Exclusive: Kevin Ng talks 'The Amazing Race' Season 29 experience
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/04/2017
Kevin Ng and Jennifer "Jenn" Lee were eliminated from The Amazing Race during the first Season 29 broadcast on CBS.
Kevin, a 31-year-old athletic trainer from San Diego, CA, and Jenn, a 25-year-old professional model from Los Angeles, CA, paired up on the first day of the Race when they were total strangers.
They became the first team eliminated from the around-the-world competition after they arrived at the season's first Pit Stop at Cinta Costera Tres in Panama City in last place out of 11 competing couples.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World via email, Kevin talked about his short-lived The Amazing Race experience -- including mistakes made and how he felt about having Jenn as his partner. Below is what Kevin had to say.
Reality TV World: When you arrived at the Pit Stop in tenth place, it was already dark outside. Do you have any idea how long after Jessica "Jessie" Shields and Francesca Piccoli, the ninth-place finishers, you arrived at the Pit Stop?
Kevin Ng: Honestly I had zero idea how far we were behind Franny and Jess, I just wanted to focus on our job at hand. Getting us there.
Reality TV World: Did you expect the two-hour time penalty once you learned you couldn't complete the Detour due to safety reasons? And what was going through your mind in the moments before Liz Espey and Michael Rado showed up and stole your place on The Race?
Kevin Ng: You know when your dog craps in the house and he's house trained? That's how unexpected it was. But immediately I just knew we had to work fast to get there. I wanted to keep rowing my little heart out, just one more shot to row because we would have had it; we never flipped we worked the like champs, one shot wasn't enough.
In my mind, when I saw Liz and Big Mike running up, I thought, "Damn, Big Mike looks haggard. Get that man water now," and I realized both sides ran as hard as we could. We tried our best and nothing else we could do.
Reality TV World: You two appeared to get lost trying to find the canopy tower. How long were you searching for the entrance to the tower? Was this the only time you got lost?
Kevin Ng: The canopy tower was a rough one. There was actually two, we went to the one that was a military base. Panama, get some street signs.
Reality TV World: Would you say looking for the canopy tower was the biggest time sink you had during this leg? What about all the traffic? What did you feel were your most time-consuming mistakes or events?
Kevin Ng: Canopy Tower was the most time consuming we went in multiple directions, but I'm sure everyone did. Traffic, you can't fight it. Everyone has to deal with it.
Reality TV World: Why did you two ultimately choose the canoe racing Detour task instead of the bow and arrow? And looking back, do you regret that choice?
Kevin Ng: I felt very comfortable on either or. I like to shoot compound bows and if it needed balancing on water, I think I can handle that. Isn't balancing on water surfing? Rowing, well it's the same as a outrigger canoe and paddle boarding or kayaking all which I do. Jenn felt more comfortable rowing and I completely backed her decision.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when Jenn picked you as her partner? Were you surprised and pleased, or were you maybe hoping for a male partner to help with strength and physical challenges on the show?
Kevin Ng: First thing I asked is if she had extra hair ties. She did. Savior! I only brought two. It would have been a long ride. I was stoked she picked me, she was like my little sister on the show.
Reality TV World: Jenn mentioned in her final words that it would've been a game-changer had either of you stepped up and been more authoritative. What is your opinion on her statement, do you agree? Did you feel your team was unmotivated because you didn't have anyone pushing you, or did you two have trouble making decisions because you were both so laid back?
Kevin Ng: We both ran the best we could, there's always ways to improve, but during that leg, we put it all out and I'm happy with both of our performances. It's a team, you have to work together; not yell at each other. We were motivated, we showed it differently. Being calm and collective is my job, freaking out is basically when a patient is coding or an athlete is having a spinal injury or a head trauma.
It looks like we're laid back because Jenn and I can handle high stress situations at ease. She's in front of the camera all the time in high-stress job situations and she's always calm and collective. We were focusing at the job at hand the entire time, we didn't need to worry about others on the race. Our dynamic was great, for meeting each other so quickly we bonded quick; that's all we needed.
Reality TV World: Which team/s did you view as the biggest threats this early on, and did you start thinking about possible alliances? If so, which teams could you envision yourselves working with down the road had you stayed in the Race.
Kevin Ng: Biggest threats were "Team America" for sure and the "Swoll Sisters." They were big and strong but we had speed. I thought they were used to a high caloric intake prior to the race and during the race their expended calories would outweigh their consumed calories, which would cause more fatigue later on, then get hangry and fall apart.
I was happy with Jenn because I knew she did cardio and was use to a lower calorie diet from looking at her. She'd eat less! So we'd be well prepared in the long run. (Sorry I went all exercise physiology; but I had to use my sports medicine degree somehow).
Reality TV World: Were you surprised producers didn't make a rule that the Racers had to choose guy-girl teams to be fair? And what did you think about the casting twist in general?
Kevin Ng: To me it didn't matter about a guy-girl team. Every player has a strength and weakness, it's about finding it and utilizing it. The twist was weird at first. You have to open up so quick and you don't really know how much buttons you can push on a person from meeting them so quickly.
Reality TV World: How long have you wanted to appear on The Amazing Race and are you a big fan of the show? How were you cast and was this your first time applying?
Kevin Ng: It was a fluke experience to get on The Amazing Race via social media, so it was a total surprise! It was my first time applying and I was hesitant since it was so close to the Olympics, but traveling around the world is something few can dream of. So I had to take advantage of it. Hopefully I'll be at the next one.
Reality TV World: What's the status of your relationship with Jenn like now? Did you two maintain a friendship after the show, especially considering you both live in California?
Kevin Ng: She's my lil sister. We're friends and have a close relationship. We FaceTime once a week and even went camping together. Still a family!