May 16, 2009 11:00 AM by Britteny Elrick
Although mother and son team Margie and Luke may have not won, they made Amazing Race history. Being the first deaf person to compete in the race, Lukemanaged to prove that his disabilityis no barrier to what he can do in life. Keep reading for the entire interview…
Margie and Luke recently spoke with Reality TV World about making it to the finals…
Reality TV World: Congratulations…
Margie: Thank you.
Reality TV World: Luke, given that you’re such a big fan of the Race and the show had used these types of memory tasks at the end before, you were actually anticipating that type of task, right? Based on the show, it seemed like you had planned on that being the final task.
Luke: Absolutely, I knew there’d be a memory challenge at the end of the leg.
Reality TV World: What happened at the end there, were you just pretty much swapping surfboards out at random when you were struggling?
Luke: The first ten I knew were right, but that last one, it was just so confusing. All the surfboards showed these full pictures except for the last one, and that had to do with the food challenge. And so I knew they had like starfish and scorpions and larvae and grasshoppers — I knew that was the food that was part of the food challenge.
But on the surfboard itself it only showed a scorpion and that was it. So I put that down — I looked at it and I thought it looked like swords, it didn’t even look like anything to do with the food challenge. So that’s why I kind of tossed it aside.
And then I had one with (unintelligible) pictures on the surfboard so I tried that one and the woman would say ‘No, that’s not right’ and I’d switch to a different one and she said ‘No, that’s not right’ so I went through a variety of these bug pictures and so I had no idea that [scorpion one] was the last one.
Reality TV World: So it wasn’t until Jamie pointed it out that you finally decided to give it a shot?
Luke: That’s it exactly.
Reality TV World: Margie, what were your own thoughts as you kind of stood there helpless?
Margie: It was so exciting when we got there. I knew Luke had kept a journal and he documented what tasks we had [done] in what cities in what leg of the Race and had everything documented really well. And he re-read it, you know, flying to Hawaii he was looking at it and studying it, and I knew he was really well prepared for that task.
And when we got there I was so excited because he was just flying through it — you know 1-2-3-4-5 — and then he got to 10 and he had a little trouble with 10 and had it out of order but then he got that right.
But that eleventh surfboard, he just could not get it and to stand on the side and not be able to help him — not that I would have probably known myself, but — to just have stand there and [only] be able to say words of encouragement…
Luke: …oh but mom, I’m sure you would have recognized that last one with the scorpions.
Margie: (laughs) Yeah, since I ate them, I may have recognized them. But you know, Luke did such an awesome job. I… he did a million times better than I could have done with that challenge so I’m so proud of him.
Reality TV World: Luke, one of the things that kind of seemed to come across on both the surfboard and the ‘Chekhov’ task, back in Siberia I think it was, was that you almost seemed to lose your focus a little bit once things went off and didn’t work on the first try. Was that the case, was that something you were aware of, or do you agree or disagree with that?
Luke: The Russian challenge was frustrating as well. Since I’m deaf I can’t hear Russian words — what their names are, what they sound like.
So I really didn’t know that playwright and I didn’t really recognize it because the Russian playwright’s name ended with a ‘v’ so I never took Russian literature classes in high school or college. You know, I focused on improving my English skills.
So I got there and had absolutely no idea how to get this name so I continued to guess and finally I got the name right, but it took me a long time to figure it out.
Reality TV World: When did you guys first begin to realize that your big [final Roadblock] lead was gone and Victor was catching up and had a chance of finishing first?
Luke: I knew Victor would finish fast, he’s a very, very smart man. And so he had studied and written down things too, so I knew that would be a big advantage for him in the game. So when he arrived I tried to hurry and I thought he was hurrying as well, but he happened to finish before I did.
Margie: And I think the moment the [next] clue was handed to Victor, when he completed the task, it was almost like, yeah, Luke was a little deflated (laughs)
It was like he almost gave up. We both knew whoever finished [the Roadblock] first was going to win the Race.
Luke: I wanted so much to finish before Victor.
Luke: And also I knew the surfboard challenge would be the last one before the Pit Stop so when Victor finished before me then I knew they’d won.
Reality TV World: Luke, you helped Jaime out immediately with that last surfboard [once Victor finished]. Were you ever worried that she and Cara might turn around and leave you guys there without revealing the one that you were still missing?
Luke: Sure, it crossed my mind, I thought she might leave.
Margie: I knew she wouldn’t leave. I knew she — you know, I mean throughout the whole race, every promise they made, every time we said we were going to do a task together, every — they never, ever once like went back on their word… so.
Actually, the idea came from Cara and I. We were so frustrated after Victor left, just from not being able to help. [So] we said ‘We can’t help you but you can help each other’ and then Luke jumped right in there and he showed Jaime first. It could have been a whole different ending if Jaime had turned her surfboard around first.
Reality TV World: That’s actually the follow-up question I had for that. That decision of who revealed first, at least [it looked] on the show last night, basically determined who finished second and who finished third.
Reality TV World: Was there any additional discussion [or] going back and forth about who was going to reveal first or was it just as instant as it appeared on the show?
Margie: It was just as instantaneous as it appeared on the show. Once we said ‘Okay, you guys need to help each other’ Luke just jumped right in and he was right there to offer the help to Jaime immediately.
He didn’t — well, I’m sure he knew that once he showed her that clue they were in second, or showed her the surfboard [I mean], that they would get second [place at the finish mat].
But you know, it just — we were so happy for them that they got second and we’re so happy for Tammy and Victor that they… you know, we were just happy to be in the Final 3.
And we had so much respect and we liked those people so much. It was really never — I mean the money is nice, don’t get me wrong, it would have been nice to have a million dollars — but you know, the money wasn’t the driving factor for us to be on the show.
So you know, just to be able to get in the Final 3 and to complete the entire race was just incredible and we’re thrilled for Jaime and Cara and Tammy and Victor.
Reality TV World: Luke, based upon what was shown at the episode at the time, it looked like there was pretty much equal blame [to go around] on those incidents with Jennifer. Has seeing the footage changed your opinion what happened at all?
Luke: No. I think that was really just a bad day that the situation happened. We didn’t have enough sleep. We hadn’t eaten a lot. They didn’t show the part the night before. We had to sleep in this tent on this mountain. It was so cold and had been raining.
But one thing was a big misconception is that when I was running to the cluebox, Jenn was behind me. And of course I can’t hear, so I did not know she was behind me. So I did not mean to hurt her, it was just a natural reaction for me to protect myself. It was a natural reflex.
And then she called me a bitch behind my back and I didn’t know this until my mom told me. And that really, really upset me. Because I felt like she had called me a bitch and she got away with it because I couldn’t hear her. And so she called me a bitch and then she leaves and that’s what I was upset [about].
And also the times when I was growing up being deaf, people said a lot of negative things behind my back and I thought that Jenn wouldn’t be a coward and if she had the courage to say bitch she needed to say it to my face, not behind my back.
Reality TV World: Didn’t she try and sign it to you?
Luke: The deaf community was really, really upset about Jenn for calling me a bitch. And the deaf community didn’t feel that was respectful.
Margie: No, Jenn didn’t sign bitch, she just yelled it and then I signed it.
Reality TV World: Okay, [on the episode] it looked like there was a hand signal there and there’s been some confusion [over what that was]
Margie: Yeah, Luke was not aware that she called him a bitch until I told him.
Reality TV World: No, I understand he wasn’t aware, there’s just been some confusion about whether she had actually tried — you know, [deliberately] did it behind his back or actually tried to make him aware of it.
Margie: No, she did not sign, I told him.
Luke: No. She was yelling bitch, she did not sign bitch to me.
Margie: And you know, I’ve gotten a lot of feedback and a little bit of flack from people about why saying ‘Well why did you tell him?’
And you know I was there as his mother but I was also there as his interpreter and as an interpreter, you know you’re obligated to say what people say. I mean that’s what you’re there to do, you know?
As his mother I would have loved to have no told him that and just gone on with the Race but you know it’s not fair to him to keep information from him. So I’ve had a lot of people say ‘Why didn’t you just leave it alone, why didn’t you just go on and not tell him she said that? ‘ Because that would have made things a lot better, but, you know.
Reality TV World: Margie, obviously you weren’t there immediately up close [to Luke] when it happened, so has seeing the actual footage — which my assumption is, it’s a better [angle or zoom] shot than whatever distance you had when you were racing up behind him…
Margie: I was probably five feet away.
Reality TV World: Okay…
Margie: She ran into him and I could see her coming and she was like pretty ‘full steam ahead and no brakes.’ And I just knew, I thought she was going to knock him down actually. And she kind of did pull up a little bit right before she bumped into him.
But like Luke said, he has no — you know, you might not even be aware of it as a hearing person, but you can brace yourself and prepare yourself if you can hear somebody coming from behind you and you think they’re going to run into you.
But as a deaf person he was totally unaware that she was going to, you know — he had no clue. And it was just a ridiculous response, and was just a reflex on his part. And you know, we said we were sorry and got on with it and, you know, it was just a bad day and we’re very sorry it happened and we like Kisha and Jenn very, very much.
We have a lot of respect for their athletic ability, we think they’re wonderful people. You know, it was just unfortunate that it happened and we don’t have any problem with Kisha and Jenn now, we really like them a lot..
Reality TV World: But you guys obviously seemed to [initially] hold a grudge beyond that day. I mean there was multiple footage on the subsequent legs…
Margie: Yeah, but you know what, that was so coincidental. The bicycle where he pulled out — the bicycle — he didn’t see them coming. And when he ran out to the cab, that was totally an accident, he wasn’t like running after them.
The way it’s edited says everything. And you know I think a lot of it was done to create the drama. You know if that incident the day before had not happened — when he ran out at the airport and they kind of crashed into each other, that was totally an accident.
You know, I mean — I think they made it, you know, they dramatized, they wanted to, you know, play out the drama for as long as they could. Those two incidents with the bicycle and the — you know, those were just coincidental things.
Reality TV World: Yeah, I actually wasn’t referring to any subsequent incidents, I was referring to some of the comments yourself and Luke were shown making about hoping that they’d be the team that was getting eliminated and…
Margie: Well they made some of the same comments. You know I think both teams kinda were holding on to the grudge a little bit. Like Kisha and Jenn said that they would absolutely U-Turn us. They wanted to get there first so that they could U-Turn us, and if we had gotten there first we probably would have, well we absolutely would have U-Turned them, no probably about it, because [they were] fierce competitors.
You know, from the time that incident occurred — and again, I say we accept our, we’re just as responsible as they are for what happened — but you know, it just was an unfortunate incident and you know, we are very sorry that it happened.
Reality TV World: Okay, great, any final words Luke?
Luke: I hope deaf people are proud of me.
Photo Credit: cbs.com