'The Amazing Race' crowns Ernie Halvorsen, Cindy Chiang champs
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/12/2011
The Amazing Race crowned Ernie Halvorsen and Cindy Chiang its nineteenth-season champions during Sunday night's broadcast of the CBS reality competition.
"The Race has been the best premarital counseling that you could ever get," Cindy said after she and Ernie finished in first place.
"I am very proud of Cindy. She's incredible and I'm glad she's my partner in life. I couldn't think of anybody better to spend it with," Ernie said.
"I'm so proud of Ernie. For him to be so emotionally supportive of me, I can't think of anything better in life than to have a husband who would be so supportive and caring even when I'm at my low. With Ernie here, I know we can do anything," Cindy explained.
"This Race was really worth more than a million dollars. The beautiful things that we've seen, the cultures that we've experienced, the people that we've met along the way -- you just can't put a price tag on that. It's really been an incredible, incredible experience."
The "Engaged Couple" team was the first team to cross the nineteenth season of The Amazing Race's finish line in Atlanta, GA, claiming the $1 million grand prize.
"Dating Couple" Jeremy Cline and Sandy Draghi finished second.
"We feel like we gave it everything we possibly had," Jeremy said.
"We're exhausted and happy to be home. It was a whirlwind. It really was. This Race has done a lot for Jeremy and I. We've learned how to communicate with each other, which I think can take some couples decades, and we learned that in 30 days," Sandy explained.
"Our relationship is going on and it's going to get stronger from here on out. We're happy to be together and to have done this, and it's something we'll always share together and it's created a bond -- some fantastic memories we'll take with us," Jeremy said.
"Married Couple" Marcus Pollard and Amani Pollard finished third.
"I think the big lesson in this is that you're not going to win everything, but whatever you do, do not quit. Give it your all and go for it, and I think that us running the Race and making it as far as we did is winning. As long as you don't quit, you always win," Amani said.
"Amani was a great teammate. She's smarter than any quarterback that I've played with and tougher than any linebacker that I've faced. I think she shows so many people that no matter how old you are, no matter what ethnic background you've come from, no matter what you've done, if you put your mind to it, there's nothing that you can't accomplish," Marcus said.
The twelfth episode of The Amazing Race's nineteenth season began where last week's broadcast left off, with the Race's three teams meeting with host Phil Keoghan and leaving the course's eleventh Pit Stop at Panama Viejo in Panama City.
Since they had been the team to finish in first place at the Race's eleventh Pit Stop, Jeremy and Sandy were the first team to depart from Panama Viejo at 12:04AM.
Ernie and Cindy then departed at 12:05AM, and they were then followed by Amani and Marcus at 12:06AM.
Upon opening their departure clues, the teams were instructed to fly from Panama City to their final destination of Atlanta, GA, and once they touched down, they had to make their way to Flight Safety International where they would receive their next clue.
Jeremy and Sandy and Ernie and Cindy weren't happy because they believed Marcus and Amani had an edge since they currently live in Atlanta. They thought it was safe to say that the "Married Couple" knew the area well.
At the start of the season's final leg, the three teams ended up on the same 8:30AM flight to Atlanta, which put them all on an equal playing field.
Once the plane landed, they all rushed to secure taxis. Jeremy and Sandy found one first and made sure they had a navigation system. Amani and Marcus then snagged a taxi shortly afterwards, while Ernie and Cindy then were able to wave one down.
Jeremy and Sandy were the first team to arrive at Flight Safety International and they were followed by Amani and Marcus and Ernie and Cindy.
The teams received their next set of clues, which required them to learn the intricacies of a simulator from a professional flight instructor and then successfully land their aircraft from an altitude of 2,500 feet in order to receive their next clue.
All the teams were very excited about the task, as it gave then an opportunity to try something none of the teams had ever done before. However, the task proved very difficult for Marcus.
Ernie and Cindy had an unsuccessful attempt their first time around, while Jeremy and Sandy landed their aircraft on the very first try. Amani and Marcus seemingly tried the challenge six times with Marcus flying the plane, but after many failed attempts, they finally did it correctly.
As a result, Jeremy and Sandy were the first team to complete their task and they were followed by Ernie and Cindy and eventually Amani and Marcus.
The teams then learned they had to figure out that "the dump" was the former residence of Margaret Mitchell, the author of Gone With the Wind. Once they discovered and traveled to the correct "dump" location, they would receive their next clue.
Jeremy and Sandy asked a man for help along the way, and the local claimed the dump location was at the site of a former Home Depot store. Meanwhile, Ernie and Cindy made a phone call and figured out the correct destination.
Although Jeremy and Sandy and Ernie and Cindy were moving along in the Race, Amani and Marcus were still back at the aircraft challenge, growing very frustrated but remaining calm.
However, Jeremy and Sandy took their taxi to the wrong location. Once they arrived at a former Home Depot now housing a store called The Dump, another man told them it was the dump, but they looked everywhere for a clue box and couldn't find one. The couple soon realized they had missed something in the clue and ended up in the wrong spot.
Meanwhile, Ernie and Cindy were still on the right path and managed to be the first team to arrive at the former residence of Margaret Mitchell. They were then followed by Jeremy and Sandy and Amani and Marcus.
Upon arriving at the former Mitchell home, the teams learned that one member of each team would have to complete a Roadblock task, which required them to work with an old-fashioned typewriter and type out their next clue -- including the numbers 44-715-74. However, after discovering there was no key for the number one, they must figure out they had to use the lowercase "L" in its place.
Ernie, Sandy and Marcus opted to take on the Roadblock task for their teams.
Ernie and Cindy were the first team to complete the Roadblock task, and they were soon followed by Jeremy and Sandy and Amani and Marcus later on.
After finishing the Roadblock task, the teams received their next clue and had to figure out that the number 44 in their clue commemorated Baseball Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Aaron's 715 homeruns, which in 1974, broke the all-time homerun record. Aaron was memorialized on the former outfield wall of Turner Field, which was where the teams would find their next clue.
Ernie and Cindy found Internet service and discovered they had to go to Turner Field to find something in the area related to Hank Aaron.
Once the teams arrived at the field, they were instructed to work without notes and test their memory of the entire course. One person from each team was required to wear a harness and work with a giant map overhead, while the other teammate screamed out instructions from the ground below. Once a team could successfully map out their Race around the world, they would receive their final clue.
Cindy opted to physically string a big rope through the map's locations' hooks, as Jeremy did as well. The show did now show footage of whether Marcus or Amani was rigged to the map.
Jeremy and Sandy ran into a problem as they were attempting to complete their map, although they thought it was only a small mistake. They happened to forget Indonesia when they mapped out their course of where they had traveled to throughout the season in order from the beginning to its end.
Once the teams finished the map task, they were required to race to the Swan House, which would serve as the finish line and final Pit Stop for The Amazing Race's nineteenth season.
While Ernie and Cindy had a gut feeling they were in their lead and were happy about it, their taxi driver got lost heading to the Swan House. However, the couple maintained their lead regardless, because they figured out where they had to go efficiently and quickly.
After gaining momentum in the twelfth leg of the Race and keeping their first-place position the rest of the way, Ernie and Cindy were the first team to arrive at the Pit Stop mat. The "Engaged Couple" team was greeted by Phil and all The Amazing Race's previously eliminated nineteenth-season Racers.
Ernie and Cindy arrived in first place, and Cindy was crying with joy over their hard-earned victory.
"Four continents, 10 countries, 20 cities, and more than 30,000 miles -- Ernie and Cindy, you are now the official winners of The Amazing Race and you have won the one million dollars. At the end of the last leg, you said you wanted to win The Amazing Race so badly because you wanted to make some real change in the world. You wanted to do something for others. Could you tell everybody what that is?" Phil asked.
"We'd really like to create an organization that would help to really multiply the million and really help those who are really in need. We've been around the world, and all of us have met the most amazing people. We're so happy, but they just need a little bit extra. We want to be able to help inspire them to live a better life and contribute to the global economy," Cindy told Phil.
"So, as your family is watching you standing here the winners of The Amazing Race together, what are they saying?" Phil asked.
"They're probably passed out in disbelief," Ernie joked.
"My parents would probably say, 'I knew you'd win.' My parents definitely have an expectation for me to be perfect and achieve the best and be the brightest, smartest, fastest student. And hopefully, we've shown them together that we really are the best team together," Cindy explained.