'The Amazing Race' blind daters Laura Pierson and Tyler Adams win $1 million prize
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/16/2015
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.
"We found love with the world and a lasting friendship," Tyler toldThe Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan. "We're never going to forget this. It's so incredible, and the thing I did want to say, is Laura's been awesome. We balanced each other out well and we're here because we were a team and we made it work."
"When we first left LA, it was like, 'Who is this person I'm going to be racing with and are we going to be able to pull this off?' And throughout the Race, we became really good friends," he continued. "We learned each other's strengths and weaknesses, and it allowed us to do so well."
"The only thing Tyler and I could do," Laura added, "which we've been doing the entire time, is stay positive."
Blind daters Jenny Wu, a 32-year-old blogger and lawyer from Los Angeles, CA, and Jelani Roy, a 32-year-old lawyer from New York, NY, finished in second place.
"It was very, very close and I think we did a great job today. I'm so proud of us," Jenny told Phil after stepping on the mat. "I'm proud of Jelani. I couldn't have asked for a better teammate. I'm so lucky I got paired up with him. He's a wonderful, wonderful guy and he's going to make one lucky girl very happy. I can't believe we raced around the world, and that's an experience no one can take away from us."
"We put all our effort into it," Jelani said. "I know Jenny was killing it the whole way through. You can't ask for more effort or want or desire from either of us."
Another blind-dating couple rounded out the finishing order in third place -- Hayley Keel, a 28-year-old registered nurse from St. Petersburg, FL, and Blair Townsend, a 31-year-old Navy physician from Jacksonville, FL.
"I feel so disappointed in myself, but at the same time. I'm proud of myself," Hayley told the cameras. "It was such a bittersweet moment. If I had just found the clue [I had overlooked], we could've had first. I'm pretty sure this will haunt me for the rest of my life... I screwed it up at the tower!"
"I actually have no regrets," Blair admitted. "You can't have regrets because there are too many variables and too many things that don't go your way on any given day."
Shockingly, both Hayley and Blair said if they were to run the Race again, they'd do it with each other. But Blair joked Hayley would need to yell at him less. In reply, Hayley said with a laugh that she wouldn't yell at him if he listened.
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Fourth place went to pre-existing couple Rochelle Nevedal, a 29-year-old contract engineer from Kalkaska, MI, and her boyfriend Michael Dombrowski, a 26-year-old truck stop manager and pro wrestling promoter from Traverse City, MI. They got eliminated halfway through the final leg.
The Amazing Race's finale began with the teams being told to fly more than 3,000 miles to Dallas, TX, and then upon landing, make their way to AT&T Stadium and search for their next clue. Some time before the finish line, Phil would be eliminating one of the teams.
Everyone was on the same flight, so it was like all the teams started on a clean slate.
Mike and Rochelle arrived at the stadium in first place and they were soon followed by Laura and Tyler, Jenny and Jelani and Hayley and Blair.
It then became time for the teams to complete a Roadblock task, which required the participating Racers to get their playbook 300 feet above the ground, catch a touchdown pass and then kick a field goal to receive their next clue.
Mike took on the task in addition to Tyler, Jelani and Blair. The guys agreed it was an incredible experience. Some of them went as far as to say it was the best moment of their lives.
Laura and Tyler finished the task first. They were quickly followed by Hayley and Blair, Mike and Rochelle, and finally Jenny and Jelani.
The teams' next set of clues instructed them to head to P2 Ranch.
Laura and Tyler waited outside for Hayley and Blair to get in a cab so they could follow them. Hayley and Blair called them "shady" and asked their cab driver to lose them.
Afterward, Mike and Rochelle's cab driver didn't wait for them so they had to flag another one down. Mike and Rochelle admitted they lost some time, and then they needed to stop for gas -- which was located in the opposite direction of which they had been driving.
Hayley and Blair arrived at P2 Ranch first, followed by Laura and Tyler, Jenny and Jelani, and finally Mike and Rochelle.
Once at P2 Ranch, the teams had to work with a professional cowboy to corral a herd of longhorns while on horseback. Once they chased at least six longhorns into a pen, they'd earn their next clue.
Jenny fell off her horse in the mud, while Laura got a little spooked by how fast her horse was galloping.
Hayley and Blair completed the task before any of the other teams. They were soon followed by Jenny and Jelani and Laura and Tyler.
When Mike and Rochelle made it to the task in last place, Phil was waiting for them with the bad news of their elimination.
"That sucks," Mike said.
"I'm super proud. There's nothing to be ashamed of. We did great," Rochelle told Phil.
"It was more than I expected... Through this whole thing, we saw teams bicker and fight, and we've been levelheaded," Mike noted.
"It showed us what we have, and we really appreciate what we have," Rochelle added.
Rochelle later told the cameras she was so happy to have this experience with Mike and finally ready to introduce him to her son. Mike was proud of his girlfriend and wouldn't have wanted to race with anyone else.
The teams proceeded to Reunion Tower, where they had to search for their next clue.
Hayley and Blair got there first. They were then followed by Laura and Tyler and then Jelani and Jenny.
In another Roadblock, Racers had to go to the sphere of the Reunion Tower about 500 feet up and spot their next clue near railroad tracks as they rappeled down.
Hayley thought she spotted the next clue on the rooftop of a skyscraper, but she missed the waving red and yellow flags on the ground below it. They seemed to head off to the wrong place just as the other Racers arrived. Tyler was upset Hayley and Blair had such a lead on them.
Laura and Jenny rappeled down together and saw the flags but questioned whether those would mark their next destination because they were so obvious. After considering their next clue might be on top of another building -- just as Hayley had -- Laura determined the flags were where they needed to be, and Jenny agreed.
Laura and Tyler found the flags in first place and discovered four monster trucks awaiting them. Jenny and Jelani got a little lost but eventually found their way and made it to the monster trucks in second place. Hayley and Blair arrived in third.
The teams had to drive a monster truck and then face their final task of the Race, which was a giant "selfie memory test." They had to unlock a shed which had the names of four locations they went to during the Race written on it.
Each location represented a Leg number, which when put together, revealed a four-digit combination that would unlock the safe. Inside were selfies the couples had taken along the way. They then had to place the selfies in chronological order from right to left on a giant world map to document the journey they had taken together.
Laura and Tyler were confident about two of the four places they had been to, resulting in a lot of guessing. Jenny and Jelani, however, appeared to breeze through it.
Meanwhile, Hayley repeated the rappelling Roadblock task in attempt to spot the correct clue. She found the flags and apologized to Blair for her mistake.
Laura and Tyler finished the final task in first place and had to drive their monster truck back to the start. They were then required to make their way to the finish line at Continental Avenue Bridge.
Laura and Tyler's cab driver didn't know where the bridge was, so they hopped out and got advice from another driver who was waiting for a different team. Laura and Tyler knew they were in first place, but Jenny and Jelani were on their heels. Hayley and Blair seemed a distant third.