It was the most amazing Amazing Race ever for Scott Flanary, Ed.M.'10. In June, this self-described superfan of the CBS reality adventure show was announced the winner of the 29th season, along with his teammate, Brooke Camhi. Ed. caught up with Flanary, a campus recruiter, to talk strategy, TV fame, and spending the prize money.
You took leave from work? I once told my boss that I was a huge reality show fanatic and if I were ever cast on a show, I’d need a leave of absence. She agreed. When the time came, I let her know I was cashing in on my “need to leave.” (I was speaking in code because I was bound to a nondisclosure contract.) I returned to work days after the race finished and couldn’t say a word for nearly a year.
Prior you built schools with buildOn. How did this help in the race? I partnered with buildOn in 2014, Nicaragua, and 2015, Malawi. I’ll go on trek again this November to Senegal. I was given the opportunity to immerse myself in a culture unlike my own. I learned what it was like to leave the comfort of my routine and be comfortable with the unknown. I’m not great at foreign languages, so to have the confidence to know that I could still learn to communicate with others, usually with sign language and basic words, really set me up for building confidence in other areas.
Was it weird to watch yourself on TV? At first it was a little weird to see myself on one of my favorite shows, but then I fell into the excitement of watching myself relive all these memories. It can get frustrating to watch them edit out some of your best moments (such as persuading teams to do what I wanted), but they certainly tell the best story on screen regardless. I wanted to be a strategic player, skilled at using his superfan status to trump the competition, and I think I succeeded!
On the show, you seemed very patient. Are you normally a patient person? Impatience was one of my weaknesses going into the race. I quickly learned that I needed to turn this around to support Brooke because her success equaled my success. I couldn’t win The Amazing Race if she didn’t win The Amazing Race. Luckily this has parlayed into my non-race life: I have more patience with people overall.
Have you since heard from any Ed School professors? Bridget Terry Long is a fan! She was my favorite professor, and it was so fun to receive live texts as she watched the show with her boys. I remembered she was a reality TV fan, so when the cast was announced, I was sure to let her know she had to tune in.
During the race, you always had a notebook. Why? I knew a memory challenge would likely appear in the final leg. To prep, I wrote down every clue word-for-word along with team placements, check-in greeter names and descriptions, both detour options, and who completed the roadblock on each leg. Brooke had the same mindset, so we shared notes and memorized everything during pit stops. We even memorized each other’s first impressions of each other and everyone else. We were prepared! As you can tell from the Wrigley Field challenge, our preparedness allowed us to get in and out of that challenge quickly: 15 minutes.
Next on your bucket list? Now I want to try my hand at Survivor! I’m a fan of the CBS trifecta (Amazing Race, Survivor, Big Brother) because I love the strategic game component. Outside of reality television, I just got a promotion at work and will soon relocate to Seattle.
The prize money! Have you put a down payment on a house yet? I’m paying off my Harvard loans first (haha) and then investing the rest before I find the house that’s perfect for me.
Photo courtesy of CBS