During Gino and Jesse Montani’s time on The Amazing Race Canada, the brothers had highs — finishing first on four legs — and lows — narrowly missing elimination twice — but managed to pull through when it counted: winning the last and final leg of the season.
The siblings from Hamilton take home $250,000, two Chevy Colorado trucks, a year’s worth of travel in business class anywhere Air Canada flies and gas for life from Petro-Canada for their victory over the other 11 teams that competed in Season 3 of the popular reality series.
The pair — Gino, 28, works for the City of Hamilton, while Jesse, 25, is a steelworker — were still floating on air over their win as they made the media rounds Thursday morning in Toronto.
Question: How awesome is it to be able to tell people you won The Amazing Race Canada?
Gino: It’s like a monkey off our backs. It’s a big sigh of relief.
Jesse: We held it in way too long. It’s awesome. This is the first time I actually feel a little relief.
Q: You’ve had a few months to reflect on your time on the Race. What are you taking from the experience?
Jesse: Honestly, it’s taught me a lot, this whole experience. It’s taught me a lot about my brother, about our relationship and how important family is. have taken a lot from it. I am so happy that I was able to run this Race with my older brother.
Gino: We are huge fans of the Race. Our dad was a huge fan. We always talked about it, what you would do if you were on the Race. You always think that you can do things, but to know that we actually can do them now is so rewarding. We thought we could, but knowing we actually can is a really rewarding experience.
Q: Being fans of the franchise, what surprised you once you were actually in the Race?
Gino: I couldn’t believe how many moving parts there are. So much goes into the show and it’s 100 per cent real. That’s the best part of it; it’s so real.
Brothers Gino, left, and Jesse Montani celebrate winning the third season of The Amazing Race Canada at the final Pit Stop in Whistler, B.C.
PhotoQ: What are some of your favourite memories of the Race?
Gino: What I thought I was cool was seeing Brent and Sean. They didn’t know if they could overcome certain things … and had low confidence. To see that confidence build over the show, it was amazing. To see people grow as individuals, I loved that.
Jesse: Definitely seeing Gino up there on BC Place riding the plank. (“I nailed it,” Gino chimes in.) There was so much pressure on getting that first. Just the fact that he could do that and do it first, that was so rewarding.
Q: It’s interesting. I asked you about a highlight for you, and you talked about your brother, rather than what you were doing. Does that go back to your relationship on the Race?
Jesse: Definitely. We are really close. Honestly, if I was in that position I know that Gino would be feeling the same way.
Gino: You try to portray yourself a certain way prior to going on the show. One thing that Jesse and I wanted to portray is that we are just normal, average working guys. We come from nothing. Our family is so important to us. We couldn’t say it enough. I almost felt like people on the show must be getting frustrated because we just wanted to show Canada how important family and friends are. We wouldn’t be the men we are today without them.
Jesse: We are the mama’s boys.
Q: Speaking of mom, what are your plans for her?
Jesse: Our plan is to definitely take her on a vacation of her choice. She chose Italy and we are going to surprise her. We are going to build her a brand new deck off the back of her house. Oh, and we are getting her new appliances.
Q: And where do you want to travel?
Gino: Prior to actually winning, we made a list of places we wanted to go. We came up with a few: we want to go to Thailand, we want to go to Australia, Italy. No. 1 is I want to go to Barcelona, personally, because I’ve been there and I want to go back. There are a few other ones we are still starting out.
Q: Who are you going to be travelling with?
Jesse: We are going on every trip together. If any friends want to tag along that’s cool, but it’s us!
Q: What are the plans for the cash?
Gino: We are smart guys. We understand that $125,000 each is life changing but it’s not enough to be frivolous and just blow it. We are going to try to make some good financial decisions. We said we wanted to buy a cottage at a place called Sherkston Shores. Our sister has one.
Q: Casting for Season 4 is open. What advice would you give teams?
Gino: I say this all the time and I can’t stress this enough: don’t try to make any extravagant, fancy audition tape. I don’t think that’s what production wants. They want to see who you are. Whatever it is you do, show them. Have a conversation with your teammate, show them the interaction. Explain who you are and let them see that on camera.
Jesse, left, and Gino Montani calculate distances between legs of travel during a challenge on the Season 3 finale of The Amazing Race Canada. The brothers from Hamilton took the top prize this season.Q: And what advice do you have if they make it to the Race?
Jesse: Make sure you communicate with your taxis. (Laughs) Big influence in your Race. Make sure you create a relationship, and a trust relationship, to make sure no one else takes your taxi.
Q: Which brings us to Cabotage!
Gino: You know what, if anybody puts themselves in that position … We asked the taxi driver if we could take his taxi and he agreed. If he had said no, there would have been people saying, ‘Well, why didn’t they just take the taxi.’ I would have rather have taken that taxi and made it to the finale rather than not taking the taxi and being eliminated. That was our option. I don’t regret it at all. I think it was a smart, strategical move. Even Nick and Matt in the after show commented that they weren’t mad at us — they were mad at the taxi driver, who wasn’t true to his word.
Q: What kept you in the top so consistently? You were on the bottom a couple of times, too, but generally you were in the top half.
Gino: Everyone judges you on your appearance, so immediately we are labelled the jocks. That was one of our advantages: we knew people were going to perceive us as that, but we are much more than that. We both educated, we come from nothing, we have street smarts and good intuition. I think that is what got us to the end. Don’t get me wrong, our physical abilities helped us out, but it was more our mental and streets smarts that got us to the finale.
Honestly, in Chile, we were so physical, we ran so much, I can admit that it was a bad decision. It was a mistake. We were we, ‘Oh we’re fit, we can run,’ but why wouldn’t we just hop in a taxi? It’s faster. It made no sense. We made a bad move and we learned from it.