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30 seasons later, 'The Amazing Race' host Phil Keoghan continues to be an all-time favorite

Starting his career in TV at 18, Keoghan faced flak for being one of the first non-Americans to host a primetime American TV show and now as he begins Season 31, he only looks back in gratitude.

Reality TV series 'The Amazing Race' is back with yet another season of globe-trotting adventures, and host Phil Keoghan's excitement is at its peak. Hosting the CBS-produced show since 2001, Keoghan has traveled to more than 120 countries and has always been a favorite with prime-time reality TV audience. 30 seasons into the show, Keoghan is still the face of 'The Amazing Race' and is all set for the Emmy Award-winning TV show's latest season premiere on April 17 on CBS. Speaking to MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) in an exclusive interview, Keoghan said that the reality showdown this season between previous Racers, Castaways from 'Survivor', and Houseguests from 'Big Brother' is just what fans have been asking for. 


Being on the Race since its very beginning, Keoghan has seen the show grow from day one. "To be involved with a show that's been on for this long and watched by people around the world is extremely rewarding," said Keoghan, adding that he feels thankful to be part of a project that he loves and has been on for such a long time. The 51-year-old who started his career on TV at 18, before going to college, traveled quite a lot in his childhood itself. "I have literally spent my life traveling," Keoghan said.

Keoghan moved from Antigua to New Zealand to Canada and then the US, where he spends most of his time now. But this does not stop the proud Kiwi from talking about his roots and New Zealand's culture and heritage. Speaking about a traditional Maori pendant that can be seen around his neck in all the seasons of the Race, he said that it was first given to him by a Maori friend when he had just come to the US. The fishhook-shaped pendant is based on the legend that the island of New Zealand used to be a big fish, and was pulled out of the ocean by a mariner using a similar fishhook. 


When he started out, Keoghan was one of the first non-Americans to host a primetime American TV show. His accent was a mixture of every place that he had lived in, making it hard to pinpoint where he was from. His non-American roots made him the object of much criticism and flak, but it did not spoil the young host's enthusiasm. He kept going, and looking back, he has only gratitude and positivity to share. "People's attitude about things change. Someone from New Zealand hosting an American TV show was a new and different idea, 26 years ago, when I came to America. People didn't know how to comprehend the change," said Keoghan. "Today, it is very different. The world is more accepting now. We see people with various accents on TV," he added.

Keoghan quotes author Malcolm Gladwell to reflect on his own beginnings in TV: "Anything new and different is more susceptible to market research." "Someone took a chance on me and it worked out!" he added with a laugh. 


Ahead of his 31st expedition with 'The Amazing Race', Keoghan also had a piece of advice for the contestants. He emphasized that Racers should respect the culture and customs of people in countries they're visiting while enjoying the destinations and beauty of cultural differences instead of simply comparing or criticizing them. Teasing viewers about the upcoming season of the Race, he alliterated that it will be "fast, furious and feisty".