Utah ‘Amazing Race’ winners celebrate $1 million
Television • Father-and-son team amazed they won. And, yes, Brenchals really were that bad.
Published: May 20, 2014 09:26AM
Updated: May 19, 2014 10:14PM
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Utah father David O'Leary (left) and son Connor O'Leary, both cancer survivors, are competing on the new season of “The Amazing Race.” (Courtesy photo)

Season 24 of “The Amazing Race” finished filming Dec. 6, which means the winners — Utah father-and-son Dave and Connor O’Leary — had to keep quiet about it for more than five months.

“It was hard to keep that locked inside for so long,” Connor, 22, said.

The O’Learys, from Salt Lake City, were unveiled as the winners of the million-dollar prize in Sunday’s season finale of the CBS series, which means they can now talk about competing, winning and how it wasn’t just editing — they genuinely were, um, less than fond of the Brenchals (aka Brendon and Rachel Villegas), who finished third.

Dave, 58, who works in real estate investment, and Connor, with a semester to go at the University of Utah, talked with The Salt Lake Tribune on Monday about their experience with the all-stars season of the show and what they plan to do with their winnings.

You two always seemed to get along so well. Were there times when you got mad at each other?

Connor • There were a few disagreements, but nothing that was out of proportion. Or that we didn’t say, ‘Wow, that was stupid’ five seconds later.

Dave • All of our arguments were related to directions. It was Connor saying, ‘Let’s go this way,’ and I’d say, ‘Let’s go this way.’

Who won those arguments?

Dave • It was pretty equal.

Connor • I will give my Dad credit in Wales. He was a navigating champ.

What was the toughest moment during the race?

Connor • Our toughest leg was probably in Wales. We were behind all day, and we had gotten lost multiple times.

Dave • We were lost all day in Wales. But we made some right choices. And to be able to come in first on that leg really surprised us.”

Is there anything you wish you did differently?

Dave • In hindsight, I’d just say we probably over-reacted to the U-turn. (Brendon and Rachel forced the O’Learys to perform an extra task, thus delaying them.) I mean, we thought it was a stupid decision (by Brendon and Rachel) to U-turn us instead of the cowboys (Jet and Cord McCoy), who had the express pass. But it was what it was. I’m not sure we would have done anything differently.

Watching the show, was there anything that surprised you?

Connor • In the finale, it was kind of a shock that the Brenchals tried to pay the girls’ (Caroline Cutberth and Jennifer Wayne) cabbie to take their cab. I didn’t know that had happened.’

Dave • It’s interesting to see what the other teams have said and done. And that last leg was so exciting to watch because we had no idea how the girls got ahead of us — that their cab driver found the Mirage (hotel in Las Vegas) faster than we did. It was really something to watch — and to watch how the Brenchals played the game last night.”

Was it just editing, or were the Brenchals as bad as they appeared?

Connor • They weren’t my favorite people on the planet. But they ran the race their way. It was different from ours. They definitely weren’t our favorite team.

Dave • I think they went on the race because they want to be reality-TV celebrities. (Brendon and Rachel previously appeared on “Big Brother.”) And we went on the race because we wanted to have an incredible experience and do these amazing things. It’s just a different perspective.

Dave, you had to drop out of Season 22 of “Amazing Race” after rupturing your Achilles tendon. How’s that feeling?

Dave • I’m doing good. I feel good.

Dave, you had prostate cancer. And, Connor, you had testicular cancer. How’s your health today?

Connor • Couldn’t be better. I go in every six months for check-ups and, so far, I’m clear and good to go. So I feel like I’m going to stay on that trajectory.

Dave • We feel really lucky and blessed.

What are you going to do with the prize money?

Dave • Spend it!

Connor • I plan on giving some to cancer research and saving and investing the rest. There’s really nothing I need right now.

Dave • Connor’s in college. What does a college kid need?

Tuition?

Dave • Well, (I) agreed to pay that.

Connor, has TV fame affected your social life?

Connor • I have a girlfriend. I’m off the market. I’ve had a few people ask me via Twitter, but that’s the answer.

Dave • I’m not sure how many 15- to 25-year-old women there are on his Twitter account, but I think it’s, like, 5,000.

If asked, would you run “The Amazing Race” again?

Connor • Yes, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Dave • Honestly, I’d have second thoughts. They asked us at the end (of the ‘Race’), and I told them, ‘No way.’ It was 3:30 in the morning, we were cold, tired, hungry. We just won, which was exhilarating, but I thought, ‘There’s no way I would ever do this again.’

But now, having watched it last night, I think, ‘Oh yeah, I can’t wait to go back and do it again!’ 

spierce@sltrib.com

Twitter @ScottDPierce