A Q&A With Amazing Race Host Phil Keoghan

INSERT DESCRIPTIONPhoto: Monty BrintonPhil Keoghan

New Zealand native Phil Keoghan is best known as the host of CBS’s reality show The Amazing Race, each episode ending with Phil at some exotic international finish line, solemnly informing each team where it has placed in the day’s contest.

Phil himself has a thirst for travel and adventure: he broke a world record for bungee-jumping, wrote a book encouraging readers to live every day as though it’s their last, and renewed his wedding vows underwater while hand-feeding sharks.

The following interview took place two days before the end of his 40-day, 3,500-mile bicycle trip across the U.S. to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He had already ridden 50 miles that morning and had 50 more to go; but he was kind enough to squeeze in a few questions.

Question

In a word, the final episode of this season’s The Amazing Race is:

Answer

Frantic.

Question

The Amazing Race teams logged 40,000 miles this season — who gets all those frequent-flier miles?

Answer

(Laughs.) Not them. But many of the miles we do are on airlines that you’ve never heard of, and on airlines you never want to fly again, and on airlines that are using old airlines’ planes that have gone out of business.

Question

Do you ever get “player envy,” where you just want to leap off the mat screaming, “Move over, you idiots, and let Daddy show you how it’s done”?

Answer

Absolutely not. I’ve spent my entire career doing ridiculous, crazy, wild things, and at this point in my career I’m very happy to watch ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I get a big kick out of it.

Question

What one characteristic do all successful racers have in common?

Answer

I would say curiosity, and respect.

Question

How do you think the game would change if Race upped the prize from $1 million to $5 million?

Answer

I don’t think it would change it all. I think at the end of the day, people aren’t racing as much for the money as they are for the opportunity, and the opportunity is worth more than $1 million. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that even with the $1 million — or $10 million dollars — you could not buy.

Question

Do you think the H1N1 Swine flu virus will have any impact on next season’s race?

Answer

It could. Do I think it will affect what we want to do? No. We’re very aware of challenges that are faced by travelers, and we always have been; we’ve had to make changes because of political situations and medical situations, and so I think we can take measures to be able to deal with anything.

Question

Let me turn the tables a bit and ask you three questions straight from The Amazing Race contestant application:

What famous person most reminds you of yourself?

Answer

Oh, boy. Well, let’s put it this way: the famous person that I wish I was most like would be Clint Eastwood. He doesn’t remind me of myself; I guess I would just like to emulate him in some way. I have tremendous respect for his abilities as a director, producer, actor, writer … I think he is amazing.

Question

What most scares you about traveling?

Answer

I don’t really get scared by travel. I guess getting sick — becoming incapacitated and not being able to enjoy the experience.

Question

What is your primary motivation for being on The Amazing Race?

Answer

Curiosity. New experiences. Testing my limits. Facing new fears. Getting outside my comfort zone. Meeting new people. Trying new things. To me, it’s all about exploration, and if I had been born a few hundred years ago, I would have really aspired to being some kind of explorer.

Question

In my dream version of Amazing Race, who would win: Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Eleanor Roosevelt, or Dr. Phil?

Answer

(Sings) One of these things is not like the other, one of these things is not the same. I’m gonna say Phil would probably have the ability to manipulate the relationships so that he’d convince them it was a good idea to let him win. He’d tell the Dalai Lama to just chill, and I think the Dalai Lama would just take a backseat and be so Zen … Mother Teresa’s only motivation for winning would be to give the money away, anyway, and she’d probably get sidetracked along the way wanting to look after somebody. I’m going to say Dr. Phil.

Question

Now that you’ve been on the road biking for 39 straight days, what’s worse — the loneliness or the chafing?

Answer

I’m not lonely because I’ve got my dad with me. But chafing, let me tell you … The first time I tried [bikers' anti-chafing butter], I was quite tentative — I sort of dabbled with one finger. But after I realized the benefits of stopping the chafing around the nether regions and everything that we’re all blessed with down under, I now use a four-finger application. I dip right into the bucket, and I shamelessly apply it.

Question

You took a horrible fall from your bike on Day 32 on some railroad tracks in Ohio. On this trip, have you ever thought for as much as one nanosecond, “Enough already with this bike-riding bull crap”?

Answer

Well, not in those terms. But there was a day when I got really sick [from dehydration] and I ended up in the hospital. I got out of [the hospital] about 1:00 in the morning, and I had to get up and ride the next day.

I rode myself better and got stronger and stronger, but one of the things that kept me going was I met a man [with MS] — Michael — and he had got out of bed for the first time in six months to come and see me, and he could barely stand up. That was a huge motivator, because no matter how bad any of us think we have it, there are people who show tremendous, incredible physical and mental strength. I kept thinking about how hard it was for him just to throw his legs out of the bed, just to get out of the bed.

I really wanted to test myself on this ride, and I definitely went to a place mentally and physically that I had never been to before.

Question

So far you’ve raised about $100 per mile for MS during your ride. How do you feel about the ride, quantifying it in those terms?

Answer

There’s no way to put a figure on the media value of what we’ve done. So while we’ve raised a tremendous amount of money — I believe we’ll get to $400,000 by the time we get to New York — I don’t know how you could measure the hundreds of stories and radio interviews and TV interviews and good will and awareness that have come from this.

Question

Where was your best hamburger?

Answer

At Kewpie’s, in Lima, Ohio.

Here are a few quick questions that we ask many famous people we interview:

Question

Paper or plastic?

Answer

Paper.

Question

London or Paris?

Answer

That’s tough; I love ‘em both. I’m gonna say London.

Question

Better Morrissey song title: “Someone Is Squeezing My Skull” or “I Have Forgiven Jesus”?

Answer

(Reluctantly) “Someone Is Squeezing My Skull.”

Question

And my final question: As someone who’s traveled professionally for over 20 years and who’s been to 100 countries, what is your favorite place on earth?

Answer

Anywhere where I’m with people I love.

Leave A Comment

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

 

COMMENTS: 11

View All Comments »
  1. Bobby G says:

    Hey Linda, no offense, just curious, but is there any connection possible with Freakonomics in this post? As a frequent reader/commenter on this blog, but as someone who does not watch CBS except during March Madness, I see little relevance to this article here. It seems like it should go somewhere else. Or I don’t know, maybe my expectations for what should go on this blog aren’t correct.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  2. Chris says:

    Nice. Love the fact that this man’s been all over the world and travelled continuously and has the same mantra about being somewhere with the people he loves just like someone who has travelled very little.

    I like that.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  3. Leland Witter says:

    @Bobby G – If there HAS to be some sort of enforced order in place here (and I don’t think there should be), then the question of $5 million vs. $1 million as motivation will cover off on the “freakonomics requirement”.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  4. Rev Matt says:

    Excellent Q&A, nice to hear something other than the standard questions (and answers!).

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  5. Ben says:

    I’m a big fan of Mr. Keoghan, would love if he’d also be willing to answer some reader questions.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  6. kevin says:

    Love this guy. Read the book already.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  7. sarahmas says:

    Phil is my hero. I’d disagree with his assertion that all successful Amazing Racers are respectful… remember when Flo won?

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  8. Magnus Falk says:

    That was a whole lot of really inane questions! That seems like a really interesting guy and you ask him idiotic swine flu questions?

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0