Zev, a 26-year-old from Sherman Oaks, CA who is currently unemployed, and Justin a 30-year-old VP of development for National Lampoon from Los Angeles, CA, became the fourth team eliminated from The Amazing Race's fifteenth season during Sunday night's broadcast of the CBS reality series.
On Tuesday, Zev and Justin talked to Reality TV World about how they've come to peace with losing the passport and being disqualified for it; how, in retrospect, they might have gotten around the rule; how Zev surprised himself during the competition; and how it felt to watch their mistake play out during the episode.
Reality TV World: Are you guys still upset over the way your The Amazing Race experience ended or have you been able to come to peace with it?
Zev: Yeah, we were very upset and devastated but time heels all wounds.
Justin: That's a great answer Zev.
Zev: Well thanks, Justin.
Justin: I think we've come to terms with it by this point. But the week after that happened it was pretty tough. As we were at Elimination Station and more teams start showing up, you come to realize that only one team can win it.
Reality TV World: You guys actually brought up the idea that you were going to be "DQ'd" because of the missing passport before you actually went and met with host Phil Keoghan and told him about it. What made you guys think that -- was needing your passports for a check-in to be valid a Race rule you guys were already aware of, or had you been talking to some of the producers, or what was it that gave you that idea?
Zev: That's one of the rules.
Justin: That's one of the rules, and also I've seen it happen to [thirteenth-season "Mother and Son" team of Dallas and Toni Imbimbo]. So I knew that probably that hadn't changed.
Reality TV World: I thought the Toni and Dallas situation was a little different from you guys since they were actually the last team to check-in, while you guys were the first team to check-in but couldn't because you didn't have your travel documents. So there was a rule that -- regardless of when you got to the Pit Stop -- you needed to have those travel documents or be disqualified?
Justin: Yeah, but we just figured that was the case. It just seems like a pretty obvious thing that we weren't going to be able to move on. But in retrospect there was probably a couple things we could have done differently, it's just we made such a scene about looking for it that everybody was so aware of what was going on.
Reality TV World: What were some of those other things you just mentioned?
Justin: Well I guess we could have waited until the next leg started and then gone and tried to find it.
Reality TV World: Okay, so you couldn't have gone during the mandatory rest period at the Pit Stop, but you thought of going once the next leg had officially started?
Reality TV World: Is that a scenario that the producers would have allowed? Did you ever ask them about it?
Justin: No, they probably wouldn't have preferred that. (laughing) I think playing it out on the up-and-up, this is the way it had to go down. But you can't help but brainstorm about what else you could of done, and that was one of the things we came up with, was we could have waited. We had an inkling that that's where it might have been. But, I don't know. Who knows. If the person who found it had found it by then, we would have been stuck there and that would have been that.
Reality TV World: Based on the audio quality difference, it seemed like the clip where Phil was shown telling you guys that you'd be eliminated if you didn't find the passport and return to the mat before the last team checked-in was added in during the editing process. What did Phil actually tell you before you left to go look for the passport?
Zev: That you need your travel documents to continue the race.
Reality TV World: So it was really that cut and dry?
Justin: Yeah, but we had a little bit of dialogue. I think there's a separate clip that's up there somewhere called "A Somber Farewell" on YouTube. You can see that we had like a two-minute dialogue.
Reality TV World: I know you talked a bit about it during your Elimination Station interview, but I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about what you think happened to the passport.
Justin: I had it in this fanny pack that I was carrying. It had our stuff. We accidentally went into a monastery because the way the clue read made us fell like we had to go in there, because it said "to be quiet around the monks." When we went in there it was really dark, so I reached into the fanny pack to pull out the headlight that we had, and when I pulled it out I must have pulled the passport out with it.
I just couldn't see anything. It's pretty much that's what happened because that's where they found it. So we kind of know what went down. I don't know what I could have done to avoid that because that fanny pack was the safest place we had.
Reality TV World: After you left the mat when Phil told you that you needed to find it, we saw you guys get in the cab with Thierry. Did you ever really think there was a chance you'd be able to find it somewhere on the course?
Zev: We thought we were going to go and get it.
Justin: But by the time we... There wasn't that much time difference between the first-place team and last-place team.
Zev: It was only like 26 minutes.
Justin: We really knew -- because of the way that the challenges were set up -- we didn't have much time to come back before whoever was last. So we were kind of resigned to it at that point.
Reality TV World: Okay, so it took about 25 minutes between when you checked in first and when "Professional Poker Players" Maria Ho and Tiffany Michelle checked-in last?
Justin: Something like that. It wasn't much.
Reality TV World: So did you even make it back to the temple?
Justin: We were on our way back and [Marian and Tiffany] checked-in so they called our [production] team that was with us and said at that point it was too late.
Reality TV World: What was the reaction of your friends and family members when they found out how you were eliminated?
Zev: They were shocked and sad.
Justin: Yeah, they were definitely devastated. But I think they had some inkling of what was coming because there was a promo out there that week. Neither of us bought a Roles Royce since we got home...
Reality TV World: Although you said you've come to peace with it, was it difficult to watch Sunday night's episode knowing how it would end?
Justin: It was harder in the lead-up I'd say. Zev?
Zev: Yeah, it wasn't that tough for me.
Justin: Actually watching it was not that bad. But the morning we aired we both woke-up and were just wanted to crawl in holes and not look at anybody.
Zev: Well I want to do that most mornings. (Justin laughs)
Reality TV World: I'm guessing there's not much animosity and you guys are still really good friends?
Justin: I hate that bastard!
Reality TV World: A lot of the time the team that finishes the leg in first place receives a prize, however there was no mention of you guys getting a prize during Sunday night's episode. Was there a prize that they initially gave you but then had to take it back since you didn't officially finish first?
Reality TV World: Did that eventually go to "Brothers" Daniel and Samuel McMillen, who originally finished in second?
Zev: Probably. We think so.
Reality TV World: It looked like Thierry played a big role in helping you guys go from last to first during Sunday night's episode. Would you agree with that? How important do you think securing a good cab driver is?
Zev: It's very, very, very important.
Justin: It's such a big part of the race I can't even tell you. It's a luck of the draw thing so it's a level playing field. But we had bad luck with cabs most of the race, and that time we got really lucky and had the best possible guy we could have had.
Reality TV World: You guys actually already previously just barely avoided another disaster earlier in the race when Justin dropped the clue on the dock. Had that incident had any impact on how careful you guys were with your clues and other important stuff?
Justin: That was just kind of a different thing itself because I had the clue in my hand and I fell in the river. (laughing) It wasn't like a matter of forgetfulness in that situation, it was... I don't know, maybe there's a theme. I don't feel like the two are all that related. Then again, Zev might differ with me.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when Phil revealed that somebody would be eliminated at the Race's starting line?
Zev: Oh man. It was scary. I was scared.
Justin: It was pretty terrifying.
Zev: I did not like that. It was not nice of Phil.
Justin: Nobody wanted to go home and face their family and friends having not left the starting line, so I feel for ["Married Yoga Teachers" Eric and Lisa Paskel]. But we were happy it wasn't us.
Reality TV World: When we talked to Eric and Lisa they thought it was an unfair twist. Do you agree or do you think they were just bitter since they were the ones who were eliminated?
Zev: It was probably a little bit of both, but I think it was more bitter.
Justin: Yeah, I don't see how it could be called unfair. I mean fairness...
Zev: Yeah, everybody had a one in 12 chance to find that license plate.
Justin: We all had the same problem. So fairness I don't think was an issue there.
Reality TV World: Zev were you surprised at how well you did on the race? Did you think it would be more difficult due to your Asperger's?
Zev: A little surprised. I thought I was going to be the one freaking out, but it was my friend Justin over there. (Justin laughs) I think my Asperger's maybe helped me along the way just to keep me calm and doing what I do.
Justin: I'd agree with that.
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?
Zev: I think we maybe wanted ["Teammates" Herbert "Flight Time" Lang and Nathaniel "The Big Easy"] to win because they're doing it for their fallen friend. We were happy with any outcome.
Reality TV World: What teams did you get along with the best? The worst?
Zev: We got along best with [Garrett Paul and Jessica Stout], but they decided to leave early. (Justin laughs) I don't know, everybody was just really good people.
Justin: It was surprising how well everyone got along. I mean when the race was happening everybody was in their own world and it was every team for themselves, but when there was downtime there was a lot of love on the race, for sure.
Reality TV World: What was your favorite overall experience on the show?
Zev: Just the whole experience. The whole experience was just wonderful. My favorite challenge was taking the people around Japan. That was fun, being a tour guide.
Justin: For me the most memorable moment was definitely Zev with those ducks.