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The Amazing Race (US) – returns with a Big Brother couple

The Amazing Race is now in its 20th season after eleven years on air and will return to Aussie screens just four days after the world premiere on CBS. Channel Seven has scheduled the fast-tracking for Wednesday, February 22 at 9.30pm and hopefully with decent ratings, it won’t be plucked to 7mate.

The new season won’t air in the States until Sunday, but it’s getting a bit of attention for the casting of reality couple, Brendon Villegas (31, PhD student) and Rachel Reilly (27, event hostess) of Big Brother fame. Though they’re quite unknown here in Australia, the American couple first met in the Big Brother house in the show’s 12th season in 2010 and “fell in love in a hammock” as Rachel says. The following year, they both returned as contestants with Rachel winning the grand prize of $500,000. Now, it’s becoming a trend these days with reality shows poaching off former contestants from other reality programs. And to be honest, I’d rather see people who haven’t been on reality TV to have a go at the game, especially when going up against someone who’s already got prize money in their pocket.

When I went through the list of couples for this season of The Amazing Race, I did recognise Brendon’s name. Even though I’ve never watched the American Big Brother, his name and nude images were splashed across the internet late last year when he was embroiled in a webcam scandal. The worst part of it was, he was masturbating on cam for someone other than his fiancé, Rachel, who he was in a relationship with at the time (and still is). If they could overcome that as a couple, they could certainly win a race around the world, right? I do think that since they’ve been on reality TV before, they have the advantage of understanding how a show may operate and can put up with each other better considering they lived together in the Big Brother house with multiple cameras over two seasons.

(I won’t post the Not-Safe-For-Work images of Brendon, but feel free to poke around on Google. You should be able to find something!)

And here are the other 10 couples competing:

Dave Brown Jr., 33, U.S. Army officer and Rachel Brown, 30, project manager; married:
Dave has just returned from duties in Iraq for 4-5 months before going on the show with wife, Rachel. It would be interesting to see this couple reconnect and if they’ll rediscover each other’s flaws and weaknesses in high-risk situations.

• Dave Gregg, 44, clown and Cherie Gregg, 44, clown; married:
Another married couple, Dave and Cherie aren’t kidding when they call themselves the clowns of the group! The professional working-clowns appear too happy, but do seem very genuine at a good dose! Their jobs can sound a bit outrageous, but for them, it’s all about bringing smiles to little kids and hospital folk.

• Vanessa Macias, 31, freelance writer and Ralph Kelley, 36, bar owner; dating divorcees:
Both quite fit and strong individuals, Vanessa and Ralph each have failed marriages under their belts and their relationship seems very relaxed. Maybe things are better the second (or third?) time around? Let’s see how well they do this Wednesday!

Now, moving away from the dating, married and engaged, we have:

• Art Velez, 43, border patrol agent and J.J. Carrell, 42, border patrol agent; friends:
One of many all-male pairs this season, Art and J.j. are border patrol agents. They appear very straight-faced and good blokes, but I might add the word ‘boring’ to the mix too.

• Joey “Fitness” Lasalla, 29, trainer/supplement company owner and Danny Horal, 27, nightclub promoter; friends:
Another all-male pair, you can sorta tell what kind of men these boys are with a nickname like “Fitness”. Joey calls himself a guido, and the two friends are shown bulging out their big muscles in the gym and talking about how much they love working out, tanning themselves orange and hitting the night clubs. I almost feel sorry for them.

• William “Bopper” Minton, 41, motorcycle mechanic and Mark Jackson, 45, former state inspector; best friends:
Boys from the country, Bopper and Mark are gonna give it a real go for the million dollars! It’s always fun to watch the southern country folk and hillbillies do their best to fail. These guys seem like great fellas, though!

• Elliot Weber, 28, musician and Andrew Weber, 28, professional soccer player; twins:
Now you might hear the word twins, but you can tell these identical brothers apart easily with their different hairdos, with Elliot sporting longer locks while Andrew has a shorter close cut. They’re both alright-looking, but hardly anything to drool over. Yet. Unless the shirts come off. We’ll see…

• Nary Ebeid, 32, federal agent and Jamie Graetz, 33, federal agent; friends:
These fed agents are tough ladies! They’re shown walking around holding guns in their police uniforms. It will be interesting to see if they can bring anything they’ve learnt from the force to the game. The men should be intimidated.

• Kerri Paul, 30, program coordinator and Stacy Bowers, 30, self employed / “basketball” wife; cousins:
“Double Trouble” cousins Kerri and Stacy have some real attitude! They’ve even rehearsed a ‘stare down’ and should be very fun to watch, especially if they don’t do too well in the race!

• Misa Tanaka, 27, car buyer and Maiya Tanaka, 25, professional golfer; sisters:
The last team, sisters Misa and Maiya say they’re best at shattering egos… especially those of men! Hmm. There isn’t much else I can say about them. Let’s see if these young attractive women can shatter some hearts too.

So that’s everyone! It’s hard to pick favourites at this stage, so we better tune in next Wednesday, February 22 on Channel Seven at 9.30pm to see the race begin.

Check out the cast photos here:
The Amazing Race 20 Cast on 


1 simon { 02.17.12 at 2:15 am }

I agree with you Anthony, I would rather see new people given a chance to compete on reality show. It’s becoming a norm here in North America that reality show keep recycling players to help boost their ratings.

Sadly Big Brother ratings are always through the roof when they cast past players, people must be liking it. I’m just not one if them

2 Georgie { 02.17.12 at 7:26 am }

Great post thanks Anthony. I’m really looking forward to this, it sounds like an interesting, capable group. Because of the physical demands I prefer to see Amazing Race cast with younger contestants, say <50, so this should be a good mix.