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'The Amazing Race' crowns Jessica Graf and Cody Nickson winners of Season 30


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 02/22/2018 

The Amazing Race crowned former Big Brother houseguests Jessica Graf and Cody Nickson the competition's Season 30 winners on Wednesday night.

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The "Dating Couple" on the show -- who got engaged last week as the season was airing -- won the $1 million grand prize after they crossed the finish line in San Francisco, CA, in first place.

"Nine countries, 21 cities, more than 29,000 miles, Cody and Jessica, I am pleased to tell you that you have won the one million dollars. Congratulations!" The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan told the team as they stood on the deck of the USS Hornet aircraft carrier.

Cody appeared shocked and stunned by his team's victory, and he was thankful Jessica was able to complete the final task of the entire race by herself before the other two teams.

"I can't believe it! Jessica was the foundation for my strength throughout this entire thing. I wouldn't have been able to do anything without her," Cody gushed.

"Anything I had ever felt or known about Jessica has just been validated throughout this entire experience. Running The Amazing Race made me realize how many blessings I have. And now we have a foundation, as far as money goes, to set up a family for ourselves. I'm just glad I got to do it with the love of my life."

"The future looks really bright and I am really excited... We're not going anywhere!" Jessica added.

"Dating Couple and Yale Debating Teammates" Henry Zhang and Evan Lynyak finished Season 30 of the Race in second place, and Phil pointed out they were part of the most competitive cast the show has ever had.

"I think we're obviously a little disappointed about second place, but I'm so proud of us for making it this far," Evan said. "We'll be okay, and we know how to take away all of the wonderful memories and positives that you can get from an experience even if you don't get the result."

"Retired Professional Skiers and Friends" Kristi Leskinen and Jen Hudak claimed third place, with Jen feeling responsible for their loss because of the final task.

"I feel horrible. That was a really hard moment and I feel like I let her down," Jen said in tears.

But Kristi was happy about their experience overall, and she called their journey on the show "special." This was an impressive team, as they had never finished lower than third place all season long.

And last but not least, "Friends and IndyCar Drivers" Alex Rossi and Conor Daly placed fourth.

The Amazing Race's two-hour finale on CBS kicked off with Alex and Conor departing the Pit Stop in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in first place at 6:45AM.

The teams' first set of clues instructed them to fly 1,000 miles to Hong Kong and head to Victoria Peak, where they must find a photographer to receive their next clue.

Jessica and Cody were two minutes behind Alex and Conor when they took off, and then Kristi and Jen began the leg at 7:15AM. Henry and Evan departed at 7:44AM and were grateful to still be in the Race, but they knew an extra Speed Bump task was ahead of them.

Henry and Evan were the odd team out, but no one was counting them out. Jessica said her team was working with Indy and the Skiers to get rid of Henry and Evan so her friends could all be the Final 3 teams.

All of the teams were on the same flight, but Alex and Conor were first out of the airport, and they arrived at the photography kiosk in first place.

After being forced to get their picture taken, Alex and Conor received their next clue, which instructed them to search the waterfront for their next clue.

Once Henry and Evan got to the photographers in second place, they learned they must complete their Speed Bump task, which required them to light the way by turning on 40 lanterns and hanging them up.

Jessica and Cody arrived in third place, with Kristi and Jen right on their heels.

But Kristi and Jen managed to find the next clue in first place, and it then became time to complete one of two possible Detour tasks: "Hairy Crab" or "Grub Grab."

"Hairy Crab" required the teams to properly secure a bag of 50 hairy crabs for transport to a nearby fish market. They had to "wrangle the uncooperative crustaceans" in a typhoon.

"Grub Grab" required one team member to take an order in Cantonese and then relay the order to his or her teammate in the kitchen, who must decipher the correct dish. When eight customers received what they wanted, the teams would receive their next clue.

Alex and Conor started the Detour in second place, followed by Jessica and Cody and finally Henry and Evan.

Alex and Conor agreed to try the crab task, as well as Kristi and Jen. Although Jessica didn't like seafood or slimy things at all, she and Cody also decided to attempt this task. Meanwhile, Henry and Evan tested their luck with the restaurant task.

Alex and Conor got pinched so many times that they grew extremely frustrated and chose to switch tasks. As for Jessica and Cody, she assumed the restaurant task was the better option of the two.

Once Henry and Evan arrived at the restaurant, they saw Alex and Conor there, which gave them hope they weren't too far behind.

Since Henry spoke Mandarin, his team had a big advantage and they finished the Detour task in first place. Alex and Conor were right behind them in second place, and then they were followed by Jessica and Cody in third and then Kristi and Jen in last.

The teams then had to get back in their taxis and head to Central Pier No. 4, where they must search for their next clue.

Once there, one member from each team had to complete a Roadblock task, which required the participating Racers to use a baseball bat to break old electronics and find two halves of their next clue. After the electronics were destroyed, the Racers were told to splatter a gallon of paint onto the pieces to create their very own modern-art masterpieces.

Henry opted to do the smashing for his team, and he was soon joined by Conor, Cody, and Kristi. Kristi appeared to hurt herself while smashing some of the items, and Jen admitted it was hard to watch her best friend suffer.

Henry and Evan finished the Roadblock in first place and were then instructed to search Lan Kwai Fong, the heart of Hong Kong's night life, for signs representing specific leg numbers. If they could remember the correct leg numbers and put them in the correct order, they'd unlock the address of the next Pit Stop, written inside a locked suitcase.

To make the task harder, each briefcase had its own unique combination of the three numbers.

Alex and Conor completed the Roadblock in second place, and they were then followed by Jessica and Cody and finally Kristi and Jen. Jessica and Cody couldn't believe they were racing against the two girls to avoid last place.

Alex and Conor and Henry and Evan all struggled with the penultimate leg's last task, so they helped each other. When Jessica and Cody arrived, Henry and Evan noticed their lead had evaporated, but they soon figured out the code to their lock.

Henry and Evan then learned they must proceed to a brightly-lit intersection at Johnston and Wan Chai Road, which would serve as the Race's next Pit Stop.

Jessica and Cody figured out they could just keep trying different combinations of three numbers to open their briefcase, and they eventually got it right using the process of elimination, so they completed the task in second place.

Once Kristi and Jen attempted the same method, they got it right as well. Alex and Conor finished the task in last place.

After running an impressive leg, Henry and Evan stepped on the Pit Stop mat in first place. Only two other teams had ever completed a Speed Bump task and won that particular leg, so they made The Amazing Race history.

Phil then explained they'd be heading to San Francisco, CA, for the final leg of the Race's 30th season.

Jessica and Cody jumped on the mat in second place, and then Kristi and Jen arrived in third place. Jessica and Cody agreed that Yale being in the Final 3 "threw a wrench" into their plans.

Alex and Conor did not even complete the leg, as Phil met them at the last task to inform them all the other teams had checked in already. Conor said it was a tough way to go out and missing out on that final leg was "difficult to take."

The Amazing Race's final leg began once the three remaining teams arrived at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Jessica and Cody got there first, followed by Kristi and Jen and then finally Henry and Evan.

The teams' next set of clues required them to search through hundreds of numbered baseballs in the water at "splash landing" via kayaks to find a 6, another 6, and a 0. The numbers represented the number of homeruns Willie Mays had hit in his professional baseball career.

While running around, Cody twisted his ankle. Kristi and Jen were the only team thinking fast and clearly, as they found out from someone on the pier prior to entering their kayak that they needed to put together the number 660.

The other two teams started kayaking around and guessing random combinations before they realized they should've asked someone about Willie Mays' homeruns ahead of time.

Kristi and Jen therefore completed the task in first place, and they were then followed by Jessica and Cody in second place.

It then became time for one member from each team to complete a Roadblock task. For the Roadblock, the participating Racers were instructed to climb and pull themselves over 200 feet up an anchorage in the middle of the San Francisco Bay Bridge and then free fall 20 stories into the black abyss of the structure.

Cody began the climb first, and he was soon joined by Kristi and Evan. Evan worried that Henry might've been a better fit for the task because it required a lot of upper-body strength, but she intended to do her best.

As expected, Cody breezed through the task. He and Jessica then ripped open their next clue in first place and were told to proceed to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. Kristi and Jen got the job done in second place, and Henry and Evan appeared to be in a close third.

Evan believed she completed the task 14 minutes behind Cody and just over 11 minutes behind Kristi.

Upon arrival at the factory, teams were instructed to make 102 perfect fortune cookies.

Kristi and Jen got through the cookie task in no time thanks to their meticulous yet quick and efficient approach, so they learned -- in first place -- they must head to the USS Hornet.

Jessica and Cody grew frustrated but still managed to finish the task in second place. However, Henry and Evan finished only seconds behind them and jumped into a taxi first.

Once at the USS Hornet, the teams had to search among thousands of compartments and seven decks for 12 pieces of a plane.

Once the pieces were collected -- and each one had a symbol that represented a certain leg of the Race -- the teams had to assemble a plane. Phil called the task the most challenging of the season when it came to physical endurance and mental strength.

When finished, a team could race down the runway to Phil and the previously-eliminated teams waiting at the finish line.

Big Brother and the Skiers were neck and neck, as they gathered all 12 pieces at almost the exact same time.

The Racers who did not complete the prior Roadblock task were responsible for building the plane entirely by themselves. That meant the pressure was on Jen, Jessica and Henry.

With the finish line in sight, neither of the three Racers put together his or her plane correctly on the first attempt. Everyone was getting discouraged, as the plane also served as a puzzle.

Footage then showed Henry putting together his plane correctly, however, he changed two pieces around at the last second and then asked for a check.

In the end, Jessica got it right on her tenth check! Jessica cried as she and Cody ran to the finish line together.


Jessica Graf/Instagram

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