Every fan of "The Amazing Race" knows that even the strongest team is one bad taxi ride away from being Philiminated. The flipside of that adage is that it is also anybody's game to win, and when the Fabulous Beekman Boys, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge, were the first to step on the final mat of Season 21 after basically floundering for 11 legs, they proved that mantra to be spectacularly true. The day after their win was revealed, we chatted with the partners in life and work (Beekman 1802) about a comeback that was nothing short of, well, amazing.
This might have been the greatest comeback that reality TV has ever seen. You never placed first. There was a strong alliance working against you. You kept getting lost. Josh hurt his ankle. Brent couldn't swim, which gave you a giant penalty. Did it ever cross your mind that you could actually win? At what point in the race did you realize that you had a shot?
Brent: Right when Phil said we won on the last mat.
Josh: We know from living on a farm to never count our chickens before they hatch. We weren't even confident on the last cab ride.
Whom did you think was going to win?
Brent: That thought never crossed our minds. We knew on the starting line that the race is anybody's game, and we held on to that through the game. Winning takes a rare combination of mental strength, physical strength, and a lot of luck. At any given time, any team can win or go home.
[Related: Read our recap of the 'Race' finale]
How much did it help that the last two stops were a country where you spoke the language and the city where you live/work?
Josh: Those were definitely helpful advantages that came at the right time in the race. Knowing a little high school French was a bigger help than the New York advantage. Ending in New York was only a slight advantage. In the pizza place, it helped us get to the streets quickly, but then I screwed up the order.
Brent: And it isn't like we make the drive from JFK to Coney Island regularly. In fact, we got in the cab at JFK and the driver could not get us to Coney Island, so we had to get out and into a different cab. We had our worst cab luck of the race in our hometown.
What was your favorite moment?
Josh: My favorite was in Bangladesh after we finished the bamboo challenge. We knew we were in last place, and that wave of kids swept us along the street. I passed out on the mat, so I know those kids physically carried me to that pit stop.
Brent: Mine was on that first leg in Shanghai. We had some Chinese teenagers running with us, and one guy said, "Are you the gay team?" When we said yes, he said, "Then I am rooting for you." Josh said, "Why? Are you gay too?" He shushed us because it is illegal there, but he ran behind us all the way to the pit stop. His hopes and dreams for a better future are coming from an American TV show. How amazing is that!
What was the worst?
Josh: Leaving Ryan and Abbie at the U-turn. Everyone has a big dream of winning when they start, and that was the moment they knew theirs wasn't going to come true. It felt horrible to walk away from them.
Brent: We realized that must be what Phil feels like every time he eliminates a team at the mat.
What is the bigger picture of this win? What do you want people to take away from it?
Josh: I still think what I said on the mat is what this race means. The older I get, the more I realize there's no tricky strategy to life. We played with the same strategy as we use to live life. Always try as hard as you can, help your neighbor, and don't give up, no matter how bad things get.
Brent: Also, you can't go through life expecting to dominate at everything, and sometimes even when you don't, you can still win.
There's a lot of social media chatter about the twins and the "evil gay" comments. People seem to think that it was more sinister than teasing.
Brent: I know why the audience sees it that way. It sounds harsh. But we think very highly of the girls. They are so full of energy and kept us in stitches the whole race. We didn't take it as derogatory. They're not homophobic or racist. It was really in fun.
Josh: This was trash talking just like at any high school football or dance competition. They do not have an evil bone in their bodies, even though they would say they do.
How did it change you? What did you learn from the experience about yourself and your relationship?
Josh: This race had a tremendous impact on our relationship. It brought us closer together, literally. Since the recession started, we have been so focused on trying to keep afloat and have been separated a lot. I can't express how much of a relief it is to have the financial freedom to concentrate on our dreams full time.
Brent: I am a very go-with-the-flow person. For me, it is like, "Run the New York marathon?" Check. "Win the Amazing Race?" Check. I am on to the next thing.
Josh: He's a robot.
On the show, you said you would use the winnings to quit your job in Manhattan, pay off your farm mortgage, and help your business. But is there one fun and irresponsible thing you're going to splurge on?
Brent: One of the things we are going to splurge on is buying this amazing historic building on Main Street in Sharon Springs. It used to be the town firehouse, city hall, and library, and now it will be the new home of Beekman 1802 Mercantile.
Josh: That's his idea of frivolous. I'm going to get a massage.