The Amazing Race featured Big Brother couple Derek Xiao and Claire Rehfuss crossing the finish line in first place and winning $1 million during the Season 34 finale that aired Wednesday night on CBS.

The "Reality TV Romance" of Derek, a 24-year-old product manager from Los Angeles, CA, and Claire, a 25-year-old AI engineer, from Los Angeles, CA, crossed the finish line in Nashville, TN, in first place after racing for 23 days and stopping in eight countries and 16 cities.


"I think this gives us a feeling of validation to our relationship," said Derek, who met Claire on Big Brother in Summer 2021 and began dating her almost immediately after they connected in the jury house.

"There were times when I was like, 'I'm not sure how we're going to make it out of this.' Even though life is going to give us very complicated things, we're going to be able to work through it."

"Long-Lost Twins" Emily Bushnell, a 36-year-old law firm admin from Ardmore, PA, and Molly Sinert, a 36-year-old healthcare admin from Palm Beach Gardens, FL, finished the Race in second place.

And "Married Couple" Luis Colon, a 34-year-old firefighter from Miami, FL, and Michelle Burgos, a 34-year-old dancer from Miami, FL, placed third.

The Amazing Race finale began with the Final 3 teams flying more than 3,000 miles south from Iceland to Nashville, TN, for a final showdown in "Music City USA."

Teams were instructed to begin the leg just outside the city in a small town called Lynchburg, TN, at a Jack Daniel's distillery.

Their first clue instructed them to label and pack 30 whiskey bottles, preparing the liquor for shipment. Once they received a final quality check, the bottles would be boxed up and a team would earn its next clue.

One person on each team packed while the other labeled, and Luis pointed out to Michelle how she had poorly labeled a few. Derek also advised Claire to make her top label "flat and flush."

Emily and Molly finished the task in first place, and then they headed to Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge in Nashville, where they'd find their next set of clues.

Derek and Claire completed the whiskey task in second place, and so Luis and Michelle trailed behind them in third place.
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Michelle attempted to keep her cool, but Luis was shouting and full of energy.

Derek and Claire followed the twins, who stopped at a gas station for directions. Derek and Claire acknowledged it was a good idea and they should do the same thing. Michelle and Luis also followed suit.

Emily and Molly accidentally missed a sign of The Amazing Race arrows pointing to the clue box on the side of the road, and so Derek and Claire were able to jump into the lead.


The clue was a Roadblock task, instructing either Derek or Claire to climb up the bridge to receive their next clue -- which was in the form of a guitar pick -- before rappelling back down to his or her partner.

In a Roadblock, one person from each team must complete the task.

Derek decided to take on the task, and he was soon followed by Michelle and then Emily, who enjoys rock climbing at home.

"All the teams are neck and neck right now," Claire noted.

Derek found a guitar pick inside of a guitar case at the top of the bridge that read, "Gibson Garage," and so he assumed that was his next destination.

Although Michelle started climbing before Emily, Emily found her guitar pick in second place.

Michelle apparently didn't realize she could climb instead of pulling herself up with arm strength, and once she got to the top, she thought she had to wait for Emily to get down the bridge before her -- which wasn't actually the case.

Michelle therefore admitted she had wasted a lot of time, and Luis was wondering what was happening below her. Luis said they were five minutes behind Derek and Claire but only a few seconds behind the twins.

Derek and Claire made it to Gibson's Garage in first place. The team was instructed to deliver three guitars to musicians performing at different honky tonks around Lower Broadway. Once they completed their deliveries, they would receive tickets to the Nashville Municipal Auditorium.

Emily and Molly struggled to find the garage, and so Luis and Michelle jumped into second place while the twins were asking people for directions at the nearby gas station.

Emily and Molly admitted they had made "a huge error" in getting lost.

It turned out the guitar cases were very heavy and a lot of running was required, so Claire confessed that she was a bit of a "weak link" in this scenario. Derek had to remind her they were racing for a million dollars, and Molly and Emily, meanwhile, vented about how they felt completely exhausted.


Derek and Claire were the first team to arrive at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium, and then they were followed by Luis and Michelle in second place and finally Emily and Molly in third place.

For the final challenge of the season, teams had to bring the notes of The Amazing Race's theme song to life using a giant floor piano. Each of the 48 keys corresponded to an image and a note.

If they could figure out the chronological order of things they had encountered during the Race, they would bring the theme song to life and receive their final clue, sending them to the finish line.

Derek played piano for most of his life, and so he was able to read the keys, allowing the team to easily memorize the notes. With Derek's piano skills and Claire's steel-trap memory, the couple appeared to breeze through the final challenge.

Once Luis and Michelle started the challenge, Michelle said she felt totally confident about it being a memory challenge. However, neither of them are musicians, and so Michelle admitted the task was difficult.

The teams only had 11 seconds to play the song once they figured out the sequence of events and notes, and so the challenge ultimately came down to speed and teamwork -- and no one found it easy.

It took time for Luis and Michelle to realize that they black keys on the piano had pictures attached to them as well.

"That set us back, and so we had to start from scratch," Luis explained in a confessional.

Derek and Claire completed the challenge in first place and rushed to their final destination.

The team was instructed to race to "the mother church of country music," formally known as The Ryman, a historic landmark that previously served as the home of the Grand Ole Opry and would serve as The Amazing Race's finish line.

Emily and Molly completed the final challenge shortly after Derek and Claire took off, and both teams were shown asking locals for directions before running as fast as they could on foot.

Derek and Claire then met The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan in first place. As previously-eliminated teams applauded and cheered for the pair, Claire hugged Derek tightly and yelled, "I love you so much!"

Phil then announced, "I am pleased to tell you that you are the official winners of The Amazing Race. Congratulations!"

Claire told Phil that it felt like "one of the most competitive seasons" the show has ever had.

"It's just such an honor to be standing here with you and all these great competitors!" Claire gushed in tears.

"Derek was my rock this entire race," she added. "There's no one else in the world that I would've wanted to race with. He is just an amazing, amazing man, and I am so proud to be standing next to him."

And Derek praised his girlfriend for exuding kindness on Big Brother as well as through every leg of the Race.

"Truthfully, we didn't even know how we were going to work together as a team," Derek said of Claire. "And I think going through all these legs together, we learned so much about how we can really provide for each other so that we can have a stronger connection."

Derek then pretended to pull out a ring box from his pants and propose marriage, and Claire yelled out, "He's kidding! He's kidding! I packed our bags; I know there's no ring in there!"

But on a serious note, Derek said he and Claire were planning to rent an apartment and move in together.

"I think this is maybe our TV happily ever after," Claire said.

"But really, this is just the second chapter of our relationship together. And hopefully we still have a really long book to go."

After Luis and Michelle were shown finishing the final challenge, Emily and Molly raced to the finish line.

Emily and Molly ran hand-in-hand up to Phil in second place, but they said they still felt like winners. The twins, who had been adopted by different families and never met until a year before The Amazing Race 34 premiered, cried about defeating the odds and having found each other.

And finally, Luis and Michelle placed third.


Luis said it was amazing to have such an adventure with Michelle before they start a family, and Michelle seemed so proud of herself for making it to -- and through -- the final leg.

"She is my soul mate, she is my partner in crime, and I love this woman so much," Luis gushed of his wife, adding, "I'd marry her again!"

About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.