It was a roller-coaster end for “Amazing Race” Cardiac Kids Chuck & Wynona on Sunday (April 14) night’s episode.
After an early season run escaping elimination due to misadventures or injuries to other teams, the Alabama couple seemed destined to finally head home after a physically arduous Leg in Switzerland. Then a weird thing happened and YouTubers Meghan & Joey, working with a comfortable cushion, couldn’t find a cab to the next Pit Stop and ended up walking. Chuck & Wynona, finished a cheese transportation task well behind, but successfully secured a cab and made it to Phil Keoghan in next-to-last. But then a sad thing happened and Chuck & Wynona were assessed a 30-minute penalty for the way they chose to transport that cheese. Ooops. That was all the time Joey & Meghan needed to stumble to the mat and send Chuck & Wynona packing.
As often happens, Chuck & Wynona left the Race in an episode that began with them both agreeing that they’d finally gotten comfortable and found a way to have fun on the show.
In their exit interview, Chuck and Wynona discuss their bickering relationship both in real life and on “Amazing Race.” Wynona talks about the injury we never saw, while they both explained what they got out of the “Amazing Race” experience.
Click through for the full Q&A…
HitFix: So how have folks back in Alabama, friends and loved ones, been reacting to watching you on “Amazing Race” this season?
Chuck McCall: Everybody around here is just totally amazed we made it. They all thought these shows were staged and normal people didn’t get on them. The whole town is just real supportive of us. We’ve been having get-togethers at the house here with the neighbors and all our friends and we just sit here and laugh our heads off when we watch it.
HitFix: Have they been making fun of you at all? Or are you just laughing at the show?
Wynona McCall: Well, our friends haven’t been making fun of us. The people online have been making fun of us.
Chuck: I would have to say they’re still picking on us over here. If I say something stupid or if Wynona ends up saying something, they kinda rub it in.
HitFix: Thinking back on the last Leg, knowing that they were your only competition at that point, were you guys able to pay any attention to where Joey and Meghan were at that point?
Chuck: We knew we were the last team on the hill, because we had just passed all the other teams coming down the hill as we were going there and we knew Meghan and Joey were behind us from traversing the face of Eiger there, but when we finally got to the top of the hill, Meghan and Joey were stacking their last cheese in the barn and we still had to make our way down the hill. So we knew at that point in the game that we were dead last.
HitFix: And then how shocked did you feel when you got to Phil and he told you that you weren’t in last?
Wynona: We were extremely shocked. I always said, I was telling Chuck, “You don’t know. It’s not over til it’s over. Somebody could have gotten lost. Somebody’s cab could have broke down. You don’t know. We’re not last until Phil says we’re last.”
Chuck: When we got to the bottom of the hill and finally got our cheese stacked away and we made the train station, we knew that the ski school, according to them, was about three miles away, so I thought we made a very smart move trying to get in that taxi and spending our last little bit of money. We didn’t know what Meghan and Joey did, because they were totally gone, if they were gonna run and jog. They were in great shape, because they liked to run, so I was hoping they decided to run and didn’t jump in the taxi. So we took the taxi and beat ’em and we thought we’d made a really smart move on them, but then we got hit with that penalty, which kinda turned our smiles into frowns really quick.
HitFix: How long would you guys estimate that you were standing there serving that penalty?
Chuck: We figure we were probably 15 or 20 minutes into that penalty when we saw those guys come walking up. It was kinda a heart-sinking moment right there. We knew we were done at that point.
Wynona: We didn’t even know that it was gonna be Joey and Meghan. We had no clue who hadn’t made it yet. It could have been any of the teams.
HitFix: At the start of the episode on Sunday, you guys both agreed that you were finally done with the stress and you were finally having fun out there. What caused that transition for you at that moment?
Wynona: We did so well in Africa, coming in third and fourth, and after a few chats with Phil, telling Chuck to ease up on his battering me, I guess you would say… [She laughs and Chuck also laughs…] We’re like, “We’ve gotta have fun. This is ‘The Amazing Race.’ Who gets to do this? We have got to have fun while we’re doing this. Yes, we want the million dollars, but to work together as team, we’ve got to be having fun at this. So we both realized that we had to get along, be in this together and keep each other motivated in order to get ahead. That was a very tough Leg, so I think no amount of motivating was going to make us do the challenge any better.
Chuck: I think Wynona beat me up most of the Race. I tried to stay on her to keep her moving. I had my eye on that prize. I just just really wanted to win it, so that caused us to fight a little bit amongst each other. But you know, we’ve been together 25 years, so us having our little squabbles and our little fights, we go to bed and wake up fresh. We don’t don’t hold grudges. She convinced me to have fun at that point, so that’s what we were trying to do.
HitFix: How would you guys compare the way you interact in your regular lives to what we saw on the show?
Chuck: I think in our normal life, we do not bicker as much as we do on that Race. We were together the 30 days there, pretty high-stress situations all the time, it was always go, go, go. You get jet-lagged, you get hungry. So it was a lot more stressful than our everyday life.
Wynona: Chuck was totally stressed out the entire time. Even when we were on a break, he didn’t even take a break from being stressed. You get a little bit of a break at the end of each Leg and I’m just like, “You need to just relax, just chill, just calm down. We’re gonna be fine. Just relax.” He couldn’t relax at all.
Chuck: Wherever we got, I would I would try to study everything you could get — the phone book or any little pamphlets you could pick up on the way. I was just trying to get ahead and get a little knowledge.
Wynona: That was good. He was smart that way. But you have to regroup and relax your mind a little bit so that it’s recharged for the next Leg of the Race. I think that we were playing it smart by letting him take the challenges that he knew that he could do. I was injured to start with, but they didn’t show that either, so that’s why he was doing most of the challenges to start off with. But as far as our everyday life, no, he’s not-high-strung at home like that. He comes home from work and that’s it.
HitFix: And has the show changed the way that you guys communicate with each other?
Chuck: If it has, it’s for the good. I still have a hard time going back, watching the show and seeing where I maybe made Wynona cry, that she couldn’t keep up with me, that really tugs on my heartstrings, so I’m trying not to get in that situation anymore.
Wynona: We don’t do things like that to compete against other teams at home, so it really has no comparison as to how we live our home life.
HitFix: But along those likes, you guys talked early in the season about how you were hoping this experience would bring you closer together. Do you guys feel like you got what you hoped to get out of “The Amazing Race”?
Chuck: I really do. My foreign travel before this was only to Niagara Falls, once on the Canadian side, so just getting out there and seeing the world together really opened our eyes on what’s out there. Wynona was feeling bad for some of these kids in these foreign countries and wanting to give her shoes away and I was like, “They wouldn’t even know what to do with your shoes.” It was real eye-opening getting out there. That’s what I wanted to see, so I think that brought a lot home on how these other countries and cultures live, so it was very eye-opening for me.
Wynona: That was probably the biggest thing, seeing all of these other cultures and I come home and realize how much I’ve spoiled my children. It’s true that I was wanting to give the guys in Africa a pair of my shoes and Chuck wouldn’t let me. He said I might need ’em later. They live without shoes and that’s their way of life, but I still felt guilty having two pairs if they didn’t have any.
HitFix: Speaking quickly of Africa, I know that your CBS bio said that that was actually the one place you wanted to go most, Chuck. Was that experience everything you hoped it would be?
Chuck: I’ve saying this to everybody, but I fell in love with Africa over there. I would definitely go back to Botswana again. Just the wildlife running around, it’s just crazy. It was a different from America, where we live here in Alabama, but yeah, I did fall in love with Africa.
HitFix: From the beginning, Wynona, it seemed like you were immediately shocked by how physical “The Amazing Race” was. What were you expecting? And you mentioned earlier being hurt. Did you get healthier and more comfortable as you went along?
Wynona: From the very beginning, I had pulled a muscle in my right calf from the very beginning, before we even left LA. So I was struggling from Leg One. Chuck had to carry my bags. It was a severely pulled muscle and they didn’t show it. There’s a whole segment on there where I hurt my leg and I’m laying on the sidelines, but they didn’t focus on it, they didn’t show me icing it down, they didn’t show us looking after the Ace bandage and putting Icy Hot on it. So I was really injured and I’m really proud that I made it through eight Legs of the Race and Chuck did have to pull a lot of the weight for, I would have to say, up to Leg 5 at least and then he would just take my backpack because he didn’t want me to reinjure it, because it was starting to heal. I knew that it was going to be physical. I knew that it was gonna be a lot of running, but because I was injured, it did hinder the way that I raced.
Chuck: It was a lot easier before we got on the Race sitting here on the couch being armchair quarterbacks saying, “Oh, we can do that. We can do that.” Then you get out there and it’s a lot more physical than it appears on TV.
HitFix: So you guys were big fans of the show before?
Chuck: Oh yeah. Like I said, we’d sit at home and what got us interested was, “Oh, we can do that. We can do that. Let’s go see the world.” I guess what you guys don’t see is just getting to some of those challenges, it would be a mile run to get to some of them, so by the time you got there, you just lost half your stamina getting there and then you had to complete it. It is a lot more physical than I believe it appears on TV.
HitFix: Just as a last question, could each of you tell me something you learned about the other from this “Amazing Race” run?
Chuck: I guess I learned from her… When we got going on the Race, I tried my hardest to bait her with love and hugs and kisses and then I was yelling at her, trying to scream, so I guess I learned that in order to motivate her, I’ve gotta stay more on her loving side and not break her down as much. She’s the best mother in the world to our kids and just a great wife to have, in general, and I think I’ve learned to love her more for that, the way she treats me around the house here.
Wynona: I think I learned that Chuck is much, much, much more competitive than I ever knew.