But it was a heartbreaking finish for the competition's first deaf contestant.
The winner, Victor Jih, 35, and his sister Tammy, 26, explored a sometimes contentious relationship during their journey. The 14th edition of the game concluded in Maui, Hawaii, and was televised Sunday.
"I just tried to enjoy the race for what it was and just be true to my emotions, the highs and lows," Victor Jih said after the victory. They're both practicing lawyers in California.
Three teams traveled from Beijing to Hawaii for the game's final set of competitions, which involved preparing pigs for luaus and racing on personal watercrafts to find clues floating on the water.
Luke Adams, 22, just graduated as the valedictorian of the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind, and raced with his mother Margie, 50. They were in the lead heading into the last competition, which involved picking out surfboards with insignias representing every leg of their trip. Luke started fast but couldn't get the last one right.
As he was frustrated, Victor Jih completed his task and headed into a taxi for the finish line. So did the third team, two former NFL cheerleaders who were trying to be the first all-female team to win the race. Cara Rosenthal, 26, of Boca Raton, Fla. and pal Jaime Edmondson, 29, of Fort Lauderdale finished second, hampered at the end by a clueless cab driver.
Margie Adams tried to console her son during the final cab ride to the finish line after 40,000 miles.
"I'm very lucky to have you as my mom," Luke said to her in the shorthand sign language they had developed together.
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