Powered by i.TV
July 28, 2014

Phil Keoghan Interview for 'The Amazing Race 14'

by Patricia Chui, posted Apr 30th 2009 6:00AM

Phil Keoghan"Every opportunity I have to strip down, I'll be stripping down."


As the longtime host of CBS' competitive reality show 'The Amazing Race,' Phil Keoghan has witnessed plenty of tough challenges -- from mass-eating competitions to language-barrier breakdowns to broken oxen -- but none so tough as the challenge he's recently undertaken himself.

On March 28, starting out from L.A., Keoghan began biking across America in support of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (and to promote GNC's One Square Meal bars); he'll finish his journey in New York on May 7, three days before the finale of the 14th season of 'The Amazing Race.' Along the way he's encountered gusting winds, killer fatigue and the kindness of strangers (or, at least, pie-bearing fans).

Even though he landed in the hospital and had to get an IV shortly after we reached him in Crete, Neb., the native New Zealander gamely chatted about his bike ride, why he'd never go on 'Amazing Race' ... and just how much he enjoys stripping down to his underwear. -- By Patricia Chui



Phil KeoghanAs the longtime host of CBS' competitive reality show 'The Amazing Race,' Phil Keoghan has witnessed plenty of tough challenges -- from mass-eating competitions to language-barrier breakdowns to broken oxen -- but none so tough as the challenge he's recently undertaken himself.

On March 28, starting out from L.A., Keoghan began biking across America in support of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (and to promote GNC's One Square Meal bars); he'll finish his journey in New York on May 7, three days before the finale of the 14th season of 'The Amazing Race.' Along the way he's encountered gusting winds, killer fatigue and the kindness of strangers (or, at least, pie-bearing fans).

Even though he landed in the hospital and had to get an IV shortly after we reached him in Crete, Neb., the native New Zealander gamely chatted about his bike ride, why he'd never go on 'Amazing Race' ... and just how much he enjoys stripping down to his underwear. -- By Patricia Chui

Phil Keoghan Rides Across America

    Phil Keoghan attends his Phil Keoghan's Ride Across America Tour as it leaves from GNC Piper's Alley on April 25, 2009 in Chicago. Phil Keoghan's Ride Across America Tour Leaves Chicago GNC, Piper's Alley Chicago, IL United States April 25, 2009 Photo by Paul Warner/WireImage.com To license this image (57280749), contact WireImage.com

    Paul Warner/WireImage.com

    Phil Keoghan attends his Phil Keoghan's Ride Across America Tour as it leaves from GNC Piper's Alley on April 25, 2009 in Chicago. Phil Keoghan's Ride Across America Tour Leaves Chicago GNC, Piper's Alley Chicago, IL United States April 25, 2009 Photo by Paul Warner/WireImage.com To license this image (57280746), contact WireImage.com

    Paul Warner/WireImage.com

    Phil Keoghan attends his Phil Keoghan's Ride Across America Tour as it leaves from GNC Piper's Alley on April 25, 2009 in Chicago. Phil Keoghan's Ride Across America Tour Leaves Chicago GNC, Piper's Alley Chicago, IL United States April 25, 2009 Photo by Paul Warner/WireImage.com To license this image (57280742), contact WireImage.com

    Paul Warner/WireImage.com

    Phil Keoghan attends his Phil Keoghan's Ride Across America Tour as it leaves from GNC Piper's Alley on April 25, 2009 in Chicago. Phil Keoghan's Ride Across America Tour Leaves Chicago GNC, Piper's Alley Chicago, IL United States April 25, 2009 Photo by Paul Warner/WireImage.com To license this image (57280740), contact WireImage.com

    Paul Warner/WireImage.com

    CHICAGO - APRIL 25: Phil Keoghan has some cranberry muffins from Bonnie Hunt's mother from the Bonnie Hunt Show, who came to greet Phil in the Ride Across America Tour as it departs April 25, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Phil Keoghan

    Getty Images

    CHICAGO - APRIL 25: Phil Keoghan gets his bike ready to take part in the Ride Across America Tour as it departs April 25, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Phil Keoghan

    Getty Images

    CHICAGO - APRIL 25: Phil Keoghan (L) takes a photo with Mark Reardon of KMOX radio Station in St.Loius as part of Ride Across America Tour April 25, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Phil Keoghan

    Getty Images

    CHICAGO - APRIL 25: Phil Keoghan gets his bike ready to take part in the Ride Across America Tour as it departs April 25, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Phil Keoghan

    Getty Images

    CHICAGO - APRIL 25: Phil Keoghan takes part in the Ride Across America Tour as it departs April 25, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Phil Keoghan

    Getty Images

    CHICAGO - APRIL 25: Phil Keoghan rides along with Team MS Chicago as part of Ride Across America Tour April 25, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Phil Keoghan

    Getty Images


How many miles did you do today?
I think I'm up to around 1,700 miles total, and my rides today, I think we're up to fiftysomething. I messed up the hydration yesterday, and I really paid for it last night. It's one of the big problems that you have when you're riding in the wind, because this wind here in Nebraska is unbelievable. I'm actually suffering today. Yesterday was gusting to 45 miles an hour ... It wears you out because you're constantly having to adjust the bike.

I just hit a wall yesterday. I was really struggling to keep going ... the wind was blowing so strong, I couldn't reach down to get my bottle, and I forgot to drink. I have hit the halfway point, so today I'm just sort of like, "Oh, boy. That's a long way!"


And you're on a schedule, right? So you can't take a bit longer one day?
No. If I had had my way this morning, I would never have got on the bike. You know that feeling you get when you're all achy and you just want to curl up and go to sleep? Yeah, that feeling. I had to dig really deep. I was just aching all over. I'm probably going to call in to get a shot in the gluteus maximus like I do on 'The Amazing Race' -- I get a shot of vitamin B in the butt. Before I go on 'The Amazing Race,' I normally get a shot, and I think I'm at that point where I need one right now. A little booster.

What's something cool or strange or interesting that you've seen over the course of the ride?
We were hanging out in a motel in Wray [Colo.], and [there was a knock at] the door ... and these girls walk in, and I said, "How come you're not watching 'The Amazing Race'"? And she said, "Because we thought we'd bring you a pie." It was just so cute, and that was just one of those magical moments. You don't get that kind of connection with people when you go to big cities, or when you're driving -- you don't get the same kind of connection as when you're on a bicycle. And people have gotten really wrapped up in the spirit of what this ride is all about.

What keeps you going when things get really rough?
One of the things that really keeps me going is the e-mails that I'm getting from people who have MS. I got an e-mail from a woman who's just finished her 25th operation related to MS -- 25th! -- and she writes to me and says, "I just want to thank you. It's great that you stepped up to do something really challenging like this." And that's what keeps me going, because no matter how bad you think you have it, no matter how bad anybody thinks they have it, there's always somebody who has it worse than you. So it's very good perspective for me. And I think as you get older you tend to think more about the impact that you can have on others, rather than just the things you can do for yourself.

Mike White in The Amazing RaceDoes 'The Amazing Race' seem trivial compared to what you're doing now?
Well, again it's all relative. On 'The Amazing Race,' when you take a person who has maybe never left their state, never had a passport, never pushed themselves outside their comfort zone -- that mental leap that they're taking, it may seem like it's trivial in comparison to other challenges that people are going through. But the reality is that they're being pushed to the max. They're doing things that they never imagined themselves doing, and that's a huge reason why I love working on this show, because I feel like we give people the opportunity to step right outside their comfort zone and push themselves into a place that they would never normally go.

What do you look for when people audition? Are you looking for those who've never been out of their comfort zone, or those who might be able to handle it well?
I wouldn't say we're casting people because we think they can handle challenges well. I mean, otherwise you would end up with a show ... A few years ago, there was an adventure show where they were all elite athletes running around doing extraordinary things, and the problem with that is it's not really relatable to Uncle Buck and, you know, Mary, who lives in Kentucky, David and Mary. Because they're not elite athletes. They have beer bellies, and their knees are a bit shot and they don't exactly epitomize fitness. To me, it's much more interesting to take an ordinary person and put them in an extraordinary situation, because we all sit there and go, "Oh, man! That's what I would be like!" or "That's what it would be like if my dad was on the show, or my mom were." What we're looking for first and foremost is not so much their physical, mental abilities -- it's really, will they be inherently interesting to watch? That may come with physical and mental abilities, but it may not, too.

The Amazing RaceThen why do you cast so many blonde cheerleaders?
Yeah, well, I'm not ultimately in charge of the casting. But there are definitely casting choices that are made to appeal to certain people. I guarantee if I walked over to these guys over here at this bar that I'm in and I said, "Hey, what do you think about some hot-looking cheerleaders racing around the world?" they'd be like, "Yeah! Right on!" At the end of the day, they're not being cast because they're blonde cheerleaders -- they have to still have an interesting story, hopefully. And if you dislike them, then in a way that's good, too, because you can't have everybody you love as well on the show, because otherwise there's no flavor there. We've got to have the adversaries, and the heroes and the funny ones ... it's absolutely imperative.

The Amazing Race 14

    THE AMAZING RACE 14 -- 11 teams, each team comprised of two members, compete in a race around the world to win $1 million dollars. Standing from left to right: Amanda and Kris, Mel and Mike, Lakisha and Jen, Preston and Jennifer, Margie and Luke, Brad and Victoria; Sitting from left to right: Cara and Jaime, Mark and Mike, Christie and Jodi, Steve and Linda, Tammy and Victor.

    Robert Voets/CBS

    "Having a Baby's Gotta Be Easier Than This" -- In Detour "Swim," sisters Kisha (left) and Jen must put on a full-body Speedo and swim a relay of 400m in order to receive their next clue.

    CBS

    "Having a Baby's Gotta Be Easier Than This" -- In this Detour, brother/sister team Victor and Tammy must synchronize jump from a 3-meter springboard in order to receive their next clue.

    CBS

    "Having a Baby's Gotta Be Easier Than This" -- In this Road Block, Cara (left) and Kisha must receive a traditional hard/ticklish Chinese reflexology foot massage and drink a pungent Chinese tea in order to receive the next clue.

    CBS

    "Having a Baby's Gotta Be Easier Than This" -- In this Road Block, Kisha must receive a traditional hard/ticklish Chinese reflexology foot massage and drink a pungent Chinese tea in order to receive the next clue.

    CBS

    "Our Parents Will Cry Themselves to Death" -- Tensions rise between sister team Kisha (left) and Jen and mother/son team Luke and Margie.

    CBS

    "Our Parents Will Cry Themselves to Death" -- Brothers Michael (left) and Mark perform the Detour "Choreography" in which they must learn a dance before joining a larger group of dancers, in order to receive their next clue.

    CBS

    "Alright Guys, We're At War!" -- In this Detour, flight attendants Jodie (left) and Christie must learn to perform a classic Rajathani Horse Dance in full costume and earn 100 Rupees in order to receive their next clue.

    CBS

    "Alright Guys, We're At War!" -- In this Road Block, Mel must feed and water camels while in Jaipur, India in order to get the next clue.

    CBS

    "She's A Little Scared of Stick, But I Think She'll Be OK!" -- Host Phil Keoghan waits at the Novosibirsk Ballet and Opera Theater, which is the Pit Stop for this leg of the race.

    CBS



If you went on 'The Amazing Race,' do you think you would win?
I would never make the assumption that I could win 'The Amazing Race.' Ever. There's too many variables -- there's too much luck involved, there's too much stuff influencing you in normal life, plane schedules and bad taxi rides and all the rest of it. I would never do it. I have no interest in doing it, ever -- absolutely no interest. I don't want to be under a microscope like that. Like, on this [bike ride], we're doing blogs every day, and the blogs are quite revealing. Last night I couldn't move out of my bed, and I was just completely fried and my face was covered in dirt, and I was quite honest about how I was feeling. I can do that. But I don't want to be yelling at, and get upset with somebody, and put myself in that situation. I have to admire these people for being prepared to put themselves out there in front of a camera like that. I really do.

The Amazing Race 149. What do you think most contestants do wrong on the race?
Just commonsense things. How could you lose your passport and your wallet? I mean, how could you? That's your ticket to being on the 'Race,' and you never, ever -- golden rule of travel -- ever, ever leave the things that are absolutely essential. Even when you go to the shower, you take them in with you and you hang them where you hang the towels, so that as soon as you're out of the shower, bam, you put them right back on your body again, and you lock the door so nobody can slip their hand in and take your documents.


How do you take care of your own valuables during the race?
I strap [my passport] to my body. On 'Amazing Race,' it never leaves me. I get really nervous. And sometimes, people have said, "Oh, we'll shuttle your stuff to the airport," like, if we're rushing to get a flight, I'll always let them take my suitcase, but I'll never let them take my essentials and valuables in my backpack, ever. Ever. It never leaves me. Never. I have a lock for my backpack, and if I go to a restaurant, then I have a carabiner that gets attached to the chair. If I'm anywhere, in a lounge or whatever, I attach it to my body in some way. I never leave it. It's never out of my sight where I can't feel that it's there.

What is your secret for dealing with jet lag?
I'm constantly living with jet lag ... I think a lot of jet lag is psychological. You know, if somebody works hard, they're going to feel tired, right? Well, if you travel a lot and you change time zones, you're going to feel tired, too. So I just put it down to part of travel and just deal with it. Yeah, I'm tired all the time, but there's no point in talking about it [laughs]. It is what it is, right? I hear people talking about "Oh, I just flew to New York. I'm so jet lagged." I'm thinking, "Come on. Give me a break." But it's all relative, right? I [flew] to last year 12 times. And as a result, I have to deal with jet lag. But just roll with it. Just do your best to roll with it. I do think some people are better at dealing with it than others.

The Amazing Race 14At the mat, when dramatic things happen, what is that like for you? You stepped in when Margie fainted -- at what point do you cross that line?
People wrote to me like, "I can't believe you left her standing there, waiting until she fainted!" And people don't understand that when they come to the mat, if they look thirsty, we hand them water and then we carry on talking. We don't put the whole interview as live. If they stand there drinking water, we're not going to put that on. So people are like, "I can't believe you left her standing there!" It's amazing to me that people think that we would do that. But yeah. I definitely have to stand in sometimes. Like with Margie, I had to help her and cool her down. Arthur and Anita from last season, he fainted as well. He literally collapsed in front of me, and we didn't show it in that particular instance.


Phil KeoghanYou caused a sensation this season when you were shown in your underwear. Did you have to be talked into doing that, and will you be doing it again?
Well, that was actually my idea. So I didn't need to be talked into it. I thought it was funny [laughs]. I think I was the whore of the day or something on some website. I was like, "Oh, OK!" Every opportunity I have to strip down, I'll be stripping down.


Are there any places that you'd love to go that the 'Race' hasn't gone yet?
I'd love to go to Nepal. In all my years of travel, I've never gone there. I've had four trips canceled. Czech Republic would be kind of cool [too].

Have people asked you to "Philiminate" them during your bike ride?
Yes. People ask me to Philiminate them everywhere. Nobody ever says to me, "Tell me that [I've] won the million dollars." Nobody wants that. They want, "Can you eliminate me please?" The first time it happened to me was in New York City, and the guy said, "Please eliminate me." And I did it, and I didn't take it seriously enough, and he said, "No, no, no, no, no." He was directing me and everything. He was like, "You gotta do the eyebrow, and when I run up, you need to make a dramatic pause." And he was deadly serious! He had a little video camera and he got me to do it.


More on 'The Amazing Race':
Show info | Buy DVDs | Rent 'DVDS | Watch full episodes



Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

Follow Us

From Our Partners