Tyler and Korey (‘Amazing Race’ exit interview): ‘We knew we were getting second no matter what’

It was anyone’s game on Wednesday’s season finale of “The Amazing Race 31” — or well, just Colin Guinn and Christie Woods‘, and Tyler Oakley and Korey Kuhl‘s (sorry, Afghanimals). After passing Leo Temory and Jamal Zadran at the Roadblock, the two teams kept swapping positions and were neck and neck at the final task, assembling a drum set. Each had an error, but it was Colin and Christie who fixed theirs first and cruised to the $1 million. And we do mean “cruised” in that the spread was not as close as the edit made it out to be, according to Tyler and Korey.

The BFFs did improve on their third-place finish in Season 28, but is that worse than almost tasting the $1 million. See what they say in our exit interview below.

SEE Colin and Christie (‘Amazing Race’ exit interview) on their ‘surreal’ win and their surprising 15-year transformation

Gold Derby: How far behind were you?
Korey Kuhl: Leaving the drum task, I actually don’t know. It wasn’t as close as it looked on TV, but I honestly have no idea.

GD: It seemed like you found your missing piece first, but you still weren’t cleared. What was ultimately wrong with your drum kit?
Korey: I think the final thing that gave us the approval was loosening the screws for the cymbals so the cymbals were actually playable as opposed to just a cymbal, which was pretty frustrating. But it was the reality of the situation. We were going back and forth with the other team getting approval checks for a pretty good chunk of time, both of us with fully assembled drum sets, just trying to find the one little thing each team had wrong. It really felt like sweat dripping for a long time for all of us trying to figure it out with the music blasting.

GD: Were your brothers upset you didn’t get the drums correct right away?
Korey: The funny thing is I thought they would be so mad or so upset, but my one brother called me last night and said, “Thanks for the shout-out finally!” They’re great and they love me and they know drums were not my thing growing up. It was their thing, so they don’t hold that against me.

GD: Were you afraid the Afghanimals were going to show up since it was taking so long?
Korey: I honestly don’t think so. [Laughs] I don’t know. They had such a rough day. I think the whole season Tyler and I knew it was going to come down to us and Colin and Christie. We just had that bond. It was like written in the stars from the beginning. Once we saw them leave the drums, we knew we were getting second no matter what.

GD: You had the lead for part of the leg and you were neck and neck, so how does second compare to last time when you third and well behind for most of the leg?
Korey: We were talking about that with the Afghanimals — what stings more: if you were kind of out from the start or you’re so close to first and you barely miss it. I would much rather have a “Race” that actually feels close than what we had our first finale, where it was just kind of frustrating from the beginning. … I find the best finales are the ones where the positions change a lot and anything can happen. Not only is it more satisfying for viewers, but to be in it, it’s more exciting. It makes it feels like it really can be yours.

GD: Tyler, did you know what Leo was doing wrong with the lock and did he ask you for any help at all when you and Colin came in?
Tyler: Honestly, it was such a blur, I could not even tell you. I don’t think he asked us for any advice. All three of us were pretty in the zone, not just because it’s the finale and not many people are going to help each other in the finale. I think all of us were focused on reading those clues. It was silent in there. Nobody was talking. I think we were in the zone. Especially after last finale, where I felt the pressure of not getting the jump on the first jump, I wanted so hard to get this right because that Roadblock meant the world to me. They didn’t show it in the episode, but I broke down in tears as they were taking off the equipment when I finally got the clue from the vault because it just felt like, “Oh, my god. My worst fear from last time that came true wasn’t coming true the second time.”

SEE Colin and Christie also tied these 3 ‘Amazing Race’ records with their win

GD: Now Leo had your bad luck.
Tyler: I went up to him afterward and I said, “I know exactly how that feels. I am so sorry.” I know that feeling of just, like, the burden and not being able to follow through. I got it. I was the first person who went up to him after it was all said and done.

GD: You and Colin and Christie are tied with the most career leg wins at nine. How does that feel?
Korey: It’s still mind-blowing to me that we are record-holders on “The Amazing Race,” having been fans of the show our whole lives. Obviously we are so thrilled to share it with them, but we were joking like, “Well, they use a Fast Forward to get one of their firsts and we all earned all nine of ours the hard way.” [Laughs]
Tyler: Their season was the first if not the first that I watched. Especially in preparation for our first time, I went back and watched a bunch of seasons, so to see them at the starting line was like, “Here we are against literal legends who have already cemented their place in history.” Now to share that with them not just as best friends from this time on the “Race” but as people we looked up to, it means a lot.

GD: You got the all-“Race” final three like you wanted and “Race” teams won every leg, which is kind of crazy. Was that something you all had discussed when Team Fun was eliminated, and Nicole [Franzel] and Victor [Arroyo] were left, or had you talked about that earlier?
Korey: I think at that point, we truly had an alliance with Colin and Christie since about Leg 2 and always envisioned being with them in the final. Once Team Fun was eliminated, the only reason we wanted the all-“Race” finale was because we thought Nic and Vic were bigger threats than the Afghanimals. [Laughs] Yes, it was awesome to see the “Race” teams represent the way they did this season, but at that point, we thought, “OK, Nicole and Victor are a stronger team than Leo and Jamal.” And we got what we wanted.
Tyler: At that point, it can be argued … everyone is a “Race” team. If you had gotten that far, you are a “Race” team. I know the angle in the editing was very much that. I think everyone left after the first couple legs, it was like, “OK, you’ve gotten this far, you are a ‘Race’ team.”
Korey: It was kind of nice to put a bow on the end of it. The final three teams finished 1-2-3 in the first episode in Tokyo. The funny thing was … we kind of looked at each other that first day in Japan and said, “Let’s be the final three teams.” And it literally happened, which is wild.
Tyler: And it was an entire season of all those weird, crazy universe moments: Afghanimals getting their redemption to get into the final or Colin and Christie getting their 15-year transformation or Team Fun being able to survive Vietnam. All of these things — everything was really the universe working in some type of way.

GD: You guys were steathily savage. You were one of the strongest teams, but how did you guys avoid getting a single vote at the U-Turn Vote when you had won the last two legs?
Korey: [Laughs] We had been playing a social game. I don’t even want to say “playing the social game” — it wasn’t a game; it’s just who we are. We made genuine connections with every team there. We had genuine friendships with every team there. We didn’t not get along with anybody. By the time we got to the Double U-Turn Vote, you could see that some of the teams weren’t in love with the Reillys anymore, but we still have that great bond with them. I just truly think it was everybody trusted us, everybody loved racing with us. We were just the social team that we are. We were surprised that we did not get a single vote … because we knew how strong we were. It was like, “OK, if they don’t see it, that’s fine.”

SEE Phil Keoghan on ‘Amazing Race’s’ ‘fantastic’ reality showdown and being ‘heartbroken’ by initial Emmy ineligibility [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

GD: So were you surprised the Afghanimals, Team Fun and Reillys didn’t mention your name when they were knocking back beers?
Korey: So one of the only regrets I have was we knew Colin and Christie were a huge to be U-Turned and we never told them that. When we got [to the U-Turn Vote], Tyler and I knew that Colin and Christie were going to get one of the teams for sure. And Colin and Christie did not know that. I remember watching their faces as they got vote after vote, they were kind of surprised themselves. And I thought I wished I had given them the heads-up, but we kind of knew the other teams were targeting them instead of us, and I was like, “That’s fine by us.”

GD: Even after you won four in a row, no one was talking about you guys.
Tyler: We like to keep to ourselves and mind our own business. And sometimes we’d hear all the drama and we’d look at each other like, “Well, glad we’re not part of that!” We’re here to do something else, we’re here to focus on ourselves and do this “Race.”

GD: Have you heard at all from Sebastian?
Tyler: [Laughs] His girlfriend tweeted me and said, “Oh my god, that moment when people are talking about your boyfriend on ‘The Amazing Race’ on TV.” I got her seal of approval, so I’ll take it.

GD: You guys should reconvene at some point now that it’s all over.
Tyler: You never know.
Korey: The funny thing is we both said how much fun that day was. It was truly one of the best days of my life. We talked with the teams that raced that leg. I’m like, “I want to go back and do that leg all over again and yeah, we’ll have to see if Sebastian is still around.”

GD: You improved one spot from last time, so you have to do this a third time to get first, right?
Tyler: And I guess like Colin and Christie, maybe in 15 years, you’ll never know!
Korey: That’s what Tyler said and I was like, “I’ll be knocking on 50 years old in 15 years.” [Laughs] So we’ll see!

GD: Would you do “Big Brother” or “Survivor”?
Tyler: I would love to see Korey on “Survivor.” We used to be roommates for a while, so I’ve already seen the 24/7 live feed of him, so I would love to instead see him get tortured on an island. That would be great.
Korey: I’ve been a fan of all three shows my whole life. I’ve seen every episode, I’ve watched from Season 1 of all the shows, so I’m like, “Yes, CBS, if you need me to be anywhere, do anything, call me, I would love to.”

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