After an exciting final leg, perennial second-place finishers Jason Case and Amy Diaz finally came out on top to win the 23rd season of The Amazing Race. After attending their finale event in Providence over the weekend, I was excited to catch up with them to ask them about how they finally managed to get over their silver stigma and capture gold when it mattered the most. I also quizzed them about why they helped Travis and Nicole so much on the Race and we also chatted about the plethora of strong women on the show this season.
Murtz Jaffer: How are you guys?
Amy Diaz: We’re fantastic! How are you?
MJ: I am recovering from Rhode Island! That was probably the best finale party ever! Are you ready to get right into it?
Jason Case: Sure.
MJ: Congratulations guys! It’s always satisfying when a deserving team wins. I want to start by asking you, Jason, if it was tough when you kept finishing in second place and how you managed to get through it?
JC: I hate losing so second was basically like being the first loser and that isn’t easy for anybody. But the consistent second place finishes were very frustrating because we finished behind two express passes. One of ‘em was a misdirection (my fault). We felt like a lot of those second place finishes should have been first place finishes. During the course of the Race, it was a little frustrating but we stayed positive and we used those second places to really reenergize ourselves for the next leg and go after that first place finish. It was frustrating but encouraging at the same time.
MJ: Amy, how did you manage to look like a runway model at the start of every leg? While all the other teams look haggard, you looked like you were already the winners.
(Amy and Jason laugh).
JC: She wakes up like that!
AD: No I don’t! That easy bun thing that I wore, it really was a lifesaver because that thing is water-proof, wind-proof, everything-proof so it was great for me on the Race because I didn’t have to worry about what I looked like.
MJ: Jason, this season really was like the good versus the evil. It’s clear that you and Amy were the good and the Afghanimals and Tim/Marie were the evil. Is that how things really were or was that just editing?
AD: I don’t think I would necessarily call it good versus evil. We got along pretty well with Tim and Marie. Obviously there was that incident with the cabs but we never really ever raced with the Afghanimals. We were always ahead and more in the front of the pack so we never really raced with them. There weren’t many interactions between us.
JC: I don’t know if I would call either team “evil,” I mean you know what you were going to get with Marie. She’d tell you straight out. ‘I am going to steal your cab.’ ‘I am going to do this.’ ‘I am going to do that.’ So she wasn’t really misdirecting us in anyway. We knew her personality. These Afghanimals… we just didn’t really understand some of the things that they did I guess. They were trying to be funny but it came off to us like ‘why would you like about something that didn’t really gain you any kind of advantage?’ We were confused about the way that they ran the Race. It certainly wasn’t a good versus evil based on personality type.
MJ: Amy, I definitely want to ask you about the alliance with Travis and Nicole. It seemed that you were really the one doing most of the work in the alliance. You helped her with the that musical instrument challenge and again you were the one who figured out the robot challenge. Did they bring things to the alliance that we didn’t see?
AD: We became really good friends and for us, they were really great mentors. Throughout the Race, the downtime and the off-camera interactions that we had with them, we learned a lot about what a good relationship should be like. We learned a lot about them or from them about what our relationship should be like. Just taking that next step toward marriage and having kids and all of that good stuff. Me helping her, I never really had a second thought about it. She became like my sister on the Race and I really love her. As for what I did specifically, I can tell you right now that if you go back and look at that music challenge, I didn’t put it together for her. I showed her what to do and I did help her put them in order but I didn’t physically put the instruments together for her. You can see her actually putting it together and then Ashley arrived there. As for that final robot Roadblock, that was a really physically-demanding task. Marie even said that and Marie is freakishly strong. I am not saying that I am not strong (because I am) but it was easier for Nicole and I to do it together because we did it in half the time. If you go back and look at the finale episode, Nicole and I actually put ours all the way together before Leo finished his and then I broke mine all the way down completely and rebuilt it before Leo had even recognized what was wrong with his. So technically, we did finish it faster by doing it together and then I showed Nicole what to do. The other reason why I did help her (which wasn’t shown on the episode) was when we were working together, those pieces were very heavy but they were made of cardboard and we broke one of her pieces so if I hadn’t helped her put that piece back together there was no way that she was going to be able to finish the challenge. Because of the relationship that we had on the Race, I wasn’t going to let her be eliminated because of something that we both did together.
JC: First, they are great people. I know Travis might have come off wrong and he got a tough edit but leaving that aside, they truly truly are wonderful people. Parents and people. What they provided to us off-screen was that emotional and mental toughness and encouragement for our team to stay together. Amy and I only knew each other for a year before going on the Race. They had been together for 12 years so they have had ups and downs in their relationship. Amy and I, being in that environment together, we clashed at times and they really helped us stay together… stay positive…
AD: Stay focused…
JC: Helped us communicate with each other and those were the things that they did for us from a relationship standpoint and that wasn’t necessarily captured on camera. We really thank them for that and helping us.
MJ: Do you think that working with another team diminishes winning since people could argue that you guys had help whereas other teams didn’t, or was that just smart strategy you guys used?
AD: Can I please answer this one?
MJ: Murtz: Yup.
JC: Who helped who?! If you watched the episode, Amy did two challenges instead of just one. We lost time by helping. We didn’t gain an advantage by helping. We lost time and that could have caused us to be eliminated. That’s probably a question for Travis and Nicole. Not for us.
AD: For any critics that say that we didn’t deserve to win or that the two aligned teams to not deserve to be in the final leg, let me ask them this question. If you are so upset that I helped another team and you say that I completed these challenges for another team, then doesn’t that mean we are a stronger team because technically we ran two Races instead of just one?
MJ: Murtz: That was the answer I was waiting for and the one I wanted from you Jason!
(Jason and Murtz laugh)
MJ: In watching the show, have your opinions on Nicole and Travis changed? They kept saying that they wanted to set an example for their kids and then attempted to cheat off the Afghanimals and seemingly needed Amy as a third team member to help with many of the challenges.
JC: That’s true to a point. Nicole did have a hard time with the angklung and she did have a hard time with the robot. I am not going to discredit their team. They did very well. They were the team to beat at the beginning of this Race. That’s why they were called the “Power Parents.” Who named them that? The Afghanimals who made it to the Final Four. They were certainly contenders in the Race. They still belong in those top three teams because they were very very strong and consistent.
AD: For those that say that Nicole tried to cheat off Leo, then why don’t you also say that Leo tried to cheat off of the Bunnies when they were doing the date challenge in Abu Dhabi?
MJ: I can tell you have done a few interviews before Amy!
AD: It’s just that I have been reading a lot and we have been getting these questions and it’s just frustrating because if you are going to look at one side of the story, why don’t you look at it all?
MJ: Jason, at the start of the final episode… you, Travis/Nicole and Tim/Marie all decided to work together to make sure the Afghanimals went home. How were you able to get past Tim and Marie stealing your cab?
JC: Amy and I don’t have anything against Tim and Marie. The reason we were mad is because we thought that they had taken our bags out of the car but when we went back to production and we found out that they didn’t do anything to justify a penalty, we were fine with it. That’s part of the Race. Tim and Marie are very aggressive and at the end of the day, we are racing for a million dollars. We didn’t hold it against them. Would we have done the same thing? Probably not and we didn’t. There was a cab there and we could have stolen it but that’s just not the way that we ran the Race. Whether it was good or bad or strategic or not, we wouldn’t have made that same move. As far as our relationship with Tim and Marie, I mean we love those guys at the end of the day. The Race is a competition and we were trying to win the million dollars, no different then they were. We didn’t hold any ill will towards them.
MJ: Amy, how were you able to nail the flour drop on your second try as that was certainly the key to your win? Is it true you were nursing a sprained ankle on the glacier as well?
AD: When I first did the drop, I knew that I had to drop it before I got to the target. Like while we were still over water. The very first time I dropped it, it wasn’t where I needed to drop it and I looked down to see where it dropped and in my head I calculated the approximate length that it was away from the target. The next time we went around, I dropped it at about that length and that’s why it made it on. I think for the most part, if you watch the episode, everybody was right in line with the target. You could see the flour bags dropping within inches and just a couple of feet from it but it really came down to luck and just trying to calculate how far away I was that first time and nailing it the second time. As far as my sprained ankle, that actually happened during that taxi cab incident when Tim and Marie “borrowed” our cab. (Amy laughs). We had to run about a mile down the road to find a new one. I kind of tripped and twisted my ankle and I ran half of the entire Race on one leg because I couldn’t really put a lot of pressure on that leg.
MJ: I think one of the most impressive things about your win is how close you were to teams that had used an express pass. So when people talk about how you guys just got lucky on the final leg, I don’t think that is accurate because some of your second place finishes could actually be considered as first (if you don’t count the express passes that were used). Were you the strongest team on the Race?
JC: Well, I am glad you said it!
AD: Finally someone!
JC: For somebody that really knows the show and we lived the experience, statistically speaking we were the strongest team on the entire Race. There’s no question in my mind that we were. We finished challenges well ahead of any other team. Our times to the pit stop were typically better from the start to the finish than the other teams and just in Austria alone to go to a Fast Forward that was 45 minutes away and come back and compete against all those other teams and still place fifth…
AD: We were an hour behind and we came back and we checked in only 25 minutes after Travis and Nicole.
JC: I mean think of the stuff that happened to us. Tim and Marie and Amy and I missed that train ride on that Indonesia leg. We were an hour behind. We caught up from an hour behind and we did those challenges with the elephant and the angklung and we finished third. I don’t think people realize how strong of a team we were and the adversity that we had to fight through to finish second every time.
AD: It’s funny that you just asked that because this morning we were looking at the specifics and the placements of the teams throughout the Race and we started counting. Jason and I (even without all those first place finishes), we beat Tim and Marie and Travis and Nicole seven out of the 12 legs. Our placements were higher than theirs on seven out of the 12 legs. We beat Nicole and Jamal, on six of the eleven legs that we ran. So if you really look at the numbers… that’s not even counting the second place when we lost out the first week and the legs where the express passes were used. That to me does read that we were the strongest team, statistically speaking.
JC: And Murtz, I really do feel like because we didn’t get those first place finishes, we were very underrated but you can ask any team throughout the Race who they thought the teams to beat were and I guarantee you they will say “Team Boston Strong” because we were consistent and on The Amazing Race, consistency can get you to the end. Calculated risk can take you to the end. That’s how we played the game.
MJ: Amy, was this season really a competition amongst women? On the male/female teams, it really came down to you versus Marie as Nicole was much weaker while all of the men just seemed to be cheerleaders.
AD: (Amy laughs). You know what? Phil said it best. He talked about how Nicole, Marie and I and he said that the three of us were “powerhouses.” He said that he had never met such three competitive women ever, in the history of the Race. I have to give it to our male counterparts who were so patient with the three of us. We were so glad that Marie, Nicole and I really represented for women. We all had such different styles of play but we all tried our best and we finished 1, 2, 3 and that’s exactly what we wanted.
JC: Haha, you’re totally overshadowing what the guys did Murtz! (Jason laughs).
AD: Yeah, yeah, yeah….
JC: If it wasn’t for Tim, Tim and Marie would have never made it that far…
MJ: Jason, what’s the first thing you are going to buy with the money?
JC: We haven’t even thought about that yet. Obviously we just had a wonderful finale party that you were at.
MJ: The GREATEST party of all-time in the world ever!!!
JC: And we were just so excited to share that experience with the cast, and with the TAR family and the TAR community so that’s certainly something we did. The Amazing Race opened my eyes to the wonderful world out there and I would certainly love to do some more travelling with Amy and go back to some of these destinations that we never really got to capture the full experience of and take in the scenery and absorb the culture and that’s certainly something that I would like to do moving forward. So use a little of the money for that. I am also a businessman so I am all about investing and saving and we want to have a family someday and that’s something we want to financially prepare for.
MJ: Amy, what’s next for you?
AD: We are just taking it one day at a time and preparing for a bright future ahead. We really want to visit all the teams and meet all of their families, just because they have had such a huge and positive impact in our lives. From there, we’ll see. Whatever opportunities come our way, we will probably take most of them.
MJ: I thought you were going to say the greatest Survivor party in LA that I am co-hosting with Ryan Carrillo from Expedition Impossible!
AD: Ohhhhhh! That’s right. We are flying to LA to come to your Survivor party!
JC: We’re hoping it is the greatest party ever!
AD: But you just said that I just threw the greatest finale party ever in Rhode Island!
MJ: You did… so we have a high standard to live up to! Thank you so much guys! Can’t wait to see you! Congratulations!
JC: Thank you so much. We’ll see you soon!
MJ: Thanks guys.