The Western music to close the ninth episode of “The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business” was a fitting goodbye for cowboys Jet and Cord McCoy.
For the third straight leg of the race around the world for $1 million, the brothers from southeastern Oklahoma found themselves in last place. This time they couldn’t catch up to the pack of five other teams and were eliminated from the race with just three episodes remaining.
“I still think we’ve got a target on our backs,” Cord said early in the CBS-TV show that aired Sunday night.
He was right. Throughout the show, four of the five other teams worked together to advance.
“I don’t know if we’re outcasts, but there hasn’t been anybody want to buddy up with us,” Jet said.
The teams left Austria for Liechtenstein, and the McCoys left the train at Schaanwald in first place heading to the “road block.” That’s where the trouble set in. A member of each team had to use a motorized bicycle and measure the length of Liechtenstein, one of the smallest countries in the world. Handling the task for the cowboys, Jet took off on the 22-kilometer trek.
“I feel like ‘Dumb and Dumber,’ ” he said, referring to the mini-bike scene from the 1994 film starring Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey. “I’m just going to keep this hog wound out. Lord willing, when I get down there, I’ll have the right measurements.”
But Jet made a wrong turn. Gary Ervin caught up with Jet, and the two traveled together before Jet decided against waiting on his opponent and bolted ahead – that might’ve been the costliest error. As best friend Justin Kanew (with Zev Glassenberg) helped sister Jennifer Hoffman (with LaKisha), who both helped Globetrotter Herb Lang (with Nate Lofton), who helped Ervin (with his daughter, Mallory), Jet failed to provide the correct answer at the end of the challenge.
That meant returning 22 km to the starting spot and re-running that aspect of the race. That also meant the McCoys were well behind the pack heading to Zermatt, Switzerland.
“You don’t want to have to run head up with the cowboys,” Lofton said. “They’re fast; they’re smart; they’re a quick team.”
In Zermatt, teams faced the detour, either sharing a heaping pot of cheese fondue or traveling on foot while delivering 20 pieces of luggage to five hotels. All but Kanew and Glassenburg carried the luggage; it paid off for the best friends, who won their fourth leg of the race.
Still, there was plenty of excitement, just as the reality series has held as the final racers come to the mat for each “pit stop.” By the time the cowboys reached Zermatt, they had to hustle to have any chance to catch up to the field. The “cliffhanger” portion of the episode showed the Globetrotters losing two of the 20 luggage tickets, allowing the McCoys to seemingly catch up. As Lang and Lofton worked their way to the finish line, only one interruption awaited them, a “double U-turn,” something the other four teams passed.
But knowing any mistake could allow the cowboys to beat the Globetrotters to the “pit stop” and continue the race, the Globetrotters decided to U-turn the cowboys.
“It was tough U-turning Jet and Cord,” Lang said. “They’re actually one of my favorite teams ever. But it’s down to the end, and it’s either us or them, and we know that they’re behind us.”
That didn’t sit well with the McCoys, nor most of their fans, as proven on message boards Sunday night just a few minutes after their fate was decided.
“It’s the double U-turn, and we’re the only ones that got U-turned,” Jet said “It doesn’t say a lot about them, I don’t think, but maybe they thought they were U-turning their strongest competition.
When host Phil Keoghan told the brothers they were done racing, the McCoys already had a good idea. Keoghan then asked about the leg.
“Totally my fault, really,” Jet said.
But Keoghan asked Cord if he felt the same way, to which the youngest of five children raised on a ranch near Tupelo, Okla., shook his head “no.”
“We’re a team,” Cord said. “I took off the first step with him. And I’m standing here on the last mat with him. I’m his teammate, and I’ll stick with him until the end.”
The brothers, who are just 13 months apart, spent a good portion of their lives traveling the rodeo circuit together, first as youth progressing through the ranks, and then chasing their gold buckle dreams across North America. Now with families of their own, they still live within half an hour of one another.
“We went to some new places this time, and I got to see it with my brother,” Jet said. “There’s nobody else I’d rather be traveling around the country with.”
“Maybe my wife,” he said, somewhat joking.
“I don’t blame ya,” Cord replied.
The cowboys lasted nine legs this run and have been fan favorites for two of the 18 seasons of “The Amazing Race.” They battled through each challenge with grace and showed the world what being a cowboy is really about.
“I know they hit the nail on the head when they say this race amazing,” Cord said. “I get to go with my brother and my best friend. It’s memories I’ll never forget.”