tangled together, so it took us a long time to get them all up. It was close to impossible, and I think because it was the final leg, that's the only reason Joey and I were able to put everything into that and get it up.
Reality TV World: I can't imagine how it felt to constantly finish in second place and then actual win the final leg. What was different about that last leg? Do you think you won just based on your own choices and skill or would you say luck played a role and it was more Justin and Diana's mistakes that propelled you forward? Meaning, maybe you saw it as Justin and Diana's race to lose?
Joey Buttitta: No, I don't think so at all. I think you make your own luck. I mean, Justin and Diana are very good at this game, but so are we, and we feel if they weren't there, we would've been the ones winning every leg. So yeah, Justin and Diana are fantastic competitors, they're an obvious all-star pick if there's going to be another all-star season, but we don't think that they lost it. We feel like we won it.
Kelsey Gerckens: If you look at the entire season, Joey and I never made a big mistake. We never made that fatal mistake, we never made a big mistake. And if you look at Justin and Diana, they made fatal mistakes several times during the Race and there was luck in a way because the "Cheerleaders" taxi got lost and that's what got them in the Final 3.
Joey and I really felt we were the best team and the biggest competitor, and we never made those mistakes that Justin and Diana did make. So, for us, we didn't feel like their mistake is the reason we won.
I feel like [Justin]'s confidence and ego kind of got in the way of him getting that first place, but who knows! I mean, if there were other tasks, who knows what would've happened. And I think that's what people need to realize, is we really felt we were the strongest team.
Reality TV World: I was actually going to ask you if you were frustrated your success in the Race was downplayed or clouded by Justin and Diana's victories. Like you said, if it wasn't for them, you would've won most of the legs and been superstars.
Kelsey Gerckens: I feel like if Justin and Diana weren't on the Race, I really do feel like it would've been mine and Joey's race the entire time. They were our biggest competition and we were friends with them along the way. We got along with them, they're great people, but they're big competition! If they weren't there, we could've been breaking records.
Joey Buttitta: But we don't feel like we were, you know, robbed of screen time or anything. We're not egomaniacs like that. We don't feel that way. So, we're happy with the outcome and it was an amazing ride, and we have 42 minutes an episode.
They can only fit so much into these things. And Justin is a walking sound bite. We get that. We're a little boring in that category. That's probably the reason why, and we don't fight. Those guys were fighting constantly and we were just constantly consistent.
Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion of Kelsey and Joey's The Amazing Race interview.