'Amazing Race' Host Phil Keoghan Spills Secrets on Season 22 Finale

Phil Keoghan Amazing Race Host - p 2013

Phil Keoghan Amazing Race Host - p 2013

One team is about to be named the winner of The Amazing Race's 22nd season.

One of the final four teams -- newlyweds Max and Katie Bichler; roller-derby moms Mona Egender and Beth Bandimere; hockey brothers Bates and Anthony Battaglia; or friends/country singers Caroline Cutbirth and Jennifer Kuhle -- will win the $1 million prize in the season finale of CBS' reality competition, airing at 8 p.m. Sunday.

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Ahead of the two-hour broadcast, host Phil Keoghan gives The Hollywood Reporter a preview of what fans can expect to see -- and shares some of his thoughts on the season's most memorable moments.

The Hollywood Reporter: Were you surprised by any of the teams that made it to the final four?

Phil Keoghan: I was very surprised with Max and Katie. They started out this Race near the back of the pack and seemed to be out of sync for the first half of the Race. But I think the turning point was when they got to Botswana and were pulled over for speeding. They’ve really come into their own over the past couple of episodes and seem to be firing on all cylinders, especially winning the last leg. They’re certainly not lacking any confidence right now -- let’s hope they haven’t peaked too early.

THR: Can you give our readers a preview of the finale?

Keoghan: We have a great two-hour finale. We start in Belfast, Ireland, with bog snorkeling, which is a fascinating local sport there in Ireland that was dreamed up over a pint of beer. It’s extremely claustrophobic and much tougher than it looks … trying to swim in the frigid, dirty water … the perfect recipe for a cramp. We’ll get down to the final three teams in Belfast before heading out to our nation’s capital in Washington, where we send the teams around to a ton of historical landmarks. And once again, it’s a very close finish. The cool thing is that since our last visit, you’ll now get to see D.C. in HD. We even got the president involved.

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THR: Mona and Beth are certainly the outsiders at this point. Do they still have a shot at winning?

Keoghan: The "roller derby moms" are a very strong team -- just think about what they do for a living. You can absolutely never count this team out of the mix. If they have any weakness, it’s that they don’t seem to be good with directions. And in terms of being outsiders, I don’t really think alliances come into play at this stage of the game. It’s every man or woman for themselves on Sunday night. If there’s one thing you can say about an Amazing Race finish, it’s that for more than a decade, it’s been unpredictable.

THR: Looking back over the season, what was your favorite moment?

Keoghan: For me, it was the Schemozzle Race in New Zealand. That was my old high school friend’s farm. I was really proud to share my homeland and friends with the viewers, the cast and of course, the crew. The ariel footage over the Rakaia River was just breathtaking. Also, the best reactions all season came from watching the teams see a live scorpion go inside the mouth of a bushman in Botswana. Max’s expression was priceless.

THR: What was the moment that surprised you the most?

Keoghan: Big surprise for me were the firemen [Matthew Davis and Daniel Moss] getting eliminated in the first leg.

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THR: Chuck and Wynona were eliminated because they failed to follow the clue properly and rolled the cheese down the hill instead of transporting it on the sled. In this last episode, I half expected Bates and Anthony to get some sort of penalty for carrying the whiskey barrels instead of rolling them in the last leg. What was the difference this time?

Keoghan:  While the challenge was called “Whiskey Rollin,” the clue simply told them to transport the barrels under their own power -- meaning they could have balanced them on their heads if they wanted to … so they didn’t break any rules.

THR: Dave and Connor were extremely impressive, winning legs even with Dave's injury. How hard is it for you to see a strong team like forced to drop out?

It was one of the toughest moments in this Race for me. I loved those guys particularly because of the father/son relationship, which reminds me so much of my dad. They played the game the way you should play it, and despite being dealt an unfortunate injury, they competed to the very end, snagging two first-place finishes and quickly established themselves as one of our favorite teams in such a short amount of time. I always knew they would be tough competitors knowing what they’ve been through with cancer and also because they both participate in the toughest sport on earth -- cycling. I would have loved to see how far they could have gone if they could have stuck it out.

THR: What was your reaction to John and Jessica being eliminated with an express pass?

Keoghan: Oy vey.