‘The Amazing Race’s’ Michael and Moe on being eliminated first again: ‘Either way, we made history’

Singing cops Michael Norwood and Moe Badger was the first team eliminated on “The Amazing Race 33,” way back when it filmed in February 2020, pre-COVID-19, but they got a second chance at the $1 million when producers invited them and the second eliminated team, Arun and Natalia, back after four teams were unable to return for the restart in September 2021. Their fate did not improve, though, as they were eliminated first again on Wednesday’s episode after getting lost and falling behind at the belt Detour. How do they feel about holding this dubious honor? And what went wrong at the Detour? Find out below.

Gold Derby: You guys are a historic “Amazing Race” team: the first team to be eliminated twice in the same season. How does that feel?
Moe: It felt like we got a second chance at a one-chance-in-a-lifetime thing, so it was an honor to be there. We tried our hardest, but at the end of the day, we really felt honored. And we said that in the exit interview. Either way, we made history being the first team to be eliminated twice, but also for our city. We don’t get opportunities like this out of Buffalo, New York, too often so for us to represent like this and shine a positive light on what community policing and good policing is was worth it for sure.

Michael: Yeah, like Moe said, it definitely was an honor just to be part of the show. … Buffalo is a small city. We don’t really have these types of opportunities, so for us to get a chance of a lifetime, not only to win a million dollars but just to embark on this journey and make new friends that turned into family — the cast is family now, we talk to them every single day in the group chat — we had a blast.

Gold Derby: Do you think you jinxed yourselves on the bus when you said you’re not gonna be eliminated first twice?
There’s a lot of variables that go into winning “The Amazing Race,” just asking permission to get directions and stuff like that. Some of our directions just didn’t add up. Some things are just out of your control. We couldn’t understand what the person was trying to tell us, so it didn’t fall our way. I don’t think having a positive attitude going into our second chance jinxed us at all. Things just didn’t fall into place for us.

Gold Derby: Where were you when you got the call to return? I imagine during the shutdown it probably didn’t even cross your mind that whenever they picked up again that you’d be asked to come back.
Michael: No, we were drastically shocked that we got that call. We knew eventually we would have to come back for the finale because they bring all the teams back. But to get that call … it was just like, “Are you serious?” Me and Moe had wished and prayed to get that opportunity again, so for it to present itself, I was like, “I can’t believe this is about to happen. Hopefully we go on and we do things differently.” We were just honored to go back on and make history doing that.

Moe: We got the word from the producer and we were, like, stuck in shock. To get that second chance, we’ll be forever grateful. We got to see some of the most beautiful things that we will ever see in life. Being on top of the Swiss Alps and doing something I had promised myself I would never do: climb through mountains — I said I would never do that. [Laughs] Hearing Mike’s voice cheering me on and hearing other teams cheering me on, that’s something I’ll never forget.

SEE Everything to know about ‘The Amazing Race 33’

Gold Derby: When you got the call, was there any time for you to prepare to go back on?
Michael: The first show … they had told me, “We need you to lose weight. We need you to get down to a certain weight,” because at that time I was like 270-something pounds. They told me, “You will be over the weight limit for some of the possible tasks.” I lost almost like 50 pounds for the first show. And then going back into the second show last year, I was already in shape because I was competing in bodybuilding, so this go-around was like, “Half the battle’s done right there.” Our thought process was we kinda know how the game is, so let’s take our time, make sure we read clues more carefully and don’t rush. I think that was the biggest difference.

Moe: Like Mike said, we just wanted to make sure we did our due diligence to read clues. When we got the call, Mike was already working out, but I did want to get in better shape because I saw my gut hanging over in some of the pictures. [Laughs] We were both in better shape the second time around. I don’t think we were ever worried physical-wise. It was about mentally prepping ourselves, but we were very confident in what we could do physically.

Gold Derby: Do you know how far behind Arun and Natalia you were?
Michael: No, we actually didn’t know. Once we got done [with the belt], we knew we had to drive, and driving in Switzerland, like Moe said, you were asking people for directions. We were lost. At one point, I thought we were gonna go over a mountain. I was like, “Wait a minute, man, I don’t think we should go further. This right here looks like we’re gonna go down and we’re not coming back up.” [Laughs] At that time, I think we were driving around for hours. By then, the thought process was, “Are they there?” This is the thing about “The Amazing Race”: You just never know. I think a prime example is Akbar and Sheri. They had to be almost hour and change behind, and yet they managed to beat us.

Moe: Beat both of us. Arun and Natalia too.

Michael: At one point we were in first place. We started driving [to the Detour] and we said, “How come all the other teams aren’t following us?” We realized we went too far, so when we went back, I’m like, “Where’s everybody else at?” It was like they just disappeared into thin air. So we had to figure out where we were going, and to finally see Arun and Natalia … by that time, we felt like we were driving around for too long and we didn’t see any other teams, so we thought we should stay with them and at least we know another team is right here with us.

SEE ‘The Amazing Race 33’ episode 4 recap

Gold Derby: You knew you were doing the belt task differently than they were. Why did you take that risk instead of doing it their way and if you’re both wrong, you’d both have to start over anyway?
Moe: We couldn’t really look at their belt, to be honest with you. Maybe it looked like we could see them, but we really couldn’t see what they were doing and you had to do it yourself. … When you’re doing it, you’re always unsure. And when you ask, “Is this the right answer?” and [the judge] just shakes his head, you don’t know whether it’s the story or the way you clipped the nails to make sure they were flush or the specific space it had to be apart. There’s all these variables, so it wasn’t just the eight ornaments you had to put on, but you had to flip the belt this way. So it wasn’t just one little aspect.

Gold Derby: How long did you spend at the belt?
Michael: Oh my gosh. Hours. It was definitely hours.

Moe: Maybe it was only like an hour and half and it felt like hours.

Michael: No, I’ll tell you how I know it was hours. It was daylight and then it started getting dark. I said, “Uh-oh, we’re in trouble now.” [Laughs] At one point in time, we were so frustrated and it started raining. I was like, “Forget the rain. We’re not going inside.” Moe’s finger had stiffened up and I was like, “Use a different finger, man. There are other fingers. Just do something with these two right here.”

Moe: [Laughs] For real, I’m trying to pull my finger and it kept [retracting]. I had a frozen claw. They said to drink water, but when you’re racing, I’m not thinking about drinking or eating, but those things come back to bite you. Literally in both episodes I cramped up. But I was like, “I don’t have time to stop and drink. I have to get this task done.” That’s what gave me Mr. Claw.

Gold Derby: You guys said you’re very close with the entire cast. This is such a unique season for all of you. After you were eliminated again, who were you rooting for?
Michael: To be perfectly honest with you, we really built relationships and bonds with everybody. It really came down to whoever wins, we’re gonna be happy for them. Everybody was amazing. And this was actually cut out, but every one of the cast members I was able to share this with, they actually helped me on the show. I was dealing with a family tragedy while I was on the show. Right before we left, the week of, my grandmother goes into the hospital. She’s on her deathbed. This is somebody who raised me. … I got to say goodbye, but my mom had to force me to come on the show. I was gonna be gone while her funeral’s going on and there’s not enough money in the world where I’m gonna miss my grandmother’s funeral, and my mom’s like, ‘You need to go. She’d be very upset if you didn’t take this opportunity. She’ll be there with you spiritually.’ Dealing with the stress from the show and the stress from that, I was able to block it out as much as I could [but] there were a couple times I just broke down. … But my point is, talking with a lot of the cast members, they really helped me to get through this particular time and for me that was the bigger picture. I honestly didn’t know how I was gonna be able to race with this in the back of my mind. I cherish every last one of them and I will never forget it.

Moe: Yeah, when it comes to rooting for a team, I can tell you specific things about each team that makes them unique and special and deserving. When someone says, “I have no horse in this race,” I really don’t. Anybody that wins this race is deserving and we were gonna be rooting for them at the finish line regardless of who it is.

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