An Exclusive U-Turn with Winners Tammy and Victor of The Amazing Race
by Reg Seeton
The 14th season of The Amazing Race was another worldwide nail-biter of a footrace finish, as the final three teams of Tammy and Victor, Jaime and Cara, and Margie and Luke touched down in Maui for the final leg. Although the teams started The Amazing Race at a fast pace by bungee jumping through Switzerland and then racing on through Austria, Romania, India, Thailand, and China, the laid back vibe of Hawaii posed an unexpected challenge on the road to the million dollar prize.
After running a consistent and amazing race, the brother and sister legal team of Tammy and Victor Jih found themselves struggling to keep up with mother and son duo, Margie and Luke, while trying to carry a full-grown pig across a beach in Maui. Despite battling the weight of an Amazing Race bovine to make up time on a streaking Margie and Luke, Tammy and Victor then found themselves at the mercy of the slow pace of Maui traffic inside a taxi cab, which forced them to reflect on the fact that they would have to accept either second or third place of The Amazing Race.
However, when Tammy and Victor reached the final Road Block where Luke was assembling a series of surfboards with cryptic images in order of the countries they raced through, Victor was able to catch up to Luke who got stymied by the final two pictures on the last two boards. As a result of Luke's momentary confusion, which eroded a hefty 30-minute lead, Victor snapped in the final two surfboards and both he and Tammy cruised to victory as the Season 14 winners of The Amazing race.
The morning after Tammy and Victor crossed the finish line to become the Season 14 millionaire winners of The Amazing Race, we raced to the phone with coffee in hand for an exclusive one-on-one chat with the brother and sister lawyers from California to get their thoughts on life post-Amazing Race, how they handled the challenges of the final leg in Maui, how they were able to stay focused while other teams clashed, their approach to strategy, and how the Romanian hills had a positive affect on Victor and whether they're looking to life as celebrity Amazing Race lawyers.
THE DEADBOLT: So, Victor, how have the hills of Romania changed your outlook on life?
VICTOR JIH: [laughs] I donít ever want to go to Romania again. No, Iím just kidding. You know, it as hard. I mean, Romania was all about me feeling responsible for the entire outcome of the race and I put it all on my own shoulders and I really learned from that, that I didnít need to be that and that there were two of us. Not only did I have the luxury of having Tammy there, but I needed her there and the two of us needed to do it together.
THE DEADBOLT: Tammy, how did the race test you in similar ways?
TAMMY JIH: I think the race tested me in that I have to be more confident with myself on numerous levels. I mean, I grew up the nerdy, unathletic girl who was always picked last for teams and my hardest class growing up was always P.E.. So just going through a race that was so physical and having confidence in myself and dealing with Victorís encouragement, which I sometimes thought was discouragement, that helped. I grew a lot in that way, that I needed to struggle through things, work hard, and have faith in myself.
In terms of my relationship with Victor, I went into it thinking I want Victor to view me as an equal, to stop treating me as a baby, and to see me as an adult. But if I want that, I need to start acting like an adult, and to act like an adult means that I need to voice my opinion, to take responsibility and make decisions as well.
VICTOR: Yeah. The race itself was sort of like nightmare after nightmare, because there were so many things that we were just never going to be good at. You know, the cheese hill and the gymnastics and the synchronized diving and swimming and then the pig. It really was a growing experience in both learning how to do things we were really horrible at and learn how to encourage each other in a stressful situation, and to be able to hear that as something constructive.
THE DEADBOLT: So, did you guys think it was all over when you were in the cab in Maui?
TAMMY: Oh, definitely.
VICTOR: Oh, yeah. I mean, we just stopped talking. And we were both just sort of contemplating and being thankful for being on the race. I literally was already in my head feeling happy for either Margie and Luke or Jamie and Cara for winning, and I know Tammy was really happy. You know what? We did a really good job and we were 30 minutes behind, but once I got there - and even though Luke had nine out of eleven done - the fact that they were still there, instantly I was like, ĎYou know what? Weíre still in it.í And everything went from there.
THE DEADBOLT: How hard was it for you to sink back into the pace of normal life when it was all over?
TAMMY: You know, it was very strange. But the whole time we were gone for the race - I think it was about four-plus weeks - we didnít have our Blackberries, and weíre lawyers and we fit the lawyer stereotype in that we are addicted to our Blackberries. And just coming back to normal life and being reunited with my Blackberry and being reachable at all hours, that was certainly a culture shock for me.
VICTOR: We both dived right back into normal life. I actually was sort of looking forward to it. The first thing I wanted when I got back was my Blackberry. Look, the race was this forced kind of rest from your normal life. You canít even interact with anyone you know or anything you do. That was great, but it also made me appreciate how much I like my life and how blessed I was. It wasnít something I was dreading at all, it was something actually very nice to get back to.
THE DEADBOLT: Even though you spoke the language in China, how did it challenge you guys?
VICTOR: Well, certainly speaking the language didnít help us with the birds and didnít help us with diving.
TAMMY: Those birds didnít speak neither English or Chinese.
VICTOR: The Chinese language really helped us at least enjoy the leg in China, which I thought Iím just really thankful for because we were able to joke around with the locals. And even though they wouldnít cheat and give us an advantage, we didnít expect them to anyway [laughs]. That was great, but we felt like it was finally time for us to have a task that was designed for us. Obviously not on purpose, but Luke and Margie had their swimming, Jamie and Cara had their dancing, as trained dancers, Jen and Kisha got to run really fast at the pit stop and steal the trip ... No, Iím kidding.
TAMMY: And Kris and Preston, obviously the beasts of the race, got to do the heavy lifting both in Romania and on "cheese hill".
VICTOR: And we were never going to be doing something like that. It was just like, wow, it took until Leg 11 before we got a task that was made easy for us.
THE DEADBOLT: So, what does a scorpion taste like?
VICTOR: You know what? I just did not even want to think about it. Watching is ten times worse than actually doing it. I just blocked it out of my mind and just chewed. The worst, though, was the beetle larva. Thatís the worst because itís crunchy on the outside and sort of spongy on the inside and itís so big you have to just chew it. That was probably the worst part.
THE DEADBOLT: Was it a tough decision to use the U-Turn?
TAMMY: I think it was a tough decision throughout the race, because Victor and I knew going into the race that there were probably two or three U-Turns and we discussed it the whole time. And going into the race I was very hesitant to use it at all just on principle. And then, as we got closer toward each leg with U-Turns, we troubled over whether we would use it, who we would use it on, but then when we decided to use that final U-Turn. We discussed it so much that I think we were at peace with our decision.
VICTOR: We were going in circles for the last U-Turn, because deep down it was difficult because we liked all of the teams. We have a little "be more of an informal alliance" with Margie and Luke than Jamie and Cara. But part of that was just the chance of Leg 1 and what airplane we were on, and we really grew to like Jen and Kisha as well. Tammy said, ĎLetís just not make it personal, because we like all of them, and thereís no way for us to personally say letís choose this team or this team.í So we made it purely on the decision of strategy and matchups.
THE DEADBOLT: How did you guys stay focused while some of the other teams were bickering?
VICTOR: We just tried to stay out of it.
TAMMY: Yeah. It was focusing on not making a facial expression, not saying anything, and looking at the ground. Weíre talking about when Margie and Luke and Jen and Kisha got into an altercation in China. You know, I knew that both of those teams were exhausted. Both of those teams had been so competitive and just emotions were soaring high and nothing I could do or say would help the situation.
VICTOR: It threw us for a loop a little bit. I donít know if you recall from that mat but Phil asked us if the teams were going well, and weíre like, ĎOh yeah, itís going great. We love each other.í And instantly theyíre like, ĎNo we donít.í
TAMMY: We had no idea that was coming.
THE DEADBOLT: So are you guys treated differently in the courtroom now?
TAMMY: Well, Iím a lowly associate, so I have yet to make a verbal courtroom appearance.
VICTOR: [laughs] The whole thing just happened, so weíre going to have to see. Although itís a little weird because reality life is one thing and then reality TV life is another. The two are colliding now and I hope thereís a manual on how to deal with that.
THE DEADBOLT: Well you can have fun in the Galapagos.
VICTOR: Oh no, Tammyís already claimed that and made it very clear she wants to go with her boyfriend instead of me. I wonít be making that journey, but Iíll certainly see pictures of it. [laughs].http://www.thedeadbolt.com/news/105687/victor_tammy_amazing_race_interview.php