Nice guys finished first for the seventh season of The Amazing Race. Houston-based married couple Uchenna and Joyce Agu decided to lay low during the Race – and the understated strategy ended up a winning one. Uchenna, 40, who once worked for Enron, and Joyce, 44, a former employee of WorldCom, edged out Survivor alums Amber Brkich and Rob Mariano, widely acknowledged as the team to beat. The victorious couple spoke to PEOPLE about how the Race brought them together and gave them hope for the future.
How did you beat reality show veterans Rob and Amber?
Joyce: We had a different strategy, because Rob and Amber (and the other teams) were so worried about each other, and they were constantly gunning for first. We were constantly gunning for not last!
Uchenna: We came in knowing there was only one leg in which we needed to be first and that’s the end.
You’ve said that winning $1 million may help in continuing your efforts at in vitro fertilization and trying for a family.
Joyce: We’ve been struggling to pay those in vitro bills off for so long so now we have an opportunity to try it one last time. If it doesn’t work, we are open now – after seeing all these kids around the world that would just love to have a home – to the possibility (of adopting).
Did you realize you would get this much support?
Joyce: People have been really gracious. They just say, “We love you guys and we love what you represented, the support for each other and how good a relationship can be.” It’s been nice to hear that reinforcement.
One of your most memorable moments on the Race was when, Joyce, you shaved your head in India.
Joyce: I had tears of fear (at the time) because when you have hair you can cover up your imperfections and your moods. I just felt so totally exposed. It was amazing to hear people say “You look so good with your hair short.”
On the show you scaled walls, zip-lined down mountains. … How did it feel to accomplish these things?
Uchenna: Before the Race, we had these notebooks we called The Dream Notebooks – things that we would like to do. Joyce has been designing some clothes and I’ve been saying I’m going to get into real estate and redevelop under-funded communities. Then we did the Race and now we are like, why not?
Before the Race began, you both had lost your corporate jobs and were struggling to start a family. Did the race help you get past those setbacks?
Uchenna: We were at a very tenuous point in our relationship. It was good to go through this process as a couple.
Joyce: At the point we were, everything we were attempting to do was just not working. We started to bicker a lot more, blaming each other for the failures. It just felt like a struggle to be together. We needed to do something, something exciting to get out of our mundane world.
Uchenna: We had to leave that other life behind and focus on something pure.
Joyce: The good things came out of each other. We thought we would just fight like crazy but we realized when we do have a goal and are focused that we really can come together.
What do you plan to do with your winnings?
Joyce: After we pay some bills, it may not be a lot! But it’s definitely a hell of a start and a chance at a new life, not stressing and struggling over every little thing. It’s really going to be a blessing.