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What is Amazing Race ?

The Amazing Race is an American reality competition show in which typically eleven teams of two race around the world. The race is generally split into twelve legs, with each leg requiring teams to deduce clues, navigate themselves in foreign areas, interact with locals, perform physical and mental challenges, and vie for airplane, boat, taxi, and other public transportation options on a limited budget provided by the show. Teams are progressively eliminated at the end of most legs, while the first team to arrive at the end of the final leg wins the grand prize of US$1 million. As the original version of the Amazing Race franchise, the CBS program has been running since 2001. The series recently completed its 29th season on June 1, 2017, and has been renewed for a 30th season to air in the 2017–18 television season. Numerous international versions have been developed following the same core structure, while the U.S. version is also broadcast to several other markets.

The race utilizes progressive elimination similar to Survivor; the last team to arrive at a designated checkpoint leaves the game. The race resembles a treasure hunt in amateur rally racing. The race starts in a US city. Teams must then follow clues and instructions and make their way to checkpoints in places around the world, eventually racing back to the finish line in the US.

Created by Elise Doganieri and Bertram van Munster, the original series has aired in the United States since 2001 and has earned thirteen Primetime Emmy Awards, including every award from 2003 to 2009 for "Outstanding Reality-Competition Program." Emmy-award-winning New Zealand television personality Phil Keoghan has been the host of the U.S. version of the show since its inception. The show has branched out to include a number of international versions following a similar format.

Teams


Typically, each cycle of the Race features eleven teams. Each team is composed of two people with a pre-existing relationship, such as dating, married, and divorced couples; siblings; parent and child; lifelong friends; sports team colleagues; and co-workers. However, some seasons have introduced twists on this concept: the second All-Stars season featured a team made by the production due to illness befalling an original competitor while season 26, which has a theme of only people who are dating each other competing, featured five of the teams participating in a "blind date". Dynamics of the relationship under the stress of competition is a focus of the show, and are often described by the teams during interviews held before, during, and after the teams have raced, and through discussion with the show's host when they arrive at the Pit Stop. The stress of racing with one's partner, staying ahead of the competition, completing the assigned tasks, and dealing with little sleep or luxury combined to create "killer fatigue", a phrase coined by fans of the show, and often a team's inability to cope with the fatigue is what is ultimately responsible for a team's elimination from the Race.

Original Race rules required that teammates have had a pre-existing relationship longer than three years, and no previous acquaintances with other racers during that cycle. However, these requirements have been dropped in some cases; Dustin and Kandice from seasons 10 and 11 knew each other from the beauty pageant circuit, and from seasons 9 and 11, Eric and Danielle met on the Race and had begun dating when asked to be on the All-Star edition. Individual racers must be of a specific nationality and meet specific age requirements; this is necessary to allow teams to obtain the necessary passport documentation to travel across the world without incident.

The team format has varied in some seasons. Four seasons featured an additional team of two (for a total of 12, instead of the standard 11), while the "Family Edition" featured ten teams of four players and included young children. Season 29 will feature 22 complete strangers who will meet for the first time and teams will be formed through series of pre-race challenge.

Money

At the beginning of each leg of the race, each team receives an allowance with their first clue, from which all expenses (food, transportation, lodging, attraction admission, and supplies) must be purchased during the Leg. Selected tasks have also required the teams to use their money to complete the task. However, teams are given a credit card which they must use to purchase airline tickets (and in the case of the "Family Edition", the purchase of gasoline). While early seasons of the U.S. version of the show allowed for teams to use the credit card to reserve flights outside of an airport or travel agency, recent seasons have prohibited this use.

Allowance money is usually given in the same currency as the show's nation regardless of location; U.S. versions of the Race provide racers with U.S. dollars. In one exception, teams were given money in the currency of Vietnam at the start of that Leg. The amount of money varies from leg to leg, and has ranged from hundreds of dollars to nothing. Teams are allowed to keep any unused money for future race legs, barring certain penalties for finishing last.

If team members spend all of their money or have it taken away in a non-elimination leg, they may try to get more money in any way that does not violate the local laws. This includes borrowing money from other teams, begging from locals or selling their possessions. Since season seven, teams have been prevented from begging at United States airports. Additionally, teams may not use their personal possessions to barter payment for services.

Route markers

Route Markers are uniquely colored flags that mark the places where teams must go. Most Route Markers are attached to the boxes that contain clue envelopes, but some may mark the place where the teams must go in order to complete tasks, or may be used to line a course that the teams must follow.

Clues

When teams start a leg, arrive at Route Markers, or complete certain tasks, they normally receive a letter-sized tear-away envelope that contains their next clue inside a vertical-fold folder. The clues themselves are typically printed on a vertical strip of paper, although additional information is often provided inside the clue folder. After retrieving the clue, teams open the envelope and read aloud the instructions given on the clue sheet and then follow those instructions. Teams are generally required to collect each clue during each leg and keep that information with them until they reach the next Pit Stop, surrendering them once they have checked in. Teams may not take an additional clue from the clue box should they lose their first one, otherwise they are assessed a penalty. Teams are not directly penalized for misplacing their clue but will lose time either searching for it or trying to learn from other teams of where to go next.

Route information

Route Information clues instruct the teams where to go next. Such a clue usually provides only the name of the team's next destination; it is up to the teams to figure out how to get there. The destination may be given in a cryptic manner, such as a flag representing the country whose capital they are to fly to, or an obfuscation such as the "westernmost point in mainland Europe". In these cases, teams may use any resources, such as the help of locals or borrowing an Internet-connected device, to learn of the required destination.

The Route Info clues can instruct teams to go to several types of locations, including a specific location in another city or country, another location within the team's present city, the Pit Stop of the leg, and the finish line of the race.

Detour
Detours are yellow cards with arrows on them.

A Detour is a choice between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons. Teams must successfully complete one of the tasks described on the clue in order to receive their next clue. One task is typically an easier option that takes more time to complete, while the other is usually a difficult or frightening option that can be finished quickly. In later seasons, the trend has been towards Detours which offer less clear-cut choices. Often, there may be some degree of luck involved with the "easier" option, such that a team may accomplish the task faster than if they had taken the quicker, harder, riskier option. Should a team choose to switch Detour tasks part-way through, there is no penalty, other than naturally lost time. Sometimes there have been detours where all the teams chose the same task.

Roadblock
Roadblocks are red cards.

A Roadblock is a task which only one team member may perform. Before heading into a Roadblock, teams read a vague clue about the task to come, i.e., "Who's really hungry?" (for an ostrich-egg eating challenge), or "Who wants to get down and dirty?" (for a task involving making mud bricks). Often, a team may figure out the specific task by observing their surroundings, using common sense, or even seeing other teams already performing the Roadblock task. They then must decide which team member would be best suited to complete it. Once a choice has been made, the teammates cannot switch roles.

Beginning in Season 6, each team member may only complete a maximum of six Roadblocks throughout the entire race. Since there are normally twelve Roadblocks in the Race, this rule forces each team to split the Roadblocks equally between the two members (unless a team uses a Fast Forward to skip one Roadblock, in which case the split can be 6-5). In contrast, Season 5 featured three teams that split the Roadblocks 11-1 or 10-1. The six-Roadblock limit was dropped for Season 8; additionally, that season's four-member-team format required some Roadblocks to be completed by two people. A Roadblock is featured (although, in some episodes, not aired) in every leg except the first one. In Season 1, even the first leg had a Roadblock, but it was not originally aired; it was included in the DVD release.

Fast Forward
Fast Forwards are green cards.

The Fast Forward allows the first team that finds it to skip all remaining tasks on that leg of the race and proceed directly to the Pit Stop. To find the Fast Forward, the team must perform the task described on the Fast Forward clue, which is found along with a regular clue at one of the Route Markers.

Only one team may use each Fast Forward. Any team that is beaten to the Fast Forward will have wasted their time and must go back and pick up where they left off. Since each team may use only one Fast Forward during the whole race, they must decide when it is most advantageous to use it. Originally, Fast Forwards were offered in every leg of the race (provided that there was as least one team left that had not used one). Starting in Season 5, the number of Fast Forwards was reduced to two on the entire race. In the event a Fast Forward was not attempted by any team on a leg, the task involved was not shown.

A Fast Forward usually results in the team arriving at the Pit Stop first, but does not guarantee it. In the history of the show, two teams who earned a Fast Forward still arrived last at the Pit Stop. Joe and Bill during Season 1 arrived last but were not eliminated due to a penalty to Nancy and Emily. Dennis and Andrew during Season 3 were eliminated. Similarly, NFL wives Monica and Sheree of Season 4 earned the Fast Forward but only placed 4th in the first leg (behind a three-way tie for first, the only time this has ever happened on the race). Chip and Kim, Freddy and Kendra, and the Linz family are the only teams that have won without using a Fast Forward.

Yield
Yield signs are yellow.

The Yield, which was introduced in Season 5, allows any one team to force another team to stop racing for a predetermined amount of time. To do this, a team places the picture of the team they wish to yield onto the Yield sign (found near one of the Route Markers). When the yielded team arrives at the Yield, they must turn over an hourglass found on the Yield sign and wait for all the sand to drain before continuing. Each team gets an envelope with their 'courtesy of' sticker (which goes on the bottom-right corner of the Yield sign), and if a team's envelope goes missing, that team loses all power of using any future Yields. [3] Teams like Linda and Karen (Season 5) and Joseph and Monica (Season 9) could not use the Yield, since they had lost the envelope in their respective Races.

Like the Fast Forward, each team may use only one Yield during the game, and only one team may use each Yield. However, each team may be Yielded by other teams an unlimited amount of times. Starting in Season 6, the number of Yields was reduced from one on every leg to only three in the entire race. Also starting in Season 6, teams are warned about an upcoming Yield in the clue immediately preceding it. In the family edition, the show said there were only two Yields, but there was another Yield on Leg 1 that didn't make it to air.

The Weaver family in Season 8 was the first team in the history of the Amazing Race to be yielded twice, once by the Paolo Family, and another time by the Linz Family. Danielle and Dani were the first team to be yielded and eliminated in Season 9.

Pit stops

Pit stops are the final destination in each leg of the race. Each Pit Stop is a mandatory rest period which allows teams to eat, sleep, and mingle with each other. The production staff provides food free-of-charge to the teams at the Pit Stops (food during the legs must be purchased with the money the teams receive). During the Pit Stop, teams are also interviewed to provide commentary and voice-overs for the completed leg. Teams are greeted at the pit stops by Phil, except in season one, where a local greeted them and Phil was only there to eliminate the last place team or tell them it was a non-elimination. The eliminations themselves have now earned the name "Philimination" in the Amazing Race fan community, a portmanteau of the host's name and the word "elimination".
Phil Keoghan greets teams at the Pit Stop on The Amazing Race 5
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Phil Keoghan greets teams at the Pit Stop on The Amazing Race 5

Teams depart for the next leg of the race at the time they arrived plus twelve hours. While a team arriving at 12:00 p.m. will depart at 12:00 a.m., the total amount of rest time may be more than twelve hours, in which case the pit stop will be extended by 24 hour increments--such as one day and twelve hours (36 hours). One exception was in Season 9, where the pitstop in Oman was 24 hours long.

The last team to arrive at the Pit Stop is eliminated, unless that leg of the race is one of the predetermined non-elimination legs (see below). In some legs, the first team to arrive wins a prize such as a vacation or camera, which they receive at the end of the race. In Season 6, prizes were given to the winners of every leg. In Season 7, cash and automobile prizes were awarded for the first time on some legs; unlike season 6, however, at least two legs did not have a prize awarded. The winners of the third leg in Season 8 won free gasoline for life, from BP and ARCO (specifically, $1200 of gasoline a year for 50 years, which is $60,000 per winner).

Teams normally complete all tasks and check in at the Pit Stop before they are eliminated. Occasionally, on an elimination leg, if all other teams have checked in and the last team is very far behind, Route Markers may instruct them to go directly to the Pit Stop without completing the rest of the leg (Peggy and Claire, Shola and Doyin, Mary and Peach, all from Season 2, Michael and Kathy and Andre and Damon in Season 3). Alternately, host Phil Keoghan may go out to the team's location to eliminate them if they can't/won't finish a task (Marshall and Lance, Season 5, Lena and Kristy, Season 6).

Season 6 introduced the first double-length leg shown over two episodes. The televised episode ended without a Pit Stop with a 'To Be Continued' message. The second half of the leg featured a second Detour and second Roadblock. Seasons 7 & 9 had another, this time with teams meeting host Phil Keoghan on the usual Pit Stop mat at the halfway point, only to have him hand them the next clue instead of checking them in. Season 8 also had a double-length leg, which worked the same as Season 7's; in addition, the 2-hour finale took place over a double-length leg. Generally, the clues leading up to these double legs are easy to identify because the teams will read a clue like "Go greet Phil at the mat" instead of "Check into the next pit stop."

Non-elimination legs

Each race has a number of predetermined non-elimination legs, in which the last team to arrive at the Pit Stop is not eliminated and is allowed to continue on the race. Racers are not told in advance which legs are non-elimination legs. In Seasons 1-2, the clue preceding the Pit Stop ended with the statement, "The last team to arrive will be eliminated," except in non-elimination legs. In Seasons 3-4, the clue preceding the Pit Stop ended with the statement "The last team to arrive will be eliminated" in the first few legs, and "The last team to arrive may be eliminated" after a certain point. Beginning in Season 5, the statement "The last team to arrive may be eliminated" has been used on every leg with the exception of the first.

Season 5 introduced a penalty to the team arriving last at a Pit Stop in a non-elimination leg. These teams are required to turn over all the money they accumulated throughout the race. Additionally, the last team to arrive begins the next leg with zero dollars to their name, meaning they do not receive the money given to the other teams at the start of the leg and may not collect money during the Pit Stop. Teams generally beg from locals or even the other teams during the Pit Stop to rebuild their cash reserves.

Starting in Season 7, the penalty for arriving last during a non-elimination leg became more severe. In addition to being stripped of all their money and starting the next leg without an allowance, teams were forced to surrender all their possessions, except for their passports and the clothes they were wearing, for the remainder of the Race. This usually results in teams who believe they are coming in last checking in at the pit stop wearing every single article of clothing they have just in case it's a non-elimination leg, making for a rather comical sight in some cases.

Final leg

Three teams compete in the last leg of the race. This first part of the leg includes intermediate destination(s) where the teams must travel to complete a series of tasks (Alaska, United States Seasons 1, 2, and 9; Hawaii, United States, Seasons 3, 4, and 6; Calgary, Canada, Season 5; Puerto Rico, United States, Season 7; Montreal and Toronto, Canada, Season 8). The second part of the leg has teams traveling to a final destination, usually located in a major U.S. city. Remaining teams must complete one or more tasks before receiving the clue directing them to the Finish Line. At the finish line, host Phil Keoghan and all the eliminated teams wait for the remaining teams to arrive.

The first team to reach the finish line wins the race and $1 million. All other teams win lesser amounts of money on a sliding scale based on their finishing order, as follows:
Place 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th
Prize $1,000,000 $25,000 $10,000 $7,000 $6,000 $5,000 $4,000 $3,500 $3,000 $2,500 $1,500

Ideally, all three remaining teams arrive at the finish line within a reasonable amount of time. On occasion, the third place team has fallen so far behind the other two teams that they cannot finish the race in a timely manner. In this case, after the other two teams finish, they are informed that the race is over at their next Route Marker (Joe and Bill, Season 1; David and Jeff, Season 4).

Rules and penalties

All teams must abide by the rules set at the beginning of the race. Failure to do so can result in time penalties, which can negatively affect finishing position in that leg of the race. While the complete set of official rules has not been released to the public, certain rules have been revealed during the various editions of the race:

Rules

* Teams must purchase economy class tickets for airfare. Teams are allowed to be upgraded to first or business class by the airline, as long as they only paid an economy fare (Rob & Brennan and Frank & Margarita, Season 1; Reichen & Chip, Season 4; Ray & Deana, Season 7).
* Teams are not allowed contact with known friends, family, and personal acquaintances during the race. However, teams are allowed to stay in contact with and receive help from people they meet during the race, such as a travel agent. (One exception to this rule occurred in Season 3. Teams were offered a cellular phone after completing a detour. As CBS's website explains, "They had the option of making one phone call to their loved ones back home before driving to the chateau. Teams could talk on the phone as long as they wanted, but had to end the call before getting in their cars.")
* When stated, teams may not help other teams in challenges. (Gretchen said this when she was helped by Uchenna with the boat in Season 7.) Otherwise, teams may assist one another in completing tasks, as seen in Season 8, where many teams had help setting up their tents, and the Linz and Godlewski teams cooperated to complete a Detour.
* Racers are prohibited from smoking during the race. This results in the sometimes cantankerous attitude of some contestants, such as Ian (Season 3) who quit smoking just prior to the race.
* For filming purposes, team members are generally required to stay within 20 feet of each other, unless one person is performing a Roadblock.
* Teams may be forced to submit their backpacks and possessions to searches by production staff at any time.

Penalties and time credits
Teri and Ian re-fuel their vehicle, after it broke down (Season 3)
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Teri and Ian re-fuel their vehicle, after it broke down (Season 3)

* The standard penalty for minor rule infractions is 30 minutes plus the time advantage gained (if any) by disobeying the rule. This penalty is known to apply in the following cases:
o Using a prohibited form of transportation. For example, a team that takes a taxi when the clue specifies that they must walk would receive a penalty (Frank & Margarita and Joe & Bill, Season 1; Heather & Eve, Season 3; Reichen & Chip, Season 4) or to take a bus to a destination, when the clue specifies to take a train (BJ & Tyler, Ray & Yolanda, Season 9; Lake & Michelle also took the bus, but were not assessed the penalty, due to arriving last at the pit stop). The penalty was revised to 15 minutes in Season 9.
o Taking a shortcut when the clue specifies that a marked course must be followed (Andre & Damon, Season 3).
o Taking more than one clue from the clue box (Freddy and Kendra, Season 6).
o Driving away in another team's car (or perhaps stealing another team's property, since the other team's backpacks were in the car) (Don and Mary Jean, Season 6).
o Speeding. If a clue specifies a maximum speed, a team that exceeds that speed receives a penalty (Gary and Dave, Chris and Alex, Season 2).
* There is a larger penalty for quitting a task voluntarily. In Season 6, Hayden and Aaron quit a Roadblock and received a 4-hour penalty. In Season 7, Rob and Amber, Ray and Deana and Meredith and Gretchen also quit a Roadblock and received a 4-hour penalty that did not start until the next team arrived at the task.
* In Season 1, Nancy and Emily voluntarily quit a Detour and received an even larger penalty: 24 hours. As no other team has quit a Detour since then, it is unknown whether that larger penalty still exists.
* A team that skips a Route Marker or performs a task incorrectly usually does not receive a penalty; rather, the racers will not be able to check in at the Pit Stop and will be told by host Phil Keoghan to complete the missed tasks. One exception to this was during Season 1, when Dave & Margaretta missed the cluebox at the base of the Eiffel Tower. Through lucky guessing and help from other teams, they were able to reach the Pit Stop, but were assessed a 1-hour penalty.
* If a team's vehicle breaks down through no fault of their own, they may request a replacement vehicle without receiving a time penalty. However, no time credit is given for their wait in this unlucky situation. (See The Amazing Race 2 Trivia).
* Sometimes, teams are delayed by production difficulties. In early seasons, several teams were awarded time credits because of such difficulties. However, in Season 8, two teams were stopped because of drained batteries and did not receive time credits. The exact conditions that determine whether or not a time credit is awarded are unknown.

Countries and locales visited

Continent Countries
North America Canada, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, United States (including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico)
South America Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Uruguay
Europe Austria, France (including Corsica), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy (including Sicily), Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom (including England and Scotland), Vatican City°
Africa Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Zambia
Asia People's Republic of China (including Hong Kong), India, Japan, Malaysia, Oman, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam
Oceania Australia, New Zealand

° Vatican City fielded a Fast Forward in Season 1; however, it was neither used nor shown.

Note: The table does not include airport stopovers such as Bahrain, Denmark, Qatar and Taiwan. It only contains countries that fielded actual route markers, challenges or finish mats.

Trivia

Main article: The Amazing Race trivia

* Each team is accompanied by a cameraman and soundperson throughout the race. When purchasing tickets, teams must also buy them for their camera crew. On the program, teams are only shown requesting two tickets, so that they don't break the fourth wall.
* Also, for similar reasons, the show makes the point of not actually showing the crews to the point where crewmen have occasionally been digitally removed from the picture in post-production. [4] Occasionally, race personnel are shown to viewers, most notably during Season 7 where Brian and Greg's cameraman was shown lying on the ground after suffering minor injuries in an auto accident.
* The camera and sound crews rotate teams after each leg.
* Host Phil Keoghan is known to take the same flight as the teams on various legs of the race.
* Eliminated teams are often sent to "sequesterville", a foreign location on the race where they get to relax and do some sightseeing until the race is over.
* Teams receive monetary compensation for the time away from their jobs back home. Even after the race has aired, however, the amount is still required to remain confidential.
* The opening credits feature scenes and locations from past and current seasons of the race.
* Teams need to receive travel visas ahead of time for the countries that they will be visiting. However, to keep things as much of a surprise for the teams as possible, production will obtain visas from more countries than are actually on the race itinerary. In doing so, the final destinations still remain a secret.
* Before the race actually begins, the teams are filmed running from the starting line several times, in order to get different close-ups and angles of all the teams.
* Due to the rather obvious nature of the crossing of the finish line, in later seasons several "decoy runs" have been done where teams from the final four are filmed crossing individual finish lines, to deter people from learning the identity of the winning team.
* In Season 1, check-in mats for pit stops were representative of local cultures. In Season 2 and Season 3, they were black with a yellow border. Beginning in Season 4, they would feature an ornately decorated world map. In season 8 the mats were yellow with a black and white border. (For an exception, see The Amazing Race 6 In-Race Trivia.) The finish line mats are an elevated red carpet with The Amazing Race logo enlarged on it.

Public reception

The Amazing Race is notable in that it is one of the few reality shows to grow substantially more popular in subsequent seasons. Even with extensive critical praise the show faced low Nielsen Ratings for the first several seasons, facing cancellation a number of times. Reportedly, it was saved by calls to CBS President Les Moonves from celebrity fans including Sarah Jessica Parker. Thanks to word-of-mouth and the Emmy wins, popularity of The Amazing Race has recently surged, and is now one of the most-watched reality shows on the air.

In Australia, the Seven Network currently airs The Amazing Race. After screening the first season, it was pushed to a late timeslot. After public outcry and demand for the show, it returned in 2004 with season 5 at a more reasonable timeslot to stable ratings.

TARCon is a convention and viewing party held after the evening of the season finale. The event is held in New York City and is organized by Television Without Pity, a popular television website. TARCon gives fans an opportunity to meet past and present racers and host Phil Keoghan.

The popularity of the series has also spawned its own board game and local homemade races [5] [6], some of which have been mistaken for actual filming of the television program.

The show has also inspired a book due for release in late 2006 [7].

Criticisms

Despite The Amazing Race's popularity, the show is not without its share of criticism and controversy. Main problems include:
Jonathan's behavior shocked fellow racers and viewers

* Bunching, where teams are constantly grouped together due to bottlenecks such as chartered flights and pre-planned hours of operation of businesses that the teams must use to complete tasks. While all versions of the Race have suffered such problems, many fans feel that recent seasons (and Season 6 particularly) had more than usual or, perhaps, necessary. Nevertheless, bunching teams also adds to the unending suspense that many feel some of the earlier seasons lacked.
* The confrontational, and sometimes abusive behavior presented by certain players, most notably Colin (Season 5), Jonathan (Season 6), and Lake (Season 9) .
* The stunt casting of teams where producers have tended to cast models, actors, and more recently past reality show stars. For example, Season 5 featured only one past reality show contestant (Alison was on Big Brother) and Season 7 featured three past reality show contestants (Brian was on Fear Factor; Rob and Amber had been on multiple editions of Survivor). In fact, many teams had connections to the producers or past contestants, trivializing the standard application process. For example, Dennis and Erika (Season 5) had known previous racers John Vito and Jill (Season 3) for many years.[8]
* The watering down of the clues in subsequent seasons. For example, in Season 1 the majority of Route Markers contained clues about the next location, not specifically stating the location itself. In recent seasons, there have been few actual clues for teams to decipher. What had been clues are now more like simple directions in many cases; they remain more challenging in the final legs.
* Design of challenges, especially food competitions. Recent seasons have emphasized gross-out extreme eating contests reminiscent of Fear Factor, rather than focusing on the cultural aspect of the challenge.
* The implementation of the Yield has been criticized as taking away from the virtually unique ability of teams to control their own destiny in a reality series rather than being at the mercy of opponents on shows such as Survivor. The one other reality series that possesses this trait is The Mole.
* The implementation of the non-elimination penalty is generally criticized for two reasons. One is that the penalty is not sufficiently harsh. The other is that it is embarrassing to see Americans beg from people of Third World countries. However, in the case of a leg ending in a poor country, penalized teams usually beg from tourists or from other teams.
* Recent betting scandals. In Seasons 7 and 8, the winners were revealed in online betting scandals well before the airing of the final episode.
* Excessive product placement, particularly in recent seasons. Seasons 7 and 9 featured a gnome-hunting challenge, with the gnomes being the Travelocity Roaming Gnome. Season 8 had teams driving around in GMC Yukons, visiting a BP gas station that fielded no challenge in particular, receiving clues from AOL inboxes (done in Season 6 also) and completing a challenge with Buick luxury golf carts. In Season 9, teams were driving Mercedes SUVs at various points on the race, and on one task had to find and use a flashlight with Duracell batteries. According to an article from Backstage.com, both The Amazing Race and The Amazing Race: Family Edition, separately, were among the top 10 television shows with the most product placement in 2005.


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