The former Miss Teen South Carolina, who infamously flubbed a 2007 pageant question involving maps, and her boyfriend, Brent Horne, are among the three remaining teams competing Sunday for the CBS reality series' $1 million grand prize. The often bickering dating duo experienced a rough start on the around-the-world race but have managed to avoid elimination.
"I think one of the most exciting things is that Brent and Catie are still there in contention, against the odds," said host Phil Keoghan. "Right from the very beginning, I don't think the other teams saw them being at the end. Catie has really taken a leadership role and really driven this team. I think she's really been the dominant factor for their team."
Upton and Horne are racing against pairs of brothers: Daniel and Jordan Pious, the distinctively different siblings from Barrington, R.I., and Jet and Cord McCoy, the seemingly unstoppable cowboys, from Tupelo, Okla. The McCoys, who came in first place during the last episode, unprecedentedly went from the bottom to top spot on the 16th season's eighth leg.
"Without a doubt, Jet and Cord have been the cool cucumbers throughout this race," said Keoghan. "There was only once when they were rattled, in the Seychelles when I had to send them for a map out in the water. Even then, they weren't really rattled. They went out there and did what they had to do. I think, as cowboys, they're just used to the pressure."
After making stops in such countries as Chile, Germany and Malaysia, Keoghan said the final leg will take the teams from Singapore to San Francisco, where the racers will have a high-tech encounter at the visual effects company Industrial Light and Magic. They'll also continue "The Amazing Race" finale tradition of having their memories of the race tested.
"The thing about the last leg," Keoghan said, "is we really want to make it as fair as possible for all the teams."
Keoghan, who was at the finish line when the show was filmed late last year, would not reveal the winner, of course, but he does believe that the show's fans are rooting for the beloved professional bull riders to win and that the ending isn't necessarily happy for everyone. Keoghan foreshadowed that Upton and Horne are confronted by another team at the mat.
"This season," he teased, "we have a very tense finish."