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Kentucky team returns home after last place finish on 'Amazing Race'

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William 'Bopper' Minton and Mark Jackson William 'Bopper' Minton and Mark Jackson

45-year-old Mark Jackson & 41-year-old William 'Bopper' Minton of Kentucky lasted ten legs on 'The Amazing Race', a CBS reality show that pins two person teams against one another in a race around the world. The southerners were hoping to make it to the finish line and win the million dollars, but came in last place this week and were ultimately eliminated from the race. However, along the way they provided many laughs to viewers like myself and were a joy to watch as they completed challenge after challenge with effortless teamwork, a zest for life, and a positive 'aww shucks' attitude. These Kentucky boys got to travel to places they'd never heard of and they allowed us to experience it for the first time alongside of them. I spoke with Mark & Bopper by phone recently to find out if 'The Amazing Race' was as amazing as they expected it would be.

The Maine Edge: Bopper, last night we saw you willingly shave your head in an effort to win the 'fast forward' and move straight on to the pit stop. However, you still were the last team to arrive. So do you regret shaving your head?

Bopper: Absolutely not, honey. My hair grows unbelievably fast. I will shave my head or cut off my leg for my little girl. I needed to win that money to relocate my family to a healthy environment.

TME: Viewers kept hearing from you Bopper how much you needed to win the million dollars for your little girl. Can you explain that.

Bopper: I live in a very dusty environment beside of a coal processing plant and she has chronic severe asthma. The race gave me an opportunity to make life changing money to move to a cleaner and healthy environment. She's on seven different respiratory medicines so when I thought I couldn't go any further [on the race] I pictured my daughter on a breathing machine and dug deeper.

TME: What was it like traveling to Africa, Germany, India and some of the other places you saw?

Mark: Unbelievable. When I went through Africa, I said 'This is where my ancestors come from' and I could not believe how beautiful it was and everyone was so nice. They didn't know us and we communicated with them even though we couldn't speak to them.

Bopper: Africa showed us the true beauty of God's creation. India showed us true poverty. I can really appreciate and respect being a citizen of the United States of America.

TME: What was your favorite roadblock?

Mark: Every roadblock was brutal. Jumping out of an airplane was terrible. Bopper was wanting to jump out of an airplane but didn't get to do it. When we did the sliding the gnome on ice and I got it on the 5th try, it kept us in the race so that's the one I liked best.

Bopper: Where I had to escape out of helicopter turned upside down in water. I'm afraid of being trapped in tight place and heights. That's why I wanted to do the airplane roadblock to face my fears. So when I had chance to do the helicopter [simulator] I was proud I did that.

TME: What did you learn about yourselves thanks to this experience?

Bopper: I haven't been out of Kentucky much of my life, but I truly believe you can blindfold Mark and I and kick us off a plane and we'd find our way back. I'd never been on a plane in my life before when we left and went to Los Angeles for the race. We found out we were just as strong or stronger than any other team there because we had heart.

Mark: It was a wild experience. We speak one language and that's country. When they put us in another English speaking country, they couldn't understand us.

TME: A lot of teams that have been eliminated were hoping you two would win. How is it that you can be so competitive with these teams and yet so likable at the same time?

Mark: If me and Bopper see you, we're going to talk to you. We're friends with everybody unless you give us a reason not to.

Bopper: We never disrespected anybody. We were kind to everybody. We showed kindness and respect and that's what we got in return. Like my momma always told me, 'You never met a stranger in your life.'

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