HitFix Interview: Jeremy & Sandy talk ‘The Amazing Race’

12.13.11 7 years ago
Who would have guessed that Atlanta would have two landmarks known as “The Dump”?
The first version of The Dump is the former residence of Margaret Mitchell, where she wrote “Gone with the Wind.”
The second version of The Dump is a really big furniture warehouse.
Geographically, the two Dumps are separated by only a few miles, but for Jeremy Cline and Sandy Draghi, the distance can be measured monetarily as the difference between the million dollar “Amazing Race” first prize and whatever the show awards for second. 
It wasn’t Jeremy & Sandy’s fault, per se. The dating couple had a solid lead on the last leg of “The Amazing Race” and they simply asked a couple Atlanta natives to help them find The Dump. The helpful strangers sounded certain and their directions were helpful in getting the Racers to the furniture store. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the right Dump. 
That marked a disappointing end for a team that started the Race prone to bickering, but grew stronger and more consistent as the Race progressed.
In their “Amazing Race” exit interview, Jeremy & Sandy discuss Dumps, Snowboarders and inadvertently helping the other two Finalists in Panama City.
HitFix: What was it like watching Sunday’s episode and knowing what was coming up?
Jeremy Cline: Ah, watching. It was a little difficult knowing. It was like…
Sandy Draghi: Reliving a nightmare?
Jeremy: Reliving a big mistake that you made. I’d say it wasn’t as fun as watching the previous episode.
HitFix: Was what we saw on Sunday with the Dump mistake, was that a fair sense of what did you guys in?
Sandy: It was. We had confidence going into this last leg. We got out. We got out in front in our cab. We nailed the flight simulator. We saw there were a few taxis out and we knew we were in first place at that time. We thought, “OK. We’re back in United States. Everyone speaks English and everyone knows where things are.” We stopped and asked for directions. We went to a busy intersection and we went to a pretty busy restaurant and there were tons of people in the parking lot and we asked a couple that was local, they had an Atlanta license plate, and we felt that they knew “The Amazing Race,” they knew that we were in a race and their answer was very quick and they knew right away. They said, “Oh yeah, it’s this old warehouse.” And we just did not think that we were going to a functioning furniture store. We thought we were going to the middle of nowhere to an old warehouse where we were going to have to do some sort of physical task or something out there. Their answer was quick and believable and we went with it, just like we had on previous legs and it always had worked. We didn’t second-guess it. We didn’t think to double-check and ask somebody else. We took off in our taxi and we drove maybe 20 minutes to get there and once we got there, we knew right away that we’d made a million dollar mistake. 
Our taxi cabs were, ironically, talking again on this last Leg. We all got taxis within the same company. And we were telling our cab, “Don’t tell the others where we’re going! Don’t tell the others where we’re going!” We knew we had a big jump on everybody else. Our taxi said that they hadn’t even left yet. So at that point, we though, “OK. We’re at the wrong spot. Once we figure out where we need to go, we might be able to catch up” and unfortunately, we couldn’t.
HitFix: How long did you guys wander around the furniture store?
Sandy: Not long at all. They edited it to make it look like we were in there for hours, but we were kinda in and out. We knew we were wrong.
Jeremy: We went to a gas station and came back to the furniture store and we finally found somebody with a smart phone where we could Google it.
Sandy: It was difficult to find somebody here in the US who would offer us directions. We tried to to stop at a gas station and we got kicked off the gas because we had cameras with us. Not a lot of people want to be on film here, so we didn’t get a lot of assistance in the area we were at. It was a little bit frustrating. One woman offered us her phone and that kinda saved  the day, but not a lot of people offered help.
HitFix: Let’s go back a Leg. In Panama City, you guys were the only team to successfully get the “Panama Viejo” clue the first time and then the other two teams just drafted along and you dragged them into the Finals. When did you realize that was happening and did you like that as a turn of events?
Sandy: We did not know that that was happening! I can understand Spanish well enough, but I did not hear our taxi driver. It was so loud in there, the windows are rolled down and you’re in the heat of the moment and looking around, plus we had crew with us. So we didn’t realize that our taxi cab drivers were in communication at all. Until that show aired the other night, we had no idea.
Jeremy: We didn’t realize he was telling them the location of where we were going.
HitFix: Had you realized, would you have told him not to?
Jeremy: Absolutely.
Sandy: Oh yeah.
Jeremy: We definitely would have said, “Don’t spread the word,” because that’s what we said in the final Leg, was “Don’t tell them where we’re going. Tell them we’re going somewhere else. Don’t pick up the phone.” When we hit that first stop, that’s when they started communicating with each other. They talked to each other and I guess they gave each other’s phone numbers to each other at the flight simulator.
HitFix: But surely in Panama City, if you’d had the choice of which two teams you’d want to take with you to the Finals, it would have been those two. So it ended up working out, didn’t it?
Jeremy: Correct. I guess it ended up kind of working out. We, hitting the mat, thought that Andy & Tommy had already checked in. That was the case…
Sandy: Every time?
Jeremy: I think nine out of the 11 Legs previously they were ahead of us. So we were shocked that they hadn’t and then to find out how it kinda went down was just bizarre. It really threw a wrench in the whole thing. It was just shocking.
Sandy: Yeah, we thought about it after we watched Leg 11 last week. We thought about if those taxi cabs wouldn’t have communicated, Marcus & Amani as well as Cindy & Ernie would have gone to the wrong location and who knows how long it would have taken any of those teams? So if we had an hour or an hour-and-a-half jump on all of those teams in Leg 12? I mean, it wouldn’t have mattered, because we all were on the same flight, but to have a good amount of a lead would have been great and we were all within three minutes of one-another because they piggy-backed on our taxi.
HitFix: When you got to the mat and Phil Keoghan told everybody what happened with the Snowboarders, all three teams seemed so happy to not have them to contend with. What was it like having a team that was so reliably finishing ahead of you?
Jeremy: It was tough. We loved the Snowboarders. We got along great with them. We loved being around them and we loved to race with them, because we knew that they would be a strong ally. They were really friends with everybody. They were easy to race with. They were very kind and careful and they were honest as could be. We kinda tried to be the same way, but it was tough to have such a physical race and then to have two Olympic athletes competing against you. You’ve got a lot of couples, male and female, that just aren’t as strong as two Olympic athletes doing a very physical race this season.
Sandy: Yeah, they’re great guys and they were so humble with all of it, so it was hard to be upset. You’d just kinda figure, “Yeah, they won that Leg. They won that Leg” and deep down you’re a little bit jealous, but you couldn’t be anything but happy for them. They deserved to be there. They deserved to be in the Final Three. They did. They were humble the entire way through. Of course we were happy that we knew they were the strongest team out there and we didn’t have to race against them in Leg 12, but of anyone, they definitely deserved to be there.
HitFix: One of the big themes you guys kept discussing on Sunday was how the Race improved your communication as a couple. In the early stages, there was definitely some bickering, but it definitely looked like you got better. What did you guys have to work through in those early Legs?
Jeremy: We really had to work through trusting each other. We’re both kinda leaders in our own careers. We each have our own way of going about things and in the beginning, we’d start each going in a different direction and arguing about which direction we thought was best. And all of a sudden you’re arguing about which direction and that’s killing your momentum, your attitude and your time. We had to learn to trust each other and have the security of knowing that it’ll be OK. If she’s not correct or if I’m not correct, we’ve just gotta go and be positive and just kinda stay positive — That became one of our sayings — just being a little bit more trusting of the other and no snapping, saying the right things in a positive way… Happiness was a big part of doing well and that’s one thing we both learned on this Race and I kinda attribute that lesson to Andy. He told me while we were in the Race, “If I’m not having fun while I’m doing this, I’m not going to do well” and that was one of the biggest life lessons that came out of the Race for us: If we’re not having fun, we’re not going to be doing well.
Sandy: For our communication and us working together, we both had to give up the reins a little bit. I wanted to be in control and he wanted to be in control and to give up that control, it’s difficult for both of us, because we’re both so independent. And working in a relationship, you can’t always have full control of everything and once we both were able to let go a little bit, we hit our stride. And learning to communicate constructively rather than negatively was also a big challenge for us. It took us eight Legs to figure that out, but we ultimately did and that was a big prize for us in the end, that we definitely have much better communication skills.
HitFix: As a last question, give me a favorite moment from this Race experience that we didn’t see on TV…
Jeremy: One of my favorite moments from the Race that nobody got to see was being with the Snowboarders on this little, tiny plane when we were leaving Denmark on our way to Amsterdam, on this tiny little prop plane. We were just dying laughing and making fun of Sandy, who was really nervous about the plane and we just had an absolutely blast with those guys. It was just a feel-good moment. We’d left that airport and we were the only two teams on that plane, so we knew we were going to be either the first two — Zac & Laurence got lucky to catch that Virgin flight in out of London — but we knew we were in front. We were with the Snowboarders. We were having a blast. And we were just joking around. It was a blast.
Sandy: I think for me, moments they don’t show are the long bus rides or train rides or car rides where you really get to take everything in and stop to take a breath. When you’re racing and lost and doing challenges, you don’t really see your surroundings, but once you’re stuck on a train for 14 hours of a bus for eight hours or a car for five, I was able to take in my surroundings and the beauty of the world and also able to connect with other people and other cultures. I know it’s hard to fit everything in in an hour, but the things that we got to see on the train rides and bus rides were remarkable. They really touched my life.

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