Exclusive: 'The Amazing Race' couple Jeff Magee and Lyda Grawn talk (Part 2)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 02/27/2015
The Amazing Race's 26th season eliminated Jeff Magee and Lyda Grawn during Wednesday night's premiere episode, which introduced the brand new "dating couples" theme, on CBS.
Jeff, a 57-year-old airline pilot from McCall, ID, and his girlfriend Lyda, a 49-year-old flight attendant from Scottsdale, AZ, were ousted from the race around the world after they arrived at the first Pit Stop in last place. The couple started dating four years ago although they've known each other for 20 years.
Jeff had trouble with the dancing Detour task and it put them way behind most of the pack. It was then a U-Turn that did them in completely.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Jeff and Lyda talked about their short-lived The Amazing Race experience. Below is the concluding portion. Click here to read the first half.
Reality TV World: Were you two surprised to find out you had been U-Turned once you arrived at the board and which team did you assume did that at the time?
Lyda Grawn: (Laughs) Funny you should ask. We were shocked to come around the corner and see our pictures up there. Really, that was the last thing we ever expected. And for me, I just kept thinking -- I didn't even think about it being [Michael Dombrowski and his girlfriend Rochelle Nevedal].
For some reason, I just thought it would be [Matt Cucolo and his girlfriend Ashley Gordon] because while we were in the park, Matt had been [talking] -- because he was really into the game -- strategy, and I assumed always that it was Matt and Ashley who U-Turned us because they were very strategic and competitive, as are we, but I kind of assumed it was them.
So I was surprised it was Mike and Rochelle, but you know what? We would've done the same thing in their shoes.
Jeff Magee: Yeah, we got to know them a little bit later and they are a sweet couple. We told them in person, like, "We would've done exactly the same thing," because we were the only ones left after they left the dancing task.
And, you know, they didn't know what the transit was going to be like or anything because it was such a far distance with communication and everything, so we would've done exactly the same thing.
Reality TV World: You seemed to fly through the "Samurai Sake" task. How long did that take you?
Lyda Grawn: Ten minutes! Literally. When we walked through the door, we listened to his little spiel, we went back there, and they picked the one sake bottle that Jeff remembered because the name of it was so funny...
Jeff Magee: And the Japanese writing, it kind of had a couple round places on it and stuff, so I kind of put that in my mind and said, "Oh boobies!" (Laughs)
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Lyda Grawn: (Laughs) Him and his boobies!
Reality TV World: Did you feel the pre-existing couples did have some type of advantage over the blind dating couples at the start of the leg and now, knowing how things unfolded, do you still feel that same way?
Jeff Magee: Well, we can't really talk about anything past the first episode, and on the first episode that you saw, two blind dates finished first and second. So, obviously, I think what I did come away from that is a lot of it is individual talent or abilities, and in my case, my dancing was horrible and even some of my decision making.
So, I don't know that the pre-existing relationships help or hinder -- at least in that particular scenario. I'm sure in other parts of the Race it might, but I guess we'll have to watch the rest of the season to see how that really unfolds.
Lyda Grawn: And certainly we went into it hoping that one of the pre-existing couples would, you know, come out on top because it was the six of us that were familiar with each other kind of. And so, of course we went into it rooting for a pre-existing couple to come out on top.
Reality TV World: Phil Keoghan said in a recent interview he thought the blind dating couples were on their best behavior at first at least during the first leg. Do you think that played any role in their success, because pre-existing couples obviously have a comfort level there to act as themselves -- even when it may not be pretty?
Jeff Magee: I think it's going to be fun to watch how those relationships evolve. What they showed on the first episode, yeah, they didn't know each other and they were feeling each other out, trying to get along. And then as time goes by, they got to know each other, and to some degree, I think maybe some of them work better than others with their relationship.
Lyda Grawn: But even the pre-existing couples, you know, you crack. After so many days, you're tired, you're hungry, whatever. So everybody is going to have their breaking moments at some point whether you've known each other for 20 years, five years or two days.
Reality TV World: Which team did you view as potentially being your biggest competition while you were in the Race? Was it Matt and Ashley as you had previously mentioned?
Jeff Magee: Well, we had seen Matt and Ashley before -- earlier in the interview process and things -- and they always looked strong.
Lyda Grawn: And the Olympians [Aly Dudek and her boyfriend Steven Langton].
Jeff Magee: Yeah, the Olympians looked really strong and until we got to LAX, we were allowed to talk with the different couples. We didn't really know who did what, but you know, those were our Top 2. And actually, it was funny. There were no villains. All the cast were sweet, nice people, so we were really happy that we got to know all of them and we could communicate with them privately and as friends.
Reality TV World: If you were to ever compete in an all-stars edition, would you change anything about your strategy or preparation going into it? I know you didn't get that much experience with just that first leg but was there anything you picked up on?
Lyda Grawn: Yes, we would buy Jeff dance lessons.
Jeff Magee: (Laughs) And if there was a choice of things to do, we would not do dancing!
Lyda Grawn: We will steer clear! We think that they should do a Race where it's all the people who were eliminated first, because I'm sure from the past 25 seasons previously, every first couple goes and lays their head on the pillow going, "We want a second chance!" So, we think they ought to give us all first eliminated a second chance.
Reality TV World: What's the status of your relationship now? Are you two still dating, and if so, any engagement plans in the near future?
Jeff Magee: Well, you know, it's kind of like if it aint broke, don't fix it. We are very happy living together and we've both been married before, and that's not something we're -- I'm way too old to have kids. So, no, the marriage thing hasn't come up but our relationship is stronger than it ever was.
Lyda Grawn: Yeah. We're happy to just keep it status quo. We're blessed with a really nice life, and so we're just going to stay just like it is.
Reality TV World: How were you cast on The Amazing Race this season and was it your first time applying to get on the show?
Lyda Grawn: We were very lucky and fortunate. We did not apply although we're big fans and have watched a lot. But a friend of Jeff, who's a pilot for us as well, knew somebody who knew somebody and it was kind of a convoluted thing. We don't even really know for sure, but we got a phone call.
Jeff got a phone call from his friend saying, "Hey, The Amazing Race is looking for an airline couple dating -- not married -- and I thought of you and your girlfriend because you're always out doing crazy things. And so, call this number if you're interested."
And Jeff called me late at night and said, "Hey, do you want to do it!?" And I was like, "We'll give it a try! You never know. Just do it." And the ball started rolling fast after that, so we were lucky we were on the fast track.
Click here to read the first half of Lyda and Jeff's exclusive interview with Reality TV World.