One team will have a leg up on the competition in the upcoming season of “The Amazing Race.”
Two of the Harlem Globetrotters are among the 12 teams starring in the 15th edition of the CBS reality show, which premieres Sept. 27.
Nathaniel “The Big Easy” Lofton, 28, from New Orleans, and Herbert “Flight Time” Lang, 32, from Brinkley, Ark., believe their experience will help them dominate this season’s course, which spans eight countries in 21 days.
“I’ve been to about 65 countries around the world,” said Lang. “I definitely think that gives us a little bit of an advantage when we’re traveling to different countries, as far as knowing how to interact with different cultures, managing our money and communicating with taxi drivers and whoever else we need to help us get from Point A to Point B.”
Justin Kanew, 30, and Zev Glassenberg, 26, best friends from Los Angeles who met while working as camp counselors at Camp Greylock in Becket, Mass., are more excited about the journey than the possibility of winning the show’s $1 million grand prize. Glassenberg has Asperger’s syndrome, a milder form of autism.
“I don’t think the fact that I have Asperger’s will hinder me,” Glassenberg said. “I do tend to think outside of the box, so it might help us. It’ll be weird going into these social situations around the world. I might not take it all in right away, but I know I’m racing, so I’ll probably get past it really fast.”
Other teams include Maria Ho, 26, and Tiffany Michelle, 25, who are professional poker players.
“It’s obviously different from competition at the poker table,” said Ho, who came in 11th place at this year’s World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. “It’s outdoorsy. This is physical and mental, but we will definitely be applying whatever skills we have as gamers to this competition and push ourselves in different ways that we’re not used to doing.”
Among the teams who are romantically linked: a feisty engaged couple from Boston; grade-school sweethearts from San Diego; a dating couple from San Francisco who met online; married yoga instructors from Encino, Calif.; dating aspiring country singers; and a former Miss America and her husband.
“They are now suddenly putting their relationship under a microscope,” said host Phil Keoghan. “I personally wouldn’t want to do that, but teams do, and audiences love to watch it, and there are a number of teams on this season that are coming to the race to test their relationship, and it sounds like some of them might get quite testy in the process.”
For the first time, one team will be booted at the start of the trek, and racers will have to tackle the Switchback, a new twist that sends teams back to one of the series’ most challenging “roadblocks.” Executive producer Bertram van Munster said the racers will set off from the Los Angeles River, then first head to Tokyo to complete several zany tasks.
“Have you ever seen Japanese tourists following a tour guide with a little flag?” said van Munster. “Well, our contestants are going to be the tour leaders. Each team is going to have to run a group of 20 tourists through the center of Tokyo as fast as they can. Whoever brings their entire tour group to the Pit Stop first will be the number one team.”