Exclusive: 'The Amazing Race' Season 26 winners Laura Pierson and Tyler Adams talk
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/18/2015
The Amazing Race crowned blind daters Laura Pierson and Tyler Adams the winners of the series' 26th season during Friday night's finale on CBS.
Laura, a 29-year-old talent booker from Los Angeles, CA, and Tyler, a 26-year-old mobile app developer from Santa Monica, CA, crossed the finish line together in first place on the twelfth leg after conquering five continents, eight countries and more than 35,000 miles.
The pair won $1 million but admitted they did not find love on the Race having been matched up for the wildest blind date of their lives. When asked about their experience, Tyler told The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan they "found love with the world and a lasting friendship."
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Monday, Laura and Tyler talked about their time on the show and victory.
Reality TV World: When you guys were running to Phil at the finish line and you spotted all the teams waiting and cheering for you, what was going through your minds?
Laura Pierson: I'm a huge fan of the show, so that is a moment that one can only dream of. You dream of being on the show, but that was just such an insane moment, I can't even describe it. But seeing everyone's face -- like, I stopped and gave [Matt Cucolo and Ashley Gordon] a hug. It was just the most incredible thing you could ever imagine if you're a fan of the show.
Tyler Adams: Yeah, I was so excited that I had to capture it, so I pulled out the old selfie cam and took a little extra footage from the run to the mat.
Reality TV World: Which relates to what I heard from Jenny Wu and Jelani Roy, that you guys took so many selfies along the Race it probably gave you an advantage in the last memory task because having a lot of pictures to look at gave more hints about where you were at that time.
Tyler Adams: Yeah, definitely. We had been instructed in the very beginning that we were supposed to take as many pictures as we could along the way, and you know, we took the time to stop and take pictures at, like, iconic places.
It definitely gave us an advantage because they were trying to decipher which airport they were at for each one of their pictures, (laughs) while we had great shots from great locations and with other people we had met along the way.
Reality TV World: How long did it take you guys to complete that final memory task?
Laura Pierson: Well, it took us some time to open up the shed.
Tyler Adams: (Laughs) More time to open the shed than it did...
Laura Pierson: It was about 30 minutes to unlock the shed. But to actually do the selfie challenge, we zipped through it, because my part of the whole task was to give Tyler the photos in order and he -- because he was tall -- could put them up on the board. So we worked together really well and I would say, what? Ten minutes?
Tyler Adams: Yeah about that.
Laura Pierson: We zipped through it!
Reality TV World: What's your relationship like now? Are you good enough friends that you hang out and talk all the time or what's the dynamic like?
Tyler Adams: Yeah, we stayed in touch and we threw a couple viewing parties here in LA together with all of our friends out here, which were a blast.
And then we were both out in New York this weekend for the finale. We stayed in touch. It's just been such a cool experience, and we texted regularly along the way, because we were the only two that we could share this with. It was just really, really neat.
Laura Pierson: It's awesome. It's like you go into this not knowing who your partner is going to be and I think that we both came out with a lifelong friend in each other.
Reality TV World: Your cab driver didn't seem to know where the bridge was on your way to the finish line. It appeared you hopped out, got advice from another driver who was waiting for a different team, and then went on your way. Is that all that happened there? And did it go down as quickly as it seemed?
Tyler Adams: Well, our cab driver didn't know where anything was in Dallas. We got in the cab, he had no GPS, he had an old flip phone, he spoke kind of broken English, we thought we were screwed from the beginning. I mean, at one point, Laura and I were in the back of his car looking through atlases to try to find where the cattle ranch was.
We stopped multiple times throughout that day to try to get directions from one place to the next, and it was the most stressful part of the entire day, was riding that cab.
Laura Pierson: It was crazy! We traveled all over the world and we're in Thailand and we have a smartphone we can use. And here in the United States, our cab driver doesn't have a map. He was calling his friend to try to get directions as we were in the backseat taking down notes.
Tyler Adams: It was brutal!
Laura Pierson: I mean, it was actually somewhat of a nightmare, and I thought we were completely screwed. On our way to the bridge, we actually even had to stop at a 7-Eleven to get directions. Now, I have been to Dallas numerous times, so I kind of knew where the bridge was, but this was something where you don't want to "kind of know," you need to know.
Reality TV World: How positive were you in that cab that you were going to finish in first place?
Tyler Adams: We were freaking out. When we left, we really didn't know -- the way that that wall was designed, there were good camera angles that made it look like we were working right next to Jenny and Jelani, but we didn't really know how close they were or if they were even right behind us.
When we saw Hayley Keel and Blair Townsend, I thought Laura saw a ghost. I truly had thought that they were already finished. I thought we were fighting for second place, and then when we had to stop at the 7-Eleven, like, we were just screaming, "Hurry, hurry!" And we got directions and we ran, and when we got there, we knew that we had won.
Laura Pierson: But up until the time when we finished putting up the selfies and we were going back with the monster truck, we felt we were in second place.
We had no idea that Blair and Hayley were that far behind us. So that was when everything changed for Tyler and I. That's when my butterflies started in the stomach and we were like, "Oh my God, we're in the lead right now to win The Amazing Race!"
Reality TV World: You two won The Amazing Race and the money, but is there still a tiny level of disappointment there that you didn't find someone to date from the show?
Laura Pierson: I mean, I think that going on the show wasn't -- I didn't go on the show to find someone to date or to find my husband. I went on the show because I am a huge fan of The Amazing Race, and I thought, "Well, if love happens, that's great."
But that wasn't what I went on the show to do. I went on the show to win The Amazing Race and travel around the world and be able to do things that you can only dream of.
Tyler Adams: Yeah, to say that there was any level of disappointment for the outcome that we had would be crazy, you know? We had an absolutely great time and definitely made a lifelong friend.
Laura Pierson: Yeah, we got along so well, I mean, if I was paired with someone else, where it could've been a disaster, then I would say -- even if we won -- I would be a little disappointed, but I mean, Tyler and I got along so well. There were no arguments and it was a blast.
Reality TV World: When I talked to Jeff Weldon early this season -- who was Jackie Ibarra's blind date -- he said you guys were the team he hoped wouldn't win because he got the vibe you were snake-ish and saw your "true colors" at times that left a bad taste in his mouth. Could you talk about that a little bit? Did you know he had a problem with you? Did you return those feelings?
Tyler Adams: No, I mean, some teams were upset. He was one of the frontrunners that was upset when we were in Thailand and we got to that temple and everyone was waiting in line and there was this handwritten note on the door that said, "Be back in an hour. Doors open at 9:30."
And I pulled Laura aside and I said, "Hey, there's no way that we have to wait to go in here. I bet that this clue is somewhere else." And we walked around and we found it.
When we came down, we were being sneaky, yes. We're on a Race for a million dollars. He asked us, he said, "Did you guys find the clue?" And I said, "No, you know, we're still looking." And I had no problem with that. I mean, we were playing a game and we can't all hold hands and run place to place. That wasn't the purpose.
And I think that unfortunately for him, our fanny pack ended up in his car later on, and the rules didn't allow for him to throw it out the window and hoped we'd crash and burn along the way. So, I could see how there would be some hard feelings, but I think that we played the game and we played it really well. If anybody's upset by that, have them call me. (Laughs)
Laura Pierson: Yeah, I think we were really respectful to the other teams. I think that, again, as Tyler said, they were just upset that we didn't tell them where the clue was. I have become very close with Jackie. She's an amazing person. But I do think that what Jeff did with our fanny pack -- whether he wants to admit it or not -- was more snake-ish than anything that we did to him.
Reality TV World: Was that the only team you felt you were sort of at odds with throughout the Race?
Laura Pierson: I didn't even feel like we were at odds with them. That's what I find so interesting, is I didn't really -- even when they hid our fannypacks, I didn't have any hard feelings. I was like, "They're playing the game! Whatever. It is what it is, and I'm not going to let that affect me."
And no, I think we got along pretty well with everybody. We were definitely the closest with Matt and Ashley and Jenny and Jelani, and I adore the Olympians [Aly Dudek and Steven Langton] as well.
Reality TV World: The three teams to finish in first, second and third were all blind-dating couples. What does that tell you? Would you go as far as to say the blind dates had an advantage over the pre-existing couples?
Tyler Adams: It's hard. We've been asked this question and we think, at the start, no. We didn't expect that we would have the advantage. I think that there were some things along the way where you started to realize that maybe we do have an advantage, because you don't have preconceived notions of how one another is going to perform.
You're a little bit more open-minded. You're not going to yell at one another or you're not as likely to be yelling at one another right out of the gate. But no, for anybody on the Race to even make a prediction that the Top 3 teams would be blind dates would've been crazy.
But that being said, I think that it was one of the most competitive sets of individuals on The Amazing Race. I mean, we were all young and athletic and fit, and it made for a very challenging race.
Reality TV World: In your final words, Tyler, you said you guys learned your strengths and weaknesses over the course of the Race. What were they exactly? How would you say you both complemented each other as teammates?
Tyler Adams: Yeah, I mean, together, right out of the gate, our first flight, we were sitting down and trying to come up with -- I think that was one of the things that was definitely a disadvantage. You come into this Race and you're not sure, "Okay, if it's a memory challenge, who's going to be good at it? If it's a puzzle, who should do it?"
And so, Laura and I, being fans of the Race, sat down on that first flight and were like, "Alright, what are you good at? What are you bad at?" I took more of the puzzle, strategic-minded events. Laura was incredible at all of our navigation and keeping us straight and narrow on wherever we were going.
And I think we really quickly learned how to motivate one another, which was a huge advantage and kept us from arguing. She was always right there supporting me whenever I was working on a challenge, and I kind of found out different ways to motivate her as well. So learning each other as quickly as we could was kind of what paved the way for our success.
Reality TV World: What was the biggest challenge you guys had to overcome -- when it came to either a task or working together -- and what came especially easy to you?
Laura Pierson: I think that the hardest had to be Germany. I still look back and I would say I have nightmares about Germany. We lost our passports, I'm horrible at foreign languages and I had to memorize a song. The Detour was so difficult, stacking those crates. I didn't know how we were going to get through it.
It was one thing after another after another in Germany. And what sucks is, Germany is so absolutely beautiful that I wish we could've -- and I wish that we were racing against the Olympians that day, because that would've been so much fun -- so I think that was our hardest challenge by far.
Tyler Adams: But it also proved, I mean, Germany, at another point, we were like, "Because we made it through," it really bonded us to be like, "Okay, we can get through anything." We made a huge mistake that many teams wouldn't have been able to bounce back from and we, you know, handled it with grace, and it gave us a lot of confidence moving forward.
Reality TV World: Tyler, you looked like you were in and out of that football Roadblock task at AT&T Stadium. How long did that take you?
Tyler Adams: It took longer to get in the uniform than it did to actually do the task. (Laughs) By the time they put that harness on you and got you into football pads and ran out, you know, I was feeling good and went to the top of the stadium and came down and, before we knew it, we were gone.
The only thing I'm a little disappointed in, is afterwards, I said I always wanted to slam dunk the basketball through the uprights and I went for the spike instead. But it was a great task. That was a dream come true for sure.
Reality TV World: What do you each plan on doing with your prize money?
Laura Pierson: That is a good question. I really want to take my family on a trip somewhere. I mean, I love traveling and this was an amazing opportunity to travel around the world. So, that's probably going to be the first thing, plus, just save and invest.
Tyler Adams: I've been working on a couple of my own businesses. I'm working on an app right now. And so, this will give me a little bit more of a runway to continue to try to build my own company.
Check back with Reality TV World soon for more exclusive interviews with Jenny and Jelani, Hayley and Blair, and Mike and Rochelle.