Throughout his 16-year military career, which included a year-long deployment in Iraq, Wisconsin Army National Guard Maj. Dave Brown Jr. has been tested mentally, emotionally and physically. It was great preparation for television.
On May 6, during this season's final episode of CBS's "The Amazing Race," Brown and his wife, Rachel, captured the series' 20th competition. During a grueling 25 days, the pair competed around the world against 10 other teams, battling in a series of mental and physical challenges. In doing so, the pair won $1 million.
Brown, a member of American Legion Post 2930 in Madison, Wis., and an ROTC instructor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has served as an intelligence officer, Black Hawk pilot, and a recruiting and retention executive officer during his 16 years in the military. He spoke with The American Legion about competing in the race and how his military service helped he and his wife come out victorious.
The American Legion: Going into this competition, what were your goals? Was it just to compete well and have a good showing, or did you think you could win it?
Dave Brown: I had every intention of winning the race. I thought our individual strengths – the skills that I brought, the skills that Rachel brought – would definitely lend themselves toward being successful. I had every expectation of us winning.
TALM: How did your military training pay off during "The Amazing Race?"
DB: The challenges of the race were very comparative to my military training experience. It prepared me for packing by necessity, equipment awareness, paying attention to detail. I think that every aspect of my military training carried over to "The Amazing Race."
TALM: When you were competing, did you feel like you were representing the U.S. military as a whole?
DB: Of course. It was at the forefront of my mind. Not only was I representing myself and my family, but first and foremost ... I was representing the Wisconsin Army National Guard and the military as a whole. We knew we had to perform not only for ourselves, but for the entire military. That was very important to us.
TALM: Millions of people tuned in, and they saw every disagreement, argument or cross word aired that you and Rachel exchanged. Was that difficult?
DB: We knew that during the course of the race that the edits could lead to perceptions, and that perceptions become reality. But we tried to focus solely on the race. I considered it to be my job for 25 days. We've had the opportunity to review the episodes, and we could have been perceived to be the bickering couple. But our friends and family know how we really are.
TALM: You finished filming the series months ago? How difficult was it to keep quiet about winning it until the final episode aired?
DB: Thankfully Rachel and I competed together. I couldn't imagine having competed with a friend or another person and not be able to disclose it to my wife. But what I think about is that Rachel and I were the team that had something to lose (by sharing the results with others). Above and beyond contractual obligations, we had the $1 million prize. Other teams could talk about it and not worry about losing that. We definitely considered this to be a secret worth retaining.
TALM: Do you have any special plans for the money?
DB: There have been no frivolous expenditures. I haven't even cashed my check yet. We're both very fiscally responsible people. We plan to pay down our mortgage. And I've had a cracked screen on my iPhone for three months, but I kept it because it was still working. I did get a new iPhone screen.
For photos and videos of Dave and Rachel, click here .