The Amazing Race’s Chip Arndt: Where Is He Now?

by | June 9, 2009 at 2:39 PM | Reality Stars: Where Are They Now, The Amazing Race, Where Are They Now


Name: Chip Arndt

Age: 42

How We First Got Introduced: We first met Chip in Season 4 of ‘The Amazing Race,’ where he ended up winning first place and the $1 million dollar first prize with his husband Reichen Lehmkuhl. Chip’s been busy since then, as you can read after the jump.

Life Pre-Race: “I started a “venture resource company,” Arndt Strategies. Ltd., in 2000 where I helped fund and start-up four internet/technology companies. This is still what I do today and am working on starting-up a fifth company based in Palm Springs, CA focused on Clean-Tech research and thought leadership and developing high-potential, emerging clean technology companies in the Coachella Valley. I was also involved in helping various efforts for LGBT rights and equality that included helping with political campaigns, electing fair-minded people to office, and raising much needed funds for those living with HIV/AIDS – all of which I continue doing today.”

Getting On The Show: “The process was long. We were fortunate to have been asked to apply by a casting director in the middle of the process, so we actually did not submit a video from the beginning. When we entered the process there were about 1,500 other teams also in the process for consideration. We went through about 15 interviews with various people, the most intriguing was a psychological test, where they wanted to make sure we were stable enough to compete yet “crazy” enough to make fun TV.”

First Day Of The Race: “It was a huge adrenaline rush because for three days leading up to the first day of the show we were sequestered in a hotel and were not allowed to talk to any other team. We had set times to eat meals so that we never were able to speak to any other team until the day the show started. So when we got to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, the start of the show for us, we were ready to go as fast as we could and we just went off of instinct. Los Angeles was our home city so we had an advantage but, I read the map wrong as to which airport parking lot we needed to park in and we lost time and ended up on the last plane to Europe. So we knew we were in the last bunch of teams with little chance of catching the lead teams – not a great way to start the race. Needless to say, we were not happy and it was a downer for us. It was our first test of patience with each other and the experience would show how Reichen and I worked together to overcome adversity. The good news is that David and Jeff, also from Los Angeles, ended up on our plane and in the same predicament, so we had a lot of time to catch up and become friends, which has lasted to this day! So I guess we make lemonade out of lemons.”

Memorable Moment: “I did not realize it until I actually watched the show for the first time, but it had to be when I swam 50 yards under an ice-packed river in South Korea – almost naked! The producers took a lot of precautions because we swam under two feet of ice and wanted to make sure our hearts would not stop. I opted to just go for it and not wear anything but my underwear to get through the challenge quickly. When I emerged on the other side I gather it was quite a site to see me standing in my underwear and…well…well…I gather I impressed some folks in other areas too. John, of the team John and Kelly, who finished second to us and are great friends today, said something of the sort: “Wow, those chicken legs powered you quickly under the water, who knew, and I gather you don’t have a problem in bed.” LOL”

Lasting Friendships: “I stayed in touch with many teams the first few months after the race ended and today I still am very good friends with John and Kelly and David and Jeff, who were in the top three with us racing until the end. Monica and Sheree, the NFL wives, were our best mates on the race and I miss them a lot. I touch base with them every few months. And thanks to this dialogue with you all I am going to call them today.”

A Watershed Moment? “I like to think of “the win” as just another step that followed in the path of so many other people, past and present, in the LGBT community who are putting themselves out there as loving couples who are no different than anybody else in their pursuit of the American Dream and, of course, winning the Amazing Race. As for the money we won from the race, I put it towards paying off my business school debt and helping start new companies as part of Arndt Strategies, Ltd. (see above).”

Reichen Update: We are good friends and are supportive of each other’s efforts to make a difference in this world in our own way. I think that people that were, and are, special in your life are always a part of you.”

Toughest Moments On Show: “The beginning of the race, mentioned above, certainly put some strains on us but, in hindsight, it was probably good for us as we were laser focused on not making any more mistakes after that moment. But of course, making mistakes and miscalculations are part of the Amazing Race. The true challenge is recovering from those mistakes and trusting each other. The next hardest moment was in India when we were first off of a train headed to Southern India and unfortunately got a cab that did not have enough gas to get us to the next challenge and we had a very slow driver. That alone put us near the back of the pack, which was highly frustrating. Reichen and I knew we had to make up valuable time and thus on each ensuing challenge we pushed ourselves to the max as we knew we had to be perfect. Reichen was amazing on two challenges, requiring speed and agility, and I picked up time on gathering a dozen live chickens in a cage and depositing them two miles away. We just beat out Jian and Jaree and elimination, and lived for another day. That was a very stressful day.”

From Stress To Joy: “The day turned around quickly, as they often do on The Amazing Race, to becoming a wonderful memory. After that the leg of the race was completed and were informed that we were not eliminated, I found out from the producers that one of my sisters gave birth to a wonderful and healthy baby girl and Reichen and I celebrated our one-year anniversary and, for the first time, publicly came out to the remaining four teams as a married, gay couple. That scene I have been told was an important scene to many people watching, especially LGBT couples who also shared an important relationship. So the day turned out great. The other wonderful memory was when Reichen and I did a fast-forward challenge in the rain forests of Malaysia. During that challenge, we were able to spend some quiet time feeding and being in the presence of orangutans; it reminded me of how special and beautiful our planet is and of all of the wonderful adventures that still lay ahead of me.”

Crazy Fan Story: “That had to be a marriage proposal in the aisle of a grocery store about a year after the race was complete. I was single at the time but I guess I didn’t like the groceries he was buying.”

Feeling The Love: “Lots of folks emailed us both after the race and there were several straight and LGBT celebs who congratulated us for winning and putting ourselves out there as a “gay, married couple.” Ethan Zohn, who won Survivor and is battling cancer today, is a friend and others who contacted me either directly or at an event over the years include: President Barack Obama (then a Senator), Jennifer Garner, Ben Affleck, Rosie O’Donnell, Ellen DeGeneres, Neil Patrick Harris, Jim Brown (Hall of Fame NFL running back), Dan Marino, Alan Cummings, John Amaechi, Dennis Rodman, Gloria Estefan, Lance Bass, Sir Ben Kingsley, Jerry Bruckheimer (who produced The Amazing Race), political folks such as the Honorable Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, and Jared Polis, and lots of other celebs who love reality TV. One of my favorite congratulations recently came from Matt Damon, at a fund raising event in Miami.”

Life After The Race: “I helped start three companies since winning The Amazing Race 4 and am spending most of my time on one of those companies – www.MerchantAdvantage.com an ecommerce and mobile commerce data feed management company in Miami, Florida — to take it to the next level of growth. It is fun to start a company and even more fun to see it to profitability and beyond. I also am a Founder of The Hatch Partnership with three friends out of Palm Springs, California, which we started in January of 2009. The vision of The Hatch Partnership is to be a global leader in thought leadership in the field of Clean-Tech and to incubate successful companies which will service the Clean-Tech marketplace and bring “green” jobs to the Coachella Valley . More information on that venture can be seen at www.HatchPartners.org.”

Fighting For LGBT Rights: “In my spare time, I still love the world of politics and LGBT activism. My appetite to help in these various areas led to co-founding The Gay American Heroes Foundation, (GayAmericanHeroes.com), which honors those who have been murdered in LGBT hate-crimes and helps people around the world better understand that we have much more work to do to protect the LGBT community. I also serve as President of The Freedom Democrats (the Miami-Dade LGBT Democratic Caucus), a Director of the Florida LGBT Democratic Caucus, and as a Director on the Miami Beach GLBT Business Enhancement Committee under the Mayor. Last year I was honored to be elected a Florida delegate to the 2008 Democratic Convention and serve as the first, openly-gay elector in the history of the state of Florida for then President Elect Barack Obama and Vice President Elect Joseph Biden. Most recently, I started CouplesForEquality.com with a close friend in San Francisco. Couples For Equality will use the medium of photography to share with the world the love and commitment of thousands of couples, straight and LGBT, who have come together to show their support for all committed relationships, no matter their sexual orientation, in a visually, dynamic manner. The journey for full civil rights for the LGBT community has not ended and I look forward to helping as I can going forward, which includes helping Cleve Jones plan a March on Washington, DC October 10-11, (NatonalEqualityMarch.com).”

More Reality? “I think I am too old to be considered for reality TV, unless of course they decide to have a version/TV show for those of us who have aged gracefully, LOL. I would absolutely consider being on another Amazing Race show or similar quality, reality show.”

Surprising Side Of Chip: “I guess that I smile a lot and have a fun side to me. I am passionate about my business and activism, but I do take opportunities to enjoy many parts of the world that I have not seen before and cavort with friends. I also speak at schools and to many young folks about the LGBT community. I have found that so much of the insipid bigotry that still exists in the USA, and across the world, is often due to people not really seeing LGBT people on a day-to-day basis, interacting with them as just people who love, desire to run a successful business, and start a family. Once young people see the LGBT community as very similar to themselves the bigotry often dissolves. Oh yeah, I love frozen Milky Ways and scuba diving all over the world, especially for lobsters in Maine, whoops is that illegal?”

The Real Phil Keoghan: “I can’t say what Phil is really like during the race as I only saw him when I was out of breath racing to the mat on each leg of the Race. The one time that we did have some down time with Phil was after winning the Amazing Race when we were required to do some post marketing events and shoots for CBS. Phil is an incredible person and wonderful, sincere family man, who loves a challenge and travel – that is where we have much in common. He was always very gracious to me and generous with his advice and insights into many topics post the Amazing Race. I count him as a friend and am not at all surprised about his ongoing success. He is one of the special people in life.”

The Race’s Effect: “The Amazing Race affected me in so many ways. The Race itself taught me many lessons about relationships and how I respond to situations in life, good and bad. It was hard that my relationship with Reichen ended soon after the race, but so many new opportunities opened up for me in both business and activism. Winning The Amazing Race was something very special and, at the time, I did not realize the impact that it had on so many other people in the world. To this day, due to syndication, I have received thousands of emails from around the world thanking Reichen and me for putting ourselves out there as a married, gay couple. I guess winning the race presented me with an opportunity to expand upon the fact that millions upon millions of people around the world watched a “gay” couple win a respected reality, TV show and this exposure has afforded me the opportunity to be another voice for LGBT civil rights and call for greater protections of LGBT.”

Bigger & Better: Since winning the race, I had a choice to engage with many of those people, or go back to a more private life. I chose the former. From the moment we won the race, I was presented with the chance to expand upon the media attention to help people by example. I was asked to speak at schools and events and did so because I firmly believed that my mere presence at events might help a young person better deal with their issues of being true to themselves; if I could help even one young person not take their life or lead a life of misery or feel alone because they realized they were gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, I would. My activism today was given a whole new audience from the day we won the Amazing Race and I hope that I have been able to help a little bit since that time.”

Lot To Learn: “And on a personal side, seeing myself on TV – the good moments and the bad moments – reminded me that I still have much to learn and that life is about always working on yourself to be the best that you can be; it is an endless journey of growth and awareness and a fun journey I am very lucky to be taking.”