Tampa's Ken and Tina Greene don't win The Amazing Race, but land a better prize
(UPDATE: A couple of questions fans have asked me since this review was published -- according to Tina Greene, Toni and Dallas weren't present at the finale because Dallas didn't have his passport ready in time and his mother didn't want to leave him in Moscow. Also, according to an interview published last week with Dallas, he and Starr Spangler are still dating, though they live on opposite coasts. see updates on Reality Blurred Web site here.)
Technically, that honor fell to brother/sister competitors Nick and Starr Spangler (right) -- shown leading most of the way through a final race leg that stretched from Moscow to Portland, Ore. -- where the two met host Phil Keoghan at the finish line and won the grand prize of $1-million. That victory capped a competition that spanned 23 days, five continents and nearly 40,000 miles of travel.
But Tampa businesswoman Tina Greene and her husband Ken (below) also left the race as winners of a different sort, rekindling an on-the-rocks-marriage through the competition and redonning their wedding rings during the finale episode’s last moments as proof.
“I’ve been crying since I saw the end of the show,” said Tina Greene, calling from a finale party organized by CBS in New York City Sunday. “I feel like I let Ken down; if I had been a little more aggressive . . . maybe we would have won. But when Kenny pulled those rings out, I didn’t care about the $1-million.” Tina Greene said the prize money for second place totaled $25,000.
Ken Greene said he had been carrying their wedding rings around, without Tina’s knowledge, for the entire race, certain that he would know whether to pull them out and suggest a recommitment by the time the action finished. Now, after throwing all his belongings in a truck and driving 43 hours to Tampa from San Diego in September, he’s ready to publicly resume his life with his wife.
“I figured when I pulled the rings out, she had no choice, with all those people around,” said Ken Greene Sunday, laughing about the way he surprised Tina at the finish line with her wedding ring, which she accepted with tears in her eyes. “And after all we’d been through (on the race), if I didn’t win her back now, I never could.”
Both Ken and Tina Greene say they are scheduled to visit CBS's The Early Show and Live with Regis and Kelly on Monday morning to talk more about their reconciliation while running the race. Here's a clip of the two in more uncertain times, just starting the race and working through their differences. Click here to see my favorite Ken and Tina moments from the entire show.
In the show’s final episode, Ken Greene let his fellow competitors in on a secret the couple had been keeping during the entire competition –- that they had been separated before the race began. “I’m asking you to start this thing all over again,” he said then, as tears began to choke up his voice a bit. “And we’ll do it right this time.”
Twenty-something fraternity brothers Andrew Lappitt and Dan Honig –- dubbed Team “Superbad” for their resemblance to the young nerds depicted in the movie of the same name – came in a distant third, to the surprise of almost no one who has followed the show, including Lappitt and Honig.
“It’s appropriate that we ended the race how we started -– with an incredible amount of mistakes,” said Honig, once he and his teammate had arrived at the finish. “But we finished the course.”
And what a course it was. Starting in Moscow, the race’ three remaining teams piled onto a flight to the final city, Portland, Ore., with each pair determined to take the $1-million prize.
But as the groups dashed out of the Portland airport to start the race in earnest, Team Superbad made the kind of mistake that seemed to epitomize their time in the contest -– picking a cab driver who had no idea how to reach the landmark they were racing toward. It took the pair so long to find the first landmark, an adventure camp in the woods, that they never recovered.
Instead, the Spanglers and the Greenes sped through the final leg’s challenges, separated from each other by minutes during much of the competition. One crucial hitch: a challenge in which teams had to walk across a log suspended 30 feet high; thanks to a fear of heights, Tina Greene got hung up here and the Spanglers pulled ahead.
Once across the log in the adventure camp, the teams took cabs to the Bridge of Gods, scooting across a zipline from 2,000 feet to a field filled with boxes holding pictures from their past adventures. Tasked to match photos from specific parts of the race to 10 specific moments on a display, the Greenes again fell minutes behind the Spanglers.
After the two teams raced to downtown Portland, grabbing clues from an office building, food stand and coffeeshop, the competition came down to their struggle to grab a cab back to the finish line, the Pittock Mansion.
Now that the competition is over, Ken and Tina Greene each blame themselves: Tina fears her delays on the log cost too much time, Ken frets that he could have caught a cab sooner. But despite doubts from friends and fans that competing on a reality show would save their marriage, their time on The Amazing Race seems to have done exactly that.
“I wouldn’t do it again, and I wouldn’t recommend it,” said Ken Greene. “But for us, it looks like it worked out.”