For Jordan Pious, a 23-year-old management consultant based in Atlanta, one of the hardest parts of his 40,000-mile trek around the world on CBS's The Amazing Race was getting out of the gate; he had to convince his older brother, Daniel, to run the race with him. After pleading his case in a heartfelt e-mail, Jordan, a self-described travel fiend (who is gay) and Daniel, who would prefer to stay put (and is straight) applied to participate in the 16th installment of the reality television adventure. Picking up on their charisma, the network selected The Rhode Islandborn brothers to set off with 10 other teams on a race around the world.
In order to cross the finish line and claim the bragging rights (and $1 million cash prize) attached to winning the race, Jordan and Dan were prepared for the dramatic physical and mental toll that the journey would take. Homophobia, however, was a hurdle that came as a surprise. In the most detail theyve provided to date, Jordan and Dan discuss allegations that a member of another band of brothers (the cowboys, who were also fan favorites) made antigay remarks; a storyline that never made prime time.
Out: Lets go ahead and delve into the race. It was just about a year ago that your applications were sent in. Jordan -- lets start with you. This was your pet project. How did this become your dream?Jordan Pious: Well, Id been watching the show since I was 13, so the very first season way back in 2001. And ever since I was watching it I was always like, God, I want to be on this show. I love to travel and the opportunity to race around the world and the chance to win a million dollars. Every season that I watched it I wanted more and more to be on it. So, finally, when I was of age to apply, I was like lets go for it. I always think that theres nothing too big -- no dream too far-reaching. It was just a matter of convincing my brother. I knew that he would be my ticket to making this dream come true.
So, Daniel. What were your thoughts when Jordan first brought the idea to you?Daniel Pious:My first feeling was no.
Jordan: And your second, third, fourth, and fifth.
Why was that?Daniel: [Laughs.] I dont really like traveling. Prior to the race, I had only really gone on one out of the country vacation and that was a Caribbean cruise. Aside from that, I had never even gone to Canada. Its not that I didnt have the opportunity it just wasnt for me and obviously the race has so much traveling involved with it. Its a race around the world. At that time, at least, that wasnt really down my alley. When it comes to the race, its really not like traveling. Dont get me wrong -- its incredible to see a real quick snapshot of some of the things that we were able to see, but when you go and travel on a regular basis you go and you fly -- and then you get to your destination and you relax and sight-see and all that. On the race, you dont really get that as much so we were kind of getting all the bad aspects of traveling and not the good aspects.
Its the antithesis of a Caribbean vacation. What we see in 60 minutes takes hours or days to actually tape.Daniel: The part I loved the most -- it was actually the very first episode --when we had to fly from L.A. to Miami to Chile, which is six hours and nine-and-a-half down to Chile and all they do is: The teams then flew from L.A. to Santiago, Chile... and you just see this little plane on this little map not even three seconds of the show. And I was like, No, no, no, no, no. It took way longer than that." [Laughs.]
What was it then that convinced you to come on board, Dan?Daniel: Jordan sent me a very long e-mail saying that this was his number 1 dream and that it was a great opportunity, but that it would mean everything to him if we went and did the race. I love my little brother and I support him always. And I called him up after reading the e-mail because I think sometimes Jordan can make things a little bigger than they are --
Jordan: Im dramatic. [Laughs.]
Daniel: [Laughs.] Exactly. I said, Jordan, is this really your number one dream in life? He said, Yes. And I said, Seriously. This is all you want to do in life? This is your biggest thing and all you want to do is go on The Amazing Race --
Jordan: Its not all I want to do. Its not like Im dead -- like life is over. But it was my number 1 dream.
Daniel: And hes like, Yes, Daniel. This is my number 1 dream. I really want to do it. And so I was like, "OK. Fine. Ill do the race." You know, as a big brother if you have an opportunity to make your little brothers dream come true then Im going to do my best to make that happen.
Jordan: Ill also add to that. I tried to get him to apply for Season 15. We had camera in hand and we were going to do it. I knew how much of a stretch this was to get my brother to do it and I knew that it was going to take some masterful writing on my part to really explain to him how much this means to me.
When did you actually find out that you were doing the race and, Dan, was that a shock to you?Daniel: You know, this is going to sound really weird, but once I told Jordan that I would do the race, I just kind of assumed that we would get on. Almost like I knew that we were going to get on. I dont know why.
Jordan: And my reaction was the polar opposite. First of all, we found out on Yom Kippur. Or I did. So I had no food in me and I was very hungry from fasting for the day. But it didnt matter because I probably would have been light-headed regardless. It started to sink in and I was like God, how lucky and fortunate are we to have this opportunity. It just wasnt real to me in the beginning.
So, youve prepared, youre on the race. Did you each have a favorite leg?Jordan: For me, my favorite leg was the Seychelles because it was my favorite location. To me thats what the race is all about. Its why I always wanted to go on the race -- to be able to go to places around this world that I had never even heard of. I mean, I didnt even know how to say the Seychelles. When I opened the clue I called it the say-chillies. And, here we are -- off the coast of Africa in the most tropical paradise beautiful location Ive ever been to in my life.
What was your favorite leg, Dan?Daniel: I would have to say my favorite leg, to participate in, Id probably say at this point looking back, I would have to say Germany --
Daniel: Hamburg, Germany was just super cool. Im a big soccer fan so to be able to do the little soccer challenge. To be able to do the beer drinking challenge was just cool. And to do the little bungee jump --
Jordan:Little?! To me that was the scariest thing ever. Daniel thinks its little. Thats why hes my partner right there.
On to the least favorite episode. Jordan, was it Singapore?Jordan:Well, no. Shanghai will forever be the worst experience ever. Singapore was the scariest because of the Singapore Flyer challenge [in which Jordan had to climb between two capsules on top of the 500-foot high observation wheel] -- definitely the most terrifying for me. Having said that, the most difficult leg in general was definitely Shanghai.
Daniel: For me, the very first leg in Chile. I was super, super sick. I cant possibly describe to you how sick I was. Looking back on it, I might not have made it. I was real close to not making it. It turned out that I had strep throat, which we knew about before we left L.A., but we couldnt say anything because we didnt want to be replaced. That and China was just a frustrating experience. I can safely say, at this point in time -- and I try to never say never -- but Im going to say that I will never return to China.
Jordan: And I will say that I agree -- except I wont say to China. I will say to Shanghai because I hear that there are other beautiful cities in China. Shanghai is incredibly polluted. The people there did not want to help us at all. And it was just a mess, in general. I will not return to Shanghai.
Moving on a little bit to the relationship between you guys. Youre best friends -- what has the experience on The Amazing Race done for your relationship?Daniel: Going into it, [Jordan] was my best friend. Now, hes probably my fifth best friend. Im totally joking [laughs.] The one thing I would say is that obviously Ive known Jordan all his life and thats a long 23 years.
Daniel: Our relationship is -- unbreakable. Were going to be the same. Were brothers in every sense of the word. I love him more than anything Ill always have his back and Ill always protect him and --
Jordan: And vice versa.
Daniel: Absolutely. And while the race certainly added some extra elements to our relationship, it really didnt change much between him and me. Its all the same as far as Im concerned.
Jordan: For me growing up together and knowing all of the buttons to push or all of the buttons not to push -- for 23 years thats whats been happening. And so we have such a close bond and we understand each other so well so that kind of leads into the creation of a best friendship because we know each other and trust each other more than anybody else in this world.
Speaking of the issue of trust, is Dan the first person that you came out to, Jordan?Jordan: Yes. Well, OK. Daniel was the first person in my immediate family that I came out to. Ive been gay my whole life so, who knows who I told and when. What I do know is that, when I was ready to come out, he was the first person I told. As I started to grow into my own person, he certainly appreciated and supported that fully so that I knew when it came time to tell him that, he was going to be nothing but supportive for me. And then thats exactly what happened.
Daniel: And, in all honesty, its not like I didnt know before that. This wasnt exactly breaking news. I might not be the first person he came out to overall, but Id like to think that there was a good chance that I was the first person that knew that he was gay.
On the issue of sexuality, do you think that it was unfortunate that, for Carol and Brandy [a lesbian couple that ran the race] there was an association between a negative attitude and being lesbians?Jordan: Yeah. People are cast, teams are cast for a certain reason. Theres a dynamic there and what happens is theyll use certain clips to support that image. And for whatever reason Carol and Brandy had enough to support them being kind of the bitchy lesbians, so to speak. Daniel and I know them as very different people. They are incredibly funny, fun to be around, genuinely nice, good people, who in the heat of the moment maybe when they were stressed, said a couple of things that hurt them in the race but they are definitely not all that America saw in the show. I just wish that America had seen more of the playful, fun, and intelligent, really, really smart racers that Carol and Brandy were.
Daniel: I just wanted to second that. We love Carol and Brandy. Maybe being from the area that we were from we were a bit more tolerant of that. Not the fact that they were gay, but just that type of personality. Maybe Carol and Brandy much like Jordan and I are maybe a little more kind of rigid in our personalities and I think maybe we saw through that and who they really were, whereas some people can kind of be thrown off by what I really view as Carol and Brandys brutal honesty, which is something that I respect in someone.
Its interesting because you guys obviously got to spend a lot more time with them to get a better perception of racers than viewers who werent actually on the show --Jordan: And I will also say that there are people who will judge a book by its cover who will see Brandy and Carol and people like myself and say, "Theyre gay, I dont like them." Just because of their upbringing or where Im from and there are people who just cannot get past that clearly there are people who wont be able to get past that and who will pass judgment and will automatically put them in a negative light.
Daniel: I think you just touched on something in your question. You know, we spent a lot of time with them. And I think the rest of the country kind of judges people by what they see on the race and what they see that actually aired, but we get an opportunity to actually have relationships. While we have only known these people for 23 days at the most, for the teams that went all the way, we spent so many long hours on layovers and in airports, so we really got to know a lot of teams. And there are certain individuals who didnt talk to the other teams and didnt have relationships. Carol and Brandy did and we absolutely hung out with them a lot. I speak for both Jordan and I when I say we were really good friends. But then you see people like Jet [one half of the cowboys team who ran the race with his brother Cord, both from Oklahoma, and who were fan favorites] who I think everyone liked because he was very polite, for the most part, on the show. He didnt really have any friends on the show and he would just sit on the side by himself and be antisocial.
Jordan: And he had no desire to create those relationships because of passing judgment. Its a different personality type and a different upbringing and all of that. Like Daniel is saying, they obviously dont show everything and there are things that people think and feel and even thats not always expressed fully.
Daniel: I think its very interesting how it can be very contradictory between what people see on the show versus what were able to see actually knowing these people on a deeper level.
Sure -- youve been around them for a lot of time consecutively and, at the same time, in extremely stressful situations, which tend to show peoples true colors. So, do you think Jets interaction is an antisocial thing or is it more than that?Jordan: I think he has very, very set-in views on homosexuality and he certainly expressed that to me in derogatory ways. And he just isnt -- he was very focused on the race and he wasnt looking to make friends or have conversation.
Daniel: I think Jet, in particular, had a problem with only three individuals on the race. It wasnt a team thing. He didnt like Carol. He didnt like Brandy. And he didnt like Jordan. He had no problem with me, but I think that you need to look no farther than the three individuals that he didnt like just so happened to be the three homosexual individuals. Theres absolutely no doubt -- Ill make it crystal clear -- that there is no coincidence in that.
Lets get specific. What derogatory things or comments?Jordan: I mean, straight up, he called me a "fag."
Obviously that never made the airJordan: No. And, to be honest, for good reason. Its a family show. I certainly wouldnt want the integrity of the show to ever -- there are families watching it and I completely understand that. But there are people that have certain opinions and there are ways to express them politely and there are ways to express them in a derogatory and very hurtful way.
Daniel: I think its important to note that CBS never made the situation uncomfortable. I think Jordan and I always felt safe and there was nothing that CBS ever did to encourage [that].
Right -- and you wouldnt think that. One of the things you certainly might hope is that the show is a platform to bring people with different viewpoints together and that its a platform for people who have a negative impression of gays and lesbians to begin with to change after interacting with gay people.Jordan: I hear exactly what youre saying. I think what CBS did, which is good, is that they eliminated all of that so at least its not like were going to show somebody being derogatory and then say its OK. Its kind of were not condoning this in any way shape or form. They certainly were not happy when they heard about that. Its kind of like, moving forward make sure that people are aware that those things are incredibly hurtful and that there are different ways to express opinions. But I think that CBS did a good job of keeping things tasteful.
Did this come up frequently or Jordan: There were like a few comments here and there other than what that [comment] was. And it was the very, very first leg of the race. It was the way he looked at me, Brandy and Carol. You know, he never had any type of conversation with any of the three of us.
Do you think it should have played out a little bit more, that it deserved airtime?Daniel: I have to say, if I were editing the show, I think it would have been difficult to portray it any more. A lot of the stuff -- listen -- they dont have hidden cameras on us I dont think its really as much as what happened directly on the show as it has to do with people and who they really are.
Jordan: Right. And I think thats the thing. I think for Daniel and me, its not a matter of not seeing and hearing the things that happen from Jet or whatever. It was seeing that he was depicted as this larger-than-life heroic figure who any boy growing up should aspire to be Theres more to it. And theres certainly more to it with every team -- including Daniel and me. I think, in general, people need to just realize that there are hundreds and hundreds of hours of footage that are put into every 43-minute episode. And there is no way to know everything about a person and about a team in that short of a time.
The good news is that, despite all of this, you won.Jordan: The big picture is that my brother and I went on an incredible journey, we were able to chase after my biggest dream together, as a unit, as two brothers and best friends and anything extraordinary in life I would always love to share with my brother and this certainly was at the top of the list. We walked away winners and the million dollars certainly didnt hurt.
On another reality television show, Cyndi Lauper recently said that you should never meet your idol because he or she will end up disappointing you. Does that sort of mantra hold true for dreams, Jordan, now that youve achieved yours?Jordan: Oh, Cyndi. I have a different outlook on that. For me, this is my biggest dream come true. And I could not be more passionate about this show, this program, traveling, all of the things associated with it. I could be more passionate about it now. Now I have even more of the travel bug. Achieving my dreams has made me even hungrier for bigger and better things.
After a whirlwind trip around the globe, Daniel is focused on a decidedly shorter journey in his near future: A move from his home in Rhode Island to Boston. Hes looking for a career in the sports world that puts his business degree and his background as a financial adviser to good use. Jordan is based in Atlanta, where, this fall, hell be working as a management consultant for luxury retail companies.Send a letter to the editor about this article.