Scott Flanary, a 2010 graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, won “The Amazing Race” and a $1 million prize, the show revealed in its season finale earlier this month.
In June of 2016, Scott Flanary began his adventure as a contestant on the CBS reality series that sends teams of two to samba in the streets of Brazil, defeat professional gamers in South Korea, and perform a host of other physical and mental challenges.
Unlike in previous years where teams were comprised of contestants who already knew each other, last season—the 29th—featured 22 strangers split into 11 teams. Flanary won with Brooke Camhi, a contestant with whom he partnered on the show.
Flanary said he has watched every episode as a “superfan” since the show began in 2001 and has always wanted to compete. He was selected in May 2016, a month before the race began.
Besides his immediate family and his boss, Flanary did not tell others why he left home for a month. It was not until February of this year, when CBS announced the cast, that he could openly discuss his experiences.
Still, he decided not to spoil the show for his family and friends, and enjoyed seeing their reactions to each episode. “I wanted to live this experience of living it out week to week with the people that I loved. And I think they enjoyed better, because there was that sense of ambiguity, an uneasiness about how far I’d make it,” he said.
Flanary said his background as a recruiter was helpful for forming relationships with other contestants—a key component of his game strategy.
However, he found navigating partner dynamics to be difficult, especially because he and Camhi were strangers. “It was two alpha, type-A personalities trying to get a point across,” he said.
Flanaray said his parents used to ask, “What would you not do for a million dollars?”
“One of the things I always said was ‘I will never bungee jump—it scares me to death.’ And that the only time that I will ever bungee jump in my life is if I’m on ‘The Amazing Race,’” he said.
Nine countries later, Flanary had faced his greatest fear—in Greece, off a 240 feet ledge—and walked away with prize money sufficient to pay off his Harvard loans and cover the down payment of a house.
“The goal of not only being on the race but winning it was something I’ve had on my life bucket list for 15 years,” he said. “It seemed so unattainable before, and now it’s gone.”
—Staff writer Sarah Wu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @sarah_wu_.
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