Raleigh, N.C. — After more than 30,000 miles and 10 countries, former Carolina Hurricane Bates Battaglia and his brother Anthony were crowned winners of "The Amazing Race" on Sunday night, taking the $1 million prize.
The season finale aired on WRAL and saw the brothers besting newlyweds Max and Katie and roller derby moms Mona and Beth in the final leg of the CBS reality show. In the first half of the two-hour finale, the hockey brothers lost their closest alliance and potential "love interests" as country singers Caroline and Jennifer were eliminated.
The final leg of the race took place in Washington, D.C., where teams had to take on a variety of challenges including being suspended over Nationals Park and dropped a baseball to their baseball mascot clad teammate.
The brothers each played hockey professionally - Bates with the Canes and Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL before retiring and Anthony, who is currently with the Huntsville Havoc of the Southern Professional Hockey League. Their job history earned them the nickname of "team hockey" or the "hockey brothers" on the race.
Before the finale, the Battaglias ran a successful race with four first-place finishes and only a few close calls. They won trips to London, Bora Bora and Phuket City, Thailand, in addition to $15,000 cash.
Some of their memorable challenges included capturing the "Fast Forward" in leg seven by water skiing more than a mile over water where Nile crocodiles live.
The brothers reside in Raleigh, and Bates Battaglia co-owns Lucky B's in Glenwood South. The bar has been hosting weekly watch parties with giveaways and a weekly "race" pool. On Sunday, crowds gathered there to cheer the brothers on. The brothers posed for photos with fans and signed autographs throughout the evening.
Screams erupted from the crowded bar each time the brothers finished a challenge. When it became clear the two were going to win the race, champagne bottles were at the ready and then popped and promptly poured over each brother's head. A limo waited outside for them, but they continued to party with fans and friends into the night.
"Now that I know we've won the million dollars, I would like to by him some teeth because I can't stand staring at his empty smile anymore," Bates said, cracking a joke about the teeth his brother has lost as a hockey player.
"Just because I can eat corn on the cob through a picket fence and you can't, don't get mad at me!" Anthony shot back.
The two continued joking on Monday about their plans for the money, but in a CBS interview they discussed the possibility of opening a family-restaurant.
In a phone interview, they said they are just living life.
Living a life that doesn't include keeping a million dollar secret. Was it hard for the two to keep it quiet for so long?
"I think it was pretty cool for nobody to know and for everyone to finally see it last night," Anthony said.
They compared the victory to winning a hockey game, which seemed fitting since they did get champagne thrown on them by the crowd.
In an interview with CBS, they credited their success to each other, noting that they probably wouldn't have been as successful racing with anyone else.
The brothers said they are keeping in touch with their "race family," including Max and Katie and Caroline and Jennifer.
Their father, Richard Battaglia, said Monday that although his sons will likely have a busy week ahead, he was still expecting them to help him finish painting his "man cave," a project they have been working on.