For the first time ever, Georgia will have not just one – but two – teams in “The Amazing Race” for season 19 starting Sunday at 8 p.m.
The two teams are:
- Amani and Marcus Pollard: husband-wife team with four kids from Pine Mountain. Marcus had a solid 14-year career as a tight end in the NFL, retiring in 2008 after one game with the Atlanta Falcons. He now coaches high school football. Amani owns a boutique.
- Jennifer and Justin Young – A brother-sister team from Stone Mountain. He’s a medical resident. She’s a special education teacher.
I interviewed both couples though as standard with these shows, restricted by what we could talk about related to the show itself.
Marcus, 39, and Amani, 36, hope their strong marriage will guide them to victory and the $1 million. “We may not be the fastest or strongest or smartest,” Amani said in the promo video above. “But ultimately, we want to finish first.”
Their audition tape was done by their oldest son Myles, who is all of nine years old. Their kids (ages 3 to 9) supported them doing the show though it meant they had to disappear for a month. “We promised to come back bearing gifts,” Marcus said. “We had to come back full force!” And the kids had to keep their mouths shut about the show until CBS announced the cast, so the gifts were a good incentive.
Though neither are “Amazing Race” experts, they had seen the show enough and studied tape before they left to understand the challenges they faced. They worked out quite a bit to get ready, too. “I couldn’t have him make me look bad!” Amani said.
Interestingly, even during pit stops, she said, the competing couples didn’t interact all that much. “What you see is what you get in terms of alliances and friendships during filming,” Amani said.
And though both have traveled quite a bit, they hadn’t done much internationally beyond Aruba, Jamaica and the Virgin Islands. “We had very little experience getting on planes in different countries and going through customs,” Marcus said. The entire trip, he added, “was more mentally challenging than I thought it would be.”
“Sitting at home, it’s easy to say you have the answer to everything,” Amani said. “Then we’re put in these situations and it’s like, ‘What in the world?’ ”
Jennifer and Justin are siblings who used to fight a lot growing up but grew to appreciate each other as friends as they got older.
Both were drawn into “The Amazing Race” by an aunt and believed they have the right rapport and intelligence to win the race. “We’ve got great smiles and great attitude,” said Jennifer. “We wanted to have fun and push ourselves to do our best.” She said they came in with a goal to play with integrity. (Will they? They couldn’t say.)
While Justin has been to Mexico and London and Jennifer has been to the Caribbean, neither has exactly filled up their passports until this adventure. “This is truly a Golden Ticket,” said Justin, who will start working in urgent care n Johns Creek in two weeks before pursuing a residency next year in emergency medicine.
Justin, a rock climber who took time off from residency to work at REI, said if they win the big prize, he’ll pay down his medical school debt and give their parents money to travel around the world themselves. Jennifer, who recently moved to Newark, N.J. to teach elementary school kids, would like to go to grad school and get her PhD.
“There’s a distinct reason why this show is so watchable,” Justin noted, “why it’s so enjoyable, why it continues to win Emmys year after year. This is truly a great production full of people who are phenomenal.”
“The Amazing Race,” 8 p.m. Sundays, debuting Sept. 25, 2011