Exclusive: Ken and Tina Greene talk about 'The Amazing Race 13'
By John Bracchitta, 12/09/2008
For Ken and Tina Greene, The Amazing Race 13 was about much more than simply competing for a cash prize.
Less than one year after their separation following five years of marriage, both Ken, a 51 year-old home-builder and ex-NFL player from San Diego, FL and Tina, a 48 year-old president of BioPharmMed from Tampa, FL, saw their participation on the race as a last ditch effort to see if their relationship would was meant to be or not. While they fell short of the grand prize and finished second to "Brother and Sister" Nick an Starr Spangler, Ken and Tina were able to win their own challenge as they reconciled their relationship.
On Monday, Ken and Tina talked to Reality TV World about what troubles they encountered while trying to fix their relationship and compete at the same time, which team they were unable to strike up a friendship with on the show, and how Tina reacted after learning that Nick had stolen her GPS equipped taxi in the tenth leg.
Reality TV World: Did you think you had any chance of catching up to Nick and Starr in the final stretch of the last leg, or were they too far ahead of you?
Tina: No, they were only 5-7 minutes ahead, we definitely could catch them. We were ahead of them at the clue boxes and we definitely knew that they were well in sight.
Ken: When we left the clue boxes, they took off before us. Our cab driver actually caught back up to them and we were side-to-side for a few minutes and then their cab driver pulled ahead, so we were close. Going into the green [dinosaur] it was very close. It was almost simultaneous, they came around one side and we came around the other, but they saw the [dinosaur] in the window immediately and we were pulled off in another direction.
Reality TV World: About how far behind Nick and Starr did you end up arriving at the finish line, was it only 5-7 minutes?
Tina: It was 5-7 minutes.
Ken: I think 5-15 [minutes] is a pretty reasonable guesstimate.
Reality TV World: What do you think was the final difference-maker during that final stretch? Was it Nick and Starr's ability to complete the memory board before you or was it your difficulty in finding a taxi after the Voodoo donut shop clue?
Tina: I think it was actually, I mean my opinion was [when we were] trying to find a cab because we had one heck of a time finding a cab. One stopped and Ken offered him $50, now he's saying he wishes he would've offered him $100 or $150 because that could have made the difference right there.
Ken: And I just should say, Nick and Starr were flawless on that last leg. They didn't make any mistakes and they did an outstanding job, and even through all that we still had a chance to win in the end and we just didn't quite get it done. So we just tip our hats to them, they did a great job.
Tina: Yeah they sure did.
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Reality TV World: Just to take a step back for a moment, could I just ask how long had you been married and then separated before going on the race?
Tina: Yeah, it was five years -- July 5 of this year -- and we've known each other seven years yesterday, we were introduced seven years ago. We got separated the July before the race, so by the time we went on the race it had been about, I guess, nine months.
Reality TV World: Whose idea was it to apply for the show?
Tina: It was mine. I've been a big fan of the show since the beginning, and Ken loved the show too and we always talked about how we should do this together and he coached so we couldn't. And when he went into home building and were seeing each other, he came for Thanksgiving weekend and I had found out that the applications had to go in that Monday, so I had him print it out and I said "If you want to do this, we've got to fill these applications out and shoot a three minute video." So we kinda winged the video at the last minute and the [Fed Ex-ed it in] on the way to the airport, and then the rest is history I guess.
Reality TV World: When you were applying for the show, did you see it as an opportunity to test your relationship?
Ken: Oh we knew absolutely that [The Amazing Race] would be the final testing ground to see if we were going to make it or brake it, that was our main objective going in. We knew that when we finished on that finish line it was either "Yes, we're together" or "No, we're going our separate ways."
So it helped us fortify our relationship and realize that we are different, but we have a lot of strengths in one another that we really appreciate and just hope to keep cultivating the marriage.
Reality TV World: You said it was kind of "make it or break it," were you worried at times -- because there were lots of ups and downs that everyone [went through on the race] -- that the race and the emotions that went with it would hurt your relationship more than help it?
Ken: I thought there were two of three times in the race where I thought to myself, and she did too, "This is not gonna fly. Let's get through it and then go our separate ways." But then you work and you see the other part of it and we had so many good moments that made me realize "No, I definitely don't wanna let her go, I'd love to be with her for the rest of my life," so that's what was my final feeling.
(To Tina) I don't know about you...
Tina: Yeah, I think the race tests you on so many levels, but it also exposes. I saw some strengths in Ken that I never even knew were there, and his strengths are definitely my weaknesses and my strengths are definitely his weaknesses.
You know, none of the other racers knew we were separated -- that was something that we just wanted to keep to ourselves so no one kinda put a wedge in between us -- and they were all floored in the end when we were on the mat and they found it out. I mean, you could see every jaw drop and they were all in tears and so were all the camera men and the sound guys. I was balling last night watching it again, it was a real emotional night last night.
But [The Amazing Race] was such a blessing in our lives and we know that, even though we didn't win the million and of course we wanted to, we won something that's going to be a lot more lasting and had a wonderful experience.
Reality TV World: How has your relationship been going since the completion of the race?
Ken: It's been great. You know obviously it's a work in progress, as it will be until the day we die. That's part of marriage, nothing's perfect, nothing is automatic and is something you have to work with every day.
It's kind of like this economy, you've got struggles, there's difficult times, but if you're committed you'll work through it and you'll make the best of a bad situation so when the good times come you can really appreciate the good times.
We feel like we're in the good times now.
Tina: I mean, just to give you a little insight, Ken drove 43-straight-hours in a U-Haul with all of his things from San Diego to Tampa to be with me and arrived on my birthday morning. I think that said a lot to me, and to everyone, that we're very serious about making this work.
Reality TV World: That's great! Moving back to the show now, Ken you joked during the last leg that Nick and Starr were benefiting from having a "horseshoe up their rear ends," Do you think that their good luck was what put them ahead of you in the end?
Ken: I think that they had a pretty hot streak going where they were having all the breaks going their way. We had it early in the race, and that's how you win a lot of these legs. It's not based totally on abilities, there are a lot of other factors that come into play, which predominantly are the cabs. That's the one that is make or break for the most part.
But there are other issues that can make it really good for you [too], so yeah they were on a roll and they had some really good things happen to them. But the bottom line is, when we got to that last day, that last stage, we did two things head on: We did the climbing and they beat us in that, and we did the [clue boxes] and they beat us in that. They were definitely deserving.
Reality TV World: When it came to that Detour challenge, it did involve heights, and Tina you had said throughout the race many times that you have a fear of heights. Was the clue for that unclear and not say that things were going to be up in the air?
Tina: No, it really didn't. I mean, I kind of assumed when there was a "high" one and a "low" one, but the way the clue read we felt it was going to be faster and that's generally how we made all of our decisions. I guess God was testing me because we did quite a number of height challenges on this race! (laughs). Hopefully I'm getting over that fear now.
My one big mistake [during the Detour] was I didn't realize that when Nick and Starr got there that they were running on another [course] parallel to us. I was watching Ken do it and then they were mounting the camera on me -- which I wish they had mounted it on Ken -- but I thought they had to wait behind us to do it. So I think I would have done that task a lot faster and not said that my helmet was falling off and choking me, and not been as scared and probably been more aggressive.
I didn't even realize that, just down the way, [Nick and Starr] were doing the same thing quickly. We ended up running down the hill really fast and caught up with them and jumped in our cab right as they were pulling out, so it didn't make a huge difference. But, kind of like when we went on the zip line, I was the first to go and then Ken, and I knew they had to wait.
Reality TV World: When did you realize that [they didn't have to wait during the Detour], was it after the challenge or mid-way through?
Tina: No, I didn't even realize until I jumped and grabbed the clue, and then when I was coming down with the clue they were running off and then I realized and I was like "What's going on?" and [Ken] was like "Honey, they finished."
I was oblivious, you know you get so focused on the race, especially if you're scared. (laughs) I was the shortest of the four of us and it was further for me to jump to that dang bar!
Reality TV World: Tina, if we could go back a few legs, you seemed to ruffle a few feathers when people thought you incorrectly took credit for getting the airline to use a larger plane on that flight to Fortaleza. Were you surprised by that reaction?
Tina: A little bit, because it's all intent and I think sometimes people make more out of it than not. The whole intent of that, whether or not it came across that way, was that it's hard when you hear the "Go" and you get your first clue and you want to run and do the race. To think about sitting in the airport for 4-5 hours kind of takes that adrenaline out of everyone, and I think there was a lot of infighting going on between teams and it was more just to say "Hey guys, chill out. We're all gonna be on the same plane, they switched it, whatever."
It wasn't more to blow my own horn or say "Thank me" or whatever, it really wasn't intended that way. It was just like, hey we're all gonna get on it, we're all gonna get to run the race.
But then when we got in line, Ken and I both felt that they had told us down there that we were going to be first on [the flight] because you couldn't get boarding assignments, and then there was that little altercation with [Terrence Gerchberg]. Ken can address part of the plane thing, (to Ken) can't you?
Ken: Well, a lot of people didn't think she'd made a difference in getting another plane, and she did. Instead of none of us getting on the earlier flight and having to sit in the airport for an additional few hours, or all of us getting a flight and getting the next challenge. Like she said, they got us a bigger plane, so it benefited everybody. It didn't just benefit us.
So when they started questioning her integrity as far as if she was telling the truth, that's when I got a little heated. I was sitting there, I saw the whole thing. And if you watched the episode you saw that she, in fact, did cause that thing to happen.
Still though, even today, there are people who are like "Oh yeah right." But if you can't look at the TV and see the facts I guess you're deaf, dumb and blind.
Reality TV World: Tina, I actually had another question for you. We just spoke with Nick, and he said that neither of you had realized that he had stolen your taxi with the GPS during the tenth leg until you watched the show, and he said that you were a little put off by that?
Tina: Well, I'm the type of person... I know it's a race, and I know anybody can do whatever they want to do, but we did have an early alliance with them, and when he taunted me and kind of lied to me in the temple... I didn't talk to anybody else about it, I'm not the type to talk behind people's backs, and I think you'll notice throughout the show that Ken and I were never disparaging any team, we're just not like that. We would rather try to work together and find redeeming qualities in everybody if it's possible, and with some of [the teams] it was hard to find those, but we looked for them.
But with Nick, I addressed it with him when we got to the Pit Stop and I just said it would have been fine to hide the clue, that's your prerogative, but you lied to me and you taunted me by saying "Hey Tina, did you find anything?"
So he'd already apologized and we'd already had our little confrontation over that, so there was no way in heck he was going to tell me that he stole my cab with the GPS, but he did tell me that night that "Oh it was so easy, my guy just took me straight to the antique bookstore and then he knew right where to go."
They didn't show all of the things I went through: three different cabs and running all over and having one heck of a time getting where I needed to go.
So when I saw the show, and in fact there have been a lot of people writing on our web site, kennyandtina.com, and on Facebook and on email that "We hate Nick and Starr" and "Nick is so devious, he stole your cab with the GPS."
So no I had no idea until I saw the show and I was a little upset. But, you know, it's all in good fun.
Reality TV World: You both managed to finish in second place despite surviving finishing last in a non-elimination round and having to complete a Speed Bump challenge on the following leg. As you made your way through that ordeal did either of you think that you would still get as far and make it as far as you ended up going?
Ken: Well we felt like if we could survive that leg... We never had any doubts that we could win the whole race, I don't think that was ever a question. But when we got last on that one particular leg, we had done the two tasks as quickly as we could possibly done them. I just think we had poor luck in finding cabs.
So once we survived that and made it to the next leg and then got fourth instead of being eliminated completely, we realized that we still had a chance to win the race. That never changed. I think we believed that until the final running up to the mat when we got second.
Reality TV World: You both said at different times that you felt like something of a parental figure to some of the younger teams and even included each of you sometimes helping other teams. Was that a role that either of you expected to take on while on the race?
Ken: No. (Both laugh)
Tina: I think it all started with Nick and Starr calling us "Mom and Dad," that's what they nicknamed us when they were narrowing down the teams to eleven out in Los Angeles.
Ken: They set us up with that, they softened us right away.
Tina: It probably was a ploy. But, to be honest with you, most of those teams are younger than our youngest child, our youngest child is 24 and our oldest child is 28. So it's a fact, they all could've been our children and when you see them struggling, like when I saw Toni struggling or Dan or Andrew, you wanna help them because you kind of envision your own children struggling at something.
Reality TV World: What was the hardest thing that either of you did while on the race?
Tina: Well I think for me definitely, and this will be different for Ken obviously, but it was climbing the [Auckland] Sky tower. It was very windy and it was hard work climbing up those rungs. It's an extremely tall structure and I was scared, but I'm proud of myself that I did it.
It was an unbelievable experience to get on a helicopter and fly through a rainbow and see so much of New Zealand. We were really rewarded for our efforts, but that was the toughest thing I did.
Ken: The [one most physical] challenge was the heavy bags [filled with flour], but the most difficult day was the Russia day we started out with the buses and then had to find that last clue and couldn't find it and we virtually ran for three hours. We were dropped off trying to find that clue box and we'd been running and walking for three hours in a panic trying to find it [and] knowing that the other teams were starting to close in on us.
That was probably the most difficult day for me mentally, and it was exhausting! We started at 6AM and finished at 7:30PM that night and I think I had a Snickers bar all day and no water. Tina didn't have anything [to eat] that I can remember, so we were physically spent. Then we went on the short day, the short turnaround going to Portland, OR so we weren't as refreshed as we would have liked to have been. But that's the way the race works.
Tina: What they didn't show there too is that our trolley bus actually let us off probably a half-mile down and the other teams were dropped off right by that clue box, which made it much easier to spot. We were dropped off quite a ways down, and that's where the confusion came in.
Reality TV World: What teams did you get along with the best and worst with?
Ken: That's a loaded question my brother! (Both laugh) I felt like we got along with all the teams very well. Initially we didn't get along with Terence and [Sarah Leshner], but we turned out to love them. I think [we didn't initially have any bond with Aja Benton] and [Ty White] but now we're as close as you can get.
The one team that I struggled with during most of the race, which I don't know if Tina did or not, was [Christy Cook] and [Kelly Crabb]. You know, they were doing their own thing and they were very competitive and I didn't like some of their tactics, so I didn't really particularly care for them for most of the race. But after it all concluded, like everything else, we really enjoyed everybody and feel really thankful to have this crew to run with and do the race with.
Reality TV World: Is there anything that you expected to make it onto the show that was edited out?
Tina: That's a really good question, there were a lot of things. Ken and I have this funny thing [where] he's always said we're Green Acres, he's country and I'm city, and he likes to sing that song and have me do my part and him do his part. When he was moving the flour bags he started singing that, I think trying to make it a little more fun and a little bit better for him. None of that made it on, I think that woulda been cute.
But other than that, just some of the things that happened and explained things a little bit more because I think that sometimes... You know, we've really had a tremendous response from fans. It's been unbelievable and such a blessing, so many people pulling for us and so many people wanting us to win. They even told us at the parties last night "You guy's had the biggest cheers and people wanted you to win." Everywhere we go or travel we have people running up to us in airports and subway stations and everything [saying] "Please tell me you're back together." We get recognized a lot, it's amazing.
So they must have shown enough good things to kind of overshadow some of the negative. (laughs)
Reality TV World: Have you gotten to go on any of the trips that you both won by winning all of the legs of the race that you did?
Ken: (sarcastically) I'm going on two, she hasn't been on any. (Tina laughs) But no, they haven't given us our trips yet, so we'll be getting those in the future.
Tina: And we're excited, we can't wait!
We're working on trying to do some type of adventure/travel show because we both have a lot of experience with travel and making exciting trips and being adventurous. We think we can show other people really how to explore and see areas instead of just going to a resort and just staying there and being at the beach or pool or whatever.
So what we're hoping to talk to CBS and some other possibilities about maybe doing something like that. All of the other teams were saying "You should have The Kenny and Tina Show, you guys are so funny." I don't think that they all realized the struggles that we were having, so it was refreshing to see.