Exclusive: "Bopper" Minton and Mark Jackson talk 'The Amazing Race'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/30/2012
William "Bopper" Minton and Mark Jackson were eliminated from The Amazing Race's twentieth season during Sunday night's penultimate broadcast of the CBS reality competition.
The "Friends" team became the seventh team eliminated from the around-the-world competition after they arrived at the Race's tenth Pit Stop at Cheena Vala Fishing Nets in Cochin, India, in last place due to the fact they had started the leg more than three hours behind the other teams and also encountered a Speed Bump which they were required to complete before continuing on to the next task.
On Monday, Bopper and Mark talked to Reality TV World about their The Amazing Race experience -- including how long it took them to actually finish their Speed Bump and Fast Forward tasks, whether the traffic Art Velez and J.J. Carrell got stuck in on the way to the Pit Stop allowed Bopper and Mark to finish closely behind them or made no difference at all, what Bopper's little girl has been struggling with at home and why Mark was also selflessly desperate to win the grand prize, and whom they believed was really at fault in the Rachel Reilly versus Vanessa Macias smackdown.
Reality TV World: How far behind Art and J.J. do you think you guys finally arrived at the Pit Stop? The show made it look you guys were actually not too far behind them considering Art and J.J. hit traffic on the way to the Pit Stop and it seemed like a quick process to shave your heads.
William "Bopper" Minton: It's hard to say, you know? Like I said, I was trying to pay attention to the shadow that was on the mat -- you know, the sun shining on the mat -- so it's something Mark pointed out earlier.
There could have been a cloud or I don't know what, but there was no shadow when we got to the mat. So, I'm thinking we were probably at least 30-45 minutes -- maybe an hour -- behind them. I'm not for sure about that.
Reality TV World: How long would you say the Speed Bump task of painting the lion took you guys? And how about for the Fast Forward task?
William "Bopper" Minton: Me and Mark painted that belly like nobody else. I think we went through the Speed Bump probably what, Mark? Thirty minutes?
Reality TV World: Okay and how long do you think the Fast Forward took you guys?
William "Bopper" Minton: It took no time to shave my head, honey. Listen, he had a sharp pair of clippers and it didn't take too long. But the fact of the matter is, sometimes if you get a slow-riding taxi driver, that can make all the difference. (Laughs)
Mark Jackson: And my head was already shaved. So we didn't have to worry about that.
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William "Bopper" Minton: Yeah, all they had to do was slap him once or twice on the head and that was it.
Reality TV World: So did they just pretend to shave Mark's head then?
Mark Jackson: Yeah, they acted like they took the clippers to it and it bit me a little bit. I was like, "Man, I'm alright. Let me have them."
Reality TV World: So it sounds like your ultimate downfall then was just the fact you guys started the leg about three hours behind the other teams, right?
William "Bopper" Minton: Right. That's exactly right.
Reality TV World: You guys seemed unsure whether to take advantage of the Fast Forward or not when you received that clue. How close did you come to not using the Fast Forward? What would your explanation had been if you chose not to try the Fast Forward task?
Mark Jackson: We didn't have no intentions. We didn't have no intentions. That was the only way. We thought about it for a minute and wondered if anybody did it, and we just realized that was the only way that we had a chance of being in the Race. We didn't have no choice but to do the Fast Forward.
William "Bopper" Minton: Right, so we looked at it like, "Listen, let's go out and go big or go home and let's just take a chance on the Fast Forward." We got there, we didn't see anybody laying around nowhere, so I knew that we had a fighting chance. So I didn't hesitate of having my head shaved.
It's like I told that guy when he was shaving my head, I said, "Brother, to keep me in this Race and still give me a chance at winning life-changing money for my family, I'll give you that leg in the process if you need it."
Reality TV World: Because you guys had finished in last place twice during the legs that happened to be non-elimination legs, if you had won The Amazing Race in the end, do you think that would've cheapened your win a little bit?
Mark Jackson: No way. I'm going to tell you I got this... there's no way it would've cheapened our win. If you would have seen the effort -- when other people got Fast Forwards -- I mean a non-elimination, and they didn't make it through the Speed Bumps. We barely got through the Speed Bump, the first Speed Bump, so that just gave us another chance.
In fact on one [season], the guys from Indianapolis -- Marcus Pollard -- and his woman [Amani Pollard], they got the Fast Forward and they got through the Speed Bump and they made it to the Final 3. It is hard to do this stuff and if anyone made it look cheap for nothing, because we absolutely -- everybody that was watching the show saw that we gave it everything that we had and it wouldn't have mattered.
It wouldn't have mattered how they felt about it because we needed it. We needed the money and we just got lucky to get the non-elimination. If somebody else came in last during that leg, they would've gotten that non-elimination. See what I'm saying?
Reality TV World: Yes, so did any of the other teams give you a hard time about those last-place finishes at all?
William "Bopper" Minton: No, every time we survived a non-elimination, the other teams were [happy] for us to still be there, because we were friends with everybody there and they knew why we needed that money.
So, of course everybody was there to win the money, but they knew that me and Mark -- our determination behind it too. So, they still respected us being in the Race with them because they knew that we were going to give them laughs, and they knew we were going to have fun. So, no, I don't think any of them was mad because we got non-eliminations.
Reality TV World: Speaking of you guys needing the money, Bopper, you talked a little bit about it on the show, but would you mind giving a little more detail on what your daughter's situation is?
William "Bopper" Minton: Well, my daughter, she has chronic and severe asthma and respiratory problems and sinus and allergies, and I live about 150-170 yards downwind from a coal-processing plant, which I am not against coal.
But you know, I think these processing plants need to protect us better than what they do, but that's why running the Race, to me, was so important, because I need to relocate my child to a healthier environment, you know? She's on seven different respiratory medicines twice a day, you know? So, that's what the Race meant to me. It was life-changing money for my family, so that's why I ran it so hard.
Reality TV World: And Mark, during last week's episode when you were trying to complete that Bollywood dance, you mentioned you didn't want to quit because you had three children at home and you would've loved to win the money for them. Were there any specific issues at home behind why you needed the prize money or were you just hoping to better your children's upbringing in general?
Mark Jackson: You just said everything. I was hoping to change the lives of my family because it's something that would have made a big difference for my kids -- I'm all my kids have got now. I'm divorced, I have three children, and that was all it was.
And then after the show, and I got back, I didn't know I was going to lose my job and I lost my job. It was just -- that's what the big shock was. But we was just trying to change our families' lives and that was just the bottom line. So anything we had to do to do it...
William "Bopper" Minton: And when I asked Mark to quit that challenge, I did that because I was concerned about my friend's health. He was extremely hot. He gave 150% percent in that dance, and you know, he was just exhausted. And when I looked in his eyes, he was so dizzy and he was so sick, I told him, I said, "Look Mark, you've given them everything you've got to give, brother."
I said, "Let's take the penalty. Let's take our chances. I would rather you walk back to Kentucky instead of me taking you home in a body bag." I said, "You cannot give them anymore."
So we just went off to the side and we were willing to take the penalty, and we got over and I told Mark, I said, "Let's think about this. Let's get some water in you. Take your time. Let's get you settled down, and let's talk about this." Because my main concern was Mark's health. He was, like I said, he was...
William "Bopper" Minton: So we got over to the shade and sat down for a few minutes, and we really thought it out. I said, "You know, you want to give it another shot, Mark?" And he said, "Absolutely." So he went up there and aced it.
Mark Jackson: I didn't ace it but I went up there and did all that I could do.
William "Bopper" Minton: Well, I think you done well, but we just wanted to let everybody know that me and Mark, we don't quit nothing. We do not quit nothing, but when it comes to your friend's health, you have to re-evaluate stuff, you know? So, I was willing to take the pill for Mark's health.
Reality TV World: This week's episode showed Mark in bed prior to starting the leg. Mark, were you actually medically cleared to compete but you were worried you still might not be able to last or be strong enough to compete? Or was it the case where you were not medically cleared to compete and you guys were just waiting for the "Okay."
Mark Jackson: No, I was medically cleared. I just -- just like with Bopper's knee -- there was nothing in this world that would've stopped me from competing for that money.
William "Bopper" Minton: No.
Mark Jackson: I mean, you saw how I was on the show. I was still wobbly, still confused a little bit and everything.
Reality TV World: Mark, would you mind elaborating on what your condition really was? Was it a heat stroke, dehydration or a combination of things?
Mark Jackson: Well, it was the heat stroke, I got sick throwing up, and then the heat -- I just started sweating and everything and I just had a heat stroke. I got dizzy and blacked out a little bit. It was basically just a heat stroke.
Reality TV World: Is that why you struggled so much with the dance moves then or was the choreography just really difficult?
Mark Jackson: Well I was sick going over there. I was sick as a dog and the heat didn't make it no better. And when I got up there, I was doing the dance and got about 50% percent of the steps of the dance.
So I started on the first one and I was like, "Yeah, I got this. Let's go." And he said, "No, more." Then we started doing it again and by the second step, I was like, "Okay I got this. Let's go." And he said, "No, More," I said, "Listen man, I don't know if I got anything more, man."
I said, "I'm getting dizzy. I'm seeing double. I mean, I don't know if I got anymore." And then I stood over in that sun for probably two hours to where I was just stumbling back in to people. It was just ugly. I mean, that's when my partner said, "Mark it's over for you."
And I didn't want to believe him, but whenever he looked at me that last time, and he said, "Man you gotta quit," and I know Bopper has no quit in him and he knows I have no quit in me, but when he looked at me and said that, I know it must have been bad. I said, "You don't care?" And he was like, "No, I don't care, man. I'd rather you be healthy with your kids." And I was like, "Okay man, I'm done then."
Reality TV World: There has clearly been a lot of tension between Rachel R. and Brendon Villegas and Vanessa and Ralph Kelley. How much of that were you two aware of while you were racing with them? Did you think one team was more at fault for starting arguments than the other or would you say they both were equally responsible for causing drama?
Mark Jackson: It was nonsense. Everybody just wanted to pick on poor Rachel. And Vanessa, she picked on everybody -- not just Rachel. She picked on everybody.
William "Bopper" Minton: I can honestly say that Rachel, she's a good person. She literally is a good person. They may have had some stuff happen that we didn't see, you know, but as far as what we did see, Vanessa just did not like Rachel.
So we just stayed out of all the drama, we did. (Laughs) My kids are in school, so me and Mark wouldn't want to have our children watching us participate in any kind of drama on TV because we teach them not to do that stuff.
Reality TV World: How were you cast on The Amazing Race? Was it your first time applying for the show and would you ever consider doing an all-stars edition if you were given the opportunity?
William "Bopper" Minton: Well, we first applied for Season 12 and we had no phone calls then, so I guess we just didn't fit into that cast. So, four years later -- out of the blue -- they called us up and asked if we were still interested in doing the Race, and it took me about a half a second to say, "Yes."