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How Amazing Race Winners Went From First Class to First Place

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Monty Brinton/CBS

After traveling 40,000 miles across 5 continents, Dan, 25, and Jordan Pious, 23, were the first of the final three teams to arrive at the finish line on the finale of The Amazing Race. The Barrington, R.I.-based brothers dished with PEOPLE about the brilliant moves that scored them the $1 million prize, the play they aren’t proud of and their quest to clear Caite’s name of Brandy and Carole’s accusations. –Carrie Bell

When you started in L.A., did you think you were going to win or were you surprised to the end?Jordan: I’d watched 15 seasons and I think it’s safe to say that the younger and more physically fit your team is, the better chances you have to win. At 23 and 25 and with my brother being as athletic as he is, we thought we had a good chance going into it. But at the end of the day, even though it’s a little clich , every single one of those teams had an equal shot of winning.

Getting moved to first class mid-flight in order to exit the plane first is one of the best strategies ever seen on the Race. Dan: Amazingly, we were off the plane, through customs and into a taxi coming from a communist country in about three and a half minutes. We kept the lead throughout. While the cowboys physically caught up to us at Coit Tower, there was a mandatory 15-minute waiting period to get harnessed and do a safety thing. I was 80 percent done when they showed up. At the motion-capture thing, they were next to us but we were getting the clue when they were still on the first level. We ended up beating them by 25 minutes. Jordan: Daniel’s only now realizing how big of a move that was. In that clip, I had the biggest smile on my face because I knew how big of a coup that was. And to clarify, you can’t buy first-class tickets but there’s no rule that you can’t befriend a flight attendant and get upgraded for free. Dan: Special love to Karen from US Airways.

The other brilliant play was writing everything down in case of a final memory task.Dan: Jordan wrote the most meticulous, organized, neat, highlighted notes. You haven’t seen notes like this in a Harvard class. The challenge turned out to be fairly easy, but even if it’d been the hardest memory challenge in Race history, we had the notes to bang it out. Jordan: I studied on the plane because nine times out of 10, they have a memory challenge. I made sure I knew where all of the information was and I’d put the elimination order in a highlighted box. You have no idea how excited I was when I read that clue and realized taking notes paid off. Dan: We probably finished in 45 seconds.

What about the slimy airport line cut? Do you regret doing that, especially because it didn’t accomplish anything?Dan: We shouldn’t have done it. It had zero impact on the game and made us look bad. But at that point, you gotta make the big moves … Bottom line is that kind of stuff happens because it’s a game for a lot of money. In the heat of the moment, you have to try everything to git it done. Jordan: Because there was no benefit, I wish we hadn’t. But I stand by that choice because I wanted this more than anything. If only two teams had gotten on that plane, we’d be geniuses. Rich … geniuses!

Caite got a bad rap especially from former couple Carole and Brandy. Jordan, as the only other gay contestant on the show, is that a fair label?Jordan: Caite isn’t homophobic. We roomed together the last three nights and we became good friends. So let’s dispel that rumor right now. It would have been strategically more sound to u-turn the cowboys, but Caite had butted heads with Carole and Brandy from day one, they constantly fueled the fire and it was a no brainer when they picked them.

Plans for the money?Dan: Step one: Uncle Sam. Step two: save and invest.

Favorite place or moment?Jordan: Seychelles was paradise with a capital P — screensaver paradise. I would have never gone if it wasn’t for the Race. I didn’t know it existed. Dan: He stole my answer. But bungee-jumping, playing soccer and drinking beer in Germany on a Saturday night was cool.

Did it change you or your relationship?Jordan: It made me feel so fortunate to have a big brother and best friend like Dan. It was a big asset because we’d already had every argument under the sun. The edit and the fan reaction have shown us how special our relationship is. Monty Brinton/CBS