If you’ve watched The Amazing Race, you’re familiar with the grueling physical and mental challenges its contestants face. Those challenges are precisely what attracted Miami real-estate sisters Lisa and Michelle Thomson to audition for the Emmy Award-winning reality show.
“We literally live and breathe real estate, so that’s kind of why we wanted to do this, to get outside of our box,” said older sister Lisa, 29. “It was definitely something that, you think you’re ready for it, but you’re never ready for it.”
Fans of the series, which returns at 8 p.m. Friday on CBS, are definitely ready for the 24th competition. The premise is simple: Eleven teams of two, each with a preexisting relationship, compete in a race around the world for a $1 million grand prize. Think of the show as a sort of scavenger-hunt version of Survivor.
The Thomson sisters figured they were naturals for the show, and they were right — they were chosen from thousands of wannabes who auditioned.
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“We drive around showing property all day, meeting with different types of people, and living in Miami. You know we’re dealing with different types of cultures. So we just kind of figured we’d be good at it,” says Lisa. “And you have a one-in-11 chance of winning a million bucks, so that always helps.”
Of course, the sisters are forbidden to reveal in what place they finished, but they’re clearly exhilarated by the experience.
“It was nice to spend a month not working and just being sisters out of our comfort zone,” says Michelle, 22. “This was the first break that we’ve ever had longer than two days.”
One requirement of participating in the show was especially difficult for the girls, considering that their profession is so dependent on constant contact with clients: Contestants aren’t allowed to let anyone know what they’re doing.
“You couldn’t tell anyone you were leaving to do a reality show,” Lisa says. “We had to sign a bunch of papers, and it was very confidential. So we just disappeared for a month. And we didn’t have a phone or Internet, so we have no idea what’s going on.”
They also went into the show completely blind in terms of their competition.
“We didn’t get to meet any other cast members until we showed up at the start line,” says Michelle. “We were looking for some weak links, but there were definitely no weak links this season.”
Still, the experience was priceless, regardless of whether the sisters won or not.
“I would do it again,” says Lisa. “I say I wouldn’t, but it’s really the opportunity of a lifetime, so I would do it again. I just wish we could have our cellphones. But it really teaches you to appreciate your life.”
Michelle agrees — sort of: “It would have to be a while before I would do it again. It’s really exhausting.”