HLS Alums Race Around The World

Two siblings to appear on CBS’s reality show ‘The Amazing Race’

Many Harvard Law School graduates have made millions toiling away in corporate law offices, but two alums recently found another opportunity to hit the seven-figure mark—by competing in a race that spanned 40,000 miles and nine countries.

Victor H.J. Jih, who graduated from the Law School in 1996, and his younger sister Tamara “Tammy” Tien-jan Jih, who graduated a decade later, will appear on the 14th season of CBS’s “The Amazing Race,” which premieres Feb. 15.

The CBS reality television show pits 11 pairs of contestants against each other in a race around the world to the finish line—and a one million dollar prize. Competitors traveled to nine different countries—including India, Romania, and Siberia—all in the span of 22 days, according to a CBS press release.

Contestants cannot discuss the race itself before the show airs, so whether the Jihs won or were the first to be eliminated remains to be seen.

Victor Jih, a 35-year-old partner at the Los Angeles-based law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP, said he has been interested in The Amazing Race since its first season. In a previous round, he applied with a O’Melveny colleague and was turned down as a contestant.

“I’ve actually been a fan since it first aired many, many years ago,” he said.

Nih said that he convinced his sister to watch the show, but she said she “didn’t really keep up with it in the last thirteen seasons.”

According to Victor, Tammy, a San Francisco attorney who was 26 while the show was being taped, is the one who pushed him to apply for the show again—this time with her as his partner.

“I totally credit my sister for making the dream a reality,” Jih said.

Jih said that the process of getting on “The Amazing Race” was in some ways harder to navigate than his Law School application. According to Jih, prospective law school students know what they can do to improve themselves as a candidate. But when it came to being chosen for The Amazing Race, Jih said that he had “no sense that it was even a possibility.”

The Jihs both received their undergraduate degrees from Stanford University before going on to HLS. Both Jihs pointed to their educations as an advantage in the race.

Tammy said, “[Competitors] have to learn very quickly how to adapt and how to handle those situations.”

The CBS press release also mentioned their Harvard Law degrees, saying, “If they can manage to set aside their sibling rivalries long enough to use their most valuable attribute—their intelligence...[they] might just have what it takes to outsmart the competition and be a force to be reckoned with.”

Jih said he did not try to frame himself as an archetypal HLS graduate in his application for the show.

“There is no trying to be Harvard or not trying to be Harvard,” he said. “It is so ingrained in who you are.”

When asked if he wanted to win the race, Victor said, “Of course I wanted to win it—I don’t want to be the Harvard grad and come in second.”

—Staff writer Eric P. Newcomer can be reached at newcomer@fas.harvard.edu.