Meghan Rickey and Cheyne Whitney never counted themselves out, and that attitude paid off during The Amazing Race's final fifteenth-season leg.

Meghan, a 23-year-old account executive from San Diego, CA, and Cheyne, a 23-year-old student also from San Diego, won The Amazing Race's fifteenth season during last night's finale broadcast of the CBS reality series.

Meghan and Cheyne defeated "Brothers" Daniel and Samuel McMillen, who finished second, and "Married Couple" Ericka Dunlap and Brian Kleinschmidt, who finished third, to claim the $1 million grand prize.

On Monday, Meghan and Cheyne talked to Reality TV World about why they were still confident despite arriving at the final task in last place, how their calm demeanor when dealing with each other and the other teams served them well, and what they think was one of their biggest boosts during the race.

Reality TV World: Congratulations!

Meghan: Thank you!

Cheyne: Thank you, thank you!

Reality TV World: You guys managed to go from last place to first place during the final poker chip counting task.  How surprised were you that you actually managed to pull that off? 

Cheyne: We weren't surprised. We were confident. When we arrived, the other teams definitely got a little frazzled and a little frustrated. We really focused on ourselves and we had a great strategy -- I play poker so I was stacking the chips and Meghan was finding the chips like a mad woman. So we really worked good together. I don't think we ever didn't expect to get out of there in first.

Reality TV World: So you were confident even though you showed up in last place?

Meghan: We were. And I think watching it last night on TV was intense because it was like you kind of looked at the time and you knew that the show was going to be over pretty soon and the task was at the end of it -- but in all honesty we didn't realize how close the finish line was.

We just said, "Okay, this is the challenge, let's do it." We tried not to think, "Oh my god! This is the $1 million right here! We've got to do this! We have to go as fast as we can!" You just have to focus and do it and not freak out that the finish line is going to be right there. We just focused on our game and we somehow pulled it out.

Reality TV World: About how long did the poker chip counting actually take?

Cheyne: It probably took about 20 to 30 minutes for us.
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Reality TV World: Were you surprised that the final task didn't have to do with memory [of the Race's previous legs], which is how most The Amazing Race editions have ended lately?

Meghan: Absolutely. We've been fans of the race for a really long time and we were well aware that several of the last seasons have ended with a memory challenge -- and that's exactly why they changed it up. They know that people are expecting that, so they want to keep everyone on their toes and mix things up.

But we definitely were prepared. I was going to do that memory challenge, Ericka was going to do that memory challenge and Sam was going to do that memory challenge. We were all very, very, very prepared for it. We were all studying on the plane. We all had our own charts and graphs and journals. So it would have been an interesting time because all of us were just so ready for it.

Cheyne: It was cool to be counting $1 million and have $1 million at your hands thought, just because it was so representative of what was going on.

Reality TV World: So Cheyne, you really think your previous experience playing poker helped you?

Cheyne: Absolutely. I play poker every week. When I was 16 I was sneaking into casinos to play poker. When you stack chips and you work with chips -- when I give my friends chips at my house and stuff -- you really learn how to stack them, how to even them out. It made a huge difference.

Reality TV World: The clue that had you looking for "the most famous casino in the country of Monaco" almost seemed to cost you guys the race -- especially after the taxi with Sam and Dan eventually went another route. Was it the fact that you saw them turning that really got you to change your mind or had you guys already committed to double-checking whether The Venetian was the right casino by that point?

Meghan: We were never committed to where we were going. We asked two people and right off the bat they said, "The Venetian. The Venetian." So we said, "Okay, that seems weird. It sounds like it's The Venetian." So we just weren't really sure.

Our taxi driver just made a quick turn and theirs made a quick turn and there was no, "We should follow them," because we just were kind of going at the same time. So we just decided to go to The Venetian and check. But the whole way to The Venetian we were yelling out the window asking the question -- no one could give us a solid answer. So when we went into The Venetian, they said right away, "Monte Carlo, no question." So we just took off for the Monte Carlo.

Reality TV World:  After you found out the Monte Carlo was the right casino, it looked like you guys also lost some additional time getting stuck in traffic.  About how far behind Dan and Sam do you think you arrived at the Monte Carlo, do you know?

Meghan: About 10 minutes.

Cheyne: Yeah, we were about 10 minutes behind -- which is a lot in the race, especially at that time.

Reality TV World: You guys used the Fast Forward on the fifth leg of the race and never finished lower than second on any of the legs after that. How big of a role do you think the Fast Forward played in your win?

Cheyne: I think it was really instrumental -- not just for the fact that we got a couple first places out of it. It really allowed us to work on our game and fine tune what we needed to do. We were running in the very front of the pack for three legs in a row at that point. Basically we knew if we could just stay ahead and not make too many big mistakes that we had it. It just really boosted our confidence in ourselves and in our game.

Reality TV World: You just mentioned how you didn't realize how close you were to the finish line while you were counting the poker chips. After that, it looked like you had a hard time finding the entrance to Wayne Newton's house -- were you concerned that it would cost you the $1 million?

Cheyne: Oh yeah.

Meghan: One-hundred percent.

Cheyne: We didn't know how far behind everybody was. We had no idea.

Meghan: For all we knew, Sam and Dan were going to be two seconds behind us.  If you saw on the show, they counted our poker chips and said, "Correct." Then right after that they counted Sam and Dan's and they said, "Incorrect." But [we were gone so] for all we knew, they said correct. We didn't know. We thought they could be two seconds behind us. We really did not know.

So we took off and our cab driver said, "Yeah, I'll take you. I know where that is." So we start going and he turns the corner a street to early and takes us to the back entrance -- and there's about four or five entrances. So we went all the way up and down the street and checked every single door. At that point we were like, "Oh my gosh!" I was just envisioning Sam and Dan going to the right entrance, running through and winning because of that. So yeah, it definitely was terrifying. That was one of the scariest moments on the entire race.

Reality TV World: About how much time was there between when you crossed the finish line and when Sam and Dan crossed?

Meghan: It's hard to say.

Cheyne: It's hard to say because in our minds it's like a blur -- I feel like that whole leg was a dream, like some weird thing. But I'd say 10 minutes from Sam and Dan and about 15 to 20 from Ericka and Brian.

Reality TV World:  We saw clashes between several other teams during the season, however you two never seemed to get into any arguments with any of the other teams. Why do you think that was the case? Was it simply because you spent a majority of the race ahead of most everyone else?

Cheyne: No, not at all actually. I'd say 75% of the time we would meet up with all the teams on a plane. So we were with a lot of the people for a lot of the time. I think it was the fact that our game strategy included keeping up with relations with all of the other teams. It does play a big role in the game, and if someone wants to U-Turn you or mislead you on purpose, if you don't make enemies it can only help you. It's not going to hurt you. So that was definitely part of our strategy, was to be nice to everybody else.

Reality TV World: You two also argued very little with each other. How do you think you were able to do that? Do you think it played a large role in winning?

Meghan: I think it definitely, definitely played a large role. Not many teams have argued with each other the entire time and have won the race. So we knew that coming in that it's going to be a whole lot easier to get along the whole way and encourage each other and work together -- we don't want to work against each other, we're just going to waste our own time and energy.

So that was a huge part of coming into the race for us. That was our goal: Not arguing with each other, work together as a team. That's what we did. We didn't want to be that couple either, you know?

Reality TV World: After you won, Cheyne you praised Meghan for being a strong competitor "even compared to the guys." Do you think having such a strong female partner is what gave you an edge over some of the other teams?

Cheyne: Absolutely. We may not have been the most physically strong team, but besides ["Teammates" Herbert "Flight Time" Lang and Nathaniel "The Big Easy" Lofton], we were the most athletic team. Meghan is just a great athlete. I never once would have wanted another guy on my team.

Males and females, we're different breeds -- so I think it's good to have that balance. A few of the last teams that have won, it's been a male/female team. I know male teams often dominate because of their strength, but I think it does take a good balance of a team and that's really what makes a solid team.

Reality TV World: You already mentioned the flight. It seemed like the teams were always on the same flight this season when traveling from country to country. Seeing as how you were in first for a majority of the race, do you think it's somewhat unfair that a lot of your leads were basically reduced to nothing because the other teams were allowed to get on the same flight as you?

Meghan: I don't think it's fair at all [but] that's the race. If it wasn't like that and one team had a lucky break or whatever, they would be days ahead and it wouldn't be what's so great about this show -- about this race. The whole excitement is that if you fall behind you have that chance to catch up and if you get ahead, they have that chance to be slowed down. It's what makes the race great.

Reality TV World: How were you cast for The Amazing Race? Was it your first time applying for the show?

Cheyne: Like she said, we've been fans from Season 1. We applied for Season 13 right when I turned 21 and we got a call back and they were a little bit interested and they said, "Apply again next year once you guys grow up a little." So we applied and we made it to the final casting last year -- we were actually in the final group with a lot of last season's cast. So our third time was a charm!

Reality TV World: You guys said you know you're going to end up getting married during your The Amazing Race introduction interview -- any engagement yet?

Meghan: (laughing)

Cheyne: No engagement. We're waiting for Jimmy Fallon tonight

Reality TV World: Any plans for the prize money yet?

Cheyne: It's not that much money. A lot of people would just jump and buy a new car or a couple of new cars -- go buy a bunch of new shit. But I think we're really going to just try and live a comfortable life, probably purchase a house and invest the rest of what we have.

Reality TV World: Did you have a hard time keeping the victory from family and friends?

Meghan: It definitely was one of the hardest challenges of this whole thing.

Cheyne: It was nice to have our own little secret. I could wink at her across a room and she knew what I meant.

Meghan: Yeah, he thought it was fun. But my parents had just been grilling me for a few months and it's been hard. So it's definitely nice. We're here in New York right now, but at midnight my family on the West Coast found out and it was exciting.
About The Author: Christopher Rocchio
Christopher Rocchio is an entertainment reporter for Reality TV World and has covered the reality TV genre for several years.