Nicole, 26, and Victor, 28, who raced as an engaged couple from Ubly, MI, did not compete in the final leg due to their fourth-place finish in Leg 11, which concluded in London, England.
Nicole and Victor were the only Big Brother or Survivor team remaining in the two-hour finale episode. Nicole previously competed on Seasons 16 and 18 of Big Brother, while Victor had appeared on Season 18 of Big Brother.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World after the finale aired, Nicole and Victor talked about their experience on the show and tough loss. Below is the concluding portion of what they had to say.
Reality TV World: The editing of The Amazing Race finale looked like the other Race teams were working against you two, the only remaining Big Brother team, to take you out. But when I talked to Colin and Christie, they said that storyline was "fabricated" and Christie actually helped Victor to solve the code-breaking Roadblock challenge. So could you tell me your side of the story? Did you genuinely feel like outcasts who were being targeted in Leg 11 or no?
Victor Arroyo: I did feel like when I walked into the room, they stopped talking or they'd keep whispering while hiding their noses. So there definitely was this kind of, like, they were working together.
And so what I had to eventually do was wait for Korey to leave the room to ask Christie a question basically about the directions. Because I was reading them but I wasn't understanding them.
So she just kind of helped me to understand the directions in a different way, and then it started clicking for me. So she did help, but it's not like I got any letters or anything like that.
But, you know, that did help me go through it, and I was grateful for that. But before that, when her and Korey were together, they were just kind of working together and doing their own thing, hiding their papers -- which kind of sucked because we all worked together up to that point.
So I think that was the first time I had that feeling that they were working together.
Nicole Franzel: And I knew that they were too because when somebody gets to the cluebox, you have to pick the person who's going to do it before you read what it is. And so, they didn't help us at all with that.
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And then right when Tyler and Korey show up, and Colin gives that information so easily to them, it was like, "Oh, they got to know exactly what [the Roadblock] was."
I mean, I would have picked Victor no matter what, but I could see right there they were working together, so I was like, "Oh, no." And then when he came out early, I was just so happy because I know Korey is extremely intelligent.
Reality TV World: When I talked to Leo and Jamal, they sympathized with you guys in terms of being outcasts because they had been through a similar situation on a previous season. Leo and Jamal felt they at least hadn't treated you that way, and they didn't feel connected with the other Race teams either.
Nicole Franzel: Yeah, they were so far ahead that they were fine. In that leg, they were just crushing it.
Reality TV World: One of the biggest problems you had in Leg 11 was trying to row that two-person skiff. Once you saw how Colin and Christie got it done -- by Christie not rowing at all -- did that surprise you? Do you think that technique might have worked for you guys as well?
Nicole Franzel: We tried that! We were there for about two hours; I tried everything. I tried lifting the paddles; I tried putting them in the boat. We tried every combination possible, and the best run we had was the one they showed on TV when we were both paddling.
But I'm amazed that Colin did that, because I know how good of a competitor Victor is and how strong he is, and for Colin to be able to do that by himself, that's why we felt we could switch and we could win -- because we felt it was impossible.
When we left, Colin and Christie were making it, like, one-fourth as far as we were.
And they were flipping! And so we just thought, "Wow, this is impossible. They are struggling that bad and they're boat people! They are water people." I just said, "We need to get out of here!"
Reality TV World: Going into Leg 11, you two were angry at Leo and Jamal for U-Turning you, to the point where you said you didn't even want to speak to them if you crossed paths. Could you explain why you were so upset, because you two had obviously voted to U-Turn them earlier in the season.
Nicole Franzel: I talked to them. It showed us walking away from them, but I went up and talked to them. It was just Victor who was upset with them. (Laughs)
Victor Arroyo: Yeah, for me, like, I understand I put their names in the hat, but they didn't have to go through what we went through. And if there is a leg to get U-Turned, that was the most difficult one.
I mean, we biked at least 20 minutes a way, and so, we biked back and forth so many times. And I had let Nicole not bike, so my legs cramped up, and then we had to drive and do the whole bowling thing.
Nicole Franzel: I feel like the only time I did bike was with the eggs.
Victor Arroyo: Yeah, that's what I'm saying. Before that, you didn't pedal because I didn't let you. But besides the fact, it was just a really, really tough leg, and we got out of it. And so, I definitely had some resentment towards [Leo and Jamal] for putting us through that turmoil -- and especially on Nicole's birthday!
So, to get through, yeah, it was great. But seeing them the next day in the airport, I didn't even want to talk to them. But once it was all said and done, once Colin and Christie hit the mat, and we saw everybody, I gave them both a hug and said, "It's over. I'm not bitter anymore, because the game is done."
Nicole Franzel: Yeah, and I understand why they did it. I think had they not U-Turned us, they've could've went out that leg because they got lost in the canal for so long. So they just never pass up a U-Turn board; you just don't want to be behind them!
Reality TV World: Do you know how much time separated you from third and fourth place in Leg 11 once you checked into the Pit Stop after retrieving all of those random items at the local market? You didn't seem far behind Colin and Christie.
Nicole Franzel: We weren't [too far]. They were still assembling their stuff when we got to the mat, but they had the majority of their things. They were still looking for a few things.
But we just felt kind of defeated in that moment because we knew there's really no chance... But we didn't want to stop running or stop looking. You never know, so I was just like, "Come on, let's keep running and looking, because maybe they won't be able to find the last thing!" But I mean, they did.
Reality TV World: What is your relationship with Rachel Reilly and Elissa Slater like now? Things seemed to get pretty awkward and rocky between you guys this season.
Reality TV World: Do you think former Racers had a huge advantage this season or would you say the best teams simply made it to the end?
Victor Arroyo: I mean, I can see it -- okay, so I think by far there is an advantage to having run the Race before, the same way there is an advantage if you've been on Survivor before or Big Brother.
It's a huge advantage because you know what to expect and you know how you're going to feel in those situations when they arise. And so, you're kind of accustomed to that.
Having said that, you do just have to be competitive and never give up, right? And stay calm. So I think it's a little of both but it goes to show the Final 4 teams -- or even the Final 5 teams -- more of them were Race teams.
Reality TV World: How would you compare your experiences on Big Brother with The Amazing Race? And if you were both approached to do another season of one of those two shows, which would you choose?
Victor Arroyo: I think Big Brother is more of a summer camp. (Laughs)
Obviously there is a half a million dollars involved, but the stresses you experience on The Amazing Race are at such a higher level and in such a condensed period that yeah, you may experience a lot of stress on Big Brother, but it's over a longer course of time... Things are spread out more and there's more downtime.
If I had to go back, I would definitely do the Race just because I love to travel and it's more up my alley in terms of the competition and how to get through things. Nicole, I think, would do Big Brother.
Nicole Franzel: Yeah! I would choose Big Brother because I can just chill on the couch, eat, and strategize. (Laughs) I don't know, I loved the Race and of course I would do it again. But if I had to choose, I would do Big Brother because it's a lot less stressful!