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‘The Amazing Race’ Season 33 Winners Kim and Penn Holderness Reveal What Helped Them Score $1 Million Prize (Exclusive)

First to cross the finish line! Spoiler alert: Kim and Penn Holderness were crowned the winning team during The Amazing Race season 33 finale, which aired on Wednesday, March 2.

Related: ‘The Amazing Race’ Winners: Where Are They Now?

Their million-dollar success was a big secret that the Raleigh, North Carolina, couple had been keeping quiet for the past six months.

“It feels real for the first time,” Kim, 45, told Us Weekly exclusively after watching the finale with her family and other teams at a viewing party at Daer Nightclub in Hollywood, Florida. “It did happen six months ago, but we’ve not been able to tell anybody about it, including our kids [Lola, 15, and Penn Charles, 12], so to see it on the big screen for the first time, it finally feels real and it’s amazing.”

The Amazing Race Season 33 Winners Kim and Penn Holderness Reveal What Helped Them Score 1 Million Prize
Penn and Kim Holderness Celebrity Sports Entertainment/Chino Berrios

The internet personalities crossed the finish line at Dignity Health Sports Park in California before runners-up Raquel Moore and Cayla Platt. Best friends Ryan Ferguson and Dusty Harris placed third, and father-daughter duo Arun Kumar and Natalia Kumar landed in fourth during the last episode of the season.

“We won because she took notes,” Penn, 47, told Us at The Amazing Race party hosted by Lulu and Lala Gonzalez and Celebrity Sports Entertainment. “We got there by working together, but in the end, I mean she was crazy about [taking notes]. Every night we went to bed, we didn’t have much else to do, so we studied what we did the day before.”

From the beginning, Kim believed she and her husband had a chance at making it to the finale. “I have to say, I thought we would do well because we were so prepared,” she confessed. “I knew we wouldn’t win the physical challenges necessarily, but we held our own there. But give me anything — give me a puzzle, give me something to solve — and I knew we could do well.”

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Two years before The Amazing Race began filming — production went into a 19-month hiatus due to the coronavirus — the husband-and-wife duo entered into the competition as a strong couple having just gone through marriage counseling.

The Amazing Race Season 33 Winners Kim and Penn Holderness Reveal What Helped Them Score 1 Million Prize
Penn and Kim Holderness on ‘The Amazing Race.’ Courtesy of CBS

“We considered that part of our preparation was, like, learning how to talk to each other and I think, hopefully, when this is all over people can look at us and say, ‘Oh, they didn’t bicker, they didn’t fight. They love each other and they have each other’s backs,'” Penn told Us, while Kim added, “I think communication was our superpower, 100 percent.”

Kim and Penn, the oldest team to ever win the show, called being part of The Amazing Race an “unbelievable experience” and they left with more than $1 million.

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Kim shared, “The biggest surprise of all, to me, is that we thought we were entering this reality show where there’d be backstabbing — and yes, we’re all super competitive — but I can’t tell you how much I’ve grown to love these people. They really just feel like family.”

As for what they’ll do with the huge cash prize, the Holdernesses teased that they have “some fun plans” that they will share soon, but a “very large portion” of it will go to their children’s college fund — and “Uncle Sam gets a huge chunk of it.”

All episodes from The Amazing Race season 33 are available to watch on CBS and Paramount+.

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