Murtz On The Scene: Exclusive Interview With The Amazing Race 23’s Tim Sweeney & Marie Mazzocchi
by Murtz on December 12, 2013

Tim Sweeney and Marie Mazzocchi became one of the most polarizing teams on The Amazing Race this season. The exes liked to yell at each other but still managed to work together on almost every leg. Despite putting their best foot forward and their differences aside, the former couple fell just short of winning the $1 million prize and finished in second place. I caught up with them to ask them what happened, if they had really agreed to a 60/40 split of the money in advance (with Marie receiving more) and what they thought about the Jason/Amy/Travis/Nicole alliance.

Murtz Jaffer: Alright guys, it was great seeing you in Rhode Island. I want to get right into it, Marie… do you think that Tim carried his weight as your partner on the Race?

(Tim & Marie laugh)

Marie Mazzocchi: I think that Tim was a great partner on the Race. I think he was amazing when it came to our tasks and our detours. I just wish he was a little bit more prepared when it came to the travelling.

MJ: Tim, do you feel like you got a bad rap and that you were just as integral to the team’s success?

Tim Sweeney: I don’t think it was a bad rap. I think I was just as important to the team’s success as Marie was because we were working together on a lot of the stuff and we each had individual challenges to do and we both nailed them. I don’t think the 60/40 represented that. It represented all the legwork that she did while I had a job in New York to get us on the Race and prepared and ready. I don’t think she’s saying that I wasn’t an important of the Race and I don’t think anyone should assume that is what she is saying. I think we both agree that we were a team and that we worked together equally to get through the Amazing Race.

MJ: Marie, you dominated the Roadblock in Tokyo that asked you to build a robot, despite arriving at the challenge in last place. To me, that was the most critical moment of the season. Do you have a new career as a robot engineer?

MM: (Laughs). I don’t ever want to build anything ever again for the rest of my life! When we got to that Roadblock, I was totally panicked. I am not good at assembling things and putting things together. I have boxes from IKEA that have been sitting in my house for two years because I don’t want to be bothered with putting them together. I get ADD and I can’t finish it. I was scared. I thought we were going home for sure. Luckily, the challenge turned out to be more physical than tedious and mental. I don’t know how I got it done.

MJ: Tim, did it bother you that Amy/Nicole worked on so many of the challenges together? You and Marie didn’t really have any allies and do you think it takes anything away from Jason and Amy’s win that they worked on so many things with another team?

TS: It bothered me a lot to be honest with you. The outcomes obviously weren’t too affected because Jason and Amy won. I think it was a really one-sided help. If you look back at the Race, Jason and Amy were helping Nicole finish challenges. It wasn’t an equal partnership and that was okay with us but it bothered us because that’s not the integrity of the Race. The Race is to see who is the best team. And who knows? Maybe behind the scenes Travis and Nicole were helping Jason and Amy and I don’t think that took anything from Jason and Amy’s win. At the end of the day, Jason and Amy won and their communication was as good as Marie and mine. It just ended up that the final leg wasn’t as physical as it was linear and Amy nailed the flour drop and so be it. They took home the Amazing Race 23.

MM: I just want to add to what he said about them working together. I think it worked in their favour. Jason and Amy won and it didn’t affect their outcome but had they not helped them in Indonesia, the Ice Girls would have still been in the Race. And had they not helped them in Tokyo, the Afghanimals would have still been in the Race so it did affect the outcomes for the other teams. If Amy didn’t help Nicole build the robot, the Afghanimals would have been in the Final 3 and there’s a pretty good chance the Afghanimals would have won the whole thing. Looking at it from that point of view, I am even more bothered by the helping.

MJ: Marie, at the beginning of the final episode… there was clearly a threeway alliance between you guys, Amy & Jason and Travis & Nicole to work together to take out the Afghanimals. This immediately seemed odd to me, considering Amy and Jason were so mad about you stealing their cab on a previous leg. Why were they still willing to work with you after that and is that also why the alliance kind of fell apart almost immediately after you landed at the airport?

MM: I think the editing made the cab issue look a little bit bigger than it was. It was 10 minutes into the next leg in Vienna and we were all back to being friends again. They were upset because they thought that we had moved the bags and that we should have gotten a penalty but once they found out what had really happened, they understood that we didn’t break any rules and they were okay with that. Going into the final leg where we decided that we were going to align with the other two teams to go against the Afghanimals, that was just to make sure that Jason and Amy and Travis and Nicole thought we were on their side. In reality, we knew that we didn’t want to be in an alliance with them. We wanted to align with the Afghanimals. You didn’t see much of that on TV but that’s what was really happening. Even at the Roadblock, you saw that Leo helped me. Our plan was to take the doctors out. The alliance with Jason and Amy was kind of bullshit for us.

MJ: Tim, I have read other interviews that you guys have done where you said that you didn’t like that the final leg was linear and that it ultimately came down to the flour drop which Marie twelve tries and only took Amy a couple. Were there really no other points where you could catch up?

MM: Not unless someone died on the glacier!

TS: Across the glacier we were guided and it was treacherous with all of the caverns.

(At this point, Tim’s phone connection dropped).

MJ: We are holding for Tim…

MM: Story of my life…

TS: There was a kayak route that was a mile long but when we talk about not being able to catch up, we’re talking about Jay and Amy. We knew they weren’t going to kayak themselves in a circle. These were small tasks. We needed a task that was going to be both mentally and physically exhausting for us to actually prove ourselves and get back into it. After the flour drop… I mean think about it. After Marie put the robot together, that’s not even close to someone flying you in a plane and asking you to dump flour out of it. We needed something that was really going to test us to come back and there just wasn’t that opportunity until the totem poles. By that point it was over. Jay and Amy are a strong team. Jay can hold the totem poles up and Amy could figure stuff out. We needed something that was a little more intense in order to come back.

MJ: Marie, when you finish in second place, is that something you are proud of or is it upsetting that you were so close to the million and yet still so far?

MM: We’re super competitive and we were there just for one reason and that was to win. We took a great experience away from it and we’re proud of the fact that we made it the whole way and experience everything that the Race has to offer and never had to hear Phil tell us that we have been eliminated but it’s like you said. We were really really disappointed and frustrated that the final leg didn’t have anything that tested your abilities physically or mentally. It kind of just left the chance for a million dollars in the hands of your pilot. Whether it was luck or it wasn’t luck when you dropped it, it was frustrating for me because on my first drop I was only a couple of inches away from the target. The next nine, ten, or 11 times around, I was screaming “why are you driving so slow?!” “Why are you going so fast?” “Why are you going left and not right?” It was out of my control and that was frustrating to me because I knew that if we were doing a roadblock that was in our control, there was no way either of those two girls would beat me.

MJ: Tim, speaking of the million… why did you agree to the 60/40 split if you won?

TS: I agreed to it because she was right. The way she said it might have been a little snotty and arrogant, but she was right. There’s a difference between business and friendship. If you were to break it down in terms of how much prep work went into getting on The Amazing Race, she probably did more than 50 percent. She really orchestrated the whole thing behind-the-scenes in order to get us to LA and to get us in front of the right people. It wasn’t about the money. It had nothing to do with money. It was about us going on The Amazing Race and having the time of our lives. It was about the people we met and the relationships we made. We proved to people that we are one of the strongest teams in Amazing Race history. It was never about the money.

MJ: Marie, I want to talk a little bit about the editing. There is no question that you guys were edited as the villains of the season, willing to do anything to finish in first. With that said, everyone I know was rooting for you during that robot task. It was a similar story with the Afghanimals who I felt were edited as bad guys at the beginning but redeemed themselves at the end. What do you think about the way that you were presented? Were Travis/Nicole the real villains?

MM: I am glad that Tim and I made it as far as we did because it gave people a chance to see our real relationship and not just a couple of minutes at the beginning of each episode where they took the worst and made it look like that’s all we were. I think the same thing happened with the Afghanimals. Everyone thought that they were jerks and they were liars when really they are great guys and a really strong team and I am glad that we both made it far enough for everyone to see that come out. As far as Travis and Nicole, I mean I love Nicole. I actually feel bad for the situation that she is in because Travis is a jerk. When it comes down to it, that’s exactly how he was the whole time and we saw a lot of that while racing with them. The further we went along with them, the more we got to see that side of him come out and it was annoying for us to watch the episodes and keep watching how they tried to be so perfect and say that they would never lie to anyone and that they wanted to set an example for their kids. The thing is, we know the real Travis and that is not what he is like, so it was satisfying to see that come out in the end.

MJ: Tim, what is the relationship between you and Marie like now? Some of the other teams that I have interviewed have suggested that you might have had a little thing going with Ally during the Race?

TS: Ally and I had a little thing going on during the Race and there was definitely something between us, but listen, we’re on The Amazing Race so it was nothing serious. It was just a great friendship that we formed. Having said that my relationship with Marie is the same that it was and that it always has been. We don’t take things personally. We know how each other are and we know how we communicate with each other. At times is she yelling and screaming? Absolutely. Are there times when I am not listening? Absolutely. But it is our ability to handle that and handle the adversity within our own relationship, that’s what keeps us together. We’re going to spend some time away from each other for the next couple of months but after that, we are going to enjoy the next ride. We’re going to spend the next year celebrating what we accomplished on The Amazing Race. Tim and Marie or Pinky and no-Brain or whatever you want to call us.

MJ: Marie, I know every Amazing Race fan wants to see you on All-Stars and you might have spoiled this answer on Twitter already, but would you ever do it again and would you still choose Tim as your partner?

MM: I would do another season of the Race again, I definitely would. I think right after the show, I had a different opinion about it and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do if I was asked. I think it would be fun to race with someone else…

MJ: He’s on the phone Marie!

MM: I mean he was a great partner but I think his laid-back attitude and his comfort in knowing that I would do whatever needed to be done and all he had to do was show up at the Roadblock, I think he would keep that same mentality and that was exhausting for me. So if there’s anyone who wants to race with me and is a little more equal to what I am about, then I would be down for that.

MJ: Who would that be?

MM: I’d love to race with Katie from Max & Katie!

MJ: Amazing. Thanks guys.

MM & TS: Thank you.



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